Amsterdam Court did not recognise Sofia City Court Decision on parallel import

The Amsterdam District Court has ruled that a Judgment of the Sofia City Court in a trademark infringement case was contrary to the Nederlands’ public policy and it could not be recognized under the Brussels I Regulation. The case in Bulgaria involved a world-leading alcohol producer, who claimed the detention of a shipment of goods that was being imported in Bulgaria. The goods were not counterfeit, but there was no consent by the trademark holder for their import in the EU – a clear case of parallel import. After initially ordering the detainment of the goods, following an appeal before the Sofia Court of Appeal on behalf of the importer, the Sofia City Court ruled that the goods were to be released, citing the Interpretative Decision No 1/2009 of the Supreme Court of Cassation, according to which parallel import of genuine goods on the territory of the EU does not constitute trademark infringement.

Following this decision, a case was brought before the Amsterdam District Court by the Bulgarian importer, claiming damages from the trademark holder incurred from the “illegal” detainment of the goods that took place. However, the trademark holder argued that the decision of the Bulgarian Court (essentially – the Interpretative Decision No 1/2009) contradicted the practice established in the EU and thus – the public policy of the Netherlands that follows the EU policy in that field. Therefore that decision could not be recognized under the Brussels I Regulation and was not taken into account. The claim of the importer was dismissed.

The decision of The Amsterdam District Court establish serious and dangerous precedent of non-recognition of decision of Bulgarian Court (at this stage only in the field of intellectual property). The questions wold there be any further similar decisions and would there be more serious consequences for the Bulgarian Court system, at this stage, seems to have unclear answer, having minded that in contrary to the ECJ vision the Supreme Court of Cassation confirms the ruling in Interpretative Decision No 1/2009 (it was done with new Interpretative Decision No 1/2012). 


We are taking the liberty to share this news at this point, since it has not been covered locally so far and in light of the new Interpretative Decision of the Supreme Court of Cassation, that generally confirms the ruling in Interpretative Decision No 1/2009.