Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Thai business' struggle against infringers abroad

Following on from the Starbucks v Starbung case, Thailand's Nation newspaper published a great story about Doi Chaang, a Thai coffee brand. Doi Chaang coffee is a premium, single-estate, organic Arabica coffee from a Golden Triangle village in Northern Thailand that pursues sustainable agriculture and minimal impact on the natural environment. With a GI in hand they began international promotion with Canadian assistance. Their president Wicha Promyong marketed the product as he has travelled around the world.

However he has also had to fight several IP cases in Japan and South Korea against companies using logos that look like Doi Chaang's albeit with slight changes - like extra words - added to the logos to render them less similar.  He won both cases. Now he is fighting another case in China.
This is yet another example of a Thai IP rich business expanding globally (more about which see here). A natural outcome of which will be IP disputes against imitators of their success. And a timely reminder that while IP disputes at MNCs are often part of life, for smaller businesses they can be devastating. Governments would do well to bear that in mind when developing their IP systems.

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