Richmond man tried to extort $1.5 million from Beijing Judian

Beijing Judian, known locally as The Meat Up, claimed Wei Meng copied his trademark sign before trying to extort $1.5million from the chain.

A Richmond man copied the branding of a well-known Chinese restaurant chain, then tried to extort $1.5 million from it by offering the same brand for sale.

Wei Meng applied to register in Canada, in 2017, the exact same trademark used by the Beijing Judian Restaurant Company – known locally as The Meat Up – a chain of barbecue bars that has about 40 outlets in China and three in Canada in Vancouver, Richmond and Toronto.

In 2019, two years after filing for the trademark – which consists mostly of the Chinese characters “Ju Dian” – Meng showed up at The Meat Up’s Vancouver restaurant on Granville Street “demanding to speak to the owner”. , according to court documents.

However, since the owner was not there, Meng allegedly told an employee that the restaurant had stolen its brand in Canada.

The request was reportedly made for $1.5 million

A meeting was then held a week later at the restaurant with one of the managers, Lai Lam Sing, during which court documents indicate that Meng demanded $1.5 million for Beijing Judian to acquire the use of the brands.

His request for payment was refused.

Another week later, Meng sent a letter to the chain’s founders, alleging Beijing Judian Restaurants were using its trademarks without its permission and infringing its copyright in Canada.

In the letter, Meng said he would contact the “Registration Department” and the Canada Revenue Agency if the channel did not stop using the marks within a week.

And a month later, the owners of the restaurant chain noticed an ad on the local Chinese-language website VanSky, offering to sell the registration of the same brands.

Brand available on VanSky for $100,000

A third party known to the restaurateurs contacted the seller – who the court documents said turned out to be Meng – who was asking $100,000 a year for the brand so the buyer could open a franchise with Ju Dian’s characters.

Last year, the restaurant chain filed a motion in a Toronto court, asking that Meng’s 2019 trademark be declared invalid, given that it was “registered in bad faith” and that it did not had no intention of using it for commercial purposes, other than to “extort money from Beijing Judian.

In a ruling last week, Judge Angela Furlanetto upheld the restaurant chain’s request, adding that she agreed with them in their assertion that “it is implausible to consider that (Meng) could have create that same original design by itself”.

The judge also noted evidence from the restaurant chain that Meng had used a similar tactic when applying to register the trademarks of other well-known Chinese restaurants in Canada, “with the same intention” and for a supposed “proposed use”.

Meng did not submit any evidence in court, nor did he show up at the recent video hearing.

Evidence points to extortion: Judge

“Evidence indicates that (Meng) registered the (trademarks) with the intention of extorting money from (Beijing Judian) or using (their) reputation… to obtain money from others,” said said the judge.

“The evidence demonstrates that (Meng) registered the (mark) without a legitimate commercial purpose.

“In my opinion, the circumstances here constitute bad faith and the registration of the (trademarks) should be declared invalid and expunged accordingly.”

However, the judge dismissed the channel’s claim for damages for “market confusion or likelihood of confusion” caused by Meng’s actions, saying there was “insufficient evidence”.

She ruled that the channel was entitled to legal costs, which will be determined at a later date.

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