Several types of bubble milk tea in cups with ice

Sip in style say goodbye to ChaTime reusable cups after Keepcup lawsuit

By James Wan

What you need to know (in a nutshell)

  1. KeepCup has launched legal action against ChaTime Australia for selling reusable cups that they claim infringe on KeepCup’s trademark and intellectual property.
  2. KeepCup wants ChaTime to stop selling the alleged infringing products, seek financial compensation for profits made on the products sold, and have their legal costs covered.
  3. The case is scheduled to be heard in the Federal Circuit Court later.

Full Article

In the wake of legal action initiated by KeepCup against Chatime Australia for the unauthorised sale of products and exploitation of its brand name, hundreds of reusable cups have been consigned to landfill. The bubble tea chain was found to be marketing a product bearing the name “KEEP CUP” in its stores and on Woolworths’ shelves, infringing upon KeepCup’s legitimately obtained registered trademarks. Abigail Forsyth, Managing Director of KeepCup, underscored the importance of safeguarding her company’s reputation by taking such measures, emphasising that larger businesses must respect other brands if they expect the same treatment in return – a responsibility she believes all companies should abide by.

Chatime, a bubble tea chain with a notorious history of underpaying workers and concealing its misdeeds, had already breached payment regulations amounting to over $10 million across 111 stores in 2009 alone. Consequently, they must acknowledge trademarks employed by other companies and enforce recognition when necessary. Founded in 2009 by Josephine Forsyth and her brother Jamie, KeepCup originated from a café that produced a distressing amount of disposable coffee cups destined for landfill waste. This ignited a determination within the co-founders to grow their business, which now boasts over 50 employees worldwide, serving 65 countries and generating $11.4 million in profits, as reported in ASIC’s most recent financial statement filed in 2019. However, in October 2019, Ms Forsythe discovered Chatime was selling reusable cups without permission or proper acknowledgement. This prompted her to instruct Marque Lawyers to demand product recalls from Woolworths Stores nationwide and initiate legal proceedings against Chatime on January 20th, 2020.

Forsyth, a co-founder of KeepCup, expressed apprehension over associating their trademarked name with another product. Citing a previous lawsuit against coffee chain Gloria Jean’s in 2017 over an allegedly similar design that concluded in an undisclosed settlement, Forsyth urged Chatime to cease sales of infringing products, provide financial compensation from profits made on previously sold items, and cover legal costs. The desired outcome encompasses not only the cessation of infringement but also recompense for benefits gained and expenses incurred during rights enforcement.

While KeepCup has become synonymous with reusable cups, this success can lead to profit-driven attempts to imitate or duplicate its model, jeopardising KeepCup’s brand credibility and causing financial harm if customers purchase inferior products due to confusion. As these imitations fail to represent KeepCup’s commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly living, they may negatively impact customer opinions about the company and its products in the future.

Marque Lawyers represent KeepCup, while Bird & Bird have been appointed for Chatime Australia. Tom Johnston of the latter firm revealed that his client is eager to resolve the dispute without resorting to legal action and will vigorously defend their case if it remains unresolved. Chatime, a Taiwanese bubble tea chain founded in 2005, enjoys an extensive global presence with over 160 stores across various countries and outlets throughout Australia. According to ASIC records, four individuals serve on its board, with three residing overseas and one based in Sydney.

Judge Robert Cameron in Sydney has scheduled a court hearing for February 17th to commence proceedings in this case. Participants should brace for a thorough examination of all pertinent details and factors. Thus, they are advised to arrive with a solid understanding of their legal rights and obligations relating to the situation to present any necessary information or evidence required by law to serve justice.