Great Brawl of China! Five-star Mayfair hotel The Dorchester sues Chinese takeaway ‘The China Tang’ 300 miles away in Barrow-in-Furness because it shares same name as its own upmarket Cantonese restaurant
Five-star Mayfair hotel The Dorchester has sued a Chinese takeaway called ‘The China Tang’ 300 miles away in Barrow-in-Furness because it shares the same name as its own upmarket Cantonese restaurant.
The prestigious London hotel won its case against small businessman Hong Lu Gu, who runs his own China Tang in Cumbria.
Mr Gu now estimates he must cough up £1,000 to £2,000 to rebrand and fears the exclusive hotel, where penthouse suites are up to £10,000 per night, will come after him for their legal costs.
The father-of-two opened his family business under the name China Tang in 2009, four years after the Dorchester opened its restaurant, because Tang was the surname of the man who taught him how to cook when he was younger.
The Dorchester’s lawyers argued that as restaurants – including its own China Tang – are offering takeaway during the pandemic this could lead people to confuse the businesses.
They also said that it provides ‘takeaway food’ to the customers of private jet companies.
Five-star Mayfair hotel The Dorchester has sued a Chinese takeaway called ‘The China Tang’ 300 miles away in Barrow-in-Furness because it shares the same name as its own upmarket Cantonese restaurant
The Dorchester’s lawyers argued that as restaurants – including its own China Tang – are offering takeaway during the pandemic this could lead people to confuse the businesses
The prestigious London hotel won its case against small businessman Hong Lu Gu, who runs his own China Tang, pictured in Barrow-in-Furness and now must cough up an estimated £2,000 to rebrand
The menu for the China Tang at The Dorchester and the one in Barrow-in-Furness seem to have a big difference when it comes to price as well
The Dorchester’s estimated annual revenue is currently over £100 million per year and is a firm favourite for celebrities like Boy George after it was set up by billionaire socialite Sir David Tang at the Mayfair hotel in 2005.
It charges £45 for a sharing portion of chicken noodles, compared to £6.30 charged by Mr Gu’s takeaway.
China Tang in Barrow-in-Furness is a family business that serves a loyal and local customer base.
Mr Gu has been battiling legal action from the prestigious hotel group’s restaurant for two years.
And at a hearing in December he was found liable for trademark infringement.
Mr Gu argues his takeaway delivers to people in a small catchment area nowhere near the Dorchester.
He also claimed in court that there is a China Tang in Torquay, ‘Tang’ means China, its an adjective in relation to food, and Tang is a common Chinese name.
Judge Richard Hacon said: ‘I have no idea whether ‘Tang’ is the equivalent of Smith or Jones and cannot assume anything in that regard.
‘I think the submission that the average consumer would take ‘Tang’ to mean that the food is tangy has an air of desperation. I doubt that it would be so interpreted.’
Mr Hacon ruled a breach of the trademark after saying he had ‘sympathy’ for Mr Gu.
He also said the north west takeaway could not pass itself off as the fine-dining restaurant.
结果是, the Dorchester’s eatery could not claim any damages from Mr Gu but he fears they will seek for him to pay their legal costs.
他说: ‘It was a hard time.
‘I have to change the name, I have until March 16.
‘I just totally have the sense that I’m being bullied, 你懂?
‘I didn’t try to copy or get anything from their reputation.’
Mr Gu has opted to change his takeaway’s name to ‘China Town’ in hope it bears some resemblance to customers.
他加了: ‘My customer circle has nothing to do with The Dorchester’s customers.
‘I’m surrounded by local customers.
‘I’m a Chinese takeaway – they are a high end restaurant.
‘I was fighting for China Tang because I don’t want my customers to get confused.
‘I worry that they won’t be able to find me online because most of my customers are older.
‘I have to pay to change my sign.
‘I don’t know how much but I think it’ll cost about £1,000 to £2,000.’
Inside the China Tang at the Dorchester in Mayfair, 伦敦
Mr Gu also said he had to close his business during the first lockdown in line with government guidance, which saw his books take a hit.
现在, he is waiting to hear next steps from his solicitor regarding a financial settlement from the five-star hotel.
Mr Gu said: ‘The court sessions were in London and I had to take the earliest train from Lancaster at five o’clock in the morning to London.
‘Then I had to come back the same day because at night time I have to operate for my business.’
The direct train he took from Lancaster to London charges £105 for a return ticket.
The Dorchester has been approached for comment.