In the News

When a rose is not a rose

The Malay Mail - Friday, 07 September 2012

MORE than a few people and companies would disagree with the famous quotation in Romeo and Juliet that "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". Especially property developers, whose businesses have been adversely affected by another entity that is also similarly named.

It is believed that when Shakespeare penned those lines, it was in part reference to the Rose Theatre that opened to rival his Globe Theatre, which, as the story goes, had sanitary issues and often literally smelt like sh*t.

For Trinity Group Sdn Bhd, though, it feels it could be smelling a whole lot better if Talam Corp Bhd, which it has no dealings with, had not renamed itself Trinity Corp Bhd in June 2011. Listed on Bursa Malaysia, the former Talam Corp has had a chequered past that includes abandoning projects, delivering substandard housing and is currently in the news with its selling of land to the Selangor state government to repay its debts.

These issues have caused the privately held Trinity Group, which shares nothing in common with Trinity Corp except for its name, to suffer "considerable loss" as the public "perceives both companies to be one and the same".

To clear the confusion and uphold its distinctiveness, Trinity Group filed a suit in the Kuala Lumpur High Court in November 2011 against Trinity Corp. The trial ended in May this year and the former is awaiting the judge's decision.

Responding to questions from Get Real on "what's in a name" means to him, Trinity Group managing director Dato’ Neoh Soo Keat said that in general, a brand name is what distinguishes one company's product or service from another.

"A positive brand creates trust and inspires customer loyalty in the mar-ket segment it serves; a negative one will achieve the opposite.

"We have worked tirelessly to make our name stand for something in this competitive property development industry ... that we develop properties that are of high quality and value, that are desirable and practical and that will be delivered on time as promised.

"On top of these, we want the name to stand for value creation which will allow our buyers to enjoy enhanced capital appreciation over time.

" Neoh said an example of such value creation is its investment of RM7 million for an interchange to link its The Zest @ Kinrara 9 project to the Bukit Jalil Highway in Selangor. "If we had not commissioned it, our buyers coming from Puchong would have had to travel an additional 8km or 15 minutes to make a U-turn ... with the link, they have ease of access which would enhance the value of their properties."

Trinity Group also wants its name to represent hassle-free investing by offering after-sales rental and resale services that can eliminate undercut-ting in order to "create a stable market for Trinity Group buyers".

On how the renaming of Talam Corp has affected his business, Neoh said "we had over the years built our own unique identity and we do not wish to be wrongly or confusingly associated with any other company".

"I believe the Trinity Group name is not just a brand or a logo ... it represents a value and a promise in the marketplace and I intend to keep it that way."  

Meanwhile, in another naming challenge in which the trial is ongoing, Ken Holdings Bhd is attempting to block Sri Seltra Sdn Bhd and 10 others from using the "KEN City" mark.

Ken Holdings executive director Tan Chek Siong had said the "KEN" in Sri Seltra's project in Ampang, Selangor, has caused confusion as the same name had been used in projects undertaken by Ken Holdings, such as KEN Damansara in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, and KEN Bangsar in KL.

Tan added that Ken Holdings is seeking a declaration that it has established goodwill in relation to the KEN name in the property development and construction sector.

Asked to elaborate, Tan told Get Real that a name becomes recognisable and ultimately becomes a brand to identify and associate a company with its products or services.

"As the project is not developed by us, but is using our brand, people might be confused that it is ours.

"In the event the project does not turn out well or suffer delays, poor workmanship or even abandonment, it might affect our reputation as the public would have linked the project to the Ken Holdings group with the use of the KEN brand in that project."

Meanwhile, Ken City Group director Datuk Foo Wan Kien had said at the Intellectual Property High Court that the KEN City mark is not new as it was created in the 1990s and that it is the umbrella representing the developments undertaken by members of the group that include Sri Seltra, Kenco Construction Sdn Bhd, Kenco Development Sdn Bhd and Ken City Ipoh Sdn Bhd.

On how companies can have similar names and what government organ is responsible for their approval, Lim Eng Leong, a registered patent, trademark and industrial. design agent as well as in-house counsel with intellectual property (IP) firm Henry Goh & Co Sdn Bhd, said: "A company name must be approved and registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia or SSM in short).

"In our opinion, certain company names that share core elements can be -approved despite not being commercially related ... on Trinity Group Sdn Bhd and Trinity Corp Bhd, (the circumstance could have arisen out of) possible errors or some unknown issues ... nevertheless, the conflict can be rectified through SSM or the court."

On how companies can avoid this from happening, Lim said it should conduct an availability search with SSM in order to ascertain prior-registered companies with similar names, before finalising its name.

For companies that want to strongly protect its IP (trademark, patent, industrial design, copyright and such), he advised them to register the name, brand or design with My-IPO (the Intellectual Property Corp of Malaysia), or notify MyIPO of its copyright.

In the case of the Rose Theatre, however, even if it was sanitation-challenged, it has still gone down through the annals of time smelling "as sweet as a rose". 

Share this