Beijing Judian, known locally as The Meat Up, claimed Wei Meng copied its trademark before attempting to extort $1.5 million from the chain.
A Richmond man copied the brand of a popular Chinese restaurant chain – then tried to extort $1.5 million from it by offering the same brand for sale.
Wei Meng is offering for Canadian registration, in 2017, the exact same branding used by Beijing Judian Restaurant Company — known locally as The Meat Up — a barbecue chain with about 40 outlets in China and three in Canada in Vancouver, Richmond and Toronto.
In 2019, two years after applying to register the trademark — which is mainly made up of Chinese “Ju Dian” characters — Meng appeared at The Meat Up’s Vancouver on Granville Street “asking to speak to the owner,” according to court documents.
However, since the owner was not present, Meng allegedly told an employee that the restaurant had stolen his trademark in Canada.
Claimed demand for 1.5 million dollars
A meeting was arranged a week later in the restaurant with one of the managers, Lai Lam Sing, where court documents indicate that Meng requested $1.5 million for Beijing Judian to obtain use of the trademarks.
His request for payment was refused.
Another week later, Meng sent a letter to the chain’s founders, alleging that Beijing Gudian Restaurants had used his trademarks without his permission and infringed his copyright in Canada.
In that letter, Meng stated that he would contact the Registration Division and the Canada Revenue Agency if the chain did not stop using the trademarks within one week.
A month later, the owners of the restaurant chain noticed an advertisement on the local Chinese-language VanSky website offering to sell the registration of the same brands.
The brand is available on VanSky for $100,000
A third party known to the restaurant owners contacted the seller – who, according to court documents, turned out to be Meng – who was asking for $100,000 a year for the brand so the buyer could open a franchise with Joe Dian’s characters.
Last year, the restaurant chain filed an application in a Toronto court, demanding that the 2019 Meng trademark be declared invalid, given that it was “registered in bad faith” and that he had not intended to use it for commercial purposes, other than to “extort” money from Beijing Guodian.
In a ruling issued last week, Judge Angela Furlanetto agreed to the restaurant chain’s request, adding that she agreed with them in their assertion that it was “unreasonable to think that (Meng) could have created the same original design on his own.”
The judge also noted evidence from the restaurant chain that Meng had used similar tactics when applying for trademark registrations of other popular Chinese restaurants in Canada, with “same intent” and supposed “suggested use”.
Meng did not present any evidence to the court, nor did he attend the last court hearing by video.
Signs of blackmail: Judge
“The evidence indicates that (Meng) registered (the trademarks) with the intent to extort money from (Beijing Judian) or use her reputation … to obtain money from others,” the judge said.
“Evidence demonstrates that (Meng) registered (the trademark) without a legitimate commercial purpose.
“In my view, the circumstances here constitute bad faith and the (trademark) registration should be considered invalid and struck off accordingly.”
However, the judge rejected the chain’s request for damages for the “confusion or potential market confusion” caused by Meng’s actions, saying there was “insufficient evidence.”
It ruled that the chain was entitled to court costs, which will be determined at a later time.