In 2003, Mr. Gevorg Avetisyan, originally from Armenia, set up in the Czech Republic the company MIKO international s.r.o. (MIKO
) manufacturing honey cakes with nuts according to an old Armenian family recipe. The product, marketed under the trademark "MARLENKA", achieved a tremendous success in the Czech Republic. MIKO even had its toffee cream patented. Five years later, the originally family business grew into the company operating in a modern production hall, where almost 200 employees working in a non-stop operation baked over 100,000 cakes per month. Nowadays, honey cakes MARLENKA together with other MIKO's products are distributed to thirty countries.
The success did not go unnoticed and a freerider appeared. In 2005, the company SEMAG spol. s r.o. (SEMAG
) started to produce similar-looking cake called "MAŘENKA". The appearance, packing and the name of the product were similar. Mr. Avetisyan even alleged that SEMAG used MIKO's original cake boxes: "They probably found them somewhere in dustbins.
" Unsurprisingly, the quality and taste of two products differed significantly. Subsequently, when customers in a shop asked for MARLENKA, they could be served its poor-quality substitute without knowing it. Angry reactions of tricked customers who confused MARLENKA with MAŘENKA followed.
MIKO counterattacked its competitor immediately and successfully opposed the application for registration of SEMAG's trade mark containing the word "MAŘENKA". However, SEMAG unlawfully continued marketing its products under the name "MAŘENKA", which resulted in MIKO's further legal steps: initiation of civil and criminal proceedings against SEMAG. The sweet results were not long in coming: SEMAG's executives were found guilty of a criminal offence consisting in the violation of rights to trade mark and punished with a CZK 100.000 fine (approximately EUR 4.000 and, in January 2013, MIKO also cashed CZK 620.000 (approximately EUR 24.800) on damages from unfair competition claim.