Friday

THANKFULLY, WHEN HUBRIS MEETS THE RULE OF LAW HUBRIS LOSES-EVEN IN CHINA


There is an illness-sometimes fatal- that often attacks companies who own famous brands. The company, through its employees, begins to see all of reality filtered through that famous brand.
This breeds strong loyalty within the company’s ranks. But it also can cause the company to distort the reality of the marketplace.
This illness often presents itself in the form of hubris. The modern definition of hubris is haughtiness or arrogance. Wikipedia mentions a “pride that blinds”.
Any automotive company doing business in China has heard of Chinese companies that copy. Chinese companies have slavishly copied the entire exterior design of certain cars and motorcycles.
So Mercedes- Benz had every right to be on alert. Their 3-pointed star logo is one of the most famous and distinctive brands in the world. But let me suggest that they were blinded by hubris when they encountered the logo of a small Chinese plastic molding company with longstanding ties to the electric car and motorcycle industries.

Following Western business practices, the Chinese company hired a design firm to develop their logo. When they sought to register their logo M-B opposed their application. Under Chinese trademark law principles, they could not use their logo while it was under attack.
Recently, a Chinese administrative body ruled that the Chinese company’s logo was not confusingly similar to the famous M-B star.
Hometown victory? I don’t think so.
Like it or not. Admit it or not. There is a subjective, “how does it hit me” dimension to trademark law. When one encounters this star logo it simply does not evoke any mental impression of Mercedes-Benz.
Unless you are Mercedes –Benz. Then you begin to see every star logo as an effort to take a free ride on the prestige and value of the famous M-B logo. Take a look at the logos and decide for yourself. As for me I agree with Wikipedia- pride that blinds.

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