Bulgarian Meat Producer Fined for Unfair Competition
On June 23, 2011, Bulgaria’s Commission for Unfair Competition ordered one of the largest Bulgarian meat-processing companies Mekom JSC to pay a fine of approximately EUR 168,000 (USD 236,000) for producing and selling a flat sausage KARLOSKA Krepost, similar to KARLOVSKA Lukanka, a protected designation of origin for the traditional Bulgarian flat sausage (lukanka) from the town of Karlovo in central Bulgaria.
The Commission established that the similarity between the appearance of the two products, their brand names and the font used on the packaging is potentially misleading to consumers. According to the Commission, it is possible for the consumer to perceive the words KARLOVSKA and KARLOSKA, both written in capital letters, as identical since the absence of a single letter can be understood as a mistake or simply go unnoticed. Furthermore, the word “krepost” (fortress), which is intended to distinguish Mekom JSC’s product, is written in small, indiscernible letters against a dark background that hides the word.
Mekom JSC, based in Silistra, northeastern Bulgaria, argued that their product was named after a historical personality and an event, namely the 15th-century knight Karlos who conquered an old fortress in Silistra, and that KARLOSKA Krepost does not indicate the geographical origin of the product.
This is the second time the Commission has issued a decision in this case. The Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria revoked the first decision in February 2011 after Mekom JSC filed an appeal for alleged breaches of administrative proceedings.
For more information, please contact Preslav Penev at our Bulgaria office.
Source: Bulgaria’s Commission for Unfair Competition
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