A Few Interesting Cases PETOŠEVIĆ Recently Handled
Albania – Tackling Fake Stores
A multinational fast fashion retailer learned that several unauthorized stores in Albania opened under their well-known name. Investigation revealed 20 more infringing stores, many of which had a significant online presence.
Following a “collective” cease and desist letter sent to all 15 store owners in September 2017, so far 14 out of 15 owners have removed the infringing trademarks from their premises and online platforms.
Based on our experience, in Albania the adverse parties are more likely to comply with the rights holder’s demands if they learn that a “collective” action has been taken against all suspected infringers rather than separate actions at different times. A “collective” action is also a cost-effective option for rights holders.
For more information, please contact Irma Cami, who is handling this case.
Bulgaria – Hotel Name Conflicts
Investigation revealed five hotels operating in Bulgaria under names that were identical or confusingly similar to a well-known brand of hotels and resorts owned by a global hotel giant.
Following a cease and desist letter and subsequent negotiations, the hotel in Ribaritsa, a village in central Bulgaria, changed its name to one acceptable to the leading global lodging company.
After failed negotiations with the owner of the hotel located in the capital of Sofia, the hotel giant filed and won an infringement action. The hotel has rebranded and the parties have signed an agreement to avoid future conflicts.
The owner of the hotel in Slanchev Briag, a seaside resort on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, filed an application for a trademark infringing the hotel giant’s trademark, but following our intervention, the hotel owner withdrew the application and renamed the hotel.
A hotel in Plovdiv, a town in central Bulgaria, changed its name to a name acceptable to the global lodging company and the parties signed an agreement to avoid future conflicts. Although the hotel rebranded, the rebranding was not in full compliance with the terms of the agreement and the hotel had to rebrand once again.
A hotel in Ravda, a village and seaside resort in south-eastern Bulgaria, changed its name to one that may still be considered confusingly similar. The hotel owner filed an application to register the trademark bearing the confusingly similar name, which we opposed. They have withdrawn the application and negotiations are still ongoing.
As the hotel name in question appears to be an attractive name for Bulgarian hoteliers, we continue monitoring the Bulgarian market for any other potentially infringing trademarks.
For more information, please contact Dimitar Batakliev, who has been handling these cases.
Multiple Jurisdictions – Advising Social Networking Companies
PETOŠEVIĆ has been advising two well-known social networking companies in multiple jurisdictions where we operate regarding various reports of trademark, design and copyright infringement, as well as defamation on their platforms. We evaluate the reports from the perspective of local legislation and present possible solutions for tackling illegal content in order for the social networks to avoid secondary liability for hosting it.
Our advice often involves careful analysis of whether certain content is defamatory or IPR infringing in the light of applicable legislation and this sometimes entails achieving a fair balance between private rights and the freedom of expression.
For instance, recently a leading Bulgarian bank submitted a defamation and trademark infringement report against a page belonging to environmental activists who modified the bank’s logo in a way suggesting that the bank was funding environmentally harmful activities in the Bulgarian mountains. The page was part of a campaign aimed at creating a negative public image of the bank and its owner’ mountain tourism business. We assessed the issues of defamation and trademark infringement in the light of freedom of expression. Because the images appeared in the context of a public debate about environmental protection and were related to a public body expected to display a high degree of tolerance to criticism, we concluded that the content was not defamatory. Moreover, the modified logo was not used in commerce, meaning that there was no basis to support a trademark infringement claim.
For more information, please contact Dimitar Batakliev at our Bulgaria office.