Hong Kong property developer sues health firm for using its name and trade marks without authorisation

Henderson seeks unspecified compensation after claiming health firm’s Chinese and English names are confusingly similar to its registered trade marks

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2017, 4:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2017, 10:53pm

Tycoon Lee Shau-kee’s Henderson group is suing a local firm promoting health services in mainland China for using its name and trade marks without authorisation.

In a writ filed in the High Court last week, Henderson Development – parent company of developer Henderson and owner of a number of trade marks registered in Hong Kong – claimed the Chinese and English company names of “Hong Kong Hengji Medical Group Co., Limited” were “confusingly and/or deceptively similar” to the group’s registered trade marks.

The defendant’s Chinese company name included two “distinctive” characters that were the same as part of the group’s registered trade marks, according to the court document.

Likewise, the defendant adopted “Hengji” – which is the English transliteration of the two Chinese characters in Putonghua – as part of its English company name.

Hong Kong Hengji Medical Group was said to have been “actively” looking for partners in mainland China in relation to “anti-ageing” health services under its name.

It also applied in 2015 to register a trade mark that was alleged to have constituted “an instrument of deception” intending to deceive members of the public on the mainland that its business was related to the Henderson group, the writ said.

“The defendant is not in any way related to the Henderson group,” the court document stated, adding that the defendant’s use of the names in question would be detrimental to the claimant’s registered trade marks.

The group has initiated proceedings opposing the defendant’s trade mark application on the mainland.

It said it had suffered losses and damages as a result of the defendant’s “wrongful acts”.

Apart from seeking an unspecified amount in compensation, Henderson also asked the Hong Kong court to order that the defendant stop using “Hengji” or the two Chinese characters in question as its name.

Henderson employs about 8,000 people and is one of Hong Kong’s largest enterprises, with more than 500 property developments in the city and across the border.

In 1994, founder Lee Shau-kee and his family set up the private Union Hospital in Tai Wai, which provides a range of medical services to the public.

The writ stated that Henderson’s trade marks had regularly featured in promotional and advertising activities and material and had been widely exposed to the public in Hong Kong and on the mainland.