Intellectual Property Practice in Serbia

Serbian Court Determined a True Nature of the IP Assignment Agreement in Food Industry Case

The Commercial Court in Belgrade has delivered a pivotal judgment, setting guidelines for cases related to intellectual property and contractual disputes. Our client, the plaintiff in this case, is an established owner of a well-known brand in the food industry.

The backstory of this dispute traces back to almost 20 years ago when our client had taken a loan from a major corporate group. At that time, it signed an assignment agreement transferring intellectual property rights for its main brand – without remuneration. The assignment agreement stated that “all production rights” are transferred and it also mentions the name of the brand. Although our client consented to the terms of the agreement, it continued to behave as the owner of the brand, while the opposing party refrained from asserting any rights over it until recently.

When the opposing party started creating issues asserting their rights based on the contract (including trademark oppositions and cancellations before the IP Office), the genuine brand holder requested the court to determine the true nature of the agreement. Its stance was that the contract was effectively a collateral agreement for the loan it had taken. Hence, we argued that once the loan was repaid, the obligations under this assignment agreement should cease to exist.

The court affirmed our argument in the first instance. The court confirmed that the contract was indeed intended as a security for the loan. The ruling recognised that once the loan was repaid in full, any obligations arising from the assignment agreement were automatically voided.

This judgment marks a significant victory, upholding our client’s intellectual property rights and setting significant guidance for future cases involving similar contractual disputes.

It is important to note that while this first instance decision is in favour of the true brand holder, the opposing party retains the right to appeal. As of now, the further proceedings will depend on whether they choose to exercise this right. Regardless, we consider this initial decision to be a positive outcome and a testament to the dedication to determining the true nature of the whole business relationship.

Overall, this case serves as a reminder of the complexity of contracts involving intellectual property rights (including copyright and trademarks) and emphasises the importance of clear contractual terms and vigilant legal pursuit of the rights.


The information in this document does not constitute legal advice on any particular matter and is provided for general informational purposes only.