SUSHI TEI is a famous Japanese cuisine restaurant chain from Singapore, ubiquitous to Jakarta’s shopping malls.
PT Sushi Tei Indonesia was established in April 23, 2003 with Kusnadi Rahardja as President Director and shareholder of 24% of the company. PT Sushi Tei Indonesia registered their mark “SUSHI TEI” at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights (Kemenkum HAM) with Application No. J002003009064.
Due to a series of internal conflicts, Kusnadi was temporarily dismissed as Managing Director of PT Sushi Tei Indonesia on 2 July 2019. At an Extraordinary General Meeting of Shareholders (GMS LB) on July 22, this dismissal was made permanent and Kusnadi was fired from PT Sushi Tei Indonesia. Kusnadi’s representation is claiming that the dismissal decision is invalid.
This case stems from an alleged violation of the use of the SUSHI TEI brand without permission by Kusnadi who is also the President Director of Boga Group. Boga Group owns other restaurant chain businesses including Bakerzin, Kintan Buffet and Shaburi. Under the Boga Group, Kusnadi opened a restaurant with a similar name to SUSHI TEI. Kusnadi still retains 24% of the shares of PT Sushi Tei Indonesia.
Sushi-Tei Pte. Ltd, Singapore and PT Sushi Tei Indonesia are suing PT Boga Inti for trade mark violations of the client’s exclusive rights to the SUSHI TEI brand and contravening Law No. 20 of 2016 concerning Trademark and Geographical Indications. Public misconceptions arose as the defendants never received approval from PT Sushi Tei Indonesia regarding the use of the SUSHI TEI name on Boga Group’s website, brochures and business cards.
It was claimed that the actions of the defendant harmed Sushi-Tei Pte. Ltd, Singapore and PT Sushi Tei Indonesia with a loss of investment in brand promotion activities of US $100 million. In addition, the plaintiff also lost a potential profit of US $50 million from the misdirected defendant’s information about SUSHI TEI being part of the Boga Group. Finally, damage to SUSHI TEI’S reputation was estimated to be around US $250 million.
Sushi-Tei Pte. Ltd, Singapore and PT Sushi Tei Indonesia are ready to disclose various evidence in the next trial for the trademark infringement suit in the Central Jakarta Commercial Court. The attorney for Sushi Tei said that his party as the plaintiff will submit a variety of written evidence and hear evidence by witnesses and experts.
The lawyer of Sushi-Tei Pte. Ltd, Singapore and PT Sushi Tei Indonesia said there were two reasons his client took the case to court. Firstly, because Kusnadi used the Boga Group letterhead with the SUSHI TEI logo on it. Secondly, Kusnadi is still claiming to be President Director of PT Sushi Tei Indonesia even though he was no longer active as of 2 July 2019.
Meanwhile, the defendant objected to the lawsuit because he felt he did not violate the mark. The Attorney of Kusnadi assessed the decision to dismiss his client as the President Director of PT Sushi Tei Indonesia as invalid because the decision was not approved by all the shareholders, with there being 24% of the shareholder committee who did not approve the decision, representing the 24% shares that Kusnadi holds.
However, according to the panel of judges, the defendant’s argument that the case submitted was not a trademark dispute should be rejected. The judge agreed with the plaintiff’s argument that the defendant’s actions to attach the SUSHI TEI brand logo infringed the plaintiff’s rights in the trade mark.
Based on the above case, it is important for businesses to have an understanding of how trade marks can be a valuable asset in helping to protect brand reputation against potentially unfair competition.