Vietnam Coffee Queen fails in bid to stop King from suing overseas distributors

By Hai Duyen   April 21, 2019 | 07:12 am GMT+7
Vietnam Coffee Queen fails in bid to stop King from suing overseas distributors
Le Hoang Diep Thao owns a 30 percent stake in Trung Nguyen Investment. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

The Coffee King cannot be stopped from filing cases in overseas courts against instant coffee products sold abroad by his ex-wife.

A HCMC Court Friday revoked its earlier order restraining the founder of Trung Nguyen Group, Dang Le Nguyen Vu, from filing suits in overseas courts relating to instant coffee products marketed by his ex-wife Le Hoang Diep Thao.

The court had issued the restraining order in mid-April after Thao sued Vu, demanding that he stops calling her instant coffee products fake and claiming they are not part of the Trung Nguyen brand.

The G7 brand instant coffee is made by the  Trung Nguyen Instant Coffee Company, which is a subsidiary of Trung Nguyen Investment, in which Thao has a 30 percent stake. Trung Nguyen Investment owns a majority stake in the Trung Nguyen Group.

Vu had previously sued foreign entities for distributing the instant coffee products in Taiwan and South Korea, saying that the distribution of these products was a violation of Trung Nguyen’s intellectual property rights.

After Thao filed the suit, the HCMC People’s Court ordered Vu to suspend his lawsuits and stop sending warning letters to overseas distributors until it hands down a verdict in other related cases.

Dang Le Nguyen Vu is the founder and chairman of Trung Nguyen Group. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

Dang Le Nguyen Vu is the founder and chairman of Trung Nguyen Group. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

Vu appealed the court’s order, saying that as the chairman of the company, he has the right to represent the company in filing lawsuits to protect the company’s benefits.

After Vu’s appeal, the court scrapped its own order, saying that Thao had not provided evidence showing how Vu’s lawsuits in overseas courts relate to her demand for him to stop calling her products fake and not part of Trung Nguyen brand.

In this the court appeared to agree with Vu that the lawsuits he launches overseas should be decided by those courts and Thao cannot ask Vietnamese courts to restrain such actions.

This is the 19th lawsuit involving Vu, Thao and Trung Nguyen.

In a separate lawsuit, the same court last month granted a divorce and ordered that assets of the Trung Nguyen Coffee Group be split 60:40 in Vu’s favor, and that their lands and buildings are shared equally.

It also ordered Vu to buy out Thao’s shares in the company with cash, following which she would cease to be a Trung Nguyen shareholder.

However, the HCMC prosecutor’s office last week called for the verdict to be quashed claiming it was rife with errors and unfair to Thao.

Trung Nguyen Group earned revenues of VND3.95 trillion ($170.5 million) and pretax profits of VND681 billion ($29.4 million) in 2017.

 
 
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