Mar 2024

Greece

Law Over Borders Comparative Guide:

Fashion Law

Introduction

Creativity has always formed an integral part of the Greek culture and tradition. One need only to consider the events that have taken place in Greek historical monuments and cultural heritage sites (such as the Dior fashion show held at the iconic Panathenaic Stadium (Kallimarmaro) in June 2021) to understand the great influence that Greek culture has on the fashion industry at a global level. 

Alongside iconic domestic brands such as Zeus+Dione, Vassilis Zoulias, Ancient Greek Sandals, Mary Katrantzou, Sophia Kokosalaki, Dimitris Dassios, Yiorgos Eleftheriades and Celia Kritharioti, there are a considerable number of emerging Greek designers dedicated to sustainable, ethical fashion, using environmentally and socially friendly manufacturing techniques and materials. 

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1 . What are the main intellectual property rights available to protect fashion products?

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1.1. Summary of IPRs

IPR DurationTime and modalities for grantPros and cons in the fashion sector
Trademarks

10 years starting from the date of submitting the application.

Renewable every 10 years provided applicable fees are paid.

A trademark may consist of any signs, in particular words, including personal names, or designs, letters, numerals, colours, the shape of goods or of the packaging of goods, or sounds, provided that such signs are capable of:

  • distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings; and
  • being represented on the Register, in a manner which enables the competent authorities and the public to determine the clear and precise subject matter of the protection afforded to its proprietor.

Pros: 

  • The duration of trademark protection is considerably longer than other IPRs. 
  • Exclusive rights to the trademark owner. 

Con: brands may encounter difficulties in proving that the prerequisites of TM registration are being met. 

Design5 years, renewable up to a maximum of 25 years.

Upon registration of an industrial design, legal protection is granted before the Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation (OBI).

The main conditions for protecting are that it is ‘new’, and that it is of ‘individual character’.

Protection may be requested to cover jewellery, clothing and footwear, textiles interior design items, amongst others. 

The applicant may submit up to 50 designs in a single application. The cost depends on the number submitted.

Pro: protection of the design gives prestige to both the specific fashion product and to the designer and/or rights holder — whether a company or a natural person. 

Con: fees to renew protection are available up to 25 years.

Trade secrets

Protection is granted for an unlimited period, unless disclosed.

 

Protection as a ‘trade secret’ requires the fulfilment of the following conditions: 

  • it is not generally known to persons in the circles which normally deal with this type of information, nor is it directly accessible to such persons;
  • a commercial value can be derived from their confidential nature; and 
  • the person who has lawfully acquired control of the information in question has made reasonable efforts to protect its secrecy.

Pros: 

  • Protection does not depend on innovation or inventive step requirements. 
  • Are directly protected, have generally broader coverage than patents. 
  • Protection is not subject to statutory time limits.

Con: high costs for the trade secret owner of reverse engineering, which is not prohibited.

Domain names

Valid for 2 years from the date when the relevant registration declaration is submitted to the Registry of EETT (Hellenic Communication and Post Commission). Renewable for consecutive periods.

If the domain name is reserved for a specific and activated upon its declaration, the 2-year period is based on the date it was reserved, not the activation date

To register a [.gr] or [.ελ] domain name, the applicant chooses a registrar from the List of Registrars published by ΕΕΤΤ. 

The domain name is activated temporarily within 3 hours. The definitive assignment takes place 5 days later. 

 

Pro: will often be one of the most important assets of a fashion brand, especially for digital marketing. 

Cons: 

  • Temporary activation does not grant an exclusive right to the domain name.
  • The purchase of a domain name for a certain period of time does not secure the applicant from non-exhaustive checks of top-level domains beyond  [.gr] or [.ελ] domain name searches.  
PatentsProtection is granted for 20 years.The application is filed before OBI. 4 months are provided for supplemental material. Thereafter, OBI conducts an examination and provides a notification report to the applicant, who has 3 months to respond. 

