Lovells comes good for H&M as Moscow sets IP precedent

Lovells has triumphed with a rare win in Russia for Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), after a Moscow court ruled in favour of the Swedish retailing giant.

In Lovells’ first case in Moscow for the high-street chain, H&M brought a claim against Boris Kostyrin, who had registered the H&M trademark in Russia. Lovells has previously acted for H&M in Europe and the US.

Kostyrin officially recorded the H&M brand as his in 2004 when he also registered ‘OOO H&M International’.

At the time H&M was considering expansion into Russia. Kostyrin hoped to sell H&M the franchising right to his Russian trademark.

More than two years of pre-trial negotiations by local trademark agent Ms Raevskaya failed, resulting in H&M’s instruction of Lovells Moscow. The Moscow Arbitrazh Court ruled in favour of the global fashion chain, finding that Kostyrin’s intention was to infringe H&M’s IP rights for profit.

Litigation consultant Natalia Gulyaeva, who led the Lovells team, said this type of case was rare, as in the past many foreign companies have tolerated IP infringements in Russia. She added that this case could set a new precedent.

It is due to the lack of case law that well-known brands such as coffee behemoth Starbucks have not been able to enter the Russian market. The trademark ‘OOO Starbucks’ has been registered since 2002.

Gulyaeva was assisted by Lovells associate Konstantin Bochkarev and London partner David Latham.

Russian advocate Mr Bolshunov represented Kostyrin.