THE “MACEDONIAN” SAGA – Article from #2 2019

Rights about the commercial use of the name“Macedonia” have been the object of an ongoing dispute between Greece and North Macedonia for almost three decades. The issue was partially settled on 12 June 2018, when both countries agreed upon the terms of the Prespa Agreement. However, despite representing a long-awaited improvement, core aspects of the commercial use of the name “Macedonia” as trade mark and geographical indication are yet to be discussed. Even though the Agreement states that North Macedonia is required to change the name of all the official government and government related institutions, there is still uncertainty about how private companies may explore the name and its association with their products. In such cases, the Agreement relies on future negotiations between the two countries, an issue further clouded by North Macedonia’s plea to join the European Union. Specifically in the case of commercial names, trade marks, brand names and all relevant matters, it also provides for establishing an international group of experts, with representatives from both countries and transnational organizations. As the negotiations unfold, the future is still unclear.