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Bakery loses sweet potato cakes battle

Date Posted: 2008-08-18

A Yomitan Village bakery has lost a court battle to preserve rights to its sweet potato cakes.
Porsche, a successful sweets shop, had claimed its sweet potato cakes were unique, and protected by trademark laws, and sought protection from a nearby competitor making the same kind of cakes. The Naha District Court has denied Porshe’s petition for ¥100 million damages against Nanpoo Trading, ruling “this type of cakes are quite popular in Okinawa, and are not an original type of cake.”
The court said that Nanpoo Trading had the right to make sweet potato cakes, which look similar to those produced by Porsche. Both sold the cakes as Sweet PotatoTarts, although the two bakery’s designs, shapes and sizes were somewhat different. “Sweet potato is an Okinawan special production,” the court ruled, “so anybody can use the sweet potato tart. The name is just sweet potato and tart. There’s not specialty in this name qualifying for trademark protection.”
The Naha District Court noted that not only Nanpoo Trading makes sweet potato tarts, but that there are other shops selling the same type cakes that use sweet potato as an ingredient. Porsche has rejected the court decision, saying it will appeal the case to a higher court.

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