Thu, Aug. 15, 2013

Laches in Hard Rock Cafe Dispute

CK - Washington. Hard Rock Cafe Heidelberg is not a licensee or franchisee of the renowned Hard Rock Cafe group and existed as a look-a-like of the London outfit for a few years before the group entered Germany with restaurants in Berlin and elsewhere. The group sued the Heidelbergensis tribe for trademark infringement and unfair trade violations.

Applying principles of laches and equitable estoppel, the German supreme court in civil matters, Bundesgerichtshof, in Karlsruhe decided on August 15, 2013 that the Heidelberg outfit may remain open under its trade name but may no longer use confusing logos or sell confusing merchandise. Each violation of the law begins anew with each sale, so that neither of the above principles would apply to the merchandising.

The court remanded the case in part so that the lower courts could ascertain and assess additional facts that relate to damages and ancillary claims. The court published a summary, in German, on its website, and it will publish the decision in the matter I ZR 188/11 - Hard Rock Cafe soon.

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