Milk tea giant attacks Australian franchisor

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A Sydney-based company behind popular bubble tea brand Sharetea is fighting an attempt by its Taiwanese franchise partner to prevent it from using the brand and its recipes in Australia, in a lawsuit that could affect more than 80 stores across the country.

Lian Fa International Business Dining Corporation, which owns the international rights to Sharetea, has launched legal action against Sharetea Australia, a Sydney-based franchise company for the brand locally, according to court documents.

Sharetea Australia is breaking away from the Taiwanese giant behind the brand.Credit:Edwina pickles

Lian Fa claims he ended a deal between the two in September, making it illegal for Sharetea Australia to use its trademark or confidential information such as its recipes for sweet milk tea served with tapioca pearls for which the chain is known. .

But according to an email seen by The Sydney Morning Herald and Age, Sharetea Australia refused to comply with the termination notice, prompting questions from individual franchisees who operate outlets under the brand.

Sharetea Australia, started by entrepreneur Teng ‘Anthony’ Mu almost a decade ago, has around 80 stores in its network. The company is vigorously challenging the termination notice in court, with a spokesperson saying it has a legally binding agreement with Lian Fa that has a decade to go.

He said Lian Fa asked Sharetea Australia to provide confidential information about its franchisees to help with the Taiwanese company’s public listing, which was at the heart of the dispute.

“Sharetea Australia did not respond to Lian Fa’s inquiries for several reasons, including our obligation to protect the confidentiality of our franchise partners,” the spokesperson said. “At the start of this year, Lian Fa stopped supplying products to Sharetea Australia, forcing Sharetea Australia to source products from alternative suppliers. “

The spokesperson said Sharetea Australia would continue to operate normally while the dispute was before the courts, had informed its franchisees of the issue and maintained that Lian Fa had not validly terminated the agreement between the two parties, which had was signed in Shenzhen and lasts until 2032.

“Sharetea Australia maintains that our menus, recipes, store designs and operating manuals have been developed independently of Lian Fa,” he said.

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