Successful Vietnam coffee house chain Trung Nguyen is claiming that an American company has stolen its trademark.

Dang Le Nguyen Vu launched the chain back in 1998 and now has 400 franchise coffee houses in Vietnam. In 2000 he took Trung Nguyen into the US market through its American distributor Rice Field, who subsequently registered the Trung Nguyen trademark with US authorities.

In 2001, Vu tried to register his trademark in the US but discovered that Rice Field had already registered it. Vu has since provided US authorities with documents that he believes will successfully prove that the Trung Nguyen trademark is an icon in Vietnam, in existence since 1966.

While he waits for the decision of the US trademark authorities, Vu is continuing with his US$3.3m modernisation of Trung Nguyen’s 400 Vietnam cafés.