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Car Manufacturers Face Off in Brand Infringement Dispute

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French car maker Citroen, part of multinational auto manufacturer PSA Group, has accused a new Swedish manufacturer of infringing copyright through the use of a logo that bears a strong resemblance to the logo the French maker has used for years. 
 
The Swedish brand in question, Polestar, used to be a division of Volvo cars but became an independent brand and business three years ago. Whilst still maintaining close ties with Volvo, Polestar focusses on designing and manufacturing plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. Polestar already has two products that go but the simple names of 1 and 2, but the trademark dispute with Citroën means that they have been unable to sell the vehicles in France. 
 
Citroën has accused Polestar of counterfeiting and brand image infringement because of the Swedish automaker's logo, with Polestar's badge containing two chevrons that face each other to form a star. Citroen claim that the logo is too similar to the chevron-based logo used by one of its sub-brands,  DS Automobiles. Citroën took Polestar to court in France over the trademark dispute, supporting its claim by highlighting comments from Internet users who noticed certain similarities between the Polestar logo and those of Citroën and DS.
 
The court dismissed Citroën's infringement claims over the Polestar emblem's design. It found that the logos have a weak similarity and have a different layout of the chevrons. At the same time, the court pointed out that the products are aimed at a public with knowledge of the badges, which would prevent the products from being confused. However, Citroën was found to be correct for the trademark infringement argument, since the court decided that the fact that Polestar's logo consisted of similarly shaped arches posed a problem. Because Citroën is a brand known worldwide as "the brand with the chevrons", Polestar could indirectly benefit from the reputation of Citroën's chevrons.
 
In support of the decision, the Paris court found it relevant to point out that the Swedish firm's old logo featured the company name and a star. The new badge arrived in 2017, which was almost ten years after Citroën's last filing for the chevron emblem.
The court ordered Polestar to pay Citroën €150,000 in damages for the infringement of the distinctive character of its trademark. And to make matters worse for Polestar, the court also prohibited the company from using its logo in France for a period of six months. 
 

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