General Court upholds decision of BoA of EUIPO to cancel trademark registrations upon request by Bulgarian leading preserves producer

PAVLOV & CO team rakes in success in first appearance before the General Court in Luxembourg.

The General Court of the European Union had rendered its decision in joint cases T-717/18 and T-718/18, in which PAVLOV & CO represented the intervening party – a Bulgarian leading producer of fruit and vegetable canned products PHILICON 97. A dispute arose between the client and a French producer of fresh fruits when the Bulgarian producer commenced actions for invalidation of the two EUTMs, used by the French entity, based on earlier Bulgarian well-known trademarks PHILICON (word and figurative). PAVLOV & CO handled the matter from the beginning, presenting numerous evidence before the EUIPO, showing that the earlier PHILICON signs of the Bulgarian client have been used extensively in Bulgaria for a number of years, prior to the registration of the contested trademarks of the French company, and have become well-known. The Cancellation division fully agreed and cancelled the contested EUTMs.

The French company appealed, but the Board of Appeals fully upheld the contested decisions, sharing the arguments of the Cancellation division that the evidence provided showed that the two PHILICON signs, used by the Bulgarian company, have been used substantially and widely in the country for a significant period of time and were, hence, well-known!

This ruling was appealed by the French company before the General Court of the EU. The appellant tried to downplay the probative value of the presented evidence, commenting them out of context and in an arbitrary manner, separate from each other, in an attempt to overturn the decision. In the oral hearing, the appellant again tried to play the same card, but the intervening party's lawyers turned down these attempts, making sure to point out that evidence have to be examined in their entirety and in this particular case – they fully support and complement each other. Last but not least, the Court was reminded that the territory and public concerned was that of Bulgaria – a small EU country, where, however, the intervener had substantial presence and its PHILICON trademarks have acquired significant reputation.

Clearly, the judges agreed and the decisions dismissed the appeals and confirmed the rulings of the EUIPO, marking the win in the first General Court case, handled by the PAVLOV & CO team.