Supreme Administrative Court rules in favour of Red Bull in PIT BULL dispute

Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court has ruled in favour of Austrian energy drink producer Red Bull GmbH in trademark cancellation proceedings against Bulgarian soft drink producer Nova Trade Ltd. Nova Trade had registered the word mark PIT BULL on April 14 2004.

The Supreme Administrative Court upheld an earlier decision of the Administrative Court - Sofia City, which stated that the PIT BULL mark had been registered in violation of the provisions of Article 12 of the Bulgarian Law on Marks and Geographical Indications. The Administrative Court had further ruled that the marks PIT BULL and RED BULL were confusingly similar and that the Bulgarian producer was taking unfair advantage of Red Bull’s earlier marks, which have a reputation.

The Bulgarian competitor appealed the Administrative Court decision, but the Supreme Administrative Court upheld the first instance decision and concluded that the earlier trademarks owned by Red Bull benefit from a well-known status on the territory of Bulgaria and, therefore, enjoy broader protection. The court stated that Red Bull's trademarks are perceived as “original” and are strongly associated with a particular product, and that consumers might believe that the Pit Bull product was an imitation or a cheaper version of Red Bull’s product.

On these grounds, the Supreme Administrative Court cancelled the PIT BULL mark.

The decision of the Supreme Administrative Court is final and not subject to appeal.

Valeri Penev, PETOŠEVIC, Sofia

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