Leo Burnett KL demands film-maker deletes plagiarism claims or it will sue, defiant director challenges agency to show evidence

Leo Burnett and Tan
The Malaysian office of ad agency Leo Burnett has demanded that Tan Chui Mui, the film-maker who accused the agency of copying her idea and script to make the commercial ‘Rubber boy’ for Petronas, remove all mention of the complaints she made in social media within 48 hours, otherwise the company will take legal action against her.

A letter has been sent by Leo Burnett’s lawyers to Tan and her production company Da Huang Pictures to give them the chance to take back the comments, which the agency describes as an “unfounded allegation that her story regarding Rubber Boy was copied by Leo Burnett.”

The agency claims Tan appears to be deliberately trying to harm Leo Burnett’s reputation through her claims, which have been widely reported by the local media in Malaysia.

The announcement from Leo Burnett, issued this afternoon:

Kuala Lumpur, 29 June 2016 – Leo Burnett Malaysia announced that a demand letter has been issued by its lawyers to Tan Chui Mui and Da Huang Pictures, to give them the opportunity to retract recent statements, which they have made or circulated on social media. This demand has been issued following Mui’s unfounded allegation that her story regarding Rubber Boy was copied by Leo Burnett.

Tan Chui Mui, in series of postings on Facebook, from 24th June to 27th June 2016 and subsequently, claimed “But I can’t believe how an Ad Agency like Leo Burnett can just use my story without asking my permission.”

Despite an earlier explanation to Da Huang Pictures by Leo Burnett that their treatment and the Rubber Boy webfilm have different storylines, Tan Chui Mui continued to make these false allegations through her Facebook page.

Leo Burnett reiterates that the key elements including the message, the characters, the setting in the rubber estate and the emotions, are very much a part of the agency script, which was shared with three directors in 2014 including Da Huang. Neither Tan Chui Mu nor Da Huang Pictures furnished those key elements.

There appears to be an intention to cause damage to the Leo Burnett’s reputation and that of its clients through these social media postings, which were shared and later picked up by mainstream media.

In order to safeguard Leo Burnett’s name and reputation, and that of its clients, Leo Burnett has no alternative but to initiate legal proceedings if Tan Chui Mui or Da Huang Pictures refuse to retract the statements. Leo Burnett views these allegations seriously and will leave it to the courts to decide on the matter.

In response, Tan acknowledged the demand letter on Facebook, but was defiant in her claims that the agency had copied her work.

She wrote: “To retract my statement, Leo Burnett should at least convince me that they did not plagiarise my story. I would like to demand for three things, so that Leo Burnett could have an opportunity to prove that they are innocent.”

“Here is my ‘Letter of Demand'”, she wrote, noting that she has not engaged a lawyer yet. She outlined her claims in a Facebook note, and gave Leo Burnett 48 hours to produce three pieces of evidence to counter her claims.

The news emerges the day after the director of the film, Ismail Kamarul, backed the agency’s side of the story, and expressed regret that Rubber boy had been “tainted” by the allegations.

He wrote: “Even if there were law suits, legal proceedings and the truth comes out staring at everyone in the face, no matter what the outcome of that is, the public will form their own opinions.”


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