Pro: exclusive rights for 20 years.

Cons: challenging to claim and prove that an element of a  product’s appearance can be subject to patent protection. 

CopyrightFor the whole of the author’s life plus 70 years after their death, calculated from 1st January of the year after the author’s death. 

There is no formal recognition of an author’s rights. Originality is the prevailing and sole criterion for protection under copyright.

 

Pros: 

  • Lack of formalities. 
  • Not dependent on aesthetic or artistic value. 
  • Enjoys international protection anywhere where copyright is acknowledged on the basis of national legislation.

Con: the lack of formalities can make it difficult to prove rights of a specific work. 

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1.2. Trademarks and non-traditional trademarks

Understanding the key role of trademarks as invaluable assets in a highly competitive global market is critical for fashion brands seeking to add value to their products, drive consumer behaviour, and protect their investment and goodwill.

Trademarks in Greece are subject to the provisions of the Law 4679/2020, which implements Directive (EU) 2015/2436 and harmonises the national trademark system with Regulation (EU) 2017/1001 on the EU trademark.

The registration process follows European standards. Rights holders can submit either a hard copy or electronic application form before the Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation (OBI).

For a sign to be registered as a trademark, it must fulfill the requirements of the Law’s Article 2 which states, “a national trademark may consist of any signs, in particular words, including personal names, or designs, letters, numerals, colours, the shape of goods or of the packaging of goods, or sounds, provided that such signs are capable of:

  • distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings; and
  • being represented on the Register, in a manner which enables the competent authorities and the public to determine the clear and precise subject matter of the protection afforded to its proprietor”. 

Registration fees are determined under Article 87 of the Law 4679/2020.

The duration of the registration is 10 years, renewable every 10 years, provided that the rights holder pays the respective renewal fees and uses the trademark in the course of trade. The Trademark Office notifies the proprietor 6 months before the expiration of the trademark registration (the Office bearing no responsibility in case such notification is not received by the TM owner).

As long as the trademark is being used in the course of trade and the trademark owner renews the registration accordingly every 10 years, protection is granted for (practically) an unlimited period of time (subject to the provisions of the law being complied with) and the owner retains exclusive rights.

Non-traditional trademarks. Among its key amendments, the recent Trademark Law 4679/2020  in line with EU legislation abolished the graphic representation requirement from the definition of a trademark.

The Law makes explicit reference to the registrability of non-traditional signs, such as 3D shapes, position marks, motion trademarks, audio-visual and hologram trademarks. This expanded definition potentially “opens the floodgates” for trademark registrations not permitted under the previous legal regime. This is particularly important in the fashion industry where non-traditional trademarks, such as colours, often serve ornamental and aesthetic purposes, vital for healthy competition and a valuable tool to the designer’s palette. However, proving distinctiveness may be quite challenging.

Currently in Greece there are very few non-traditional trademarks on the Registry but, further to the new trademark law and the practices adopted in other jurisdictions, this is expected to change. 

The ‘Greek National Mark’ established by the Ministry of Development and Investment securely certifies the Greek origin of a certain product or service and enhances brand recognition, both within Greece and abroad. Beneficiaries of the Greek National Mark are companies that invest in Greek production, regardless of their ownership status.

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1.3. Design as an alternative or addition to TM registration

Fashion businesses can additionally rely on design protection to safeguard their rights on their creations (‘design’ meaning the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself and/or its ornamentation). In Greece, designs are regulated by various legislative acts in line with the European legal framework, including Law 2417/1996, Presidential Decrees 259/1997 and 161/2002, and Ministerial Decision 69483/ΔΕΚΝΤ61/4.7.2019/ΦΕΚ Β’ 2810. 

For a design to be protected, it must:

  • be novel: no identical design has been made available to the public; and
  • have individual character: the overall impression it produces on the informed user differs from the overall impression produced on such a user by any design which has been made available to the public.

