Choosing a business or brand name

I’ve been through litigation for my family business’ name and brand name, even though we have operated under those names for more than 25 years in Singapore.

The long and short of it is that a foreign company using the same brand name attempted to have our trademarks, which were registered with IPOS, cancelled. It also attempted to avoid detection by placing its goods in departmental stores and Singapore online sales platforms, and then use these sales as evidence of their presence in Singapore, to cancel our trademarks.

I won’t harp on the technicalities of registering a trademark or company name in Singapore because those resources are a dime a dozen online.

Rather, I would like to point out in that a popular name, or a name that is easy to remember, may face legal challenge, especially when the foreign company has deep pockets, as my challenger does.

To emphasise, our trademarks were registered and the law supposedly protects us. But we still faced expensive litigation because our brand name was a popularly sought after one. That legal protection did nothing to protect us from expensive legal fees.

Furthermore, at present, we have won parts of the litigation and are awarded compensation by IPOS itself, but the foreign company simply ignores IPOS’ instructions, ie they get away with impunity because they are overseas. IPOS cannot and will not do anything either.

For one’s respective trade, I urge him/her to avoid choosing popular names, if they have not yet been taken already, to avoid problems that we faced.

Once again, my family business is not new and we have been around for 25 years. We sought no fame nor fortune, just quietly serving our cherished customers both old and new under our established brand name, but trouble descended on us because we were once fortunate to have registered one of the most popular names in the world.

It is not worth it.

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