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Court of First Instance rules on the unlawful use of the trademarks and signs by a former member of motor vehicles’ selective distribution network.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Multi-Member Court of First Instance, Kalamata, Judgment No. 3/2018

On 25 January 2018 the Multi-Member Court of First Instance at Kalamata, issued a decision related to the unlawful use / infringement of trademarks. The case concerned the use by the Defendant, a motor vehicle sales company of the trademarks owned by the Plaintiff, a motor vehicle manufacturing company, after the latter had terminated the distribution agreement with the former and despite the fact that the relevant distribution agreement provided an explicit prohibition of any such use post-termination.

While examining the case, the Court identified the violation of multiple laws through such a conduct. The Court ruled that the unlawful use of trademarks and signs by the Defendant does not only infringe the intellectual property law, but also constitutes a violation of unfair competition law. Such violation consists primarily of the creation to consumers of the false impression that the defendant belongs to the distribution network of the plaintiff and the subsequent unfair exploitation though such a conduct of the Plaintiff’s good reputation. The Court considered those two elements falling within the scope of Article 1 of law 146/1914, while it held that the false impression caused to consumers that the Defendant is an authorized dealer of the Plaintiff created in particular a risk of confusion to consumers that economic or structural links exist between the two entities, which amounts to violation of Article 13 of law 146/1914.

Finally, the Court ruled that the unauthorized use of the Plaintiff’s brand name, which comprises its company name also, constitutes also a violation of Article 58 of the Greek Civil Code protecting names, and that such an unlawful use of the Plaintiff’s trademark also caused to the Plaintiff moral damages, for which it shall be entitled to compensation.

George Moukas, Senior Associate, Ballas Pelecanos & Associates LPC, argued for Plaintiff