The Miss Universe Organization (MUO) has said that Unicorp cannot use the Miss Universe Vietnam brand name after its contract ended, while Unicrop has refuted the claim.
MUO said on Feb. 28 that they didn’t renew the contract with Saigon Universe Corporation (Unicorp) after it failed to match the bid for the copyright of Miss Universe Vietnam pageant.
The legal director of JKN Global Group, which manages MUO, said Unicorp no longer has the right to use MUO’s intellectual property, including the Miss Universe brand and the name Miss Universe Vietnam, including its Vietnamese name “Hoa Hau Hoan Vu Viet Nam”.
“We are the legitimate owner of the Miss Universe Vietnam brand. Therefore, we will perform all the legal actions needed to protect our rights,” the legal director said.
Unicorp CEO Tran Viet Bao Hoang opposed JKN’s statements. He also said the current Miss Universe Vietnam copyright owner, Miss Universe Vietnam JSC, can’t use the Vietnamese name of the pageant.
Hoang said that the contract between Miss Universe Vietnam JSC and JKN only included the right to send Vietnamese candidates to Miss Universe International and the ownership the Miss Universe Vietnam brand.
“JKN cannot include all the Vietnamese translations of the name into their ownership,” he added.
Unicorp said they have built the brand Hoa Hau Hoan Vu Viet Nam through organizing the pageant for 15 years. Unicorp sent contestants to Miss Universe International from 2008-2022.
“Any individual or organization using or planning to use the name Hoa Hau Hoan Vu Viet Nam is unprofessional. We will drastically condemn them and will take action to protect our brand,” Hoang said.
However, Unicorp has not yet responded to questions as to whether or not they have registered their ownership of the Hoa Hau Hoan Vu Viet Nam brand with the National Office of Intellectual Property.
The dispute began after a new unit acquired the copyright of Miss Universe Vietnam. On Feb. 18, after announcing it would stop cooperating with MUO, Unicorp announced that they would continue organize the Hoa Hau Hoan Vu Viet Nam pageant because they still own the name. Unicorp also removed the name “Miss Universe Vietnam” on its social networks and replaced it with “Hoa Hau Hoan Vu Viet Nam”.
On Feb. 24, MUO announced that Miss Universe Vietnam JSC is the copyright owner of Miss Universe Vietnam. Attending the announcement event were Thai billionaire Anne Jakkapong Jakrajutatip – the new president of the Miss Universe pageant – the 2022 winner R’Bonney Gabriel, and second runner-up Andreína Martínez. After that, they opened a Facebook page named Miss Universe Vietnam – Hoa Hau Hoan Vu Vietnam, which currently has nearly 6,000 followers.
2022 Miss Universe Vietnam Nguyen Thi Ngoc Chau (L) and Unicorp CEO Tran Viet Bao Hoang at an event in 2022. Photo by Unimedia
Over the years, Miss Universe Vietnam JSC has successfully purchased around 30 copyrights to beauty contests and the right to send Vietnamese contestants to Miss World and Miss Grand International. In early January, Miss Universe Vietnam JSC organized the first Vietnamese-owned beauty contest, 2023 Miss Charm.
Miss Universe was established in 1952, founded by clothing company Pacific Mills in California. The copyright of the competition belonged to a number of companies before Donald Trump bought it in 1996. After beginning a political career, Trump sold the copyright to IMG Models, a model company based in New York. With 72 years of history, Miss Universe is one of the two oldest and largest beauty contests on the planet, alongside Miss World.
In late 2022, Anne Jakkapong Jakrajutatip purchased Miss Universe for $20 million. After taking control, she made many changes to the organization, including hosting bids to maintain the copyright of the contest, which caused controversy. Many companies in Indonesia, Belize, Malaysia and Ghana decided to withdraw from the bid since the copyright fee was too high.
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