Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Text Fwd: A lopsided legal battle for companies named ‘Samseong’
A lopsided legal battle for companies named ‘Samseong’
Samsung uses corporate clout to root out long-established companies with the same name
March 29, 2011
By Roh Hyung-suk, Staff Writer
“They obstinately asked me to change the company’s name, citing the law. I was so angry, but it was too much for a small office to fight.”
An exasperated Jang Sun-yong, head of Samaseong Architects, one of the oldest architectural firms in South Korea, so pleaded his case, complaining of the utter difficulties he is experiencing changing his company’s name. In September, at the insistence of the Samsung Group, the office changed its name from Samseong (same Korean characters but different Chinese characters) to Samaseong, but most of the design requests, consultations and other major job communications come in the name of Samseong, which the company has used for around 40 years. Staff members are also unaccustomed to the name, leading to continued confusion.
It was early last year that the company was first asked to change its name. The office received a notice from YOU ME Patent & Law Firm, a firm hired by the Samsung Group to manage its corporate name.
“The Samsung Group patented its trademark and maintains exclusive rights to its use, therefore the Samseong architecture office may not use the same name, even if the Chinese character word roots were different,” the notice stated. “If the office does not change its name, we will be forced to respond with legal action.”
Jang said he was at first perplexed. Former office head, his father, had a close relationship with late Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull: this was because not only did he design Samsung’s Hoam Art Museum, but he also advised on other architectural projects. It is a well-known story in architecture circles that even Samoo Architects and Engineering, which is viewed in the architecture world as a virtual subsidiary of the Samsung Group, chose the name “Samoo” mindful of Samsung.