MUJI fights local eCommerce player in SG courts over trademark infringement

Ryohin Keikaku, which is the parent company that carries the MUJI brand, is suing Singapore company IUIGA due to trademark infringement in the local courts. IUIGA is an eCommerce lifestyle company that works directly with Original Design Manufacturers (ODM) that produce for many big international brands.

Besides trademark infringement, the lawsuit also highlights the issue with IUIGA claim that its products come from “MUJI same manufacturer” and are “direct from MUJI manufacturer” on its website and in its physical store.

In a statement to Marketing, IUIGA chief growth officer Jaslyn Chan said that it maintains that it has done "nothing wrong". She added that the information on its website is "factually accurate" and its "manufacturing processes are legal". According to the company, under the ODM business model, design and patented technologies rights belong to ODM, allowing the ODM to produce for more than one brand. Chan said that IUIGA is currently preparing to go to court with Muji, and preparing a list of manufacturers that both companies work with to be released to the media later.

The dispute between the two companies first came to light last November, where MUJI responded with a statement on its blog stating that the company "currently believe that a number of the products in question were not, in fact, produced by MUJI’s manufacturers". MUJI had also clarified that it has not authorised any usage of its name and is not responsible for third-party products. Chan told Marketing that IUIGA has never used other brands' tags or contact numbers in the sale of its products, despite MUJI's claims that it had done so in its previous statement. The company also highlighted two of the products that were in contention.

She said, "IUIGA's eyelash curler is indeed from MUJI's manufacturer, but not the eyelash curler manufacturer that MUJI is taking stocks from. MUJI works with many manufacturers, some of which have overlapping expertise. This product is produced by one of MUJI's plastic manufacturers that also supplies to IUIGA."

Meanwhile, IUIGA has revised its listing of bean bag sofa made by the same manufacturer as MUJI's as the manufacturers have informed the company that "MUJI has pressured them to have IUIGA remove the label." IUIGA has acceded to the request, noting that MUJI's business still occupies a large portion of the manufacturer's overall revenue and is in "no position" to work against its manufacturers.

Marketing has reached out to MUJI for more comments.

Besides ceasing the use of MUJI's trademark in IUIGA's statements, the lawsuit also demanded compensation for damages and losses. “We requested IUIGA to disclose information on its manufacturing factories to verify its statements. However, we did not receive any response,” MUJI’s spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider. The Japanese firm also added that its manufacturing contractors have denied manufacturing or supplying products to IUIGA.

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