It has been revealed recently that SM Entertainment has lost a lawsuit against LG Household & Health Care for using the term 'SUM' as their celebrity shop store.
The Civil Settlement Division of the Seoul Central District Court has ruled that SM cannot use 'SUM' as it can be mistaken with LG Household & Health Care's brand 'su:m', "The use of a similar trademark would infringe the trademark right as it could mislead or confuse the traders and/or general consumers in regards to the source of the goods or services."
SM Entertainment's 'SUM' is a celebrity market shop that sells various goods using its artist's names but also to promote them. The agency stated, "LG Household & Health Care's product is pronounced as 'soom (breath)' whilst our brand is pronounced as 'Some' (abbreviation or slang for 'something'). Therefore, the notion of the two products is completely different. Also, the demographics for our market is female fans in their teens, whereas 'su:m' is targeted more towards middle-aged women."
However, the court said, "The difference in fonts and the like are only a small difference that is difficult to distinguish by the general consumers with an average attention to details. Also, even though the target group is for young teenage girl fans, the main consumers of 'SUM' are foreigners who travel to Korea from foreign countries, such as Japan and China. Hence, this demographic overlaps with LG Household & Health Care's product 'su:m' which also sells in Japan and China."
They added, "LG Household & Health Care has been using the term 'su:m' since 2007 and has become a well-known brand in Korea. Whereas for SM Entertainment started its use of 'SUM' back in 2015, and therefore, it can be concluded that they used the similar term with the awareness that 'su:m' existed prior to their own usage."
However, after the court's decision, it appears that SM Entertainment will be appealing the decision and has asked the court to delay the order of shutting down its operation/taking down the advertisements to a later date. The court accepted this request.