Marina Militare--The legal issue(s) about this name.

Discussion in 'Panerai Watches' started by Tanolonco, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. Tanolonco

    Tanolonco

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    There is watch, obviously not the real deal, named Marina Militare that is supposedly a "homage" watch except most "homage" watches have the company's name on the dial and do not slap other words on the dial attempting to suggest it is the original--an example would be Debaufre Ocean 1 which is a hommage to the Rolex Submariner. I have read the words, Marina Militare is considered a registered name with Panerai. Is this correct and if so what does it mean legally? We all know there are watches sold by countless sources that have the word, Rolex, on the dial when in fact Rolex had nothing to do with the production of said watch. We call these watches fakes (and rightfully so). My question is this: the watch Marina Militare is not made by Panerai so how is it sold as a "hommage" when in fact they are using a model name? If the words, Marina Militare, are registered then would not this watch, Marina Militare (made by ???) be considered a fake in the legal sense? (the operative word here is legal sense not WIS sense).
  2. Evan614

    Evan614

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    I think I asked a question about a homage piece and one of the responses was that Panerai sued them and won. So that watch went out of production. Not sure if the company went belly-up.
  3. colemanitis

    colemanitis

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    It would be considered a fake.
  4. fstnlgl

    fstnlgl

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    Fake. True Panerai collectors know the difference.
  5. BlueB6

    BlueB6

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    Not a fake and no, Panerai does not have legal rights to the use of the words Marina Militare on a watch dial. Marina Militiare essentially means Navy (Italian). There are other watches out there with Marina Militare on them that are in fact, issued to Italian Navy personel and can be purchased fully legally by the public.

    If any watch manufacturer has been sued by Panerai, it is for a patent infringement on the crown guard. That's it. The company I think you're referring to above is the Ken Trading Company, which makes the RXW line of watches and specifically the MM20, which was an hommage to a watch OP made in 1950. OP sued them and won and KTC had to cease production.

    However, IIRC, Panerai's patent on the crown lock has expired, leaving others to copy the lock. I'm no patent lawyer, but I remember reading that patents have a finite life, making the inventor the only person (company) legally allowed to use this invention. Once that time frame expires, the market can copy it at will. I think we're in this timeframe.

    FWIW, the RXW never pretended to be a Panerai. No where on the watch did it say Panerai. Sure, fonts were the same, design the same and yes, the crown lock was infringed, but they are great watches (I know... I had one) and IMO are just as good as the PAM127 and actually quite collectible now. I wish I had mine back.

    The only 'fake' Panerai is one that says Panerai on the dial (or elsewhere on the watch), but wasn't made by Panerai. My .02 cents. Anything else is no different than any watch that uses the designs of another. FWIW, don't forget Rolex ripped off the design of the Submariner from Blancpain. No one gets shirty about Rolex ripping them off. ;)
  6. daveathall

    daveathall

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    This was posted on a UK watch forum (The sales part) by its owner.

    Quote;

    Unless it's a genuine Panerai, the sale of any other watch with "Marina Militare" on the dial is not allowed on Sales Corner.

    I've recently been informed by someone in the UK that lawyers acting for Panerai have served him with papers of intended legal action for selling Marina Militare watches on this forum which infringe Panerai's intellectual property rights, namely watches commonly referred to as "MM". Panerai registered the name "Marina Militare" as a trademark in 2005.

    The legal papers served are not a "Cease and Desist" notice, they are "You've infringed our client's intellectual property rights and now you're going to pay". I don't know the legal position concerning selling pre-owned MM on Sales Corner but I'm not willing to take any chances so with immediate effect, the sale of any watch with "Marina Militare" on the dial is prohibited on this forum unless it's a genuine Panerai.
  7. BlueB6

    BlueB6

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    Certainly forum management can do as they please, but I'd be surprised if there was any truth to this. OP can't trademark the name of the Italian Navy. But forum management can put in place any rule they deem necessary and if they want to ensure they stay away from legal action, that would be one way. ;)

    Moreover, Timezone.com is the barometer for what is kosher for sales in the watch world and I have seen plenty of watches with marina militare for sale on their sales corner and in fact, I've sold a number of my old hommage watches with marina militare on TZ without issue.
  8. daveathall

    daveathall

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    The quote I posted was from Eddie Platts from TZ-UK, a man that has impecable credentials and not known for knee jerk reactions, as well as producing some very fine watches, including the very rare and famous Dreadnought, he is known for his honest, albeit very blunt demeanour, your quote above "but I'd be surprised if there was any truth to this" has to my knowledge never been used in a sentence that includes the name Eddie Platts, although of course, you were unaware of who originally typed the response I quoted.

