Newspaper mark remains famous despite 12 years of non-use


Panagiotis Mavrikos, an individual residing in Athens, filed on March 10 2006 a trademark application for the mark MESIMVRINI (ΜΕΣΗΜΒΡΙΝΗ in Greek), which is also the name of a Greek newspaper which ceased publication 12 years ago. Concurrently, Mavrikos filed a cancellation action against a MESIMVRINI mark owned by a publishing company called GENIKI EKDOTIKI ELLADOS MESIMVRINI AE (GENIKI).

The Administrative Trademark Committee, in examining both the cancellation action and the trademark application, consolidated the proceedings and decided in favour of GENIKI, despite the fact that the newspaper bearing the MESIMVRINI mark is no longer in circulation (Cases 61/2006 and 137/2006, February 9 2007).

It dismissed the cancellation action on the grounds that the newspaper's name was still famous. It noted that the newspaper commenced operations under the management of the famous Greek female journalist Eleni Vlachou in 1961. It was considered to be a mainstream newspaper during the 1960s and was one of the most popular newspapers in Greece at the time. Publication stopped in 1967 following the coup d'état of 1967 and recommenced in 1980, under new management, until 1994. The newspaper ceased publication in 1994 primarily due to a law that was passed at the time (Law 2328/1995), which prohibited the publication of mainstream, national newspapers by any entity which provided services in the public sector, due to conflict of interest considerations.

The committee was satisfied, based on the evidence submitted before it that, notwithstanding the publication break of 12 years, the Mesimvrini newspaper has retained its fame and also its related copyrights. It therefore dismissed the cancellation action and also Mavrikos's application for registration.

The above decision is of interest as it recognized that the fame of the trademark at issue superseded the non-use provisions of Greek law. Typically, non-use for a period of five years or more can lead to cancellation of the mark. The committee also acknowledged the importance of the associated copyright considerations.

Eleni Lappa, Dr Helen G Papaconstantinou, John Filias & Associates, Athens

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