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The Bulgarian brand “Bolgaré” is too reminiscent of Bolgheri DOP, and cannot be used

The Court of the European Union agreed with the Tuscan denomination and issued a pivotal sentence that goes far beyond its borders
The Bolgheri PDO won the case against the Bulgarian brand “Bolgaré”

The Court of the European Union has ruled that the Bulgarian brand “Bolgaré” is too reminiscent of Bolgheri DOP, and cannot be used. Thereby the Court agreed with the Tuscan denomination and issued a pivotal sentence that goes far beyond its borders.
“The Court of the European Union has acknowledged all of the Bolgheri and Bolgheri Sassicaia Consortium’s motivations, in the case against the Bulgarian brand Bolgaré”, explained a note from the Consortium, led by Albiera Antinori, president, and Cinzia Merli and Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta, vice presidents, “whose appeal has been judged definitively and manifestly unfounded, because the Bolgaré brand is too reminiscent of the denomination. So, after waiting 6 years, we can, fortunately, write a happy ending to a story that had threatened the denominations of origin, Bolgheri and Bolgheri Sassicaia. They are among the leading wines available on the market as well as the most prestigious, in terms of the value of the bottles and vineyards on the Italian wine scene, which also other Italian PDOs have experienced or are experiencing”. In 2017, the Domaine Boyar, the largest winery in Bulgaria, had sent a request to the European Trademark Office, the EUIPO, to register the "Bolgaré" brand in the class of alcoholic products. Surprisingly, the appeal that the Consortium presented was rejected and we had to wait until last March when the EUIPO finally fully accepted the Consortium's appeal. The Bulgarian counterpart then challenged the decision at the Court of the EU. About a year later, the Court of the EU has now definitively and unequivocally expressed its decision on the matter.
The highest Community Court, explained the Bolgheri Consortium, has issued its ruling, without even setting a date for a hearing, because the judges, having read the defense of the Consortium as well as the decision of the EUIPO, considered the Bulgarian appeal manifestly unfounded. The ruling states that the "Bolgaré" brand is a name that in the mind of the relevant public, is too reminiscent of the "Bolgheri" DOP. Specifically, the Court added that this circumstance cannot be called into question by the fact, claimed by the counterparty, that the relevant public could perceive the "Bolgaré" trademark as a reference to Bulgaria. And, therefore, according to the Court, this circumstance, even if it were established, is not sufficient to prevent the public, when seeing the "Bolgaré" trademark, to also calling to mind the image of the product "Bolgheri" PDO. In detail, there are many similarities between the two terms: phonetic similarity; almost the same number of letters, and the first four letters are exactly the same; product identity, and figurative similarity in written characters. “The importance of the EU Court’s sentence”, commented the Consortium of Bolgheri and Bolgheri Sassicaia, “appears to go far beyond the interests of the Bolgheri area. It will be a fundamental precedent for the protection of Italian and European designations of origin. Bugnion SpA assisted the Consortium in the first two instances before the EUIPO, and EY continued its defense before the Court of the EU, both said it is a victory for all Italian wine denominations and confirms the absolute protection for PDO and PGI in the European Union against parasitic linking attempts beyond any linguistic or historical excuse, which we have highlighted before the EUIPO and the Court of the European Union”.

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