Protection may be requested to cover jewellery, clothing and footwear, textiles and interior design items, amongst others.

Applications to register a design are submitted electronically, before the OBI. The duration of protection is (5) years, renewable up to a maximum of 25 years. The applicant may submit up to 50 designs in a single application and the registration cost depends on the number of designs submitted. 

When a design has been created by an employee in a fashion business, the following scenarios would be used to establish design rights: 

  • The employee has created the design for the purposes and within the scope of the employment relationship: in this case the design belongs to the employer.
  • The design has been created independently, outside the scope of the employment relationship: in this case the rights are of the creator/employee. 
  • The design has been created with the use of company materials and/or resources: in this case the rights are allocated 40% to the employer and 60% to the employee.

Where a work of fashion is created by an employee of a fashion brand in the execution of an employment contract, the initial holder of the economic and moral rights in the work shall be the creator of the work. Unless provided otherwise by contract, only such economic rights, as are necessary for the fulfilment of the purpose of the contract, shall be transferred exclusively to the employer.

In Greece businesses and designers are already considering the benefits of design protection as an essential tool against copying and slavish imitations, however, given the seasonality and fashion’s fast pace together with a potentially limited budget, Greek designers appear reluctant to proceed with registration. 

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1.4. Copyright as an alternative or addition to TM registration

In Greece the only requirement for obtaining copyright protection for a work is its originality. Any original work, expressed in any form, can be protected under copyright. Greek Copyright Law 2121/1993 gives an indicative list for possible objects of copyright protection, in which works of fine art, including drawings, works of applied art and three-dimensional works are included.

Copyright protection does not extend to ideas (e.g. business ideas), procedures, methods of operation and expressions of the folk tradition.  

Based on both national (Article 6paragraph 2 of Law 2121/1993 on Copyright, Related Rights and Cultural Matters) and international law (Article 5 paragraph 2 International Berne Convention), obtaining copyright protection is not subject to any formality. Therefore, no formal procedure is required for the recognition of creator’s rights on a work.

Nevertheless, ‘registering’ a work at a public register of copyright-protected works, where available, may serve administrative and evidential purposes. 

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1.5. Any other pertinent IP rights

Patents relate to the functional and technical characteristics of the products procedures and uses. According to Law 1733/1987 in force, aesthetic creations are not considered inventions within the meaning of the law applicable to patents. Patent law in Greece follows the European Patent Convention (EPC). OBI is the only legally qualified institution for the protection of inventions and industrial designs. The patent must be new, include an inventive step, be suitable for industrial application and not contrary to public order and morality. Patents and utility model certificates are particularly interesting for the fashion industry. 

An invention is considered new if it does not belong to the art and involves inventive activity - that is, if, in the judgment of an expert, it does not arise in any obvious way from the existing state of the art. Susceptible to industrial application is if it can be produced and used in any means of productive activity.

The utility model certificate offers a protection valid for 7 years, granted to the beneficiary for 3D designs with a defined shape and form, which solve a technical problem and have the characteristics of being both ‘new’ and industrially applicable. 

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2 . Beyond intellectual property: what contractual arrangements are useful in manufacturing, distributing and advertising fashion products?

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2.1. Manufacturing fashion products

Licence agreements

In the fashion industry, licence agreements are integral for businesses to expand their brand in various territories and market segments. The licensor grants the licensee a licence to use, under specific conditions, an IPR (trademark, design, copyright etc.), for a specified period, without transferring ownership on such rights. Given that IPRs are at the heart of such agreements, the terms therein must ensure that they are protected, and that the licensor retains control over them. 

