Luxury Brand Hermes Sues Tiny Used Book Shop In Turkey Called ‘Hermes Sahaf’


from the trademark-myths dept

Usually when I write about trademark disputes, it’s at least the case that if I really squint at an accuser’s claims, or perhaps hit myself in the head with a hammer for several minutes, I can at least see their perspective in a dispute. I may still call the whole thing very stupid, as is my habit, but I can see why the whole thing started.

But then there are times when I’m at a complete loss. Such is the case with luxury brand Hermes suing a small used bookstore in Turkey simply because it’s called “Hermes Sahaf.”

The legal saga began when bookstore owner Ümit Nar applied to trademark the name “Hermes Sahaf” in December 2021. Turkey representatives of Hermés wanted to ban Nar from using the name for commercial purposes.

Company lawyers claimed that the two brands were similar and could be confused with one another, even though they belonged to different sectors. The first hearing of the case took place in January 2024. 

I won’t claim to be an expert on trademark laws in Turkey specifically, but traditionally trademark laws are designed to keep the general public from being confused as to the source or affiliation of goods and services. How in the world any member of the Turkish public is going to be confused between a company that makes expensive accessories and the like and a second-hand bookstore is absolutely beyond me. It’s not going to happen, Hermes has to know it’s not going to happen, all of which leaves us in a place where the company looks like a bully trying to wield the name of a Greek god as though it alone controls all such uses.

And with Nar taking the fight public, it’s at best a bad PR look on the part of Hermes.

The shop owner also found the claim of similarity made by Hermes lawyers absurd. He said, “I could understand the complaint if I was selling shoes or clothing under the name Hermes. But our sectors are simply too different. Hermès sells luxury leather bags worth thousands of Euros, whereas I sell second-hand books worth 15 Turkish liras, or 45 Euro cents.” He suggested the brand insulted its customers by claiming they could confuse the two brands. 

Nar continued, “It is absurd for an international company to hold ownership over a cultural figure. I am fighting this absurdity.” 

Here’s hoping he gets what he needs to fight the good fight on this one, because I can’t even begin to see how this lawsuit isn’t plainly absurd.

Filed Under: hermes sahaf, trademark, turkey, umit nar, used books

Companies: hermes

Las Vegas News Magazine

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