Burger King gets $6,600 in compensation for brand infringement in Russia
MOSCOW, February 19 - RAPSI. The Moscow Commercial Court has ordered a businessman to stop using the Burgerking and Burger-King brands and to pay Burger King Corporation 200,000 rubles ($6,640) in compensation, the court told RAPSI on Tuesday.
Burger King Corporation had filed a lawsuit against Alexei Makoveyev for his use of the burgerking.su and burger-king.su domain names, which are confusingly similar to the plaintiff's registered trademark. The court ordered Makoveyev to stop using those brands, but only awarded Burger King 200,000 rubles in compensation, rather than the 500,000 rubles ($16,595) that the company sought.
Makoveyev's attorney said at the court hearing that his client had never used the domains to post information about Burger King Corporation's registered trademarks. Both websites advertised franchise services and provided information about franchising in Russia.
The plaintiff's representative dismissed these arguments as immaterial, adding that Makoveyev's actions still constituted infringement on a registered trademark.
Makoveyev is well known in Russia for his dealings in so-called "pseudo-franchises." In late 2000, his company sold franchise licenses for clones of well known companies, for example, ZaraZara. The names and the logos of these companies bear significant resemblence to the originals.
To avoid problems with the rightful trademark owners, pseudo-franchise dealers apply to the Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Patents and Trademarks, but do not follow through with the registration procedures at the last minute.
On November 27, the court sided with the plaintiff's application to take provisional measures in the lawsuit. Makoveyev was prohibited from assigning the rights to administer the burgerking.su and burger-king.su domains to other individuals, transferring their support to other registrars, or nullifying their registration. The court also prohibited the REG.RU domain registrar from transferring or annulling the domains.
The plaintiff stated that Makoveyev was seeking to re-register the disputed in Burger King's name, which has a legitimate interest in owning them. In this case, according to the plaintiff, the transfer of the rights to administer the disputed domains to the REG.RU domain registrar would prevent the enforcement of the court order.
There are 12,000 Burger King restaurants across 75 countries. The company earns an average annual profit of $1.5 billion. Burger King made a foray into the Russian market in early 2010 after signing a franchise partnership agreement with the owner of Russia's Shokoladnitsa cafe chain. The company currently owns 57 restaurants in Russia.