Ipay given heavy fine after case returned from Court to CPC

The Commission for Protection of the Competition (CPC) gave its ruling in the matter between Epay and Ipay, which is overviewed here (link). With the court having already established that an infringement has taken place, the goal of the matter was for the CPC to evaluate the severity of the infraction and impose an adequate sanction, which was to act preventatively for the infringer. Ipay made an effort to downplay the infraction, citing that use of the sign was discontinued some time before the final decision in the case was taken, and that no direct damages have occurred for Epay (such were neither claimed, nor proven), the infringement did not occur for a lengthy period of time and this would justify a minimal fine, or even merely a warning, with no fine to be imposed. Epay, represented by Mr. Vasil Pavlov in this case again, reminded the CPC that contrary to the claims of Ipay, the infringement has taken place over a period of more than two years and was discontinued only after there was a negative outcome in Court (i.e. after the Court cancelled the decision of the CPC at first instance).

The CPC reviewed the case and found that two separate infringements have taken place – imitation of the trademarks and trade name of Epay, and imitation of the domain name of Epay. The infringements have taken place over a lengthy period of time of almost 3 years,  which is long enough to distort fair competition on the market and are to be qualified as “not very severe”, and that there are no circumstances for increase or decrease of the liability of the infringer. Given those conclusions, imposed fines would have to fall within the range of up to 5% of the net revenues of the infringer for each of the two infringements. The CPC has fixed the specific amount of the fines for each of the two infringements in the amount of 2% of the last reported net revenues of the infringer (for the 2015 financial year, as the report for 2016 was not yet completed), or in the amount of over 585 000 leva for each infringement or over 1 170 000 leva (appr. 600 000 EUR) in total, making this one of the most significant fines in this area in Bulgaria.