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Indonesia – The Jakarta Buddha Bar Story

What’s in a trade name without a registered trademark in a business or to be more specific, the restaurant business? Apparently, it can be no less distinguishable than the original registered trademark. Take the example of the once registered trademark, Buddha Bar, in Jakarta, Indonesia.

As reported in The Jakarta Post (online) on 22 April 2009, the upmarket Buddha Bar restaurant had since being renamed as Bataviasche Kunstkring, the original Dutch name of the building where it is located. Bataviasche Kunstkring is now the former Buddha Bar Jakarta’s ‘landmark’ or trade name, complete with the trademark lounge music and interior design of Buddha Bar restaurants worldwide. If Jakarta’s Bataviasche Kunstkring was not known internationally, it should be now.

Controversies (legal or otherwise) aside, does the name change have any significant impact on the business of the first Buddha Bar franchise in Asia? Apparently not, as reported in The Jakarta Post (online) dated 7 June 2009. The business continues as usual for Bataviasche Kunstkring without the registered Buddha Bar trademark.

In contrast to the fundamental rules of trademark law, the registered Buddha Bar trademark is not needed to identify the source of service, help to distinguish the service from another or guarantee its functional consistency and grade of service, all for the benefits of the restaurant business. The trade name, Bataviasche Kunstkring, has become the new trademark or ‘landmark’ of the business albeit an unregistered one and assumed the fundamental trademark functions. This atypical phenomenon can be explained as follows.

1.         Well-Publicised Name Change

The free and continuous publicity provided by the media from the opening of Buddha Bar Jakarta for business to its name change with its Buddha Bar trademark revocation, is far-reaching with on-line media coverage. All local and worldwide Buddha Bar enthusiasts and customers would be aware of the new name of the Jakarta franchise.

2.         Business and Service Differentiation

The Buddha Bar trademark lounge music and interior design remain at Bataviasche Kunstkring. These assure its well-heeled customers of the original source of its goods and services. They also guarantee that the quality of its varied functions and services are consistent with the already famous Buddha Bar trademark.

The Buddha Bar trademark has definitely acquired a high level of goodwill since the opening of the first Buddha Bar outlet in Paris in the 1990s. It is very unlikely any creditable business would succeed in any form of passing off with the Buddha Bar trademark, least of all try to register it in Indonesia. Therefore, it would be business as usual with Bataviasche Kunstkring as its trade name but Buddha Bar trademarked services.