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Latvian court admits total invalidation of Grigorius Holdings trademark 'Jaxid' based on bad faith; applicant related to 'trademark troll' Michael Gleissner

The German company Jaxid GmbH (the Plaintiff) appealed the decision rendered by the Industrial Property Board of Appeal (hereinafter – the Board of Appeal) and requested the applied mark ‘Jaxid’, owned by Grigorius Holdings, SIA (the Defendant), to be fully invalidated. In this regard, the Vidzeme District Court initiated civil proceedings in the case No. C30622918. In line with the court’s judgment of 28 February 2020, bad faith of the applicant at the time of filing the trademark application ‘Jaxid’ No. M 70 030 was recognized. Moreover, the court acknowledged the obvious connection between Grigorius Holdings, SIA and the ‘trademark troll’ Michael Gleissner.

First, in 2016 the Plaintiff filed an opposition before the Board of Appeal based on an earlier EUTM ‘Jaxid’. The opposition was partly based on double identity, likelihood of confusion and, of course, bad faith of the applicant concerning dissimilar goods and services in classes 16 and 41. In this regard, the Plaintiff provided significant evidence in relation to the applicant’s connection with the notorious trademark pirate Michael Gleissner, whose actions of massive trademark filings are known worldwide. However, the Board of Appeal upheld the opposition only partially and acknowledged bad faith of the applicant for identical/very similar goods. Such an approach is reckoned as contrary to the established case law of the European Union.

On the contrary, the court satisfied the Plaintiff’s appeal completely and deemed the full invalidation of the mark to be reasonable even with respect to dissimilar goods and services. Namely, the Defendant at the time of filing the subject mark was driven by malicious intents in relation to all goods and services.  The court also concluded that the supporting evidence materials, inter alia articles by ‘The World Trademark Review’ on Michael Gleissner’s trademark and company schemes, contain proof that the Defendant is related to this person. Furthermore, it was noted that there is no evidence that the Defendant has started using any of the filed trademarks or has any commercial intentions.

The court by taking into account observations in life and laws of logic, concluded that the Defendant’s deliberate actions of registering trademarks in Latvia, which are identical to several EUTMs, are not accidental, but malicious actions with the aim to harm interests of third parties. In particular, it was reckoned that the main purpose of applying for a large number of trade marks and filing a large number of revocation requests is to obtain unfair advantage. The artificial nature of those activities is not directed at the genuine desire to use the marks in the course of trade. Rather, it is to be regarded as repetitive and contradictory to the public interests as well as to the principles of fair commercial and business conduct.

The Boards of Appeal (EUIPO) in the decision No. R 2445/2017 – Case G, concerning a revocation request for non-use of the trademark ‘Sandra Pabst’, came to similar conclusions. In this decision the EUIPO recognized ‘abuse of process’ of another company related to Michael Gleissner and held that a revocation request must be rejected if it is abusive.

In the present case, the German company Jaxid GmbH was represented before the Board of Appeal and in the court by trademark attorneys, lawyers Gatis Meržvinskis and Gunta Zariņa.

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