The European Union Court of Justice (EUCJ) recently adopted a decision in a case (No C-681/13), where it stated that in order to overrule a decision of a national court it is not sufficient to prove that a national court erred in application of the trademark directive.

In this case, Diageo Brands requested and obtained an order from the Bulgarian court to seize a batch of bottles of whisky, bearing the ‘Johnny Walker’ brand, on the grounds that their importation into Bulgaria from outside the European Economic Area infringed its trademark. The order was overturned and Diageo failed to appeal the decision.

Simiramida (the owner of the bottles) initiated proceedings in the Netherlands for compensation of the damages suffered because of the seizure. However, Diageo argued that the Bulgarian court made an error in applying the trademark directive and its decision was contrary to public policy.

As concerns the alleged error, the EUCJ made no distinction between provisions of the EU law and the national law. It stated that the Council Regulation on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments must be interpreted as meaning that the fact that a judgment, given in a Member State, is contrary to the EU law does not form the grounds for the non-recognition of the said judgment in another Member State because it infringes public policy.

Intellectual property