Supreme Court confirms domain name infringement, but reduces fine

Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court has upheld a 2009 decision of the Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) against a Sofia-based company for using a domain name that was confusingly similar to that of a competitor.

The legal proceedings were initiated by Ataro Klima, a producer of air-conditioning and ventilation equipment from Plovdiv (central Bulgaria). Ataro Klima argued that its competitor, Sofia-based Tangra AV, had registered and used the domain name 'ataro-klima.com' (shut down in 2009), which was confusingly similar to its trade name and its own domain name 'ataro.bg'.

The CPC ruled against Tangra based on Article 35, Paragraph 3 of the Law on the Protection of Competition. This provision prohibits the use of a domain name or website design that is identical, or similar to, that of other persons, in a manner that may mislead consumers and/or injure the interests of competitors.

The CPC imposed a fine on Tangra in the amount of €199,660 (approximately $263,100), or 2% of the company’s 2008 turnover. The defendant appealed in August 2009. In 2010 the Supreme Administrative Court confirmed that there had been infringement, but ruled that the amount of the fine was unjustified and instructed the CPC to reduce it.

Following the Supreme Administrative Court's instructions, the CPC reduced the fine to €19,960 (approximately $26,310), or 0.2% of the company’s 2008 turnover. In 2012 the Supreme Administrative Court upheld the CPC’s decision in its entirety.

Valeri Penev, PETOŠEVIC, Sofia
 

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