Hero-ic Battle: Pawan Munjal-led Hero MotoCorp Allowed to Market EVs Under the Trademark

The Munjal family has been debating on who will use the ‘Hero’ name for electric vehicle (EV) enterprises.

An arbitration tribunal, appointed by the Delhi High Court, has allowed Pawan Munjal-led Hero MotoCorp to manufacture and sell EVs under the trademark ‘Hero’.

As reported, people with knowledge of the issue claim that the tribunal, which was formed to settle the conflict between two branches of the Munjal family, has rejected Hero Electric’s request this week for an interim injunction against Hero MotoCorp over the use of the name ‘Hero’ for its EVs.

The panel, which was made up of former Indian Chief Justice Dipak Misra, retired judges Indu Malhotra and Indermeet Kaur, noted that Hero MotoCorp had publicly declared its manifest intention to use the name ‘Hero’ for its business of selling EVs since 2012 and that it was soon to launch its EVs on the open market under the brand ‘VIDA – powered by Hero’.

Hero MotoCorp invested approximately Rs 400 crore to reach the point of commercial launch, in addition to the investments it made in Ather Energy, the tribunal noted in rejecting the claim made by Naveen Munjal-led Hero Electric.

In contrast to the Naveen Munjal Group, which only invested Rs 65 crore in the promotion of ‘Hero Electric’, the company spent over Rs 7,000 crore over the course of the past 10 years to boost the brand’s goodwill and image.

The Battle of ‘Hero’
Vijay Munjal, who owns Hero Electric alongside his son, Naveen, filed a complaint in the Delhi High Court, in order to prevent his cousin Pawan Munjal, the promoter and chairman of Hero MotoCorp, from utilising the brand name for its planned electric two-wheelers.

It was reported earlier that according to a 2010 family agreement, Pawan Munjal was not permitted to use the ‘Hero’ brand name for any electric two-, three-, or four-wheelers produced by his company, and Vijay Munjal was given the worldwide rights for Hero’s EVs.

However, Naveen Munjal told Times Of India in 2021 that any violation of the agreement would cause a “legal action” and added that only his family has the right to use the Hero brand for green vehicles.

He said: “We have the ownership of the Hero brand name for electrics and no one can use it. There is no ambiguity here. We can use it for any type of vehicle running on land—two-wheelers, three-wheelers, cars or commercial vehicles. If our rights are encroached upon, we will take legal recourse.”

THE 2010 AGREEMENT
As per the agreement between the family members, Brijmohan Lall Munjal, the founder of Hero Group and the father of Pawan Munjal, received control of the company’s flagship company Hero MotoCorp as well as Hero Corporate Services.

His brother, Om Prakash Munjal, received the rights to Hero Cycles, Hero Motors, and Munjal Sales Corporation. Om Prakash Munjal’s son Pankaj is the current chairman of Hero Cycles.

Dayanand Munjal—father of Vijay Munjal and brother of Hero Group founder—became the owner of Hero Exports, Hero Electric, and Sunbeam Auto.

Lastly, Brijmohan Lall Munjal’s other brother Satyanand’s family took the control of Munjal Showa, Munjal Auto and other connected firms.

However, according to the TOI report from last year, Naveen Munjal said that “we are open to partnerships within the family. We are not closed to the idea” and also noted that “we have cordial family relations, and there is no animosity. It’s just that we’ve got to protect our business interests”.

So, Vijay Munjal then moved to court as Hero MotoCorp has been preparing to debut a line of electric vehicles, as well as the new sub-brand called VIDA.

But on June 30, the arbitration panel gave permission to Pawan Munjal-led two-wheeler major to use the trademark ‘Hero’.