Harley-Davidson - a brand with worldwide appeal

Client story  \  31 May 2019


Harley-Davidson, also known as Harley or H-D, is one of the most successful and famous motorcycle brands in the world. They manufacture and sell a wide range of high quality motorcycles, parts, accessories and merchandise. The company also provides and licenses motorcycle repair and maintenance services, travel and tour arrangements, and a network of authorised dealers around the world.

“Consumers love the brand so much they want to tattoo it to their arm or name their children or pets after it. They just want to do things that emulate the brand,” explains Rob Doerfler, Harley owner and Senior Legal Counsel at H-D U.S.A., LLC, the trade mark holding company for Harley-Davidson.




The challenge

The fame, prestige and legendary status of the Harley-Davidson brand means people often attempt to use the company’s intellectual property without authority. This includes unauthorised use of Harley-Davidson’s trade marks, misleading representations about alignment or association with the company, or otherwise unfairly taking advantage of Harley-Davidson’s reputation.

Sometimes it simply occurs out of a genuine passion for the brand, but often the true purpose is for personal or business gain. In order to protect its brand around the world, Harley-Davidson needs local intellectual property advisors who are experienced, quick to act and cost effective.

It is extremely difficult as in-house counsel to manage matters in 180 different territories around the world. So there is significant reliance on outside counsel to work efficiently and cost effectively, and AJ Park has been very successful at that for us.

“Initially they were only handling our New Zealand matters. But we developed a very good efficient relationship and that built trust. So we decided to move our Australian matters to AJ Park (ex-Baldwins) as well. It’s nice when you have a good relationship with someone who can take on more work in another country,” says Rob.



The solution

In Australia and New Zealand, Partner, Penny Catley, Senior Associate, Thomas Huthwaite and Associate, Kate Giddens, administer Harley-Davidson’s brands and customs notices, in addition to actively enforcing the company’s intellectual property rights. We also work closely with customs officials to combat the importation of any counterfeit Harley-Davidson products.

In short, we're helping to ensure the Harley-Davidson brand is not misused or unfairly used at any level, from unlicensed motorcycle services and counterfeit products to online promotion and domain name registration.

“Local counsel is a relationship and that requires a dialogue back and forth. But when I pass a case to the firm I just know it’s going to be handled. It’s very seamless, without a lot of static, and I appreciate that. They’re just very solutions oriented, efficient and dependable,” explains Rob.

We are proud to be associated with Harley-Davidson and to be trusted with supporting the integrity of such a celebrated brand.