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May 13, 2015

Jury Unanimously Rules in Contentious Anhing Trademark Battle

Jury Unanimously Rules in Contentious Anhing Trademark Battle

Los Angeles, CA – May 12, 2015 – A jury unanimously ruled that Thuan Phong Co. Ltd. willfully infringed Anhing Corporation’s federally registered MY-THO trademark, which Anhing had been using with its rice noodle products since 1980. The jury found willful infringement, allowing the court to award treble damages and attorney fees.

Anhing estimated it has lost almost three quarters of a million dollars in sales as customers familiar with seeing the MY-THO label have instead been buying packages of rival Thuan Phong Co. Ltd.’s product due to confusion. Additionally, Thuan Phong sells its noodles in a 14-ounce package, which means that, compared to Anhing’s 16-ounce package, Thuan Phong’s has a smaller price tag. The jury rejected Thuan Phong’s argument that it was making fair use of the term “MỸ THO” on its own rice noodle and rice paper products because the products are made in Vietnam, and instead found that the company intended to trade upon the established goodwill associated with Anhing’s brand. The jury also found that Anhing has protectable trade dress in its product packaging and rejected Thuan Phong’s counterclaim that Anhing engaged in any false advertising with its products.

Anhing’s highly successful MY-THO brand for rice noodles and rice paper is the brainchild of Henry Ly, Anhing’s founder, a Chinese immigrant who lived in Saigon before Communism swept in. As Mr. Ly testified, the MY-THO mark means “beauty” (MY) and “longevity” (THO) in Vietnamese, and he chose to adopt a mark with a positive meaning that would appeal to both younger and older generations. In a contentious case between two companies that once did business together, Anhing’s president, and Mr. Ly’s daughter, Dai Yau, successfully fielded a series of questions from both sides about the nature of the Vietnamese language. Because of its tonal nature, words in the Vietnamese language can take on different meanings based on accents on certain letters.

“This is an all around victory for Anhing, and bolsters the strength of its MY-THO brand. Companies should not be able to adopt the same mark for use with competing products,” said Jeffrey Kobulnick, co-counsel for Anhing along with Karish & Bjorgum, PC.

Brutzkus Gubner LLP has a strong intellectual property litigation practice, regularly representing clients in a wide array of industries.

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