An Indonesian community of stand-up comedians recently filed a lawsuit at the Commercial Court of Jakarta, seeking for cancellation of a trademark registration. The trademark in question is a composite of wordmark and device “OPEN MIC INDONESIA”, which is registered in Service Class 41, covering services of “entertainment, radio entertainment program, television entertainment”.
The owner of the registered trademark is a Ramon Pratomo, a senior entertainer based in Jakarta who also goes by a popular stage name Ramon Papana. He filed his application to register the mark “OPEN MIC INDONESIA” at the Directorate General of Intellectual Property in 2013, to which registration was granted approximately two years later in 2015.
The stand-up comedian’s community claimed that Ramon Pratomo as the owner of the registered mark “OPEN MIC INDONESIA” has been using his registered mark abusively. In 2019, for instance, a well-known comic who were organizing an event for younger comedians received a cease-and-desist letter from Ramon, threatening to sue with IDR 1 billion in damages if he did not stop the use of the word “open mic” for his event. Similar threats were also sent out to several venues and establishments that organized comedy events using the term “open mic”.
The community argues that the words “open mic” is a commonly used term in live entertainment scenes, not only for comedians but for other type of performances as well. Accordingly, the words “open mic” itself as it is should be considered as a generic term and therefore could not be owned exclusively by anyone particularly in the entertainment industry. While Ramon has been successful in registering the composite mark “OPEN MIC INDONESIA”, the community argues that protection of his registration shall be limited to the distinctiveness of the mark as a composite of words and device, and thus shall not extend to the use of the term “open mic” in general.
As a matter of fact, none of the cease-and-desist letters went through to legal proceedings at court, since all the affected parties opted to refrain from using the term “open mic” as demanded by Ramon, apparently due to excessive amount of damages they were threatened to be liable of. In view of what Ramon has been doing to others in the scene of Indonesian stand-up comedy, the community believes that the registration of composite mark “OPEN MIC INDONESIA” was filed at the first place by Ramon Pratomo not in good faith, and therefore qualify as grounds for cancellation pursuant to Article 77 of the Law no. 20 of 2016 concerning Mark and Geographical Indication.
Stand-up comedy as a form of performing arts has been developing significantly in Indonesia during the past decade, especially since a number of national tv stations regularly organize talent show competition to seek for new generations of stand-up comedians, many of whom are later successful in extending their presence in their industry by taking on other forms of artistic performance.
Ramon Pratomo, on the other hand, is coming from an older generation and has also been known as one of the pioneers in the field. So far Ramon has made a statement that he was not at all surprised by the lawsuit, claiming that his mark registration was done for the betterment of stand-up comedy scene in Indonesia.
The first court session was held on 2 September 2022, and it may take up to 60 days for the whole process at the Commercial Court to be concluded.