Tallinn Airport cannot monopolise the word ‘airport’
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The Harju County Court has dismissed an action filed by Tallinna Lennujaam AS (Tallinn Airport Ltd) requesting the transfer of the domain name ‘lennujaam.ee’ (‘airport.ee’), registered in the name of M&A AS (Decision 2-10-47190, May 31 2011).
The plaintiff noted that the domain name ‘lennujaam.ee’ was used to sell holidays, business trips and flight tickets. In addition, flights from Tallinn Airport were available for sale on the website. Therefore, according to the plaintiff, many customers had been confused into believing that the website at ‘lennujaam.ee’ belonged to Tallinn Airport.
As of March 29 2009, Tallinn Airport has been named after Lennart Meri, the president of the Republic of Estonia between 1992 and 2001. The plaintiff declared that LENNART MERI TALLINNA LENNUJAAM is a well-known trademark. Further, the plaintiff contended that the domain name was confusingly similar to the business name Tallinna Lennujaam AS.
M&A argued that the plaintiff had no right to prohibit third parties from using the word ‘lennujaam’ (‘airport’) due to its descriptive character. Descriptive terms should be available for all to use.
M&A, the sole shareholder of Baltic Tours AS (one of the oldest travel agencies in Estonia), noted that the webpage ‘lennujaam.ee’ had been operated by Baltic Tours since autumn 2007. Therefore, the plaintiff had acted in bad faith, as it should have been aware of the webpage since 2007, but had filed the claim three years later. According to M&A, the plaintiff’s action put at risk the investments made by M&A in developing the webpage.
The Harju County Court dismissed the plaintiff’s action. The court found that the mark LENNART MERI TALLINNA LENNUJAAM was not well known, as the plaintiff had failed to submit any evidence demonstrating that it was a well-known trademark. The court emphasised that, even if it had been a well-known trademark, the plaintiff was not allowed to monopolise the word ‘airport’.
Kärt Laigu, Käosaar & Co, Tallinn
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