Bad Faith Registrations in Bosnia Persist Despite New Law

Jan 20 2011 - 10:55

Until recently, Bosnia had only one law on IP rights, the Law on Industrial Property, which entered into force on August 27, 2002 and covered patents, trademarks, designs and geographical indications and designations of origin. The Law, which was in force until January 1, 2011, had no provisions regarding bad faith trademark applications.

Bad faith applications were therefore tolerated and a large number of well-known global brand names passed into the hands of local counterfeit sellers. Legal remedies available in these situations were limited. Bosnian PTO did not recognize bad faith as one of the grounds for cancellation, prosecutors refused to pursue bad faith cases claiming there was no criminal intent and the civil courts were reluctant in issuing decisions in unfair competition claims.

The new Law on Trademarks, in force as of January 1, 2011, listed bad faith as one of the relative grounds for cancellation. However, without the actual use of the mark in Bosnia, it will be difficult to prove bad faith, especially with the PTO that has traditionally favored the local companies.

The most notorious example of this practice is the case of EKOSAN, an importer of textile products from China and Turkey, located in Banja Luka, northwestern Bosnia. The company registered almost 200 trademarks that belong to well-known apparel companies and requested customs monitoring. The company then managed to prohibit import attempts by other companies, including the actual owners of the marks. Among the trademarks EKOSAN registered are brands that are well known globally, but without any local presence, marketing or campaign in Bosnia. The company has even started to register some of the well-known marks in other countries in the region.

Should you require any checks done with regards to whether your own brand is owned by EKOSAN, please contact Tarik Prolaz at our Bosnia office.


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