Injunction against hypermarket chain welcomed by mark owners

A Romanian court has granted SC Sprider Stores SA's request for an injunction preventing SC Real Hypermarket Romania SRL from infringing Sprider's well-known marks, including SPRIDER, SPRIDER UNDERWEAR, SPRIDER ATHLETICS and AGGRESSIVE (Decision 648, May 3 2010).
The injunction took the form of a temporary restraining order enjoining Real Hypermarket from importing into, and selling in, Romania any products bearing the marks. The court also ordered the seizure of any infringing merchandise found in Real Hypermarket’s possession.
Real Hypermarket is a large hypermarket chain with approximately 25 stores in Romania. Sprider, the well-known clothes and accessories retailer, has been active in the Romanian market for a number of years through:
  • a local subsidiary; and
  • its own chain of 14 stores, which are situated across the country and use the SPRIDER marks.
When Sprider discovered that Real Hypermarket was selling SPRIDER-branded goods without its permission, it immediately filed for injunctive relief, alleging:
  • trademark infringement; and
  • unauthorized parallel imports.
During the emergency relief proceedings, the court was satisfied that Sprider had met its burden of establishing a prima facie right exclusively to use and exploit the marks SPRIDER, SPRIDER UNDERWEAR, SPRIDER ATHLETICS and AGGRESSIVE in Romania.
The reasoning of the court was two-fold. First, the court found that Sprider had successfully demonstrated that it was the only company of the Sprider Group that was authorized by Sprider SA Commercial Clothing Company, the mother company, to import and sell products bearing the SPRIDER marks, both at the Community and local level.  
Second, the court held that the range of products and services for which the SPRIDER marks were registered were similar to the products sold by Real Hypermarket (eg, handbags, travel bags and sport bags, clothing for women, men and children, and shoes).
Although the nature of the proceedings did not allow the court to examine the merits of the case, it took into account a cease and desist letter sent by Sprider to Real Hypermarket, as well as Real Hypermarket’s assertion that it had stopped selling the products at issue.
With regard to Real Hypermarket’s argument, the court accepted Sprider’s evidence of sales. However, it pointed out that imposing such a burden on a petitioner was unfair due to the ongoing flow of sales of infringing products. The court further stated that:
“…considering the very rapid flow of sales through the Real network, it is almost impossible for the petitioner constantly to supply evidence of the continuous sale of the products bearing the allegedly counterfeit trademarks...”  
Injunctive relief was thus granted in favour of Sprider.
This decision has been welcomed by local members of the retail industry and by trademark owners seeking to protect their rights in Romania.
Eleni Lappa, Drakopoulos Law Firm, Athens

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