Quebec retailing family ‘not surrendering’ to Hudson’s Bay over Zellers brand

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The fight over who owns the name and brand Zellers is going to court, but the man whose family is being sued by the Hudson’s Bay Company says he’s using the name of a previously defunct Canadian department store. wants to continue.

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Robert Moniz and other family members are the defendants in a statement of claim filed in federal court by HBC in October. The company is accusing them of trademark infringement when it comes to the use of the name “Zellers” as well as depreciation of goodwill and what is known as passing off, which is deceptive marketing.

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In an English language special series of interviews with businesshala Radio the cost of living, Moniz said that despite the lawsuit, he and his partners want to continue using the Zellers name for now.

“Zeller, his lawyers didn’t do their job. The trademark was taken down. They had enough time to handle the trademark. They didn’t take it,” said Moniz, who told businesshala it’s unclear whether he and how other family members will deal with the federal lawsuit.

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“I am working with my attorney to respond,” said Moniz, who said he could not speak for the reactions of his mother or other family members to the legal proceedings.

potentially going to court

According to HBC’s statement of claim, Moniz intended to “either mislead Canadians or extort payments from HBC.”

The retailer said in court documents, the Zellers brand is being used to deliberately “mislead Canadian consumers” and “trade on valuable goodwill owned by HBC.”

The lawsuit comes after Hudson’s Bay Company failed to renew its trademark on Zellers and it was “exploded” or lost in September 2020, according to the federal government. Canadian Trademark Database,

the database showed a new application “Zellers Inc.” in April 2021 to register the Zellers name and logo design. was filed by La Trinité-des-Monts is located in Que.

The people behind this new “Zellers Inc.” According to HBC, Hudson’s Bay is not affiliated with the company in any way.

Who is the new Zeller?

The corporate structure behind who owns the Zellers brand is unclear.

The Moniz family is behind various recent trademark applications and corporate registries, including Zeller’s Inc., Zeller’s Convenience Store Inc., and Zeller’s Restaurant Inc.

Robert Moniz has previously faced criminal charges related to financial transactions, including mortgage fraud, for which he pleaded guilty and was imprisoned.

The Federal Trademark Registry lists “Zellers Inc.” and Moniz told businesshala that his mother is a main investor in the company “Zellers Canada”.

Moniz said he is on the “board of directors of Zellers Holdings”, which he describes as a real estate management company looking to invest, including future developments he calls “Zellers Plaza”.

The website link Moniz provided for Zellers Plaza included promises of low-income housing, and future Zellers locations in Ontario, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

It also included images of various shopping districts that were not Zellers’ locations – or not in Canada at all.

The Zellers came back – in many places

Moniz provided images the cost of living A number of trailers and vehicles branded with the Zellers logo, and with plans for additional locations in the future, spoke of a retail outlet in Sorrell-Tracy, Ky. He did not provide images of a functioning, operating retail store.

listen | Robert Moniz discusses the ‘new’ zellers:

“We’re opening a branch in Blaineville, Quebec. By Monday, we’ll be signing up on the building. We’ll have restaurants, convenience stores and retail stores, and Zeller’s Express,” said Moniz, who described “Zeller’s Express” as a business. As where customers can order goods online and pick them up in store.

At the time of Moniz’s interview with businesshala Radio, no website was provided for ordering goods from Zeller’s Express.

Moniz also claimed that his family’s current Zellers location in Sorel-Tracy sells the furniture. He said that although it may not be identified as traditional zellers, customers were excited.

“People are in shock… They’re telling me, ‘Oh, you see, Zellers is open, Zellers is open.’ Because people don’t believe Zellers is open,” Moniz said.

Moniz’s Zellers signage began to appear around the same time that Hudson’s Bay opened a Zellers “pop-up” store in Burlington, Ont., in September.

HBC’s Zellers had little to do to differentiate itself from a traditional Bay outlet, other than vinyl signage identifying a corner of the store as Zellers and some red branding.

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HBC did not directly specify whether the Burlington pop-up was a reaction to other parties trying to register the iconic brand name, but said it “owns all registered and unregistered rights in the Zellers mark,” and that it Was always looking at creative ways to promote Zellers.

HBC has also said that it plans to open an additional Zellers pop-up within its Hudson Bay outlet in Anjou, Ky.

Whose law will be the lowest price?

According to trademark expert Julie McDonnell, attempts by the Moniz family to own the Zellers brand may not succeed in the end.

Even if HBC inadvertently lost the registration for the Zellers trademark, no other person can walk in and take it, said the lawyer, who is with the trademark registration company. Hi,

McDonnell said, “I compare it to putting out, you know, a nice piece of furniture that you have on the curb. Somebody comes on Sunday and grabs it,” McDonnell said, adding that it didn’t work. does. “Really iconic brands, like Zellers in Canada.”

McDonnell pointed out that HBC may have a case for keeping the Zellers name, because trademarks aren’t just about who registered what and when. It is about making sure that brand names and who owns them are clear to consumers.

The Moniz family has been trying to open branded zellers’ properties in an area that competes with the name’s longtime use, which is retail. Therefore, it can cause confusion for Canadians. Experts like McDonnell said that meant courts and regulators would be on HBC’s side.

“In my professional opinion, there’s generally way too much for it to actually fly,” McDonnell said.

To borrow a famous zeller’s slogan, it may be up to the courts to decide who has the lowest value to the law.

“My mom refuses to sell the trademark to Zellers,” wrote Robert Moniz in a text message the cost of living,

“I am not surrendering.”

For more stories from the business world and the economics of everyday life, listen the cost of living Download the podcast every Friday night at 12PM (12:30 NT) or every Friday, on businesshala Radio One.

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