Porsche Club, former member in legal spat

Porsche Club, former member in legal spat

AN EXECUTIVE, whose company is suing the Porsche Club for copyright infringement, is now taking the same exclusive car club to court for terminating his membership.

Mr Franklin Tang Quan Yii is suing for unspecified damages in the Magistrates' Court, which allows claims for up to $60,000, for the loss of enjoying the rights and privileges as a member of the Porsche Club.

The club, which costs $250 to join and has a $15 monthly membership fee, comprises mainly professionals and businessmen. It holds motoring and recreational activities among its roughly 300 members.

To become a member with full privileges, one has to own a Porsche car in Singapore. But a year after ceasing to own a Porsche, the person can remain only as an associate member without voting rights.

In 2008, Mr Tang joined the club after buying a Porsche. In November 2012, he sold his sports car. But he had his membership renewed in 2013, as his wife had bought her own Porsche, and authorised him to use it. On March 4 last year, Mr Tang received an e-mail from Porsche Club informing him that his attempt to renew his membership for 2014 had been rejected.

The e-mail also highlighted that Mr Tang was simply an "associate member" in 2013, and that membership had expired at the end of that year.

But Mr Tang insists that at all material times he was an ordinary member, "by virtue of his wife's authorisation to use and enjoy her Porsche car after it was purchased in February 2013".

He claims that the club later "reversed its position" and sent him a notice around May 5 last year stating that his ordinary membership had been reinstated.

Mr Tang's lawyer told The Straits Times that his client rejected the offer to reinstate his membership and that the club has up to the first week of next month to file its defence.

Mr Tang is also upset that the issue of his membership was discussed at an Annual General Meeting held on March 23 last year, when the executive committee decided and announced that he was not a member.

Last March, local firm Philip Tang & Sons, where Mr Tang works as executive director, filed a lawsuit in the High Court against Porsche Club over copyright infringement.

The firm accused Porsche Club of reproducing an online membership portal which it developed, designed and installed.

Known as the Online Membership System (OMS), the portal allows the club to manage the particulars of its members and payment of fees.

According to court documents, the firm says it allowed Porsche Club the use of OMS only during the period Mr Tang was a member of the club's executive committee.

In 2009, Mr Tang was appointed to the post of assistant membership director but ceased to be an executive member in January 2013. At the end of December that year, his firm stopped hosting the OMS and deactivated it.

But Porsche Club reproduced the OMS on its website around Jan 16 last year, says the firm - an allegation the club denies.

The club said it had collaborated closely with Mr Tang by contributing to the design, layout and functions of the OMS. It rebutted Mr Tang's claims that he owns the copyright to the OMS, and described it as a generic online membership portal.

Attempts to reach the Porsche Club have been unsuccessful.

joycel@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 25, 2015.
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