Mercedes Benz is taking concerted action to stop car dealers that are not part of its official retailer network from suggesting they are authorised retailers.

Gottlieb Daimler, one of the founding fathers of the global motor industry, initially used the three-pointed star, representing transport on land, on sea and in the air, in 1872, before it was registered as a trademark in 1909. Since then the star has become the world's most recognisable automotive symbol, and is one of the most well-known logos in the world.

Now, in the UK, the Mercedes Benz brand and corporate look, which gives its customers a guarantee of quality and luxury, are being vigorously protected from unscrupulous copying or misuse.

Recently, a car dealer called Vikings of Canterbury was taken to court after its appearance, logo and colouring bore a striking resemblance to that of Mercedes Benz. Using similar typefaces, a mixture of blue and silver signage, and a logo that, at a glance, looked similar to the three-pointed star, Mercedes Benz clearly had a case.

Before the retail network restructuring, Vikings of Canterbury was an authorised Mercedes Benz dealer, but this changed in June 2002. However, they continued to use materials similar to those of Mercedes Benz, until the company's legal representatives stepped in to take action.

Mercedes Benz's solicitor, Iain Larkins, explained the reason for the action: "We take the reputation of our company very seriously, and it is a business that has grown for over a century. Our customers need to know that whenever they see the Mercedes Benz logo or style, they know it is representing our company rather than an unrelated third party.

"In the case of Vikings of Canterbury, the site used to be an official dealership, but they continued to trade with similar signage and stationery long after they lost their franchise. It is our duty to stamp out this kind of inappropriate activity. In this case, and after our intervention, the trader now has its own unique appearance."

These measures form part of a larger global anti-fraud initiative, which has achieved great results in stemming the trade in forged parts and accessories. In the past 12 months, Mercedes Benz has stopped Euro Car Parts from importing fake "official" bonnet badges and replica alloy wheels into the UK. Around the world the fight to stop this corporate piracy continues.

Published : 14/06/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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