Clamping down on brand infringement

As the Group expands globally, Volvo’s brand is exposed increasingly to infringement. Some time ago, Volvo Trucks carried out a number of strikes in conjunction with a large fair in Germany. “It’s incredibly important to protect your brand and so we have to take powerful action against the people who infringe it,” says Monica Dempe, president of Volvo Trademark Holding AB.

When the world’s largest parts fair, Automechanika, was held in Frankfurt at the end of 2010, 4,500 exhibitors and more than 15,000 visitors gathered for a week to study new products and experience and do business, However, among the serious exhibitors, there were a number of less honest players who, at the expense of the well-established companies and their brands, are attempting to make easy money using various types of imitation – otherwise known as the infringement of brand,
design and patent rights.

“We know from experience that Volvo’s rights are infringed in different ways and this is particularly evident at trade fairs,” says Arne Emanuelsson, who works with soft products at Strategic Planning at Volvo Trucks.

Together with his colleague Anders Abrahamsson, among others, he and Volvo Trucks had been planning a major operation.

“After extensive planning, we were able to make a number of strikes at the actual fair, with the assistance of the customs authorities and the public prosecutor,” explains Anders Abrahamsson.

A total of 13 strikes were made against infringements of Volvo’s brand, patents and designs.

“Parts, brochures and posters were seized on the spot and various kinds of follow-up action will now be taken against the people responsible. This most usually involves warning letters, but, should the infringements be repeated, fines and other types of punishment may be considered,” says Monica Dempe.

Every day, the Volvo brand is subjected to infringement and, in spite of this, the number of hidden incidents is incredibly large. It is most common for other companies to copy parts and sell them under the Volvo brand name without being entitled to do so.

“Infringements are made against countless other products and we have even seen complete fake buses,” says Monica Dempe.

Volvo Trademark Holding AB is owned jointly by AB Volvo and Volvo Car Corporation and it is responsible for owning, safeguarding and protecting Volvo brands and licensing the right to use these brands to companies.
“The best way to protect our brands is to register them in every country in which we run operations.
In Volvo’s case, we have an extremely well-known brand and the protection therefore reaches outside our core area.”

In spite of this, a steady increase can be seen in the number of cases of infringement.

“As the Group expands, the risk of infringement increases, as the aftersales business is growing simultaneously and is extremely profitable. Our brand is one of the most important things we own and, if we fail to act swiftly and decisively, we risk losing the sole right to our brand in the longer term.”