Bulgaria’s competition regulator said on April 28 that it fined a Sofia taxi company 50 000 leva (about 25 600 euro) for imitation of a competitor’s logo, and ordered the copycat firm to end its misleading practice.
The copycat company, CK Stiltrans, made headlines in May 2015, when it featured in an expose by a Bulgarian television show about taxi drivers hugely overcharging foreigners, targetting mainly arrivals at the Sofia Airport. The show Gospodari na Efira (“Lords of the Airwaves”) filmed drivers in CK Stiltrans cars charging a foreigner 70 leva for a 13km trip from the airport to Alexander Malinov Boulevard.
The show reported similar such instances involving the firm, also highlighting the resemblance between the appearance of CK Stiltrans cars and those of well-known Sofia-based taxi company OK Supertrans.
Media over the years have reported large companies complaining about others copycatting their names in alleged attempts to deceive prospective clients, and further charging rates well above the market norm or, for that matter, the caps imposed by municipalities under law approved in recent years by the Bulgarian Parliament.
The Commission for Protection of Competition ruled that CK Stilltrans imitated the appearance of OK Supertrans’ cars, which was liable to mislead customers, especially as the drivers would tell customers they worked for “OK taxi”, as caught on camera by the Gospodari na Efira expose. Given that the company carried out its copycat activities over a prolonged period of time, the regulator said that it was imposing a fine equal to eight per cent of CK Stilltrans’ turnover for 2014.
(Screenshot from Gospodari na Efira of CK Stilltrans, aired in May 2015.)