In March 2020 Greece adopted a new Trademark Law in order to implement the EU Trademarks Directive into Greek law. By virtue of this new law, the Greek trademark regime is now largely similar to that of the European Union. The new Greek Trademark Law essentially follows EU Trademark Regulation (2017/1001), rendering the Greek legal system more familiar and friendly to foreign entities, many of which are already acquainted with the EU framework.
In copyright infringement cases, rights holders can claim both pecuniary and moral damages. According to Article 65(2) of Law 2121/1993 on Copyright, Related Rights and Cultural Matters, where an infringement was intentional or the result of negligence, the amount of damages (ie, compensation) cannot be lower than twice the remuneration that the infringer should have paid – under normal circumstances – for the legitimate acquisition of the relevant exploitation rights.
Defence strategies in copyright cases are, in principle, based on one of a number of grounds, including an objection as to whether a particular work falls under the protection of Law 2121/1993 on Copyright, Related Rights and Cultural Matters. For example, if a journalist sues a third party for copyright infringement, the defendant might claim that the journalist's work does not meet the criterion of originality if it contains only mere or actual information without any element of the author's personal contribution.
Greek copyright law does not provide for a fair use or fair dealing defence. Nevertheless, Law 2121/1993 on Copyright, Related Rights and Cultural Matters (the Copyright Law) contains an exhaustive list of specific statutory exceptions and limitations on authors' economic rights. A copyrightable work can be legally used without prior authorisation or payment if said use is covered by a specific exception or limitation stipulated by the Copyright Law and all legal requirements provided thereunder are met.
To constitute an original work of intellectual property and thus be protectable under the Copyright Law, a journalistic work must contain an element of individuality and personal contribution, particularly with regard to the selection, composition, elaboration and adaptation of its content. The form in which a journalistic work is presented to the public may also classify it under the protective category of a literary, audiovisual or photographic work if said form is a text, video or image.
Trading in pirated and counterfeit goods is widespread in many countries, including Greece. As such, the Trademark Law and the Copyright Law set out significant penalties (eg, long-term imprisonment) and high fines for anyone using, exploiting, putting on the market, selling, distributing or possessing with the intent to distribute to the public products that infringe the trademarks or copyrights of third parties.
Trademarks can be temporarily seized by a court order, following a preliminary injunction proceeding. The fact that trademarks are independent – and in many cases undervalued – assets makes it possible to use their goodwill as collateral in the form of pledges or for other rights in rem. This is an option that both distressed businesses and their creditors should explore before opting for insolvency proceedings.
The Athens Court of Appeals recently ruled on the objection of forfeiture of a right in the Greek civil law system and established the prerequisites for a defendant raising such an objection. The court held that the exercise of a plaintiff's rights to enforce its trademark cannot be considered as abusive, even if the plaintiff did not object in the past to the defendant's use of similar or identical trademarks.
Amid the ongoing recession in Greece, it has been suggested that the government consider granting compulsory licences of pharmaceutical patents to third parties in an effort to decrease public spending, which is particularly high in the health sector. Greek law provides for the grant of compulsory patent licences only for a reason that serves the greater good and the interests of the state.
A recent Council of State decision is one of the first to be handed down in a trademark matter dismissing an appeal on a question of law due to the lack of fulfilment of two mandatory conditions. This decision raises concerns for trademark owners and applicants. Failure to obtain a favourable decision in the first or second instance limits the chances of success in appealing a negative decision on questions of law.
Law 4072/2012 was recently enacted, of which Articles 121 to 196 constitute the new Trademark Law. The law has been only partially enacted and will become fully effective in October 2012; among other things, the provisions concerning the new filing procedures will be enforced on this date. As the law covers multiple topics, the provisions on trademarks are expected to be codified in a self-inclusive text in the near future.
A referral to the European Court of Justice may help to clarify whether the ratification of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights had the effect of automatically extending patent protection to pharmaceutical compounds, even if the application was filed for a production method at a time when Greece excluded such compounds from protection.
An applicant sought to extend to Greece an international trademark for a set of four digits in a straight horizontal line that it used as a secondary distinctive mark. The Trademarks Commission dismissed the application because of an alleged lack of distinctiveness. This judgment illustrates the reluctance of the Greek courts to acknowledge the inherent distinctive power of abstract signs that do not comprise further elements.
The Court of Appeals for the Peloponnesian Region recently issued an important ruling in trademark infringement litigation between French luxury goods firm and fashion house Hermès and the owner of a Greek jewellery shop. The court held that trademark dilution is feasible when an indication that is confusingly similar to a prior registered right is used, notwithstanding the locality in which it is used.
Stam Mouyer SA filed a successful petition for an injunction against I Mouyer LLC in order to enjoin the latter from (i) using MOUYER as a trademark, trade name, company name, distinguishing title or features of origin, and (ii) making any representations to the effect that it was related to the petitioner, which owns a well-known brand of children's shoes in Greece.
The Athens Administrative Court of First Instance has reversed a Trademark Committee decision and found in favour of Carrefour in two rulings - one accepting the trademark CHAMPION filed by Carrefour in Classes 3, 30 (except tea) and 31 and another granting the cancellation petition filed by Carrefour against the trademark CHAMPION, which belonged to Champion Products Europe Limited.
A case involving the domain name ‘axa.gr’ resulted from a dispute between the well-known company AXA Insurance, which operates in Greece in coordination with Alpha Insurance of the Alpha Bank of Greece, and an individual who had registered the domain name in Greece in 2004.
In exploring the scope of the EU First Trademark Directive, the Council of State found that a likelihood of confusion caused by the filing of a Greek trademark application that adversely affects the existing trademarks of a foreign entity outside Greece is sufficient to deny or invalidate the trademark application.
Including: Eligibility for Registration; Examination; Granting; Licensing; Trademark Infringement