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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Not crazy enough: Red Bull succeeds over Crazy Bull in Greece

Greek trade mark lawyers (present company included) often complain about the quality of the Greek TM Office's decisions in adversarial proceedings. The case reported below is a rare example where the Greek Office's position was actually adopted by the Greek Supreme Administrative Court, the Council of State (Symvoulio tis Epikrateias), on final appeal, after rejected twice by the first and second instance administrative courts.


Under judgment No. 1238/2015, the Symvoulio tis Epikrateias ruled that the appellate court's ruling under which the Greek trade mark application  left (unfortunately available only in B/W, but the bull is yellow) is not confusingly similar to the 'classic' RED BULL mark was burdened with inadequate reasoning. The word indications are "Τρελός Ταύρος", that is "Crazy Bull" in Greek. Both the first instance and the appellate administrative courts of Athens had ruled that the visual and aural similarities between the marks are too remote to establish likelihood of confusion. They also ruled that no bad faith filing is substantiated.

The Symvoulio tis Epikrateias held that the appellate court did not conduct a global appreciation of the risk of consumer confusion; it did not pay appropriate attention to the conceptual similarity between the marks, the identity of the goods involved and its interdependence with the similarity of the marks. Moreover,  the Greek Supreme Administrative Court concluded that the enhanced distinctive character of the earlier mark was also not taken into consideration by the appellate court.


The judgment practically seems to point to a conclusion of confusing similarity between the marks. However, as per standard practice [which this Kat respectfully submits perhaps should be reconsidered], the case has been remanded to the Athens Administrative Court of Appeal, under different composition, for a new judgment on the merits, which will be bound by the above guidelines. The Symvoulio tis Epikrateias did not address the issue of bad faith filing, raised with a separate ground of final appeal, as the final appeal was already accepted on lack of adequate reasoning of the appellate court's ruling on confusing similarity.

This Kat feels that the judgment of the court of appeal may indeed not have been detailed enough. He is also convinced that this is a 'classic' famous trade mark infringement and bad faith filing matter; the Crazy Bull mark must not have been filed in a state of mental illness, but, most probably with a clear head and vision: that the Crazy Bull will 'go after' the Red one. He is also happy that the Greek TM Office (as deep in the past as this case may go) stepped up in this matter and ruled in [what this Kat thinks is], the right direction in terms of result. Still, confusing similarity does seem rather far fetched here.

1 comment:

Andrew Robinson said...

My first reaction is that the wrong motor racing company is complaining here, Red Bull's rivals Lamborghini use a single, forward-facing yellow bull that looks very similar to the one in the picture as their logo.

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