TBWA Kuala Lumpur has become embroiled in a legal row over allegations it copied the slogan of a Malaysian motorcycle group.
Mutha Puaka, which describes itself as a motorcycle lifestyle brand, claims to have used the motto ‘Never Bully the Weak. Never Fear the Strong’ on its branding and merchandise ever since forming in 2014. However, the biker collective – not yet a registered company, but the leaders now considering that option to prevent such branding problems in future – claims the Malaysian bubble tea franchise Tealive has copied the slogan following a recent rebranding exercise.
It is claimed the phrase ‘Never Fear the Strong: Especially Strong Tea’ has been used on Tealive’s advertising and teacups since last month. Although, the legal implications are unclear given that the biker group never trademarked the phrase previously but has now applied to do so.
Mutha Puaka has sent legal letters to both Loob Holdings’ – the owners of Tealive – and the company’s creative agency TBWA Kuala Lumpur, urging them to cease and desist use of the slogan. In a letter from TBWA’s lawyer to Mutha Puaka’s, seen by Mumbrella Asia, the agency denied any accusation of intellectual property breach or copyright infringement. Loob Holdings is also understood to have denied the accusation to Mutha Puaka.
Mutha Puaka founder Eddy Lim said if the legal row between the parties escalated to a court case, he would unable to fight the parties involved. “Mutha Puaka is not a registered company,” he explained. “It is a small community that represents the motorcycle lifestyle. As such we do not have the resources to fight them, if this goes higher. It is upsetting and we feel like we have been robbed.”
When contacted, TBWA stated: “Our lawyers are dealing with the matter. We can’t comment on it further.” Attempts to contact Loob Holdings’ chief executive Bryan Loo have so far proved unsuccessful.
However, in a recent interview with Malaysia Tatler magazine, Loo said of the rebrand: “Our mission is totally different – we want to be the brand that protects the weak and isn’t afraid of the strong; but also the brand that embraces changes”.
Loob Holdings has been dogged by its own legal troubles during recent months. The company originally held the franchise of the Taiwanese bubble tea store chain Chatime in Malaysia.
However, following a long-running dispute with Chatime franchisor La Kaffa International, Loob Holdings rebranded its Malaysian outlets as Tealive last month.