Why MTR's lawsuit against their IT provider in order to get control of their domains is a very good example of the importance of brand control – legally, digitally and technically.

Industry news , Legal , Trademark protection

Why MTR’s lawsuit against their IT provider in order to get control of their domains is a very good example of the importance of brand control – legally, digitally and technically.

MTR Express, a Hong Kong based company that also manages the metro in Stockholm, began three years ago to offer travelers an alternative to SJ on the Gothenburg – Stockholm route. Since the beginning, travelers have been able to book tickets through the MTR’s website at www.mtrexpress.se.

However, in February of this year, MTR announced that they had to change their booking system at very short notice. The customers were redirected to another website and asked to delete the booking app as it no longer was in use. The reason to all this was that MTR chose to end its partnership with its IT supplier. MTR Express has since filed a lawsuit against the IT supplier in order to get hold of their intellectual property rights, and also initiated an alternative dispute resolution procedure to try to get back their domain name mtrexpress.se.

How is it that a company that has a turnover of several billion a year has ended up in this situation?

MTR Express had originally planned to use SJ’s booking system, but six months before the start they were told that they had to develop their own booking system. In order to register domain names, develop a website and create a booking app, MTR Express hired an IT provider in Sweden. Since then, large sums have been invested in the development of services and marketing via the website, which among other things led to their website winning a “most user friendly” award in 2016.

When the domain names (including mtrexpress.se) were registered it was with IT supplier as owner – something that MTR Express is now expressing was not in accordance with what had been agreed. When the collaboration between the two parties was broken, the IT supplier retained the ownership of the services and rights, which resulted in MTR Express no longer being able to use either the website or the booking app.

Investing large sums in developing electronic services for one’s customers – such as websites and apps – without ensuring that you actually own these services and that you have adequate protection for your rights – is very risky and can lead to large losses for companies. In addition, it can lead to dissatisfied customers and a damaged brand.

At Ports Group, we therefore think it is important that the customer feels safe and that the ownership always remains with the customer. As a brandtech company being able to the customer a total protection is self-evident for us and means that we help the customer to protect their brands – legally, digitally and technically. We also ensure that the customer is aware of their rights and that they always feel that they have full control of their brands.

Through our unique interface – ports.management – the customer can easily see all their rights on a global level. Ownership is always with the customer, while we are responsible for the administration of the rights. With Ports Group, the customer can feel safe. By offering services that protect the customer’s brands legally, digitally and technically, the customer can focus on running their company. At Ports Group, we believe that the new digital global world requires that we as an IT supplier and legal partner follow the development and develop complete solutions where the customer can safely invest in new goods and services and thereby invest in their business, while ensuring that the brand is protected – in the traditional market but also digitally. This is exactly what we do best at the Ports Group.

Or as we usually say:

“branding is cool, but…
brand protection is crucial”

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