Fish sauce. The olive oil of the Asian cuisine. When someone copies your recipe, it becomes a battle worth fighting for.
The fight is all about the logos of two sellers of fish sauce, that compete on grocery store shelves. A big fight, because the fish sauce market is one of hundreds of millions of gallons. Even a small fish can earn big bucks in this market.
The parties: in the left hand corner, a family-owned, three-decade old company that sells five lines of fish sauce. In the right hand corder, a newcomer that claims is makes premium products that have become celebrity chefs’ number one choice.
Yau (left hand corner) accused Pham (right hand corner) of trying to take advantage of her firm’s long-established logo of a red Asian sailing vessel. Pham’s premium fish sauce is called Red Boat and prominently features a red sailing vessel as its logo.
On the witness stand, Yau elaborated on how her family left Vietnam in 1975 on boats so small they could not all fit in one together. And about the product itself: “This is more than just a condiment. It’s so good, it’s like gold.”
The outcome of the case, however, will not rely on the recipe, and not on the plaintiff’s family history, but on the assessment whether or not the logo’s are similar. And this is where Yau has a good point.