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Munjal vs. Munjal: The battle for the 'Hero' brand name

Munjal vs. Munjal: The battle for the 'Hero' brand name

As the Munjals battle it out in the Delhi High court over the brand name 'Hero', experts point out that the highly competitive EV space is a potential trigger.

Pawan Munjal -- Photograph by Yasir Iqbal Pawan Munjal -- Photograph by Yasir Iqbal

What's in a name? Everything, when the name is synonymous with the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. A 2010 family settlement barred Pawan Munjal, promoter and chairman of Hero MotoCorp, from using the 'Hero' brand name for any electric two-, three- or four-wheelers made by his company, while the global rights for Hero's EVs were given to Pawan's cousin Vinay Munjal and son Naveen Munjal who run Hero Electric, India's largest electric two-wheeler company which sold over 50,000 EVs last year. 

Recently, Vinay Munjal has reportedly sought an injunction on Hero MotoCorp using the brand name for its upcoming electric two-wheeler product at the Delhi High Court.
 
This is because Hero MotoCorp is soon expected to launch a range of electric scooters and motorcycles and had also registered a new sub-brand, VIDA. Pawan Munjal doesn't seem to have given up on the Hero brand name just yet. 

"Brand name is the most important asset any company would have. It's a brand they've built over years. They trust this brand and are assured about the quality. Using the Hero brand v/s not using it is a no brainer. There's going to be a lot of competition in two-wheelers. It's a new category. There will be a lot of questions in the mind of a consumer regarding EVs. There the role of the brand becomes even more important. It's important to go with a name that people trust," said Prateek Srivastava, Co-founder, Chapter Five Brand Solutions, a brand consulting and communications company.
 
Also Read: Pawan Munjal's Road to EV Manufacturing

Srivastava feels that either they'll come to some arrangement or Pawan will have to go with some other name. "I'm hoping they will be able to settle it through arbitration in which case it shouldn't take too long. Simpler solution is that they kind of become partners and pool in their resources and launch one company and one brand," he said.
 
From a legal perspective, experts say that it's a settlement they have to enter into. "Same was the case with Reliance, Kirloskar and few other family businesses. Now they are both planning to launch electric vehicles. The dispute is already before Delhi High Court and it has suggested that they should resolve it via arbitration because in India the disputed which are contractual are arbitrable and trademark infringement or violations are not usually arbitrable. In this case, it had a component of trademark infringement and a contractual dispute. So, the court decided it should be considered under arbitration rather than trademark infringement. It's more about the ownership right," argued Sonam Chandwani, Managing Partner, KS Legal & Associates.
 
She added that they will have to come to a common ground and resolve this out of court.  "They won't be able to launch a new product unless the dispute is resolved because the other party might put a stay. This delay will also cost them huge amount of money. It's very difficult to build that loyalty. The more they delay, the more they'll lose out on the opportunity to," she said.

BusinessToday.In reached out to both Pawan and Vinay Munjal on the issue, but they refused to comment.

Also Read: Delhi HC dismisses Future's petition seeking termination of Amazon arbitration