Bangkok Changed its Name, Do All Related Brands Require to Change Theirs?

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The Office of the Royal Society Thailand (“ORST“) declared on February 15, 2022, that Thailand has changed the name of its capital from Bangkok to Krung Thep Maha Nakhon. Krung Thep Maha Nakhon directly means “Great City of Angels.” On the other hand, Thai people abbreviate it to Krung Thep in daily conversation.

Ratchda Dhandirek, the Thai government’s deputy spokesperson, responded on her Facebook page, saying that the name of the Thai capital has not changed. Nevertheless, the change only occurred in the punctuation mark, changed from “Krung Thep Maha Nakhon; Bangkok,” which has been in use since 2001, to “Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok).”

Krung Thep Maha Nakhon is an abbreviation for the Thai capital’s full name, derived from Pali and Sanskrit, namely Krung Thep Mahanakhon. Ayuthaya Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Mahadilok Noppharat Phop Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Ratchathani Burirom Amon Witsanukam Prasit Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Witsanukam Witsanukam Witsanukam Witsanukam Wit According to Guinness World Records, this is the world’s longest place name.

Hence, should all businesses that use the name “Bangkok” be required to change their name?


The fate of Sambal Bangkok’s Indofood

Axton Salim, Director of PT Indofood CBP Sukses Makmur Tbk. (Indofood), sought public feedback via an Instagram poll to decide if Sambal Bangkok, which Indofood launched in 1992, should keep its name or whether changes should be made.

The poll reportedly revealed that 57% (fifty-seven percent) of respondents favored rebranding Bangkok Sambal as Sambal Krung Thep Maha Nakhon. Meanwhile, 43% (forty-three percent) of the people preferred to keep using the term Sambal Bangkok, which has become iconic with this sweet and sour chili sauce.


The Legality of Renaming Related Marks

This publicized rebranding campaign for Sambal Bangkok raises new problems about the regulations governing trademark rights for a business or item that utilizes the Bangkok name.

In Indonesia, trademark protections are regulated by Law Number 20 of 2016 on Trademarks and Geographical Indications as amended by Law Number 11 of 2020 on Job Creation (“Trademark Act”). According to Article 1, Point 5 of the Trademark Act, Right on Mark means the exclusive right granted by the State to a registered Mark owner for a definite period to use their trademark or authorize others to do otherwise.

Moreover, Article 20 of the Trademark Act states that a mark cannot be registered if it:

  1. contradicts the State ideology, laws and regulations, morality, religion, decency, or public order;
  2. is similar to, related to, or merely mentioning the goods and/or services being applied for registration;
  3. contains any element which may mislead the public in respect to its origin, quality, type, size, variety, intended use of goods and/or services being applied for registration, or constitute a name of protected plant variety for similar goods and/or services;
  4. contains description that does not correspond to quality, or efficacy of produced goods and/or services;
  5. is devoid of any distinctive character; and/or
  6. constitutes a generic name and/or public sign.


Based on the provisions outlined above, a mark is deemed legitimate for registration if it satisfies the requirements and does not contradict the Trademark Act or its derivative regulations, which are still in force.

Furthermore, according to the search results acquired from the DJKI Intellectual Property Database website, Indofood has not yet registered the trademark and logo that will be the next icon of Sambal Bangkok. Unlike Marjan, a syrup brand that has filed many trademarks for the syrup-flavored versions it creates. As a result, Marjan’s numerous syrup tastes have been granted intellectual property protection.

Thus, the Bangkok name is used by various trademarks, both registered and unregistered, according to the Directorate General of Intellectual Property (“DJKI”). However, it should be noted that the DJKI has still yet to release a confirmation regarding the mark in connection with changing the name of the White Elephant Country’s capital city. As a result, it might be claimed that the word “Bangkok” on a registered mark is still valid in Indonesia and does not need to be changed.

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  1. Law Number 20 of 2016 on Trademarks and Geographical Indications as amended by Law Number 11 of 2020 on Job Creation (“Trademark Act”).
  2. Kumparan
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