|Consumers in Banja Luka: do they know who is monitoring|
the importation of their favourite brands?
"Until recently, Bosnia had only one law on IP rights, the Law on Industrial Property, which entered into force on 27 August 2002 and covered patents, trade marks, designs and geographical indications and designations of origin. The Law, which was in force until 1 January 2011, had no provisions regarding bad faith trade mark applications.The IPKat can scarcely imagine how galling it must be for brand owners to be excluded from the opportunity to monitor the importation of goods bearing their own trade marks and other indicia. But the lesson is clear. For as long as trade mark rights are territorial and not global -- which is likely to be forever -- international businesses have to take the lead in registering and protecting their brands. It is an expense and it is an inconvenience, but it this this that underpins the credibility of a trader's goods and services and protects consumers too. Merpel says, it seems bizarre that, as late as 2002, a country could pass an intellectual property law that contained no provision for dealing with bad faith trade mark applications. It's not as if there weren't plenty of examples of other people's trade mark laws to look at. What were the Bosnian legislators thinking of?
Bad faith applications were therefore tolerated and a large number of well-known global brand names passed into the hands of local counterfeit sellers. Legal remedies available in these situations were limited. The Bosnian PTO did not recognize bad faith as one of the grounds for cancellation, prosecutors refused to pursue bad faith cases claiming there was no criminal intent and the civil courts were reluctant in issuing decisions in unfair competition claims.
The new Law on Trade Marks, in force as of 1 January 2011, listed bad faith as one of the relative grounds for cancellation. However, without the actual use of the mark in Bosnia, it will be difficult to prove bad faith, especially with the PTO that has traditionally favoured local companies.
The most notorious example of this practice is the case of EKOSAN, an importer of textile products from China and Turkey, located in Banja Luka, northwestern Bosnia. The company registered almost 200 trade marks that belong to well-known apparel companies and requested customs monitoring. The company then managed to prohibit import attempts by other companies, including the actual owners of the marks. Among the trade marks EKOSAN registered are brands that are well known globally, but without any local presence, marketing or campaign in Bosnia. The company has even started to register some of the well-known marks in other countries in the region".