Bustamante & Bustamante help British American Tabacco Company Limited (BAT) establish trademark priority rights; ends 8-year battle against competitor Phillip Morris.

The Second Chamber of District Administrative Litigation Court No. 1 issued judgment on March 1, 2005, acknowledging BAT’s right to register (use?) its BELMONT trademark in Ecuador.  In an action that began in 1997, partner Jose Rafael Bustamante led a team of Bustamante & Bustamante litigators that played a decisive role in convincing the Court to overcome the opposition filed by BAT rival Phillip Morris.

At issue was whether Phillip Morris could maintain its registration of the Belmont trademark in Ecuador in order to prevent BAT from entering that market even though BAT possessed the more senior registration by its filing in Venezuela ten years earlier.  Bustamante & Bustamante argued that the fifth transitory provision of Decision 313 issued by the Cartagena Agreement Commission governed the issue.  The Court agreed and held that Decision 313 acknowledges a company’s preferential right in the entire territory of the Andean Community of Nations (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela) on the basis of a registration in any of those countries whose seniority to a challenger is greater than ten years.

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