Consumer Protection Board takes landmark action in Alko Case

Estonia

Estonia's Consumer Protection Board has taken the unusual step of taking action in a trademark dispute, deciding to fine local company Amintor OÜ Ekr1,000 for violating the Estonian Advertising Act and infringing the trademark rights of Alko Inc, a Finnish company.

The case of Alko Inc v Amintor OÜ (Case 01-03-01/03) began when Alko, the registered owner of the ALKO mark for use in relation to several alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, filed a complaint with the Consumer Protection Board on the grounds that Amintor's use of the name 'E-Alko' for liquor stores violated its trademark rights.

Although the Consumer Protection Board normally does not entertain trademark disputes, leaving such disputes to the civil courts, it decided in this case to depart from past precedent.

After hearing the arguments of both parties, the board ruled in favour of Alko, finding that Amintor's activity violated (i) Article 4(1) of the Advertising Act which prescribes that advertising shall be considered misleading if it in any way deceives or is likely to deceive the public and, based on this deception, injures or is likely to injure a competitor, and (ii) Article 7(2) which prescribes that, without the consent of the owner, property may not be used or referred to in advertising in a way that is likely to convey the impression of a personal endorsement.

Sulev Sulsenberg, Käosaar & Co, Tallinn

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