The legal battle between two major South Korean companies, Nongshim Group and Homeplus, has intensified over the use of the trademark ‘Mega’.
Mega Mart, a supermarket chain owned by Nongshim, filed a lawsuit on March 2 against Homeplus, accusing the comany of trademark infringement for its newly introduced hypermarket ‘Mega Food Market’.
Nongshim is the producer of Chapagetti and Neoguri instant noodles, which can be combined to make the Chapaguri noodle dish that appeared in the movie “Parasite,” which won four Oscar trophies in 2020.
The outcome of the trademark infringement lawsuit is significant because Homeplus has been showing signs of success in rebounding its earnings by rebranding its major stores as ‘Mega Food Market’ with the concept of “super-sized food specialty stores” since February of last year.
The controversy started in February 2022 when Homeplus launched ‘Mega Food Market’.
Nongshim, which holds the trademark for Mega Mart, argued that Homeplus’ use of the word ‘Mega’ in its hypermarket name was causing confusion among consumers and infringing on its trademark.
Homeplus responded by requesting a scope of rights verification case with the Intellectual Property Trial And Appeal Board (IPTAB) in July 2022.
The IPTAB ruled in favor of Homeplus, stating that consumers were likely to recognize ‘Homeplus Mega Food Market’ as just a large food market operated by Homeplus.
In response, Nongshim Mega Mart filed a lawsuit earlier this month to cancel the IPTAB’s decision. Mega Mart argued that the decision was unacceptable and that the case needed to be heard in the Patent Court, which is the second court.
In South Korea, a suit seeking a review of a ruling or decision made by the IPTAB should be filed with the Intellectual Property High Court regardless of the party’s domicile.
Mega Mart emphasized that it is customary for retailers to respect each other’s intellectual property rights and not to use confusing names.
Homeplus has also expressed its determination to fight the case until the end.
A representative for Homeplus stated that the company could not accept the claims of Nongshim Mega Mart and would actively respond to the proceedings filed by Mega Mart in the patent court.
The legal battle between the two retailers highlights the importance of protecting intellectual property rights in the retail industry.
This story was originally published on Korea Bizwire.