Tribunal permits Hero MotoCorp to sell EVs under ‘Hero’ trademark, Auto News, ET Auto
An arbitration tribunal, appointed by the Delhi High Court, on Thursday permitted Pawan Munjal-led Hero MotoCorp to manufacture and sell electric vehicles under the trademark ‘Hero’.
People in the know of the development said the tribunal, appointed to resolve the dispute between two factions of the Munjal family group, dismissed the application filed by Hero Electric for an interim injunction against Hero MotoCorp for using the brand ‘Hero’ for its electric vehicles.
“The tribunal refused relief to Hero Electric since it failed to make a prima facie case or establish that the balance of convenience was at all in their favour or that they would suffer irreparable hardships by such a launch,” a person aware of the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Queries sent to Hero Electric and Hero MotoCorp remained unanswered at press time Thursday.
The tribunal – comprising former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and retired judges Indu Malhotra and Indermeet Kaur – observed that Hero MotoCorp had publicly asserted its manifest intention to use the name ‘Hero’ for its business of electric vehicles since 2012 and that it was close to the commercial launch of its electric vehicles under the brand ‘Vida – powered by Hero’.
Rejecting the plea filed by Naveen Munjal-led Hero Electric, the tribunal also noted that Hero MotoCorp had investments of about Rs 400 crore to reach the stage of commercial launch, apart from the investments it made in Ather Energy. The company had spent more than Rs 7,000 crore for enhancing the goodwill and reputation of the brand ‘Hero’ in the past 10 years as against only Rs 65 crore invested by the Naveen Munjal Group in the promotion of ‘Hero Electric’, the person said.
Naveen Munjal, who is at the helm of Hero Electric, has been engaged in a legal battle with his uncle and Hero MotoCorp chairman Pawan Munjal, claiming that his family had exclusive ownership rights of the brand ‘Hero’ for eco-friendly products.
As per the 2010 agreement among the family members, which was accepted amicably by all factions, Hero Group patriarch Brijmohan Lall Munjal’s family got control of flagship firm Hero MotoCorp and Hero Corporate Services among others. Hero Cycles, Hero Motors and Munjal Sales Corporation were earmarked for his brother Om Prakash Munjal, whose son Pankaj Munjal is currently chairman of Hero Cycles.
Satyanand Munjal’s family controls Munjal Showa, Munjal Auto and other related businesses, while Dayanand Munjal (represented by his son Vijay Munjal) is the owner of Hero Exports, Hero Electric and Sunbeam Auto. Vijay Munjal’s son Naveen Munjal is the managing director of Hero Electric.
ET was the first to report, in July 2019, about Naveen Munjal citing exclusive brand rights over green vehicles. Claims and counterclaims over brand use began to feature prominently in the media after Hero MotoCorp announced plans to launch an electric vehicle.
Earlier this year, Hero MotoCorp unveiled ‘Vida, Powered by Hero’ as the new identity for its emerging mobility solutions. The first of the Vida products – an electric vehicle – was scheduled to be officially unveiled on July 1, to coincide with the birth anniversary of Brijmohan Lall Munjal, the late founder of Hero MotoCorp. The company has since deferred the launch to the upcoming festive season, citing supply constraints.
Hero MotoCorp is the market leader in motorcycles and scooters that run on conventional fuels. The company, after announcing its entry into the EV segment, has formed a joint venture with Taiwan-based Gogoro Inc, an EV maker and owner of the world’s largest battery swapping network.