The owner of the international trademark ELEVEN PARIS filed for an extension of protection in Hungary, which the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO) refused on the basis that the inclusion of the geographical name Paris could be misleading. The Metropolitan Tribunal annulled the HIPO's decision and ordered it to re-examine the application. The tribunal's obiter dicta on globalisation and its consequences for the use of geographical names in trademarks are notable.
A recent Metropolitan Court of Appeal case demonstrates that the determination of likelihood of confusion is often a sensitive issue. This case is notable, as the Hungarian Intellectual Property (HIPO) and the Metropolitan Tribunal came to different conclusions after examining the same facts. Although the HIPO rejected the opposition – holding that the visual and phonetic similarities between the marks in question were weak – the tribunal (and subsequently the court) disagreed.
The Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) was recently given significant new investigative powers under the framework of its merger control duties. Should parties decide not to submit a voluntary filing when meeting the voluntary notification threshold, the HCA can initiate an investigation on its own accord and undertake a fully fledged merger control proceeding. The HCA recently announced that it has commenced its first such ex officio merger control investigation.
Employers are often frustrated by employees' incapacity to work for health reasons, but they must act with care when addressing such situations. In an attempt to protect employee interests, legal regulations provide certain restrictions on what employers can do if an employee is unable to work for health reasons. A recent Supreme Court decision has further clarified some of these restrictions.
A number of amendments to the Law on Utility Models will take effect in January 2018. The most substantial amendments are the official confirmation of simultaneous patent and utility model protection and the introduction of an option to request an opinion from the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office on novelty and inventive step. These opinions can be used in infringement cases to prevent proceedings from being suspended when a utility model's novelty or inventive step has been called into question.
Organisations with legal entities and employees in several EU member states often try to centralise their human resources (HR) functions to some extent, which occasionally requires them to share employee and HR data within their group. Although existing Hungarian law provides a stable legal environment with clear rules for employers as data processors, there is a general feeling of uncertainty around this topic, which is partly due to the upcoming entry into force of the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
In a recent case involving the EU mark THE BODYSHOP, the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office considered all of the arguments for opposition – namely, the likelihood of confusion and the prior mark's reputation. However, on review, the Metropolitan Tribunal found this to be superfluous, explaining that if a likelihood of confusion exists, reference to reputation is unnecessary.
The Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO) recently approved a request for the cancellation of a three-dimensional mark on the grounds of lack of distinctiveness and unlawfulness. While the Metropolitan Tribunal confirmed the lack of distinctiveness and rejected the request for review, it disagreed with the HIPO with respect to the mark's unlawfulness on the basis of the Competition Act. The case is notable, as the tribunal seldom deals so extensively with competition law in a trademark case.
Following a Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) decision that its rebate system violated the Trade Act, retail chain Spar went all the way to the Supreme Court. All judicial forums upheld the HCA's decision and the illegality of such rebates seemed to be settled. However, the Budapest Metropolitan Court recently overturned another HCA decision, which was somewhat surprising considering that the Supreme Court had already upheld the HCA's decision in the relatively similar Spar.
The Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO) recently granted an opposition action in respect of the likelihood of confusion, but rejected it in respect of the prior unregistered mark's reputation. On review, the Metropolitan Tribunal agreed with HIPO in respect of the likelihood of confusion, but found that it had failed to consider the claim on the basis of copyright. In this respect, the tribunal stated that the applied-for mark was a direct copy of the prior mark, considering that the parties were competitors.
Public procurements are often targets for bid rigging and the Hungarian authorities and legislature have made extra efforts to fight this kind of behaviour. While it is not the primary authority for monitoring public procurements, the Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) is one authority fighting anti-competitive behaviour in public procurement. Besides investigating violations, the HCA is also taking steps towards prevention and raising awareness.
Although the Labour Code fails to define a 'conflict of interest', its general principles prohibit employees from engaging in conduct which could jeopardise their employer's rightful economic interests. Depending on the circumstances, a conflict may constitute a severe violation of the employee's employment terms and can be punished appropriately. In other cases, a conflict may arise that is not the employee's fault, which can therefore be appropriately rectified without penalties.
In recent years, the digital market has expanded rapidly in Hungary in almost every sector. Numerous companies (eg, Uber and AirBnb) have entered the Hungarian market and significantly changed the landscape of entire sectors with their innovative services. The possible competition law issues concern the fact that these new innovative companies can quickly achieve a dominant position. Further, in some sectors, online platforms used by third parties can restrict competition between users.
An important part of the recent major amendment to the Competition Act was the timely implementation of the EU Antitrust Damages Directive into Hungarian law. While it was already possible to claim damages for a competition law infringement under Hungarian law, the directive's implementation introduced special rules for damages claims arising out of competition law infringement and the enforcement of such claims. It also introduced several solutions which are new to Hungarian law.
In a recent case, a cancellation procedure was filed based on lack of use, as the device mark had been used in conjunction with other marks owned by the producers of the goods to which it was attached. While the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office cancelled the mark, the Court of Appeal ultimately amended this decision, rejecting the opposition and maintaining protection of the mark in certain classes.
The Metropolitan Tribunal recently held that the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office had erred in considering that the average Hungarian consumer could understand, and would therefore not confuse, the Latin term 'vita' and the Italian term 'civita'. While this statement is convincing, the final result (ie, likelihood of confusion) is somewhat problematic.
The board game Gazdálkodj okosan is commercialised in Hungary; the name is not registered as a trademark, but is recorded in the Registry of Copyright Works. The Metropolitan Court of Appeal recently upheld the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office's decision to grant a third-party application to register the colour device mark GAZDÁLKODJ OKOSAN!, holding that as the prior sign lacked a distinctive character in respect of toys, it would be unjustified to reject the opposed application.
The existing Labour Code amended employers' consultation duties in the event of a collective redundancy. When the code entered into force, this change seemed technical and went somewhat unnoticed among other more significant changes. However, the change is important, as it simplifies employers' consultation duties in the absence of employee representative bodies. Simultaneously, the new rule's compliance with EU law has raised questions around how employers should act.
Recent amendments to the Competition Act have significantly revised the merger control threshold system. The turnover thresholds for triggering a filing obligation have been increased. In addition, a voluntary threshold has been introduced, effectively transposing the voluntary notification system into Hungarian competition law for transactions where the mandatory thresholds are not met, but the parties have achieved a combined turnover in Hungary of more than Ft5 billion.
Following the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office's (HIPO's) refusal of a mark registered in Classes 32 and 33, the applicant filed for review with the Metropolitan Tribunal. The review was rejected with regard to both classes based on the likelihood of confusion. However, the Metropolitan Court of Appeal found that the request for review had been filed only in respect of the HIPO's refusal to grant protection in Class 33. As such, the tribunal's decision exceeded the request.