ANALYSIS

Firms with Macedonia-related names need to clinch rights

firms-with-macedonia-related-names-need-to-clinch-rights

The name “Macedonia” features in various forms in the brands of 182 Greek businesses across all sectors – with 39 in the food and agricultural sector – while over 4,000 businesses use the term to describe one or more of their products. The ratification of the Prespes deal between Athens and Skopje has raised questions about what the future hold for them.

Of foremost concern is the fact that entrepreneurs in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will have the right to use this name too, calling for a constructive dialogue on the regulations that will be required and agreed.

The lack of clarity concerning the key details of this issue is prompting experts advise Greek businesses to secure the rights to their logos and names, according to existing European and international procedures. The commercial chambers in northern Greece have already started taking action, offering legal advice and assistance.

The deal, however, will not affect products with a protected Designated of Origin (POP) or Geographical Indicator (PGE), as their names cannot be disputed since they have been determined via the provisions, terms and decisions of the European Union.

The Prespes agreement includes a key provision on commercial names. Article 1, Paragraph 3 says that as far as trademarks and brand names are concerned, the two sides “agree to support and encourage their business communities to institutionalize a structured and in good faith dialogue, in the context of which [they] will seek and reach mutually acceptable solutions on the issues deriving from the commercial names, trademarks, the brand names and all relevant matters at bilateral and international level.”

The agreement also provides for the creation of an international team of experts within the year that will consist of representatives of both states and will have three years, until 2022, to complete its work. This provision possibly means that many name and trademark issues will be addressed from the start. Even if this is the case, legal experts told Kathimerini businesses which have secured air-tight protection for their trademarks and commercial names will be in a much better position, regardless of the final decisions of the international team of experts.