Fri, 15 Sep 2000

Local cosmetic giants in dispute over name

JAKARTA (JP): What's in a name? Shakespeare may well dismiss the significance of a name, but two local cosmetic giants, PT Mustika Ratu and Martha Tilaar (owner of PT Tiara Permata Sari) appear to be heading for a legal collision over just that.

Lawyer Todung Mulia Lubis, representing Mustika Ratu, wrote a letter on Sept. 11 reprimanding Martha Tilaar for using the name "Taman Sari" on some of its cosmetic products.

Todung said on Wednesday his client had been using the name "Taman Sari" for many of their herbal products and traditional medicines since 1997 and had registered this brand name with the Directorate General for Intellectual Property Rights on May 24, 1999.

Indonesia's cosmetic market is dominated by two local companies, established and managed by their women founders. Mustika Ratu is owned by Mooryati Soedibyo.

Martha Tilaar's products go by the name "Sari Ayu". Besides competing with each other, they also face fierce competition from multinational companies.

Mustika Ratu's public relations manager Retno Wigatiningrum said the company had recently learned that Martha Tilaar had registered the name "Taman Sari", for some of her own cosmetic products, with the directorate general on July 24, 2000.

The registration for the name "Taman Sari" cannot be justified from both legal and ethical points of view, Todung said. "My client has spent so much money promoting the name Taman Sari," he said.

He cited the 1997 Trademark Law which stated that the first company to apply for a brand name has the sole legal right to use that name and that the Directorate General for Intellectual Property Rights could only accept one name.

Todung questioned the directorate general's decision to approve Martha Tilaar's registration for the same brand name.

"The Office should have conducted a research before approving the application," he said.

In the letter, a copy of which had been sent to the Business Competition Supervising Commission (KPKU), Mustika Ratu has given Martha Tilaar one week to withdraw her registration of this brand name with the directorate general.

"If Martha Tilaar does not comply, we will consider taking legal action," Todung said.

Martha Tilaar's public relations officer Lani R declined to comment on the row when contacted by phone on Thursday.

"We have to consult our lawyers first," she said. (01)