Bulgaria´s competition watchdog says misappropriation of images is passing off

Yesterday the Commission on Protection of Competition (CPC) delivered a decision (pdf in Bulgarian) with which it imposed a fine amounting to 2.730 BGN (about 1.400 Euro) upon the company Belopolski OOD.

Acordingly, the companies Bolopolski OOD and Akvasport EOOD are competitors in the field of leisure time activities, water sports and fishing, thus the product offerings of both companies show a significant overlap.

While Akvasport maintains a webshop displaying images of their product offerings, Belopolski took some of them and placed them onto their own website for a period of 2 months. Not only have Belopolski not asked for Akvasport´s permission, but they used the images as those were electronically labeled with akvasport.com©.

The competition watchdog established a violation of Art 29 of the Competition Protection Act, thereby reasoning that

  1. The placing of images showing identical products carrying the same label or logo is likely to  create confusion among the relevant consumers as to who is the distributor of those products;
  2. Such creation of confusion is owing to Belopolski´s bad faith, and
  3. Belopolski started their business 10 years after Akvasport, who have been active in that market from 1997 onwards and have thus built a certain goodwill, that same goodwill is now likely to be damaged by Belopolski´s market behaviour.

Although seeking to combat unfair competition in the first place, the decisions of Bulgaria´s CPC represent an efficient and proven instrument to practically fight various types of intellectual property infringement.

The CPC is often the first choice for right holders, because the access to that authority is cheap, the proceedings before it take place quickly and its decisions are quite persuasive towards the competent courts of jurisdiction.