Bytedance Encounters Setback in Singapore Trademark Dispute


Bytedance, the Chinese internet technology giant, has been unsuccessful in a trademark dispute against Dol Technology, a Singapore-based company specializing in voice-over-internet protocol services and interactive digital media software. The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), which oversees IP rights in the country, announced its decision on June 14th to dismiss Bytedance's opposition to Dol Tech's trademark registration applications submitted in May and August 2021.

As indicated in a legal decision reviewed by Asia Business Law Journal, Bytedance, the parent company of the multinational social media platform TikTok, lodged opposition notices against the applications in December 2021 and January 2022.

The Chinese internet technology company contended that Dol Tech's application for the mark "Tiki," covering various goods and services, bore similarities to its own word mark "TikTok" and its associated device mark. Bytedance also raised concerns that Dol Tech had ties to Joyy Inc., a direct Chinese competitor operating a similar short-form video platform called Likee. However, in its ruling, the IPOS dismissed Bytedance's claims, stating that the company's opposition did not meet the necessary grounds for a successful case.

Principal Assistant Registrar Mark Lim cited, among other things, that the marks were “visually and conceptually dissimilar” and “aurally similar only to a low extent”. Lim agreed that Bytedance’s word mark was “well-known to the public at large in Singapore”, but concluded that its device mark and composite mark were “not” well-known to the extent of the general public in the city-state.

After rejecting the opposition, IPOS has granted Dol Tech costs amounting to SGD 9,000 (USD 6,671), which includes disbursements. In response to an inquiry from Asia Business Law Journal via email, IPOS stated that an appeal against the legal decision can be pursued in the general division of the High Court of Singapore.

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