Thursday, April 3, 2014

Singapore's coup over Indonesia's Ku De Ta

logoKu De Ta is one of Indonesia's top brands; the legendary Bali beach club and nightspot, where beautiful people sunbake, eat, drink and party to dance music. Its brand problems are a different sort of fame. See here for a previous post setting out the background.

In short the Indonesian Ku De Ta owners brought cases in Singapore based on their well known mark, against the Singapore registered trademark owner, Nine Squares (an Australian Company) who licensed the mark to one Chris Au (believed to be involved in the Indonesian operation originally) who in turn assigned this right to use to the Defendant operator, Ku De Ta SG Pte Ltd. They operate a huge Ku De Ta club atop the Marina Bay Sands casino, perhaps the premier nightspot location in Singapore.

The Indonesian owner recently lost the case. It seems to be on the technicality that they could not prove Ku De Ta was famous in Singapore by 2004 (when Chris Au applied for the mark).  The best guess is there are 2 fundamental problems:

- a group of 'partners' did not agree who owned what in the early 2000s and one of them registered the brand elsewhere, speculatively.
- they did not get organized to manage and protect the brand when they set up

They are appealing but counsel Singapore familiar with the case say they probably will not win.

Meanwhile, French luxury company LVMH's Venture capital arm is buying KDT Singapore. They plan to renovate the Singapore club, open in Hong Kong and take the Ku De Ta brand global. Nine Squares already registered the mark in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

This is a text book example of how to lose the global potential of a brand by failing to manage and invest in it at the start.

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