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Hong Kong-based company is suing the copyright holders of the Amazon, Michelin and Victoria's Secret brands

13 Apr 2024

Hong Kong-based Smart International Distribution Limited (SIDL) claims several dozen trademarks of foreign companies that left Russia. Since the beginning of the year, SIDL has filed 13 lawsuits against the copyright holders of the Amazon, Michelin, NEC, Shiseido, Victoria's Secret brands, as well as the Chinese company Xiaomi, which produces mainly electronics and still present in Russia. The plaintiff intends to limit or completely terminate the protection of their trademarks.

In a lawsuit against the Amazon Technologies Inc., the plaintiff demands the complete early termination of the protection of the marketplace trademarks due to their non-use. For example, the text designation is now protected by 42 of the 45 classes of the ICTU, and the logo is protected by nine. Similar demands have been made against the Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido, the American manufacturer of Victoria's Secret lingerie, the French supplier of tires and car products Michelin, the Japanese electronics manufacturer NEC. All these companies have announced the termination of their work in Russia in 2022.

On the official website, SIDL states that it is "an international company specializing in the development and production of electronic products, household appliances, climate control equipment and tableware." It is also indicated that the company's factories operate in Europe and Asia and produce more than 10,000 units of products. Russian distributors and equipment manufacturers interviewed by Vedomosti said earlier that they had not heard of SIDL.

SIDL submitted a number of trademark applications to Rospatent, for example, for several Xiaomi Home designations, which were refused. Applications from MI, Dyson Home, Braun Power, Braun Prof, Braun Air are currently being considered.

So-called troll companies can stand behind SIDL (by analogy with patent trolls), which will then make a reverse sale of the mark to its rightholder, or a competitor who wants to enter a new market, says Pavel Katkov, a lawyer, a member of the Committee of the CCI of the Russian Federation on entrepreneurship in the field of media communications. According to the Civil Code, the protection of trademarks can be terminated prematurely only after three years of non-use.

SIDL probably aims to register everything "that will be possible to register," says Sergey Zuykov, patent attorney, managing partner of Zuykov and partners. Perhaps SIDL is still trying to negotiate with the copyright holders of brands on the acquisition of marks in terms of unused goods and services, believes Margarita Tarasova, patent attorney for Online Patent. Then, in her opinion, the lawsuits were filed as a demonstration of intentions and willingness to participate in the process of revoking the marks. Zuykov recalls that the court may terminate legal protection ahead of time, but at the same time further refuse to register trademarks at the request of the person who sought cancellation. For example, the arguments may be misleading the consumer and attempts to take advantage of the reputation of the defendants, the lawyer believes. But this will not prevent trading under this brand without registering it.

Source: Vedomosti