In July, it still looked as if the bantams would not come to terms. In early August, summary proceedings were to take place, with which the Belgians wanted to stop the Hermitage’s name change. Apparently, under the pressure of this lawsuit, at the end of July the museum agreed to compromise. In a joint press release, the Hermitage and HART now suddenly announce that “the consultation between the parties has led to the fact that the art magazine will guarantee the independence of the editors by changing the name itself”.
These are fine words to say that a deal has finally been struck after tough negotiations. What the Hermitage had to do to persuade the Belgian magazine to give up its 17-year-old brand name HART remains secret, of course, but it will be more than a year’s worth of discounted museum visits for the entire editorial staff.
Old trademark rights taken over
There were good reasons for the Hermitage to dig deep into its pockets. Not only does the museum resolve the risky conflict with the Belgians, but the deal also gives the Hermitage a very strong trademark position in the Benelux. Research in the trademark register shows that on August 1 the museum also took over the trademark registration HART from the Belgians. As a result, the Hermitage suddenly owns rights to the trademark HART as of May 4, 2006!
This old registration may be an important weapon against any new claims by organizations using the component HART in their name. Indeed, there are quite a few of them: in the relevant classes (16 and 41), I count 83 trademarks that include the component HART. Not to mention all the trade names registered with the Chamber of Commerce containing the word HART. Before you know it, there’s a gold digger among them who’s still going to make trouble. But with this old trademark registration from 2006, the Hermitage will quickly chase such a person back into his cage.