Ikea's trade mark battles in Indonesia

Swedish furniture retailer Ikea has had a difficult time with IP cases in Indonesia. In some ways their problems illustrate the difficulties many brand owners face. Part of the difficulty is that trade mark cancellations are complex court litigation unlike in most countries. 

In 2011 it fought a case against a company called PT Angsa Daya over a Class 19 mark IKEMA covering all kinds of floor and wall tiles ceramic. See here for how they lost at first instance and then won on appeal. The Supreme Court initially decided IKEA was famous and Angsa's mark was similar and was registered in bad faith. Unfortunately the Supreme Court later overturned this on reconsideration appeal deciding that the goods were not similar to Ikea's registrations in classes 11, 21, 24, 35 and 42. Bad faith was not mentioned it seems by the Supreme Court, so perhaps the evidence was weak.

Ikea then opened a shop in Tangerang, in the greater Jakarta region. A second case against PT Kedaung Industrial over the mark IKEA was brought by the brand owner Inter Ikea Systems B.V. in 2011, claiming that Kedaung had registered the mark IKEMA in class 21. At first instance, the Commercial Court decided to reject the claim. On appeal the Supreme Court decided IKEA was a well-known Trademark, IKEMA was similar to IKEA and it was registered in bad faith. However, Kedaung appealed further and lost. In this case the mark was but similar but the class was one which IKEA was registered in.  

Recently a third dispute went to court. This time it is IKEA's own class 21 and 20 marks, which a local company PT Ratania Khatulistiwa sought to delete for non use. Ratania had filed its own applications for IKEA INTAN KHATULISTIWA ESA ABADI in those classes. The Commercial Court agreed and found the marks had not been used for 3 years. Although the decision has not been published yet the news reports indicate the Supreme Court upheld the non use and deleted the marks. One judge apparently dissented.

These kinds of difficulties are not uncommon for major brands investing in Indonesia. It has a crowded register with a lot of similar marks, some bad faith registrations, a lot of descriptive words and local language marks. Clearing a path to brand exclusivity can be a major exercise.