The licensing agreement must include the following key terms:

  • The specific rights for which the licence is granted, and the rights retained by the brand owner - exclusivity & designated territory. It is very important to define exactly what IP is being licensed and which rights are retained by licensor. The agreement must also specify when, where and on what type of products the licensed rights may be used. Also, it is necessary to define the type of use (manufacturing, selling etc.) and the type of licence (wholesale, retail). The parties must also specify whether the licence is exclusive or non-exclusive. 
  • Protection and ownership of licensed trademarks. The licensee must acknowledge the licensor’s ownership of the licensed TMs and the contract must specify who will enforce the marks and who will bear the costs of enforcement in case of an infringement. In Greece, by virtue of Article 17 of Trademark Law 4679/2020, the licensing agreement must be in writing and the document is submitted before the Registry by the trademark owner or the licensee. 
  • Royalty terms & compensation/audit. The parties need to ascertain the royalties due to the licensor, method of calculation, whether that would be a flat fee or a percentage of net sales, or a combination thereof, and payment terms.
  • Quality. The licensor must have the right to control the manufacturing processes, the material used, the design of the product and quality, also considering the product and the relationship with licensee. 
  • Indemnification & exceptions. The licence agreement must define the parties’ responsibilities for legal claims in connection with the licensed IP rights and the products. 
  • Term & termination. The parties specify the term of the agreement, as well as the reasons and process for termination. The renewal of the agreement is best to be agreed in writing, requiring specific action by the parties (instead of an automatic renewal). It is essential to designate which of the provisions survive the contract termination, to ensure the seamless continuation of each party’s business activities — for example, what is the process to be followed in case of unsold merchandise, hand-over to the next licensee, etc.

Non-disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

Brands are strongly advised to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), protecting highly valued confidential information associated with the license. An NDA is signed at a pre-contractual stage to ensure that any information exchanged upon negotiations shall remain confidential, even if the parties decide not to enter into an agreement. The protection is extended throughout the whole contractual relation (and beyond its termination) and it is essential to include relevant clauses in the licence agreements, additionally to the NDA already signed.

Although not subject to specific legislation, NDAs are recognised by Greek courts as valid contracts or contract clauses (indicatively Supreme Court (Areios Pagos) decisions 1219/2017, 1141/2018, based on the general principle of freedom of contract under Civil Law (Article 287 and 361 of the Greek Civil Code in combination with Article 5, paragraph 1 of the Greek Constitution).

Sub-contractual agreements/in-house manufacturing

Sub-contractual agreements (Regulated under the Greek Civil Code (Articles 681-702)), whereby the contractor undertakes to carry out work on behalf of the client, are integral to the production cycle. Among the key terms in such agreements are the definition of deliverables, instructions, technical specifications and quality standards, the process for the acceptance of the work, the definition of defects, the party responsible for supplying raw materials, models and prototypes, the use of IPRs by the contractor, the timeframe of delivery and applicable penalties in case of delay. 

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2.2. Distributing fashion products

Agency agreement

Agency agreements are governed by Presidential Decree (PD) 219/1991. The agent, acting on behalf and in the name of the principal, provides opportunities and promotes the conclusion of contracts, for a commission based on the actual sales, as a direct result of the agent’s actions. The agent acts independently, pursuant to the principal’s guidelines, however without the specific obligations that bind distributors. Agency agreements may include an exclusivity clause, pursuant to which the principal appoints the agent exclusively in a specified territory. 

Selective distribution online in high-end fashion and trademark protection

In distribution agreements (a legal “instrument” widely used for business operations in the Greek fashion industry), the distributor assumes the commercial risks, purchasing and reselling the products in its own name. Such agreements are not subject to a specific legal framework and the relevant provisions of the Greek Civil Code (particularly Articles 724-725) shall apply accordingly with any necessary adjustments.

The agreement can be subject to territorial constraints and may include an exclusivity clause which, in the context of distribution, is twofold: the supplier is prohibited from selling the specific products to other distributors in the designated territory and, accordingly, the distributor shall refrain from directly selling competitive goods in the same area. The agreement must include water-tight provisions on the channels of sale, packaging, the use of the fashion brand’s trademarks and advertising, for the fashion brand to ensure protection of its IPRs and safeguard its commercial image and reputation.

