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Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong foodie group that gives tours of city’s Michelin restaurants sued for trademark infringement

French-based company behind world-famous restaurant rating guide claims it has suffered loss and damage

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 July, 2018, 10:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 July, 2018, 10:55am

Michelin is claiming trademark infringement in a lawsuit against a Hong Kong company that connects foodies to explore its starred restaurants.

In a writ filed at the High Court on Tuesday, Compagnie Generale Des Etablissements Michelin accused Hong Kong Michelin Tour and its director Christina Ngan Lei-tjen of infringing its exclusive right to use its name in services similar to which the trademark is registered for.

The Hong Kong company operates through an online platform, meetup.com. Since November 2015, it has hosted guided tours for its 854 members – or “HK Micheliners” as they called themselves – to “explore” the Michelin dining scene.

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But the French-based company said the defendants had never sought consent to use the word “Michelin” in its name, nor had the firm ever licensed or authorised the defendants to advertise, supply, sell, offer for sale, or use its trademarks during business.

The English name and Chinese name adopted and incorporated by the defendant were calculated
writ by Michelin company

The company behind the world-famous restaurant rating guide added it had spent substantial sums of money each year to promote and market its products and registered trademarks, acquiring considerable fame and a favourable reputation.

“The English name and Chinese name adopted and incorporated by the defendant were calculated,” the writ said. “There exists a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public that the services and advice provided by the defendants are authorised by the plaintiff.”

As a result, Michelin said it had suffered loss and damage, and would continue to do so unless the defendants were restrained by court.

The plaintiff is now seeking an injunction plus an order for Hong Kong Michelin Tour to change its name.

No hearing date has yet been scheduled.

Ngan could not be reached for comment.

However, as of Wednesday afternoon, her company’s online profile had been renamed “Hong Kong Fine Dining Tour”.