Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fangchenggang Fairytale: How a Magic Mercedes-Benz Became A Humble Honda

Adam Smith dedicated his World Trademark Review blog about a Mercedes-Benz police car with a Honda logo. The local Fangchenggang police force (in Guanxi province) thought that they could fool taxpayers into believing that they did not spent too much money on a police car. Read here.

I think everybody understands that the police needs to have faster and better cars than the criminals. Third parties that are alterating, mutilating, distorting the three-pointed star logo of Mercedes-Benz by replacing it with the H-logo of Honda raises many kinds of questions:
- Can third party users of the Mercedes-Benz car after the purchase do whatever they want to do with the logo? In other words is the trademark exhausted after the sale?
- What claims can both Mercedes-Benz and Honda make based on a likelihood of (post-sale) confusion and likelihood of dilution and taking unfair advantage of the other trademark. Moral rights (droit d'intégrité) in regard to the copyright might also play a role.  
- An extra complication in this case is that not the competitor-copycat is the culprit, but a third party, and it is an interesting question whether it the trademark is used in or outside the course of trade.

No comments: