RICHEMONT’S VICTORY: Russia’s Federal Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Vacheron Constantin in a trademark lawsuit filed by parent company Compagnie Financière Richemont. Richemont took the Russian retailer Ritter-Gentleman to court for selling mid-market clothing and accessories under the Vacheron Constantin name. In 2005, Ritter-Gentleman had secured the right to use the Vacheron Constantin name for products other than watches from Rospatent, Russia’s trademark office.
Earlier this week, the Russian court ordered Rospatent to cancel the trademark registration, saying it was an infringement of the Vacheron Constantin name. “This decision of the court will no doubt also have great persuasive value in other jurisdictions around the world where the courts are grappling with similar issues surrounding the protection of famous foreign marks,” said Frederick Mostert, chief legal counsel at Richemont.
Vacheron Constantin is Switzerland’s oldest existing watch manufacturer, with prices that start at about 15,000 GBP, or $24,000 at current exchange, and stretch into the millions of pounds. Richemont has already won a case against Ritter-Gentleman and Rospatent for registering and using the name of Jaeger-LeCoultre, another of Richemont’s high-end watch brands, although that decision is being appealed.
A source close to Richemont said Jaeger-LeCoultre’s and Vacheron Constantin’s concern is that Russian consumers have a right to be correctly informed as to the origin of the goods they buy. “Otherwise they are misled, the genuine brand becomes devalued in their eyes, and sales of the genuine product suffer reputational damage,” the source said.