Turkish antique bookshop in trademark row with French luxury brand Hermès

French luxury brand Hermès has launched a trademark lawsuit against the antique bookstore “Hermes Sahaf” in Turkey’s Aegean İzmir province. Store owner Ümit Nar objected to the claims and held that the mythological Hermes figure could not be monopolized by any corporation.

Duvar English

French luxury brand Hermès has launched a trademark lawsuit against the second-hand and antique bookstore “Hermes Sahaf” in Turkey’s Aegean İzmir province, according to reporting by the daily BirGün

The legal saga began when bookstore owner Ümit Nar applied to trademark the name “Hermes Sahaf” in December 2021. Turkey representatives of Hermés wanted to ban Nar from using the name for commercial purposes.

The Hermes Sahaf is located in the Konak district of the Aegean İzmir province

Company lawyers claimed that the two brands were similar and could be confused with one another, even though they belonged to different sectors. The first hearing of the case took place in January 2024. 

The incident attracted attention in the French press as well. A Feb. 6 report by France24 interviewed Nar about the ongoing legal battle. 

Nar opposed the claims of trademark violation, “Hermes is part of humanity’s cultural heritage, just like Zeus or Santa Claus. No company should monopolize such figures that have been imprinted on our collective memory.” 

The shop owner also found the claim of similarity made by Hermes lawyers absurd. He said, “I could understand the complaint if I was selling shoes or clothing under the name Hermes. But our sectors are simply too different. Hermès sells luxury leather bags worth thousands of Euros, whereas I sell second-hand books worth 15 Turkish liras, or 45 Euro cents.” He suggested the brand insulted its customers by claiming they could confuse the two brands. 

Nar continued, “It is absurd for an international company to hold ownership over a cultural figure. I am fighting this absurdity.” 

Nar presented the story on his social media and called for support for his "bizarre fight" before the second hearing that will take place on March 27. The expert report is expected to be presented in the session.