"Choco Pie" is a "Common Noun"

    August 05, 1999 19:53

    The first round of the legal feud among Korean confectionary companies over the right toward the trademark, "Choco Pie" has ended, with a court ruling that the name "Choco Pie" cannot be used as a monopolistic trademark. If an appeal fails the court's decision, made in favour of the many confectionary companies that copied the name "Choco Pie" from its original maker, Tongyang Confectionery Corp, they will all be free to use the name "Choco Pie" for their products.

    The name "Choco Pie" became famous when "Orion Choco Pie" was first introduced by Tongyang in 1974 and the small chocolate-covered two-layer sponge cake earned the love of many Korean children and senior citizens thanks to its inexpensive price and the white marsh-mellow put in filling. In 1979, Lotte
    Confectionery put "Lotte Choco Pie" on the market, spelling "Cho" slightly differently from that of Tongyang's, in the Korean phonetic alphabet. Haitai and Crown confectioners also followed through in making their own chocolate pies.

    Tongyang had argued thar "Choco Pie" was its original intellectual property in its lawsuit, claiming that they have the name registered as a trademark in thirty countries around the world. Lotte, on behalf of other confectioners, argued that if "Choco Pie" was a proper noun, so should "Choco Milk" (chocolate milk) and "Choco Ice-cream" (chocolate ice-cream).

    In its ruling the the court said that Tongyang took no measures during the last two decades to be the only company to gain the rights to use the name, "Choco Pie," while other companies had been using the same name, and therefore, Tongyang had allowed the name to become a "common noun."

    (Lee Myoung-jin, mjlee@chosun.com)

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