Not only the failure of a company can lead its partners to war. The Café del Mar It has been almost three decades being one of the most emblematic of Ibiza. Its success took the business beyond the hotel industry: towards music, fashion or food. All this is marketed under the brand name of the iconic establishment after one of the partners registered the brand in his name behind the backs of the other owners, which opened a battle that has had to be resolved by the Court of Luxembourg. The General Court of the EU It considers that the shareholder acted "in bad faith" and departing from "the principles of ethical behavior commonly accepted" and "loyal practices" in a business.
The Café del Mar opened its doors in 1980 in the Ibiza town of Sant Antoni de Portmany. Its three partners – Ramon Guiral, José Les Viamonte and Carlos Andrea – made it a must-see on the island with its atmosphere chill, created from the decoration of the premises and its music selection. Two decades after its foundation, before the success of the premises, Guiral went to the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to register the brand Café del Mar. The goal was that under that name could be sold more products, from music to fashion and accessories or advertising services.
The owners of the establishment had at that time three companies in which they participated equally: Café del Mar, Varieties and Can Ganguil for commercial exploitation. On the latter, Guiral had powers to act on behalf of the firm. However, the partners affirmed that Guiral, who resides in Marbella (Málaga) went beyond what was necessary by registering several brands that were accepted by EUIPO between 1999 and 2000. Five years ago, the other two partners asked the organism that annulled those requests to consider that Guiral had acted in bad faith. But the EUIPO gave the reason to this last partner when verifying that these had obtained returns for the commercial exploitation of the marks.
Non-payment of benefits to members
The battle for the rights of the brand ended in Luxembourg. And European justice has dictated the opposite that the EUIPO. And to determine whether or not there was bad faith in Guiral, the General Court takes into account several factors. First, remember that as a shareholder of the rest of the companies that use the brand, it could not ignore "the risk of harm" that it entailed registering it in its name for the rest of its members.
The court also considers that there are no elements that prove that the rest of the shareholders "had knowledge of the registration of the disputed trademark", whose registration and protection were paid with Can Ganguil funds. And third, Guiral entered the returns of the brand in the accounts of that society, but only until 2009. When the war broke out, he stopped entering them. "This fact demonstrates the damaging nature of the registration of the trademark disputed exclusively on behalf of" that partner, which could "obtain the benefits" of its exploitation on a proprietary basis.
Thus, the European judiciary appreciates "bad faith" in the partner and annuls the resolution of the EU Intellectual Property Office which endorsed the registration and condemns the EUIPO and Guiral to bear the costs of the process and of the two partners who ended up turning to Luxembourg.
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