Shangri-La Hotel vs Shangri-La Restaurant

Spaceship Spaceship
This battle between a corporate bully versus a small business happened in the Philippines. This is old news though, and this is not about domain names, but still somewhat related since it's about business names.

Hotel chain loses right to use 'Shangri-La' name, logo
By Benjamin B. Pulta

A RULING By the Court of Appeals has affirmed the right of a Filipino entrepreneur's claim to ownership and use of a business name and logo over that of the owners of a chain of international hotels.

In a 21-page decision, the appellate court through Associate Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando said the owner of the Shangri-la Finest Chinese Cuisine in Quezon City has the superior right to the ownership and exclusive use of "Shangri-La" mark and the "S" logo as against the Shangri-La hotel chains which laid claim to the name five years later.

Two other CA magistrates, Associate Justices Delilah Vidallon Magtolis and Edgardo F. Sundiam, concurred with the court decision.

The ruling in part said the question on the hotel group's exclusive right over the name and logo "will depend on their actual use of the same in the Philippines," upholding the restaurant owner’s—the Developers Group of Companies, Inc.—claim.

It ruled that the Shangri-La International Hotels and the Kuok Philippine Properties Inc. "were not able to establish their actual use in commerce in the Philippines of the disputed mark and devise as against the Developers Group of Companies' registration of the same with the Bureau of Patents, Trademarks & Technology Transfer (BPTT).

The Kuok Group claims they have been using the Shangri-La name since 1962, Shangri-La hotels abroad since 1975, and the three hotels in the Philippines since 1987.

In hearings, however, the appellate court found that the registration of the name and logo was made by the hotel group only in 1989 in Beijing and that it has a pending registration in the Philippines in 1988. The Shangri-La restaurant, on the other hand, had registered the name as early as 1983.

The CA's ruling affirmed an earlier decision handed down by the Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) on March 18, 1996.

The controversy arose in 1988 after the Shangri-La hotel group filed a case with the BPTT to cancel the registration for the use of "Shangri-La" name and logo issued to Quezon City restaurant on May 31, 1983.

The restaurant elevated the case to the QC RTC claiming an "infringement" of its trademark.

Trademark wars have always been a touchy issue in the Philippines, which only recently passed a Copyright Law. In the 1980s, the local courts upheld a local denim manufacturer's right to use the brand name "Stylistic Mr. Lee" despite an infringement suit filed by the makers of U.S. based "Lee" jeans.

Another ruling allowed the use of a close imitation of the dark bottle used by San Miguel Beer by Beer na Beer.

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Seems like a no brainer. Too bad there's no online copy of the decision.