    I think you will also find that The Ken Trading company of which you mention in post 5 of this thread is not now trading, rumour has it that it was shut down by a very large watch making company, try googling "The Ken Trading company" see what comes up.

    FWIW, I think that they are very fine watches, although I have not owned one, I have read many reviews. They don't display the Panerai name and so, IMHO can not be described as fake, homage, by all means but not fake.
  9. BlueB6

    BlueB6

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    I'm not aware if KTC is still making watches or not, but I do know they continued to make watches long after they got their cease and desist order from OP's lawyers. On the UK forum... that's all fine and good, but I find it really hard to believe OP trademarked the name of the Italian Navy when the Navy themselves have contracted a company to produce watches branded as Marina Militare, right on the dial, for distribution to their own sailors/officers as well as allowing the company to sell to the public. These are quartz watches and OP was dumped as a supplier of watches years ago because they are too costly for gov't purchases for their service men/women. If OP owned the trademark to Marina Militare, then this watch company would be in litigation, as would the Italian Navy. I'm sure OP can't successfully sue the Italian Navy, although the Navy could certainly sue OP and win hands down, if they so chose, because OP is benefiting financially from the use of their name. ;)

    FWIW, companies try to trade mark a lot of things they think are their own and important to brand identity. More often than not, they fail. Maybe this forum did get a letter but because OP was trying to trade mark that phrase regardless of success or failure in court. Years ago here in Canada, Molson Canadian tried to trade mark the use of water droplets on their packaging. Naturally, it was disallowed. Just an example I can think of off the top of my head of a company trying to gain ownership of a phrase/image and failing.

    Regardless, I'm quite certain OP does not own the sole rights to use Marina Militare. As I said, they used to sue based on the crown lock/guard, but that's all.
  10. daveathall

    daveathall

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    They got a cease and desist from OP and now they don't exist? You seem to have your opinion John, mine differs. :cheers:
  11. BlueB6

    BlueB6

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    No worries Dave. :cheers:
  12. avatar1

    avatar1

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    Can't be due to the Marina Militare designation, cause the current "official" timekeeper of the Italian Navy also bears it, of course:

    http://www.mmt500.com/index.asp?sezione=1

    So, banning any watch that is not a Panerai and says "Marina Militare" is somewhat... short sighted.
  13. Archer

    Archer

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    I don't know the details of this, but a trademark is quite different from a patent. Trademarks do not run out, and that is what the crown protector is - trademarked. Regarding the Marina Militaire name, it can also be trademarked (lots of things you wouldn't think could be, can be). That does not make it something that no one else can use, but simply something they would have to get permission from the trademark owner to use.

    Again, I don't know the specifics here, but I think it is possible to trademark this name and have it appear (legally) on other products.

    Cheers, Al
  14. Richard44

    Richard44

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    A trademark is indeed much different than a patent. A patent is based on a new invention or process. A trademark is some non-engineered or design element. The Coke bottle "shape" is subject to a trademark. The problem for Panerai is that its lever/crown lock and sealing by pressure idea was patented and clearly an engineering concept. It was not and is not a design concept. The shape of the crown lock might seem at first to be entirely optional, of course, but yet, it is round and places the pivot point for the lever right where it would optimally be. The half-circle is an effective shape in that use for a variety of engineering and practical reasons, not just design reasons. Consider for a moment a pivot point for the lever in the same place but held by a crown guard with protruding, sharp, and pointy edges: Instead of a half circle, a half star, and made of stainless steel. Sharp and painful to wear, and totally the opposite of functional for a watch of any sort, let alone a dive watch. But it would be a design or fashion element. Instead the circle design is the one that was engineered and patented for purposes of function. So the shape is not purely or even mainly a design issue.

    My point is that, as noted above by others, the Panerai people obviously want to maintain the exclusivity of the design and have attempted to convert an expired patent into a trademark, and then used intimidation wherever possible to get other companies to stop using the design. So far as I know there has been no court test of these claims, simply threats by a well funded luxury brand. I am not suggesting that making a "fake" or counterfeit Panerai (one that attempts to pass as a Panerai) is either a good or even legitimate thing to do, only that I doubt very much that the designed shape of the crown guard is itself the proper subject of a trademark. It was an aspect of the engineered crown lock system.

    As for the name Marina Militare, I have my doubts about that as well, but I have not researched the issue.

    If anyone here has reference to a trademark case that Panerai won on the crown guard claims and issue I would be very interested in seeing it. Otherwise all we are talking about is the effectiveness of intimidation by a large company against smaller ones.
  15. forsiningwatch

    forsiningwatch

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