The company says it registered the trademark CZECH POINT in the Czech Republic in 2006 and the following year the national government registered a CzechPOINT trademark and began a massive rollout of offices that provide services such as verified signatures, land registry statements, company excerpt and criminal records in an attempt to simplify bureaucracy.
“We purchased the intellectual property in 2006 and feel that the government moved onto our property in 2007 and started using it without our permission,” CZECH POINT 101 owner Nathan Brown said in a statement. ‘We purchased the intellectual property in 2006 and feel that the government moved onto our property in 2007 and started using it without our permission.’
“We have been trying to get them to either pay some rent or move off our property, but they have not made any offers to date. Now we are forced to go through the courts to evict them. It is a sad situation that we sometimes deal with in connection with our tenants, but I never expected it of the national government,” Brown said.
CzechPOINT offices and signs are now found in over 6,500 locations country-wide with plans to roll out many more. The company said a legal expert in Czech trademark law, a lecturer on the subject at the Law Faculty of Masaryk University in Brno, believes CZECH POINT 101 has a solid case.
“From the available information, it appears that in the case of the trademarks of CZECH POINT 101 and the later registered trademarks used by the Ministry of Interior, there could indeed lead to induction of the likelihood of confusion, and if such, it would interfere with the rights of CZECH POINT 101 according to § 8 paragraph 2 point. b) of the Trademark Act,” said the lawyer, Radim Charvat.
“If this was also confirmed by an independent court in the Czech Republic, the Court could also decide to ban the Czech Republic (Ministry of Interior) using the designation CzechPOINT on their terminals,” he said.
The CzechPOINT project is an important part of the whole Czech eGovernment strategy. According to the “Strategy for development of services for information society” adopted in April 2008, the establishment of a network of CzechPOINT contact points is an important step for creation of inclusive information society.
The government attempted to register their trademark at the EU level (in the trademark registry OHIM) in 2008 but was opposed by CZECH POINT 101 in this application. The opposition was successful on many levels and OHIM refused to register the trademark of the Czech government for a number of business activities. The government’s appeal was rejected by the appeal committee and OHIM ordered the Czech government to pay the legal fees of CZECH POINT 101 in the appeal, but this money is still outstanding.