1- The Supreme Court of Cyprus recently issued its judgment in a Court case brought by TMP Agents (now AGIP) against Saba & Co. in relation to a letter that Saba had sent to a Swiss firm in 1988, regarding publications of cautionary notices for the protection of trade marks.
2- The Supreme Court reached “the conclusion that the findings of credibility of the Court of First Instance were absolutely correct, and that there is no reason for the Court of Appeal to intervene”.
3- There was no reason to reverse the decision of the Court of First Instance, in relation to the civil offense of malicious falsehood since the Court did not consider that malice on the part of the defendants has been proven.
4- The judgment goes further to assert the failure of the plaintiffs to prove any damage alleged to have arisen from the defendant’s letter and to confirm the lack of credibility of the TMP Agents’ witnesses. Furthermore, the Court ruled that all the statements made in Saba’s letter were statements of fact except the last sentence of the said letter.
5- In an earlier ruling, the Court of First Instance confirmed the veracity of every statement made in the Saba letter. The Court “established as a fact, that the content of the Saba letter corresponds to reality and what it says is true”. The Supreme Court disagreed with this conclusion of the Court of First Instance, only with regard to the conclusion made at the end of Saba letter, which was an obvious comment since the rest of the letter was factual, as has been ruled by both courts. The Supreme Court considered this sentence not to be a fair comment on an issue of public interest and thus ruled that it constitutes a libel and overturned the earlier Court’s decision only in this issue and awarded the appellant’s “nominal damages” of 100 Cypriot Pounds, around US$250. This decision was based solely on what is strictly a legal issue relating to matters of public interest.
6- By way of background information, trademark owners publish cautionary notices in jurisdictions where there is no trademark law. In 1988 it was common for trademark owners to publish such notices in the UAE to claim ownership of their marks and to warn infringers against unlawful and unauthorized use of their marks. To be effective, cautionary notices should be published in widely circulated publications such as daily newspapers. Saba & Co. IP, prompted by their professional diligence, sent the letter to a Swiss firm and this triggered this legal saga.
You may review the judgment of the Court of First Instance and the judgment of the Supreme Court of Cyprus at the following links:
– Judgment of the Court of First Instance
– Judgment of the Supreme Court of Cyprus
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