Singapore – On March 18 (Monday), prominent local food consultant and hawker guru, Seetoh Kok Fye, called out Dulwich College Singapore for using the name “Makansutra,” a name that he trademarked in 1997, for a campus coffee shop.
The photographer, writer, and television host went on Facebook to send a warning to the British international school.
He wrote, “Dear #DulwichCollegeSingapore, in our 21-yr history we don’t recall opening a cafe stall in your premises. Gosh, hope all is fine and I know you teach your students imitation is the best form of flattery. But.. passing-off and brand theft is an offence la.”
He added that if the café stall served “good stuff,” the Makansutra group could not take credit for it. Seetoh emphasized that the name was a registered business name and trademarked, hinting that the stall operators could come up with something better.
“It would be good if you have that name removed so as not to mislead or flout the IP laws here. Will check back in 7 days. Or, do inform us when u do so I can get our lawyers off my back,” warned Seetoh.
In another FB post on March 20 (Wednesday), Seetoh updated everyone and said: “They fixed it.” He received an anonymous FB message from a woman saying “they regret (sic) and apologised on the matter.”
Seetoh thought at first that the message was fake but the Headmaster of Dulwich College, Nick Magnus, personally contacted him and apologised. The Headmaster was not aware of the previous existence of the name.
The Makansutra owner aired his thoughts on another issue: the possibility of the name being used elsewhere. He wrote, “The bugging issue (sic) is- that they were advised by their designers/operator/architects to use this name (history of which the college was unaware of, I was told) … We do not know if they are using this name in their other projects. It would be upsetting and a disrespect for IP laws if they are found out again. Trust me, our lawyers don’t know how to write sweet cease and desist letters.”
Seetoh thanked the media for bringing the matter to light and asked for more focus on properly educating readers on copyright and IP laws.
Advice from the entrepreneur, “If you wanna be in any business, just go do a darn good job and give it an original name… people will respond to your reputation, not necessarily the name.
Meanwhile, netizens were glad that the “brand theft” issued had been resolved amicably and commended Seetoh for handling the situation respectably.
Dulwich College Singapore opened its campus in Bukit Batok in 2014. It is the seventh college to join the Dulwich family of schools.
The institution boasts of three libraries, three swimming pools, sports fields, gymnasiums, a Performing Arts Centre with three theatres, three dining rooms, and two coffee shops. Dulwich College caters to toddlers right up to Year 13, offering a dual language programme in English and Mandarin for 2 to 7 year olds.
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