Bulgarian PTO Rules in Favor of Hard Rock Café

Jan 31 2013 - 11:32

The Bulgarian Patent Office (BPO) has recently ruled in favor of Hard Rock Holdings Limited, the owner of the globally known Hard Rock Café trademark, in the opposition proceedings against a Bulgarian company City Novel seeking to register the confusingly similar trademark application “City Rock CAFÉ”.

PETOSEVIC Bulgaria represented Hard Rock Holdings Limited.

On December 17, 2012, the BPO issued a decision for a full refusal to register the City Rock CAFÉ mark, meaning that the Bulgarian company, based in Veliko Tarnovo, a city in north central Bulgaria, cannot register the trademark in the classes they applied for, 41 and 43.

The grounds for refusal are as follows:

  • The opponent’s six earlier registered trademarks that have in their compositions the word elements “HARD ROCK CAFE” indicates the inherent distinctiveness of the earlier marks;

  • There is a visual, phonetic and conceptual similarity between the trademark application and the earlier marks. This similarity determines the overall similar impression left by the mark on the relevant part of the public. The services in classes 41 and 43 are identical and/or similar which gives rise to a likelihood of confusion among the relevant public, including a likelihood of confusion between the trademark application and the earlier marks; and

  • The opponent owns a family of marks that include a common distinctive component “HARD ROCK CAFE”. Considering the similarity between the trademark application and the family of earlier marks, there is a strong likelihood of confusion, in particular among consumers who are likely to be misled about the origin of the services bearing the mark — City Rock CAFÉ, and mistakenly be lead to believe that the mark is a part of opponent’s family of marks or that it comes from the same undertaking or from economically linked undertakings.

In light of the above-mentioned, the BPO, pursuant to Article 38, Paragraph 10 of the Bulgarian Law on Marks and Geographical Indications (LMGI), issued a decision for a full refusal to register the trademark application “City Rock CAFÉ” No:118150/16.02.2011.

The decision can be appealed pursuant to Article 42, Paragraph 1, item 3 of the LMGI before the BPO’s Opposition Division within three months from the date of notification of the decision.

By: Valeri Penev

For more information, please contact Valeri Penev at our Bulgaria office.

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