Friday, October 12, 2007

Does Kia Motor's have a squatter?

An interesting little twist happened in a post I made earlier today at the Marrmot's Hole. The Hole is a blog a friend runs, and is one of the more popular Korean related blogs on the 'Net. I got a taste of his hit count a couple times, at it is staggering compared to my modest numbers. Normally my contribution there are things I want to note, but do not fit in here really.

I commented on the name contest Kia Motor's is running for a newly designed SUV they are releasing soon. The contest concerns only the name being used in Korea. Not paying attention to such things too much these days, apparently the SUV is going to be sold the US as the MESA. Meanwhile, the choices that are being voted on for the Korean model are MOHAVE, WINDRIVER, and OPELIA.

In the comments section to my original post, somebody pointed out the obvious, basically "Why not call it the MESA in both markets and be done with it?" That comment got me checking the KIPO database. It started with the mark MOHAVE, which KIA applied for in Class 12 (cars) on June 29, 2007. WINDRIVER was registered by Hyundai motors (Kia's parent company) on January 24, 2001. OPELIA I cannot find, which does not mean much, it could be recent and simply not been put into the publicly accessible database yet.

Meanwhile when you search MESA in class 12, you get registration #1615 filed on March 22, 2007. And would you know it, there is this post from January 22, 2007 on a Auto news site talking of a "Kia Mesa". The name was being talked about for a while, and the good folks at Kia/Hyundai never thought to get around to registering the trademark until June 2007. Definitely well after a Park Jeong Hae applied for the aforesaid MESA in March 2007.

So what can we find out about Ms. Park? Is he some poor old lady in her garage dreaming of a forming a MESA brand auto empire one day? Thanks again to the miracle of the Internet and the KIPO data base can find out some more. Every applicant with KIPO has a special ID code that travels with them (this can create great problems for foreign companies merging, spinning-off, and moving, but I digress). If you type in Ms. Park's code, you can find she filed for 64 different marks, some refused, some registered, some pending.

One of Ms. Park's interesting filings is for AMUSE ISLAND for various service businesses, including tourism related businesses. The mark however was originally used  for  a tourism development project in Seoul in use at least 9 months before he filed it. The project is stalled, but that has not stopped Ms. Park who has filed for the mark numerous times since that first filing. She has been successful with some of them it seems.

Perhaps most jaw-dropingly audacious of Ms. Park however are the filings of KIPO (#31960,#00052), KIPONET (#00053), and KIPRIS (#31961) in class 42 (legal, scientific, and computer services). As you may guess, all of these are acronyms related to the services of the Korean Intellectual Property Office and its computer systems. This lady actually applied to have KIPO give up the short hand names they have used for over 30. Amazing!

Of course none of this PROVES bad-faith. Neither does any of the other of Ms. Park's filings in the KIPO database with similar circumstances around it. No doubt Ms. Park filed for MESA in good faith, and one day plans to use it for cars. Sure is peculiar though.

(Oh final note, from my own work here in Korea. In working quite a few cases similar to the one above, it has always amazed me how when we contact the lady with a number of marks registered to her as an individual, we almost always get a man who "really owns" the mark. While proving nothing it and of itself, it does make it that much harder to prove bad-faith on the part of the legal owner. So in other words, something else I consider peculiar.)


At October 29, 2012 9:59 AM, Anonymous Julie Anne said...

I don't think they ever had or will be having one. But anyways who knows.


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