Bulgarian Importer Loses Bad Faith Case against German Cosmetics Manufacturer
In June 2011, the Sofia Court of Appeal (SCA) revoked the Administrative Court Sofia City (ACSC) decision and ruled that Bultime, Bulgarian importer of various consumer goods, acted in bad faith when filing applications for word marks for cosmetic products Laura Vandini and Fruttini in 2006.
In January 2010, the ACSC rejected two joint actions filed by plaintiff, Mann & Schroeder, German company involved in developing and manufacturing hair and body care products, on the grounds of Article 26, Paragraph 3, item 4 of the Bulgarian Law on Marks and Geographical Indications (LMGI). The ACSC ruled in favor of the defendant because the plaintiff failed to prove that the defendant was aware the plaintiff had exclusive rights over the trademarks in question.
However, the SCA pointed out that in order for bad faith to be established, it is not necessary that the defendant knew that the trademarks are objects of exclusive rights. It is enough that the defendant knew that another company has used, in its course of trade, an identical or similar mark, through which it has established itself on the market and developed business relationships with certain clients. As a professional, the defendant knew or should have known that each mark is subject to legal protection.
On the grounds of the above, the SCA overruled the ACSC’s decision and issued a new one establishing the defendant acted in bad faith when filing the two trademark applications. The decision entered into force on June 22, 2011.
By: Valeri Penev
For more information, please contact Valeri Penev at our Bulgaria office.
Source: Administrative Court Sofia City (ACSC)
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