Successful representation of world-famous Swiss cosmetics manufacturer in contentious trade mark case

Tuesday, 12 March 2024

Our IP law and Dispute Resolution teams, led by George Ballas (Senior & Managing Partner), secured a highly important ruling by the Athens Multimember Court of First Instance, representing the plaintiff, a world-famous Swiss cosmetics manufacturer, against a Greek and a Cyprus based company claiming trade mark and exclusive distribution rights for Greece and Greek distributors and retailers (including an e-shop) of confusingly similar cosmetics.

Our team argued, on behalf of the plaintiff, that the defendants’ marks were confusingly similar to our client’s registered EUTM and international trade marks were marks of repute in the EU and, consequently, that defendants had to cease all use thereof, which resulted in providing them an unfair advantage of, or which is detrimental to, the distinctive character or the repute of our client’s registered trademarks. Similar arguments were made regarding confusingly similar marks and/or detrimental use or unfair advantage in relation to non-registered marks qualifying as “distinctive (product) features” under Greek Unfair Competition Law No. 146/14, concerning certain elements of the packaging of the products in question.

The Court reviewed relevant EU case law on confusingly similar trademarks and unfair advantage or detriment to the reputation of well-known trade marks, as well as relevant Greek case law on trademarks and unfair competition. On the basis of the above, as well as considering the evidence we submitted, it concluded that all three elements cumulatively required for protection as “well-known trademarks” under art. 9§2 (c) of Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 on the EU trade mark were present. More specifically, the Court was satisfied, on the basis of the evidence presented, that our client’s trade marks were proven to have repute in the Union, especially with regard to the particular sector; that the infringing trademarks and signs were, indeed, sufficiently similar to inflict detriment on the reputation of our client and its products; and that they took unfair advantage (freeriding) of said reputation. Furthermore, the Court applied the same concept of “well=known” marks to non-registered elements and to the packaging of our client’s products under Greek Unfair Competition law, once again finding in favour of the plaintiff.

Upholding our team’s arguments, the Court ordered the defendants to immediately cease all and any use of the infringing registered and non-registered marks, as well as to immediately withdraw all infringing products from the Greek market, with a monetary penalty clause for non-compliance with its order. The decision also granted our client the right to publicize the decision in the press and on the internet.

This case is one of many examples contributing to Ballas Pelecanos & Associates LPC being named IP Firm of the Year in Greece at the 2023 IAM and World Trademark Review Global IP Awards.

For more information and expert advice on all intellectual property law matters, including national and EU trademarks, contact us at [email protected] 

Relevant News & Legal Insights