Albanian Court Rules in Favor of Retailer SPAR in Trademark and Copyright Infringement Case against Albanian Competitor

Mar 30 2015 - 17:47

In January 2015, the Appellate Court of Tirana rejected the appeal lodged by the Albanian retailer ILIRIA DC, and upheld the earlier decision in favor of Spar International BV, a multinational chain of wholesale and retail supermarkets under the SPAR mark.

In November 2010, Spar International BV lodged a civil action before the First Instance Court of Tirana against the Albanian retailer ILIRIA DC, on the ground that the defendant’s use of DESPAR, INTERSPAR, EUROPSPAR trademarks infringed the plaintiff’s SPAR (word & device) trademarks and the copyright of the SPAR logo.

During the proceedings the plaintiff submitted evidence showing that the defendant was using the DESPAR (word & device) mark as a name of its supermarket and INTERSPAR and EUROSPAR marks on plastic bags offered to the customers. The defendant was also importing, advertising, and selling various goods under the DESPAR mark, mainly food, beverages, alcoholic drinks, household products, all of those goods/services covered by the plaintiff’s registered marks.

Spar International BV based its action on its registered marks in Albania, IR 565539 and IR 608847, as well as on the copyright of the SPAR logo. The plaintiff therefore sought an injunction to prevent further infringement arguing that the similarity and the coexistence of marks can cause the likelihood of confusion.

For the purpose of proving the likelihood of confusion, the plaintiff emphasized the phonetic and visual similarities, as well as the identity of the goods. In addition, the plaintiff put forward arguments on the infringement of the copyright of the SPAR logo.

In its analysis of similarities, the plaintiff heavily relied on various rulings established by the EU authorities, and urged the Albanian court to consider them while analyzing this particular case, emphasizing that the Albanian legislation has fully transposed the Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988.

The defendant on the other hand argued that there is no likelihood of confusion and tried to show the dissimilarities of the marks.

Both courts found the marks confusingly similar and entirely accepted the plaintiff’s claims. The courts found that the contested marks were infringing the plaintiff’s registered marks and the copyright of the SPAR logo and ordered the defendant to cease the infringing actions.

By: Irma Cami

For more information, please contact Irma Cami at our Albania office.

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