Design for lighter held to be similar to Société Bic's 3D mark

Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court has upheld the Bulgarian Patent Office’s (BPO) decision to cancel the registration of an industrial design for a lighter owned by AXXON Bulgaria, a Sofia-based company specialising in the marketing, distribution and logistics of fast-moving consumer goods.

According to the BPO, the design did not fulfil the requirements of novelty and originality, as it did not differ substantially from the well-known lighter registered as an international three-dimensional (3D) trademark by Société Bic, a disposable product maker based in France.

AXXON Bulgaria appealed to the Sofia City Court, which overruled the BPO’s decision after several experts concluded that AXXON Bulgaria’s design was substantially different from Société Bic’s design.

On appeal, however, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the experts’ conclusions were contradictory, and found that the design in question did not substantially differ from Société Bic’s registered 3D trademark and, therefore, did not create a different overall impression. The court ruled that the design did not fulfil the requirements of novelty and originality, and that it should be cancelled under Article 45, Paragraph 3 of the Law on Industrial Design.

The Supreme Administrative Court cancelled the decision of the Sofia City Court and upheld that of the BPO. The decision of the Supreme Administrative Court is final and not subject to appeal.

Valeri Penev, PETOŠEVIC, Sofia

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