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ESA rebutts recent comments made by DSG on website and social media

By ESA Administrator

24th April 2015

For many years, the European Suzuki Association (ESA), the German Suzuki association Deutsche Suzuki Gesellschaft (DSG) and the Deutsche Suzuki Institute (DSI) have been in conflict.  This has recently escalated after DSG’s membership on the ESA Board was terminated. 

The main reason for termination was that ESA received proof that DSG attempted to register the trademark ‘Suzuki’ in Class 42 in Germany. It was Dr. Suzuki’s personal wish to delegate the rights to his name to the International Suzuki Association (ISA).  The ISA is the owner of the Suzuki trademark.  Any association which challenges those rights is in conflict with the ISA as well as with the ESA, being a sub-organisation of the ISA. 

The ESA were, therefore, obliged to take action and terminate the membership of DSG since they challenged the ownership of the Suzuki name.

Timeline

2009-2011
DSG makes three attempts to register the name ‘Suzuki’ in Class 42 in Germany.

December 2011
An electronic Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the ESA takes place which results in a majority vote to terminate the membership of the DSG on the ESA Board and elect a new representative for Germany - SuzukiMusik Deutschland (SMD).

April 2012
DSG and SMD are both invited to the ESA Board Meeting to outline their point of view with regards to the internal conflict within Germany.
At the ESA Annual General Meeting (AGM) the decisions of the EGM in December 2011 were re-confirmed by a majority vote. In addition, there was a unanimous decision not to have a German representative on the ESA Board for the time being.

April 2013
DSG files a lawsuit against SMD. 

May 2013
Settlement of DSG v SMD allowing both Suzuki associations to continue their work as long as they add the year of foundation to their association name.

July 2013
The Federal Patent Court dismisses DSG’s appeal for the right to register the name ‘Suzuki’ in Class 42 in Germany.

August 2013
DSG files a lawsuit against the ESA at the Regional Court of Bonn, Germany. Claims for damages are made amounting to 53,000 Euros

July 2014
The Court in Bonn dismisses DSG’s claims that the 2011 electronic ESA EGM was illegal and the signatures on the Meeting Minutes were invalid.

April 2015
news item on DSG’s website congratulates an ESA Founder Member on their 90th birthday and uses the opportunity to write that ‘Suzuki representatives are attempting to eliminate each other through their course of action’.

The facts

  1. It is DSG who takes the course of action of filing a lawsuit against the ESA claiming damages to the sum of ESA’s annual income.
  2. It is evident that DSG has external financial resources which are funding the three lawsuits they have recently filed (DSG v ISA, DSG v SMD and DSG v ESA).  The costs claimed for legal fees far exceed DSG’s budget.
  3. As a non profit organisation, the ESA cannot afford to continue this lawsuit, regardless of the outcome.  ESA Board Members give their services on a voluntary basis and all have full time commitments as Musicians.  DSG’s actions and financial means could make the ESA, with its 2000 teacher members from 25 European countries, bankrupt.
  4. It was DSG who initiated the lawsuit against ESA and it is only DSG who can bring an end to the proceedings by withdrawing their claim for damages.  Whether the ESA will survive these ongoing attacks if DSG does not withdraw their claim depends on the outcome of the Court hearing on 21 May 2015 at the District Court of Bonn in Germany. 

DSG states on social media that ‘Presently the ESA chairpersons have to stand trial for their actions’.

The facts

  1. A lawsuit is a civil action - there has been no crime therefore there is no trial.
  2. The DSG claims damages by way of compensation from the ESA as an organisation - there are no individuals involved.  All decisions in the ESA are made by the ESA Board and all actions are supported by a majority vote.

DSG refers to concern about the ‘decline within the European Suzuki Association’. 

The facts

  • ESA is the fastest growing Suzuki association in the world with growth of over 50% over a ten year period and at a time when there is a financial crisis in Europe. 

Finally, DSG writes ‘Fighting against one another is no solution’. 
ESA wholeheartedly agrees 

  1. Lawsuits and attacks on the ownership of the Suzuki trademark will indeed surely damage the good reputation of the Suzuki movement throughout the world.
  2. This last statement gives hope that perhaps the Suzuki spirit will win through in the end and a peaceful solution can be found.  

Membership of European Suzuki Association

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