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New trademarksQuestionable prices – watches by Graf von Monte Wehro

Once again one of the new trademarks certified on November 16, 2007 by the German patent and trademark office in Munich: Graf von Monte Wehro: “The german luxury watch brand from the gemstone city Idar-Oberstein”.  This is how the Graf von Monte Wehro website promotes its trademark – spelling mistake included. According to our inquiries, the trademark’s watches are mostly offered on Ebay and online, on Kauflux or 1-2-3.tv for example. And just how you would expect it from suchlike “trademark”, the recommended retail prices are very questionable, from our point of view. The trademark’s account on Ebay is “gmnachlass”, operated by a company named Martin W., from Idar-Oberstein. Good to know that a certain Mr. Martin W. with identical name holds the trademark rights and is responsible for pricing, according to his statement.

Such as auction number 120234164335, a “Graf von Monte Wehro automatic watch with visible balance wheel”, is offered at a manufacturer's suggested retail price of 699 Euro. It gets so much better: A „Graf von Monte Wehro skeleton manual winding master watch” with the auction number 120234765715, is offered at a starting price of 1 Euro and claimed to have a normal retail price of 1369 Euro. Suchlike watches are usually made in Asia and can be purchased for as low as 25 US-Dollars. See our earlier reports for more information on one of the biggest production companies in China, Millionsmart. Considering the current low dollar rate and the prices the products reach the company still makes off pretty well.

Martin W., the owner of the trademark, offers an interesting justification for the price indications. He notified us in writing that “an incredible portion of the price in the luxury watch segment is paid for the name of the watch.” However, although the watches are offered at very high prices, the actual prices they obtain are usually clearly below the indicated retailer price. For instance, the first watch mentioned above with article number 120234164335 (MSRP 699 Euro) was sold for 41.10 Euro. The second watch, with article number 120234765715 (MSRP 1369 Euro) was sold for a shocking 62.02 Euro.

Not to mention that other expenses of this company are without a doubt significantly lower in comparison to expenses of reputable and recognized brands. The German patent and trademark office charges fees starting at 300 Euro for trademark registration. So, it can hardly be these expenses. In addition, the distribution and service expenses are certainly very low in contrast to other trademarks’ expenses. Unfortunately, we have not yet received a reply naming a point of sale or a cooperating retailer for this trademark in response to our written inquiry to the firm's owner Martin W. and when we investigated we did not find any of them. Furthermore, even the company’s homepage does list either one. It is therefore doubtful that a qualified and consequently, expensive sales force in charge of servicing retailers and jewellers even exists.

Only their business address seems to imply certain expenses, since they did afford to purchase an address in the German diamond and gemstone bourse (registered association) in order to give the company a touch of legitimacy. However, we spoke to Mr. Lindemann, the director of the diamond and gemstone bourse Idar-Oberstein, who informed us that Martin W. is not a member and has no connection to the association whatsoever.

It is no surprise to us that customers´ feedback shows signs of great dissatisfaction. Ebay member ´hendrik7777777´ wrote on 10 July 2007 “article’s description does not reflect the actual value. Cheap rummage!” The company responds: “The customer will be hearing from our lawyer. Article was delivered as described.” This company’s reaction did not surprise us either.  Indeed, the customer did remove his feedback. The first time we talked to Martin W. on the phone, he promptly threatened to take all legal actions in case we decided to publish a reporting on his company, from a cease and desist order to indemnity to injunction. We did manage to obtain two written statements from Martin W., however, he answered only some of our questions. In his second and last letter on 3/21/2008, Martin W. writes,” In the event of any further false reporting my claim for indemnity will be legally enforced.” This manner of communicating was new to us. Nobody ever threatened us so to such an extent in the run-up to a report.

There is nothing left for us to add and we are eagerly awaiting the letter from Martin W.’s lawyer.