Friday, August 15, 2014
Philippines San Miguel Foods sued in the US
Asian companies are increasingly expanding around the world, which leads them into IP conflicts. Chinese IT product makers having products blocked from US entry by the US ITC for patent infringement is a longstanding pattern. In SE Asia IP Komodo has written about Thai companies that were found infringing US unfair competition rules due to poor software policies, leading to misuse of pirated software on their IT systems. Another area of failure to preparing to enter new markets carefully.
A large Filipino company San Miguel Pure Foods Co. Inc. that sells food under the Magnolia brand is in litigation in the US with a local company Ramar International that owns the Magnolia brand in the US. A California court has now ordered San Migeul to pay a fine for breaching a court order barring it from selling Magnolia branded chocolate milk and powdered drinks in the US. Ramar owns an almost identical trademark to Magnolia label and logo.
Too many Asian companies take the view that they do not need to consider IPR issues when they sell abroad. They tend to ship and sell goods without preparation, so some end up in complex and expensive litigation over their IP. The correct strategy is to plan new markets with clearance and freedom to operate searches and advice. As more Asian companies grow into multinationals in the coming years such disputes will arise unless they become more proactive at IP planning.