Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rival textile producers in an Indonesian copyright battle

Two of the largest textile companies in Central Java, PT Sri Rejeki Isman Textile (Sritex) and PT Delta Merlin Dunia Textile (Duniatex) are fighting over textile designs and specifically “yellow lines on the edge of fabric”. Both claim rights to the textile design. The case suggest unscrupulous play at various levels.

A Sritex customer complained about Duniatex’s product. Apparently they had used Sritex's 'unique' yellow lines. So Sritex sent a warning letter to Duniatex, then reported the case to the Central Java Police. Duniatex responded that the fabric was a one off order requested from the Ratu Modern shop in Jakarta, in June 2011 and apologised.
But the police investigation continued on the basis of a copyright registered at the IP office, apparently at the same time as reporting the case to the police. Sritex also carried out a public launch for their product to some fanfare with a party to which all the IP officials and police were invited!

Duniatex complained that the registration of the yellow lines copyright took only 5 days. IP Komodo comments that 5 days is extremely fast (more typically it takes 6 months).  Duniatex complained about collusion between Sritex and the Police.  IP Komodo comments that the police are notorious for taking on any old case so long as they are well looked after! Sritex is a major supplier of the Indonesian National Army and Police uniforms however so presumably has the right police contacts!

Duniatex is upset because it tried to settle without success, but was ignored and claims it is being unfairly attacked for over a regular civil unfair competition issue. There surely can be no copyright they claim. So now it has counter-attacked by filing a lawsuit at the Commercial Court of Semarang, to cancel the copyright registration for not being an original artistic work. 

This battle demonstrates several idiosyncrasies of Indonesian enforcement and IP protection:
- the lack of an effective properly used civil court system leads to alternative strategies being used which may not be appropriate. 
- the IP office registration of copyrights is opaque and the system is often abused - a registration system with no examination creates an unfair advantage to the registrant
- the police take on some poor cases, because the laws make most civil IP wrongs criminal too, and the police are a blunt instrument

IP Komodo observes that practicality usually trumps law in Indonesian IP disputes!

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