By Lee Hyo-sik
The Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that no entity can use the name of Korea’s top women’s university without obtaining consent from the school.
The Supreme Court’s ruling forces Ewha Media, a local art performance agency, to stop using the name “Ewha,” saying that the trademark right belongs to Ewha Womans University. The agency was ordered to discard billboards, pamphlets, and other online and offline aertisement materials, as well as close down its website (ewhacom).
The university filed a suit against Ewha Media in May 2010, with the claim the company used the school’s name without first obtaining permission. The school asked the court to order the agency to stop using the word Ewha
However, the company insisted that Ewha is a common word for pear blossoms, and its art performance planning and recording businesses have nothing to do with the university.
“Ewha Womans University has been around for many years. According to a brand recognition survey conducted in 2004, 73.9 percent of respondents referred to the university when prompted by the word Ewha,” the court said in a ruling.
“This shows most people associate Ewha with the university. So the lower courts’ rulings that no one can use the name without consent from the school are legitimate. ”
The court said the university organizes concerts and other performances on campus.
“Ewha Media also plans similar events in places nearby the school. So, consumers could mistake the agency’s activities for those of the university.”
The ruling is expected to prompt the university to file similar suits against companies that include the word Ewha in their corporate names.
SOURCE: The Korea Times