Reported legal action relates to a long-standing dispute over the registration, operation and alleged trademark infringement of Luckin Coffee stores in Thailand
The Luckin Coffee logo | Photo credit: via Shutterstock
Thailand’s 50R Group has filed a lawsuit against Chinese coffee chain Luckin Coffee, claiming THB 10bn ($290m) in compensation for economic losses incurred during a trademark dispute.
50R Group claims it legally registered the ‘Luckin’ trademark with the Thai Ministry of Commerce in 2020. It started operating stores in December 2020 with similar, although reversed, logo to the Chinese coffee chain and currently operates a handful of sites.
Xiamen-based Luckin Coffee filed, and initially won, a lawsuit with Thailand’s Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court in 2022, alleging that 50R Group maliciously registered its trademarks. However, the decision was reversed by a court of appeals in December 2023.
Following the decision, 50R Group alleges that Luckin Coffee forced it to cease using the disputed trademark prior to the court’s verdict and, in some cases seized property. The $290m claim relates to the recovery of losses incurred during the period.
Posting on Chinese microblogging site Weibo in December 2023, Luckin Coffee said the 50R Group lawsuit had ‘yet to be verified’, adding that it ‘couldn’t understand’ the action and was ‘shocked’.
Founded in Beijing in 2017, Luckin Coffee is China’s largest coffee chain with more than 13,200 stores. It has also opened 30 outlets in Singapore since debuting in the city state in March 2023.
The value-focused coffee chain has long refused to recognise the legitimacy of the Thai stores, which are not incuded in its financial reporting. In August 2022, Luckin Coffee released a statement asserting the stores were ‘counterfeit’ and had caused ‘serious damage to the Luckin brand’. In January 2023 the coffee chain mooted Thailand as a potential market for its international expansion, despite the ongoing trademark dispute.
Thai media reports suggest 50R Group’s stores offer a slimmed down menu 30% smaller than Luckin Coffee in China, with beverages priced approximately 60% higher.
Luckin Coffee’s official franchise business in Singapore also charges approximately 60% more than stores in China alongside offering the chain’s characteristic heavy promotional discounting.
Alongside retail, 50R Group is reported to have interests in energy, tourism, real estate and catering. According to information from Thailand's Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), 50R Group has 191 registered trademarks.