GEA Group Loses against Bulgarian Construction Company over GEA Trademark
On April 25, 2014, Bulgaria’s Sofia City Court (SCC) ruled in favor of the Bulgarian construction company Gea Stroy in a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by GEA Group AG, one of the largest system providers for food and energy processes, based in Germany.
GEA Group, which initiated the lawsuit in May 2012, is the registered proprietor of several GEA CTMs, namely: GEA, No. 000224782, registered in 1998; GEA, No. 000224709, registered in 1998; GEA, No. 003483302, registered in 2006; GEA, No. 006904684, registered in 2009; for goods/services in IC 7, 9, 11, 35, 36, 37, 40, 42.
The SCC stated that Gea Stroy was registered in 2005 in accordance with the provisions of the Bulgarian Commercial Law. Therefore, the defendant used its company name in the course of trade, in accordance with honest practices. In addition, the Bulgarian company’s main scope of activity is construction, which differs from GEA Group’s services and is outside the scope of protection given to its registered trademarks.
The SCC concluded that the trademark owner cannot prohibit a third party from using its own name in the course of trade, provided that such use is not contrary to honest practices. On these grounds, the SCC concluded that no trademark infringement could be established and dismissed GEA’s claims.
GEA Group appealed the SCC decision in June 2014. The Sofia Court of Appeals has set the first hearing for December 3, 2014.
By: Valeri Penev
For more information, please contact Valeri Penev at our Bulgaria office.
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