Bulgarian Soft Drinks Producer Loses against Red Bull over Pit Bull Trademark

Oct 31 2014 - 13:28

On January 29, 2014, Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) ruled in favor of Austrian energy drink producer Red Bull GmbH in a trademark cancellation claim against Bulgarian soft drink producer Nova Trade Ltd that registered the word mark Pit Bull on April 14, 2004.

The SAC upheld the earlier decision of the Administrative Court Sofia City (ACSC), which said that the Pit Bull mark was registered in violation of the provisions of Article 12 of the Bulgarian Law on Marks and Geographical Indications (LMGI). The ACSC ruled that the marks were confusingly similar and that the Bulgarian producer was taking unfair advantage of Red Bull’s earlier marks that have a reputation.

The Bulgarian competitor appealed the ACSC decision, but the SAC upheld the first instance court decision and concluded that the earlier trademarks owned by Red Bull GmbH have a well-known status on the territory of Bulgaria and therefore enjoy broader protection. The court stated that the Red Bull trademarks are perceived as “original” and are strongly associated with a particular product and that the consumers may accept the Pit Bull mark as an imitation or a cheaper version of Red Bull’s product. On these grounds, the SAC cancelled the Pit Bull mark.

The decision of the SAC is final and not subject to appeal.

By: Valeri Penev

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

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