SINGAPORE - KU DE TA, the posh restaurant-bar-club on the rooftop of the iconic Marina Bay Sands (MBS) hotel, can keep its name. The High Court on Monday dismissed a trademark suit brought by the partners of the Bali beach club of the same name, who wanted to stop the Singapore club from using the name.
Justice Judith Prakash, in a 91-page written judgment, found that the Bali club did not have any goodwill in Singapore in 2004 because it was not well-known then, when the Ku De Ta trademark was registered here.
That meant that the owners of the Bali club could not prevent others from registering Ku De Ta as a trademark here.
The name spat arose from a dispute between the partners of the Bali club, which opened in 2000. At the centre of the dispute is Australian businessman Arthur Chondros, one of the partners who mooted the idea for the restaurant in Bali and roped in other investors.
The other partners of the Bali club are Indonesian Made Wiranatha and Australians Guy Neale and Aki Kotzamichalis.
In 2003, Mr Chondros set up an Australian company called Nine Squares. A year later, Nine Squares applied for international registration of the Ku De Ta trademark - including in Singapore - for the restaurant business.
In 2009, Nine Squares licensed the use of this trademark to Hong Kong businessman Chris Au, who wanted to open a restaurant here.
Nine Squares applied for a separate Ku De Ta trademark here for other categories of goods and services.
Mr Au assigned his rights under the licence to Ku De Ta SG, which opened Ku De Ta at the SkyPark at MBS in September 2010. He owns a stake in Ku De Ta SG.
In December 2010, the owners of the Bali club sued Ku De Ta SG. In 2011, they sued Nine Squares.
Mr Chondros is named as a plaintiff in both suits because he is still a partner of the Bali club.
However, he didn't agree with the suits and testified on behalf of Nine Squares.
The plaintiffs wanted to invalidate the registration of the Ku De Ta trademarks by Nine Squares. They asserted that Nine Squares was holding the trademarks on trust for them.
Justice Prakrash found no evidence that Nine Squares, represented by Senior Counsel Cavinder Bull, intended to hold the trademarks on trust for the plaintiffs.
She rejected the plaintiffs' claim that Mr Chondros breached his duty to the other partners by registering the Singapore marks.
The judge also dismissed the case against Ku De Ta SG.
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