Supreme Administrative Court favours Croatian company in spicy dispute

The Polish Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that Polish company Japart could not obtain protection for the mark MASTER COOK, thereby ending the lengthy trade dress and unfair competition dispute between Japart and Croatian company Podravka, which produces the well-known spice mix Vegeta.

In 2005 the Polish Patent Office granted registration to the MASTER COOK mark for a seasoning mix whose packaging was similar to that of the Vegeta product, namely the image of a cook and a bunch of vegetables on a blue background:

Podravka filed an opposition against the registration, arguing that there was a substantial similarity between Japart’s product and its own Vegeta product, which has been present on the Polish market since 1994:

On June 13 2008 the Patent Office ruled that Vegeta was a reputed trademark and cancelled the registration for the MASTER COOK mark.

Japart filed a complaint with the Voivodeship Administrative Court, which dismissed it on May 22 2009 on the grounds that Japart would gain an unfair advantage by building a brand based on Vegeta’s reputation. The court ruled that Japart used images on the packaging of its product that were confusingly similar to those used by a reputed mark.

Japart filed an appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court, which dismissed the appeal on October 12 2010.

Maša Lopicic, PETOŠEVIC, Belgrade 

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