Bad-Faith Competition Case
INTELLECT-S represented a big Russian publishing group in an action against a bad-faith competitor imitating its book get-up.
Azbuka, one of the publishing houses owned by firm's client, Azbuka Atticus, is publishing 'World Classics', a good selling series of the 19th and 20th centuries' literature consisting of more than 160 titles.
Azbuka Atticus, holding the 5th place in the number of titles printed in 2016, sued its competitor AST, a still bigger publishing group, when the latter launched a series of its own, 'All-World Literature' in the fall of 2016, in a form closely resembling Azbuka's: almost identical format, get-up, theme, typography, covers, and even prices, to say nothing of the titles, displayed on the same shelves in the same bookstores.
Sensing illegal knowing bad-faith competition, Azbuka retained INTELLECT-S to represent it before the Federal Antimonopoly Service, seeking a cease and desist order.
AST, the defendant in the proceedings, argued that the similarity was not obvious, and, if at all, was a mere coincidence resulting from the same subject (classic literature of the past), but failed, however, to demonstrate any other publishers' products as similar in get-up to the client's.
The proceedings lasted for about a year and required forensic sociological surveys and book design expert testimony. Represented by Maxim Labzin, INTELLECT-S, Azbuka prevailed, convincing the antitrust authorities of AST's bad-faith imitation and unfair competition, and obtaining an order to remove AST's similarly bound 'All-World Literature' from sale in January 2018.
Although the removal of competing products from the marked has given the firm's client a potential competitive edge (enhanced by the competitor's impaired reputation and relations with distributors strained by the product recall), it is hard to quantify it (as is usually the case in such circumstances).