Knock-off 'Tim Mortons' coffee found by Canadian in South Korea

Tim Mortons instant coffee and the Tim House café have logos similar to Canada's ubiquitous coffee chain.

Tim Mortons and Tim House logos similar to that of Canada's ubiquitous chain

Canadians in South Korea may be clamouring for Tim Hortons coffee, but they won't find it here. (Mike Elgar/Instagram Tori Allen/CBC)

During a weekend trip to Seoul, a Canadian English teacher came across a batch of golden-packaged, "original" Tim Mortons Mocha Gold Coffee Mix.

Mike Elgar, currently based in Suwon, had been browsing around a small store in the Dongdaemun Market shopping district when he spotted the instant coffee mix with a logo almost identical to that of Tim Hortons. 

"I would have picked some up if they were legitimate. I'd have bought one for myself and some for a few friends," Elgar said, who posted a photo of the bags on Instagram.  

Mike Elgar spotted the instant coffee mix with a logo almost identical to that of Tim Hortons in the Dongdaemun Market shopping district. (Mike Elgar/Instagram)

Elgar said it's been about six months since he's been to Canada to visit friends and family in Oakville, Ont., and he'd be interested in going to a real Tim Hortons in South Korea, if the company ever decides to expand there. 

Meanwhile, though, there's Tim House in Seoul's Daerim neighbourhood, which also has a familiar-looking logo. 

Back in March, another Canadian English teacher posted a photo of this café to Facebook. According to a previous report by CBC News, it was still under construction at the time and the owner refused to comment. 

Kim Seong-Geun, who rents the entire building and planned to open this coffee shop in March, didn't want to talk about the store's name or signage. (Tori Allen/CBC)

"A few people saw them under construction in their neighbourhoods and were pumped, but then confused," Karli Vezina wrote in message to CBC News. She's lived in South Korea for about three years and runs a blog called Karli in Korea. 

"When we realized it was a fake, everyone lost interest and started taking bids on how soon it would take for the real Timmy's to sue them."

Tim Hortons does not operate stores or sell coffee in South Korea. 

"While we're thrilled to see that the Tim Hortons brand is loved and recognized around the world, we're always vigilant when it comes to protecting our intellectual property, especially as we expand internationally," spokeswoman Michelle Robichaud told CBC News in an email.

"We will continue to take the necessary steps to protect our trademarks."

Tim Hortons provided a similar message to CBC News in March regarding Tim House. 

Elgar said that the shop he saw the instant coffee in was small and out of the way. 

"People should understand it wasn't a legit store … I don't think it's as big a deal as people think it is," he said. "I would feel bad if they do take legal action. I hope they don't go that far."

Seoul is a city known for its knock-offs, like fake Canada Goose jackets or other luxury items. Vezina has encountered a shoe shop named "Adidais," but she writes that it did contain actual Adidas shoes.

According to the Canadian Embassy in Korea, there are about 23,000 Canadians living in South Korea as of January 2015. Around 5,000 of those expatriates are English teachers.


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