"United Business Bank" vs."United Business Corporation”

01 Dec 2000

For the first time in the history of Lebanon judiciary, the first instance court, in Jebal Lebnan, the second preliminary chamber headed by the Judge Ayman Owaidat, has adopted the theory of interloping manners. Such theory was previously-adopted in France two years before and reflected positively on the reputation of France in respect of intellectual property protection.

Pursuant to the French jurisprudence, the interloping manner is adapted according to others, while availing of the latter's efforts and the reputation and fame of others.

Such theory was adopted by the court during its examination of the claim raised by “United Business Bank" against a commercial group which named itself "United Business Corporation".

Although the business scope of the company does not in part or in whole accord with the claimant Business Bank scope, yet the accepted complaint proceeded from the Bank apprehensions about its reputation on one hand and fearing that the established corporation would avail of the Bank reputation which is corresponding to the corporation on the other.

The recitals of the decision issued on 31/10/2000, included that whenever a counterfeiter adopts a basic element of a certain registered mark, even if such counterfeiter adds different minor elements, and wherever the proprietor of a counterfeited mark is willing to cause confusion to the average consumer, shall be charged with counterfeit.

In spite of the difference between both marks in terms of "company" and "Bank", such difference may not be recognized on listening or viewing thereof as happens in the similar elements, particularly, because the word Bank was used to indicate the activity practiced by the corporation established under such name. Moreover, the Bank is basically a corporation, because the crucial factor is based on the general impression conveyed by the mark to the average consumer.

Thus, the difference in the second word between bank and corporation does not remove the confusion of the average consumer, because the common words "United Business" between both names compose the essential element therein. Such common words appeared in a form implying that such words are the basic element in both names.

Illegal competition conventionally imply competing for the purpose of attracting and tempting common consumers between the competitor and the enterprise subjected to competition.

Conventional illegal competition provisions may not apply in the case herein because of the difference between the activities of the claimant Bank and the defendant corporation.

However, the interloping acts, indicated in availing of the reputation and fame of the trade name of the claimant Bank known by the name "United Business Bank" (Lebanese joint stock corporation), and in using nearly the same name without the word Bank by the defendant corporation named "United Business Corporation" Egyptian joint-stock company, are deemed illegal.
Moreover, the development of economical activities has shown that illegitimacy of the financial transactions is not necessarily restricted to larceny or attraction of customers of others. Whereby, the illegitimacy may be influenced by the acts of a certain project against another one non-competitive therewith and have no common customers therebetween.

Nevertheless, the use of famous tradename for the purpose of availing of the reputation thereof is deemed an interloping act in every case the user is permitted to avail, without return of the others reputation gained by intellectual work, skill or promotional investments, since the economical value of an economical project is based on the skills thereof for which it gained reputation and fame, the interloper tries to avail of such reputation and fame without exerting any financial or intellectual effort.
Thus, the court decided to prevent the defendant from using the tradename "United Business Company" Egyptian Joint stock corporation, to compel the defendant to cancel the current registration of this name in the commercial register within a month as of the date of notifying thereof subject to penalty of one Million Lebanese Liras (1US$=1,000) for everyday of delay, and to prevent the defendant from using such name in the future and to notify the necessary parties. A summary of the decision was published in "El-Nahar and El-Safier" newspapers, at the expense of the defendant.

IIPA Applauds the Free Trade Agreement Between Jordan and the United States
The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) and its seven trade association members making up the copyright-based industries commended the Jordanian and United States governments on the conclusion of a cutting-edge Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The Jordan FTA incorporates the most up-to-date international standards for copyright protection and enforcement and paves the way for increased economic development in Jordan in the information and entertainment sectors.

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