EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION v. USA EIKOSENZ MOBIL PETROLEUM CHEMICAL ENGINEERING LTD

HCA 2188/2013

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE

ACTION NO 2188 OF 2013

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BETWEEN

EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION Plaintiff
and
USA EXXON MOBIL OIL LIMITED Defendant

HCA 2189/2013

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IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE

ACTION NO 2189 OF 2013

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BETWEEN

EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION Plaintiff
and
EXETER EXXONMOBIL TIANJIN OIL (GROUP) LIMITED Defendant

HCA 2190/2013

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IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE

ACTION NO 2190 OF 2013

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BETWEEN

EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION Plaintiff
and
USA EIKOSENZ MOBIL PETROLEUM CHEMICAL ENGINEERING LIMIITED Defendant

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Before: Hon Zervos J in Chambers

Date of Hearing: 15 January 2014
Date of Decision: 15 January 2014

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D E C I S I O N

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1. The defendants in each action are typical shadow companies. As mentioned in the Statements of Claim of each action, in recent yearsit has become fashionable for some unscrupulous individuals, primarily from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), to incorporatea “shadow company” in Hong Kong for the purpose of trading on another person’s reputation.

2. As also mentioned in the Statements of Claim, a Hong Kong shadow company has one or more of the following features:

(a) The key part of its name is identical or confusingly similar to the reputable name or mark of another person with whom it hasno connection;

(b) Its director(s)/shareholder(s) is/are PRC individuals;

(c) Its secretary is a Hong Kong secretarial company and usually involved in the incorporation of the shadow company;

(d) Its registered office address is the same as that of its secretary or those providing secretarial services to it; and

(e) It backs licenses or otherwise authorizes or permits its name to be used by one or more persons in China, usually a business entityset up by its director/shareholder.

3. What is also a common feature is that when proceedings are instituted in Hong Kong against the shadow company for passing off andtrademark infringement there is no contest and no one here in Hong Kong to answer the claim.

4. I refer to my remarks in Power Dekor (Hong Kong) Ltd v Power Dekor Group Co Ltd, HCA 1139/2013, 9 January 2014 (unreported), which are apposite to this case.

5. I agree with the above observations and reiterate that the problem of shadow companies is becoming an increasing concern to thecourts. This is yet another example of a case where a plaintiff which has established a reputation in a particular field of commercialendeavour has become a victim of unscrupulous individuals seeking to trade off its name and reputation through the incorporationof a company here in Hong Kong with a similar name to that of the plaintiff for the purpose of passing off.

6. I am satisfied on the papers before me that the order sought should be granted, and I accordingly order that final judgment be enteredagainst each defendant and in the terms as set out in the respective summonses.

(Kevin Zervos)
Judge of the Court of First Instance
High Court

Mr KY So, of Wilkinson & Grist, for the plaintiff