Text and Images by Sheere Ng @ Makansutra
Teh Terik, Reverso, Hazel’s Nuts and Vanilla Beanz are ice cream names that only some could use.
Local ice cream parlours Island Creamery and Udders have trademarked some of their ice cream names and that entitles them exclusive use to those names for frozen dessert, and the right to send infringers to court.
“Trademark gives us the advantage of instant recognition,” explains Mr Stanley Kwok, founder on Island Creamery, on why he spent more than $2000 to register the trademark of Teh Terik for its teh terik-flavoured ice cream. “Everybody knows teh terik. ‘Milk tea’ on the other hand does not really describe the product well.”
Udders, another popular ice cream company, has 12 names of its 23 flavours trademarked. The company is known to give their ice cream names a clever twist, enabling them to trademark names of even the most common flavours.
Tiramisu-flavoured ice cream, for example, is called Tira-Miss-U while strawberry-flavoured ice cream is named Strawberry Fields.
Ms Wong Peck Lin, the director of Udders, says that these unique names help differentiate their ice creams from the thousands of others out there. “It is not the name we are claiming. We are claiming customer mindshare,” she says.
Exclusive use to the ice cream names also makes it easier to market the product, she adds. The company has plans to venture into the distribution business.
Trademarking ice cream names is not new in the ice cream industry. American ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s was one of the firsts to trademark ice cream names. Many ice cream lovers would easily associate Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia to their brand.
While Mr Kwok thinks it’s ideal to copyright the name of his entire ice cream range, he has faced difficulties doing so. His attempt to trademark another of its popular flavour, Tiger Beer Sorbet, was foiled by Asia Pacific Breweries Limited, the company that produces the beer. The registry also rejected ‘Pulut Hitam’, because it is too generic.
Renaming a flavour in order to qualify for trademark can also backfire, says Ms Wong. “Our most popular flavour is Mao Shan Wang, which is already recognised as premium. Renaming it is a regression, so we just have to live with that.”
Also, not all customers are appreciative of the specially given names. A Malaccan man made a big scene at one of Udders’s outlets because they had named the gula melaka-flavoured ice cream Gila (crazy in Malay) Melaka. “He felt offended because that’s where he comes from!” says Ms Wong.