Auto Maker Wins Trade-mark Fight: A Strategy Lesson

In a trade-mark battle between Hyundai and its Canadian auto-parts manufacturer, Hyundai has scored a victory (Cross-Canada Auto Body Supply (Windsor) Limited v. Hyundai Motor America 2007 FC 580 (CanLII)).  Hyundai is the subsidiary of the well-known Korean auto manufacturer, and is engaged in a trade-mark infringement lawsuit with its Canadian auto-parts maker, Cross-Canada Auto Body Supply.  As part of its defence strategy in the infringement lawsuit, Cross-Canada tried to exploit a vulnerability in Hyundai’s Canadian marks.  Cross-Canada used this vulnerability to launch an attack on the validity of five of Hyundai’s trade-marks.  This can be an effective strategy: If Cross-Canada could win an order that the Hyundai marks were invalid, then Hyundai’s infringement lawsuit would fail.  

Ultimately, Hyundai beat back this challenge by tendering expert survey evidence of the public’s perception of the Hyundai marks.  Survey evidence of this type is not cheap, but when a company’s core marks are at stake, this kind of expenditure is necessary.  Hyundai convinced the court with this evidence and upheld the validity of all but one of its marks.

The lessons for business?

  • In trade-mark litigation, an effective defence strategy will include all options, including expungement proceedings, and (of course) possible settlement;  
  • For the trade-mark owner, expert evidence can be critical to convince the court of the public’s perceptions of the mark.
  • Preventive measures (in Hyundai’s case, recording the assignment of the trade-marks earlier could have reduced their vulnerability) are always cheaper than reactive measures.



Calgary – 12:34 MST





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  1. […] Our earlier post reviewed one of the decisions in the ongoing trade-mark dispute between Cross-Canada Auto Body and Hyundai, the Korean car manufacturer.  This is a dispute over the distribution of Hyundai auto parts.  Hyundai’s injunction application recently failed on appeal (Hyundai Motor America v. Cross Canada Auto Body Supply (Windsor) Limited.), under the three-part test set out by the Supreme Court of Canada: […]

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