Strauss Adriatic doo, proprietor of the famous mark “Doncafe”, sued a defendant who had distributed coffee cups to which it affixed the mark. The Commercial Court in Belgrade found that the defendant took unfair advantage of the reputation of the mark owned by Strauss Adriatic doo, damaged the mark’s distinctive character, and damaged its reputation (judgment of 15 October 2013, Strauss Adriatic doo v. Yao Fa doo, Case no. 41 P 5082/2013). The court also determined that consumers of the cups would be “misled”, which in the context probably means that, according to the Court, the defendant was responsible for creating a likelihood of confusion.
New amendments to the Decree on Rules for Granting of State Aid (“State Aid Decree”) came into force on 14 November 2013. The changes pertain to the rules on de minimis state aid and state aid in the form of compensation for services of general economic interest.
Amendments to the Serbian Law on Protection of Competition were published in the Official Gazette on 31 October 2013 and will come into force on 8 November 2013. The adopted amendments to a large extent follow solutions from the draft which the Government submitted to the Parliament back in July this year. We devoted two earlier blog posts to various drafts of the amendments (apart from the Government’s July draft, we also analyzed the initial draft published in April). Now that the amendments have ripened into law, it is worth providing an overview of the most important changes to the competition legislation.
Photographs and the current events exception in Serbian copyright law 31 Oct 2013 | Bogdan Ivanišević
The High Court in Belgrade and the Appellate Court in the same city have issued a few decisions in 2013 rejecting arguments by the defendants that their use of photographs, without the authorization of the copyright owner, was lawful because the photos were used within the context of reporting about current events. While the outcome in each case was identical, the judgments differ in the interpretation of the law. A reader is left unsure as to what the Serbian copyright law actually says about the current events exception to copyright infringement.
On September 13-14 2013, Florence was the venue of the 17th Annual Competition Conference organized by the International Bar Association (IBA). More than 180 lawyers and economists attended, from 41 countries around the globe. This year’s focus was on ways in which competition authorities can protect and promote innovation, legal evaluation of different pricing strategies, and developments in the areas of antitrust investigations and damages actions.
State aid continues? The case of Simpo. 10 Sep 2013 | Dragan Gajin
Back in April this year, we wrote about State aid issues surrounding the Government’s support to Fiat. The Serbian Government is once again aiding domestic producers – this time assistance has been provided to the company Simpo, the largest furniture manufacturer in Serbia.
SOKOJ wins court battle against “Exit” 31 Jul 2013 | Bogdan Ivanišević
This year’s Exit festival, a major event on Europe’s musical scene, which traditionally takes place in Novi Sad (Serbia), ended on 14 July. It is worth taking a look into legal squabbles the festival has lately had with the Serbian collecting societies. It turns out that at least one such dispute ended recently, and that Exit’s opponent in the court had the upper hand.
On 16 July 2013, the Government of Serbia submitted to the Parliament its proposal of the amendments to the Law on Protection of Competition. We wrote on this blog on the first draft proposal of the amendments, published in April 2013. The bill that reached the Parliament contains some notable modifications to the initial draft.
Merger control in Montenegro 24 Jul 2013 | Igor Nikolić
At the end of April 2013, a new set of bylaws elaborating provisions of the Law on Protection of Competition came into force. This, to a certain extent, rounds up the legal framework available to one of the youngest independent agencies for protection of competition in Europe – the Montenegrin Agency for Protection of Competition was established under the Law on Protection of Competition of 2012, and became operational at the beginning of 2013.
This post looks at the novelties introduced with respect to the content of the application for concentration approval.
Standing to sue for annulment of decision on individual exemption belongs only to parties to proceedings before Commission 24 Jun 2013 | Dragan Gajin
The Serbian Supreme Court of Cassation addressed in its decision dated 14 February 2013 the issue of standing to challenge decisions on individual exemption of restrictive agreements from prohibition granted by the Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition. The non-confidential version of the judgment was published in May on the court’s website. In the judgment, the court took a narrow view on standing, limiting the standing to sue to the parties to the exempted agreement.
The Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition has published its Annual Report for 2012. Because the Commission publishes its decisions and opinions randomly, the report offers an informative scan of the authority’s activities in the course of the previous year.
The Commission has rendered three decisions on suspension of proceedings under Article 58 of the Law on Protection of Competition following the commitments offered by the investigated undertakings.
On 25 April 2013, the Court of Justice of the European Union (General Court) rendered three judgments in cases initiated against decisions of the Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market (OHIM). In each case, the Court elaborated the rules that should be followed in the assessment of trademark distinctiveness. The decisions of OHIM withstood the Court’s scrutiny in all three cases.
A principal feature a sign needs to have in order to be registered as a trademark is - distinctiveness. This proposition follows from the essential role of trademarks in the course of trade: distinguishing goods and service of one undertaking from the goods and service of others. The most recent pronouncements by the General Court reassert some fundamental rules governing the meaning of distinctiveness.
Administrative Court confirms Commission’s decision on abuse of dominance in Frikom 29 Apr 2013 | Dragan Gajin
In an earlier post, I analyzed a decision of the Commission for Protection of Competition finding that the Serbian ice-cream manufacturer Frikom abused its dominance on the wholesale market of industrial ice-cream by engaging in vertical price-fixing, imposing exclusivity on retailers either through explicit exclusivity clauses or through rebate schemes, and discriminating among customers by offering them differing payment terms.
The Commission imposed on Frikom a fine in the amount of approximately EUR 3 million. Following Frikom’s judicial challenge to the Commission’s decision, the Administrative Court, in its judgment of 12 March 2013, upheld the Commission’s decision both in the part determining infringementsand in the part imposing the penalty.
Further clarification from E.U. court about trademark-design relationship 29 Apr 2013 | Bogdan Ivanišević
On 25 April 2013, the General Court of the European Union weighed in on the issue of relationship between three-dimensional marks and designs. In Su-Shan Chen v. OHIM, the Court compared a registered Community design incorporated into cleaning devices, on the one hand, and a Community three-dimensional mark, registered earlier, with very similar geometric form, dimensions and shape, on the other. The proprietor of the trademark prevailed over the proprietor of the design.
We addressed a similar issue in the second part of our previous post, Highlighter infringes drawing of another highlighter, says Serbian court. In that post, we referred to the decision of 9 August 2011 in which the Board of Appeal of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) found that a Community design in the shape of a text highlighter infringed a three-dimensional Schwan Stabilo mark registered in Germany.
The 2009 Serbian Law on Protection of Competition is undergoing an overhaul. The first draft of the amendments, prepared jointly by the Ministry of Trade and the Commission for Protection of Competition, has been submitted for public debate.
The initial round of consultations was held on 10 April 2013, on the occasion of the Commission’s anniversary. The most noteworthy proposal concerns the extension of the statute of limitations for imposition and collection of penalties by the Commission.