GAZ Group risks losing the trademark of the famous car "Victory". The rights to it are challenged by the “Hartung” family of State Duma Deputy Valeriy Gartung, demanding an early termination of the legal protection of the mark due to non-use. Hartung plans to produce trailers and spare parts for this brand, relying on the “warm associations” that the brand causes to consumers. In GAZ, such use is considered “non-patriotic” and they intend to defend Victory to the end.
The Intellectual Property Court accepted the production of a claim by Khartung LLC against PJSC GAZ demanding that the legal protection of the Victory car trademark “due to non-use” be terminated early. The application was submitted on March 25, the preliminary meeting is scheduled for April 22.
"Victory" - the first Soviet post-war passenger car, produced in 1946-1958 at the Gorky Automobile Plant. GAZ Group became the copyright holder of the trademark in 2009: the St. Petersburg businessman Pavel Andreev ceded the rights to it and the Chaika brand of the company. In October 2018, Rospatent extended the term of the exclusive right to the Victory trademark until July 29, 2029.
In Hartung, the lawsuit is explained by the intention to produce at its plant in Chelyabinsk products under the Victory brand: special equipment (trailers and semi-trailers), wheeled products, parts and components.
The word “Victory” gives consumers warm associations, for many it is associated with national pride that brings people together in these difficult times, and we want to satisfy their needs with a high-quality domestic product under this beautiful melodious name, ”the company says.
However, the source familiar with the situation “b” gives a more mundane explanation.
According to him, the parties had a conflict over deliveries to the Ural plant of the GAZ group of products from the same Khartung plant and the suit is a “pressure tool”.
Khartung LLC is the official distributor of wheeled products and trailed machinery of PJSC Chelyabinsk Forge and Press Plant (ChKPZ, Hartung trademark). According to SPARK-Interfax, 59% of the company belongs to the wife of the State Duma deputy from the Chelyabinsk region Valery Gartung Marina, 25% and 16% - to his sons Dmitry and Andrey. CHKPZ is also affiliated with the family of Mr. Hartung.
In the GAZ group they intend to assert their rights in court. “It's amazing how such an unpatriotic idea could have arisen in general - to use the legendary automotive brand in automotive components. Where does the plaintiff plan to use it - in branding steel billets or wheels? Or does he expect to resell the right to “Victory” to a foreign manufacturer? ”Said GAZ Vice-President Elena Matveyeva to“ Kommersant ”. She notes that the brand is "inherently connected with GAZ, its legacy" and became legendary as an automobile brand. GAZ does not comment on the judicial strategy. However, in response to the accusations of “not using” the trademark, Ms. Matveyeva explains that the group “keeps it safe” for new developments.
The historical significance of the Victory car brand is already unfamiliar to new generations, but is important for GAZ as a legacy, says Sergei Udalov from Avtostat.
In his opinion, the group “develops in different directions” and may well use the brand in the future. However, Sergey Gavryushkin, managing partner of the law firm Gavryushkin & Partners, explains that the court can satisfy the claimant’s statement if it proves interest in the trademark and the right holder cannot confirm use in the past three years. The head of the practice on intellectual property of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Elena Trusova, specifies that the use of a trademark is considered to be its introduction into circulation with respect to goods belonging to classes for which the mark is registered. However, she clarifies that the likelihood that an applicant, after challenging a mark, will be able to easily register it in his name and start using it, is small.