MOSCOW, April 4 - RAPSI. The Ninth Commercial Court of Appeals will consider a Russian businessman's appeal on May 13 against a court order to stop using the Burger King brand in his domain names, the court told RAPSI on Thursday.
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, although it only awarded Burger King 200,000 rubles in compensation, rather than the 500,000 rubles ($16,595) 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.
The court upheld the lawsuit, noting that there was information about a Mr. Burger franchise on the websites. This ad was posted by the defendant, who has no right to use the registered trademark, since it belongs to Burger King Corp.
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 resemblance 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.
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.