Any violation here “will lead to legal action”, Naveen told TOI, making it clear that “only my family has the right to use the Hero brand for green vehicles”, even though there is no non-compete/prohibition on other clan members who can enter the category but with a different branding.
Naveen, son of Pawan’s cousin Vijay Munjal, runs the Hero Electric two-wheeler business since 2007, and said his family received “global rights over the Hero brand name in perpetuity for electrics”, be it for personal-consumer use, or the commercial market.
This was done as part of a larger settlement between various members of the Munjal clan, which runs several businesses under the ubiquitous ‘Hero’ brand name (two-wheelers, cycles, insurance, realty, electric vehicles, components, education), and has players such as Sunil Munjal and Pankaj Munjal, besides Pawan Munjal and Vijay Munjal.
“We have the ownership of the Hero brand name for electrics and no one else can use it. There is no ambiguity here. We can use it for any type of vehicle running on land — two-wheelers, three-wheelers, cars, or commercial vehicles,” Naveen said, adding that, “If our rights are encroached upon, we will take legal recourse.”
A spokesperson for Pawan’s Hero MotoCorp said, “Hero MotoCorp remains fully committed to driving sustainability and clean mobility, including through electric vehicles, in India and in our markets around the world. There is a family understanding in place, which everyone in the Munjal family is well aware of, and everything is being done within the parameters of the understanding and the agreement. The brand names used on the vehicles even as on date speak for themselves. The family agreement is crystal clear. Hero MotoCorp is well aware of its rights, and has always acted, and will continue to act based on the best legal advice.”
However, Hero MotoCorp skirted the question on whether it can use the ‘Hero’ brand name for its upcoming EVs. At a time when it braces for stiff competition from newcomers such as Ola Electric, Hero MotoCorp has announced aggressive investments in the EV business (it also has a financial exposure in startup Ather) and plans to launch its first green vehicle this year. However, what branding will be used by the company is still not clear.
Open to partnership with Hero Moto
Naveen Munjal said he remains “open to anything”, including partnerships within the family, as he expands his business under Hero Electric. “We are open to partnerships within the family. We are not closed to the idea,” Naveen said when asked whether he is ready to collaborate with uncle Pawan Munjal’s Hero Moto. “We have cordial family relations, and there is no animosity. It’s just that we’ve got to protect our business interests.”