Chatime to sue Loob Holding over alleged brand misrepresentation

KUALA LUMPUR: Teahouse operator Chatime Malaysia Sdn Bhd (CMSB) has issued a legal letter to Loob Holding Sdn Bhd for alleged misrepresentation and defamation by implying that the brand had been replaced and renamed as Tealive.

CMSB group managing director Aliza Ali said the letter was sent yesterday after Loob Holding’s official website “falsely indicated” that Chatime was renamed to Tealive.

“Loob Holding deliberately misrepresented and misled the public that Chatime had been renamed and is now operating as Tealive in Malaysia,” Aliza said in a statement today.

“This was done through headlines on the Loob Holding official website, particularly two headlines – ‘Chatime renamed as Tealive’ and ‘Tealive replaced Chatime’.”

She said CMSB had given Loob Holding one year to rectify the matter but the two headlines remained on the website.

They were published as recently as February this year, which led the public to believe that Chatime had ceased to exist, she added.

“These misleading statements from Loob Holding have cost us our goodwill and our brand. As such, we felt obliged to address the confusion and safeguard Chatime’s reputation in both Malaysia, as well as at an international level,” said Widayu Latiff, CMSB’s executive director, in the same statement.

A year ago, Chatime Malaysia took over as the master franchisee in Malaysia for Chatime, a Taiwan-based global franchise teahouse chain licensed from the global brand owner of Chatime, La Kaffa International Co.

Loob Holding CEO Bryan Loo, the former master franchisee for Chatime in Malaysia, was quoted early last year as saying that there were a total of 165 Chatime outlets in the country.

He also said more than 95% of the outlets had decided to quit the Chatime brand and adopt Loob Holding’s new brand, Tealive, for their bubble tea products.

The La Kaffa and Loob Holding dispute dated from December 2016, when the Taiwanese company terminated the master franchise agreement between the two parties even though there was more than 20 years left on the deal.

Loo reportedly lodged a police report over the sudden termination.

Both companies have taken their dispute to the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.