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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Interbrand: Russian Firm Is a Fraud

Interbrand Group LimitedRospatent's trademark for Interbrand
The trademark of Interbrand Group, the world's top developer and valuer of brand names, is being exploited in Russia, company president Charles Brymer said Tuesday.

At a much ballyhooed press conference last week that was attended by Rospatent head Alexander Korchagin, Russia's top trademark official, it was announced that Interbrand had opened an office in Moscow and that a company, Interbrand Rusconsulting, would soon get down to the business of appraising a number of local brands.

Interbrand Rusconsulting said it would establish the worth of Russia's most valuable brands and make that information available to the public in February. Companies like the idea because they can borrow against the value of their trademarks or at least have an authoritative figure from the world's top valuer.

But on Tuesday Brymer, the president of Interbrand Group Ltd., said in a telephone interview from New York that his company had no representative in Russia and called Interbrand Rusconsulting "a fraud."

"It is our intention to pursue this matter vigilantly through the proper legal channels," Brymer said. "I heard that the head of [Russia's] patents body was present at the press conference, which makes it all the more incredible."

Interbrand, together with companies such as BBDO and DDB-Needham, is part of the international advertising network of Omnicom Group. Interbrand has developed brands and growth strategies for BMW, British Airways and scores of other top multinational companies. Brymer said Interbrand's turnover last year was about $100 million. The company has 26 offices in 21 countries.

Mark Creswell, managing partner of Interbrand Rusconsulting, said that what had happened in connection with his firm was a misunderstanding. He said that the office in Moscow was founded by Interbrand Group and that the Russian company maintains normal relations with other subdivisions of the group.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Creswell said his company had worked with the Interbrand Group's London office, though he would not elaborate on the nature of this work.

Russian companies that have worked with Interbrand Group before the appearance of a Russian firm of the same name are inclined to trust Brymer over Creswell. Alfa Bank, for example, announced a tender to find an agency that would develop brands for Alfa's retail business. Interbrand's London office participated in the tender.

"We heard about the opening of Interbrand in Moscow, but we are working with the London office," said Alfa Bank representative Oleg Ivanov. He said that the bank did not contact Interbrand Rusconsulting because representatives of the London office warned them that the company had no connection with the group.

"Interbrand Rusconsulting entered the Russian market on November 21st 2001, so it does not surprise us that in May 2001 Alfa Bank could work solely with the London office of Interbrand," Creswell said in a statement released Tuesday.

Both Creswell and Brymer named the same founder of the group, John Murphy, and the same major clients -- BMW and British Airways. The web site www.interbrand.ru uses a logo identical to that displayed on www.interbrand.com and links Interbrand Rusconsulting to the Interbrand Group, which was set up in 1974.

Interbrand Rusconsulting claims to be a 100 percent-owned subsidiary of Interbrand Group Limited, as well as the legal holder of the Interbrand trademarks in Russian and English in Russia.

Copies of registration certificates and a power of attorney entitling Creswell to manage the company's business were provided by Interbrand Rusconsulting on Tuesday.

According to the documents, Interbrand Group Limited was registered on the island of Nevis, registration certificate No C.18613 dated Oct. 30, 2000. Article 3.1 of the company's charter states that the company's settlement account is held in the Montenegran POLARIS Bank.

Brymer said he had never heard of Conrad L. Smithen, named in the power of attorney as director of Interbrand Group Limited, or even Creswell.

"This is an elaborate fabrication," he said.

"Somehow, through the islands off the coast of the Caribbean, they have registered our name and logo, no one has ever heard of them. ... I assume they want us to buy them out. They are pirating our goodwill."

Creswell would not comment on who founded the Nevis-based company or the prospect of a court battle.

"Mr. Brymer is working in Interbrand's New York office and he is not fully aware of what is going on with Interbrand Group Limited, we are a functioning company and fully legal," Creswell said.

Creswell said that his company bought the Russian rights to Interbrand from Mospatent, which he described as a private "pirate company" with no affiliation to Rospatent.

The news could put Rospatent's Korchagin in a tight spot.

At Interbrand Rusconsulting's inaugural press conference, Korchagin said that the arrival of such an authoritative company would help harmonize Russian trademark law with the legislation of developed countries.

A highly placed representative of the patent body announced Monday that if the founder of Interbrand Rusconsulting was indeed a self-appointed pretender, then information to the effect that it had deceitfully invited Korchagin to its presentation and taken advantage of his authority for its own promotional ends would be passed on to law enforcement bodies.

Staff Writer Alex Nicholson contributed to this report.