According to Article 9 paragraph 1 (a) of the PD 219/1991, the clientele indemnity may also apply in exclusive distribution agreements, subject to certain conditions (cumulatively): 

  • The distributor has contributed to new clients or has promoted the supplier’s business within the existing clientele, during the agreement. 
  • The supplier retains the benefits of the distributor’s actions after the agreement’s expiry or termination.
  • The amount of the indemnity must be fair, considering the specific circumstances, particularly the distributor’s loss of income which was anticipated from such clientele. 

A distribution agreement will normally include the following terms:

  • Duration.
  • Territorial scope of the agreement.
  • The category of goods that the distributor will sell in the designated territory.
  • Exclusivity.
  • The supplier’s obligation to support the distributor’s efforts in setting-up and promoting its sales network. 
  • The distributor’s main obligations towards the supplier, including compliance with the supplier’s guidelines on the appearance and quality of the goods, the protection of the supplier’s reputation and commercial interests, appropriate organisation and infrastructure, product stock and potential upper/lower limits to the sale price of the products, advertising guidelines and customer care standards.
  • Protection of IPRs — the responsibilities and actions that each party must take to ensure protection of the brand owner’s IP, including the monitoring of the distribution channels.
  • Specific provisions regarding the termination of the agreement and potential succession of the distributor by another business. 

Selective distribution is particularly important for high-end fashion and luxury products, as it intends to ensure the authenticity of the goods, appropriate advertising and promotion campaigns, product availability, the salespersons’ experience, the provision of warranties, etc. In selective distribution networks there is no territorial exclusivity per se — rather a territory in which the network operates — and distributors are prohibited from selling the designated products to unauthorised resellers. Such networks are considered ‘closed’, as their purpose is not to allow products to be sold to third-party merchants and a supplier retains control over the network, specifying the criteria for becoming a selective distributor. Selective distribution is important in the context of e-commerce, where the risk of products being sold outside the authorised network is even higher. 

Co-branding and co-marketing

Co-branding agreements aim to expand the participating brands’ impact in the market by ‘joining forces’ with other brands. Co-branding enhances customer loyalty and satisfaction, reduces advertising costs, or allows brands to refresh their profile and enter new markets. 

Depending on the type and characteristics of a co-branding agreement (short-term or long-term alliance, single or multiple products marketed by the collaborating brands, type of brand association, etc.), the businesses must put great emphasis on inter alia: the protection of both brands’ commercial image and reputation, the use and protection of the parties’ IPRs, allocation of property rights when the co-branding relates to a product marketed by both businesses under a new brand name, advertising and marketing strategy, allocation of profits, etc. 

Franchising and alternative sales model agreements

Franchising agreements are considered a popular tool in the Greek retail economy. As framework agreements, brought forward by the rapid growth of technology and the introduction of innovative production/manufacturing models, they are not explicitly governed by a specific legal framework, but they are rather a combination of different contractual types, including lease agreements and contracts for the provision of services. 

Franchise agreements typically include the following elements:

  • The granting of a licence to use and commercially exploit the ‘franchise package’, including IP rights, as well as the commercial, organisational and communication methods and practices for the sale of the products to end users. 
  • The inclusion of the franchisee in the franchisor’s franchise system.
  • The support of the franchisee in its business operations.
  • The operation of the franchisee’s business under the franchisor’s system and guidelines, including advertising standards, minimum performance standards and potential insurance requirements. 
  • The franchisee payment terms.
  • Territory rights & exclusivity.
  • The terms and conditions under which the franchisee may sell and transfer ownership of the franchise. 
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2.3. Advertising fashion products

Employing fashion models

Before hiring a model, it is important to clarify whether they work for an agency or as freelancers. It is advisable to include permitted and non-permitted uses, legal rights regarding copyright issues, rights of image, rights regarding identifiable persons (in case such exists) on the pictures. If anyphoto-shoot takes place in a public area, eventual rights of the architect of the buildings that appear on the picture or of any work protected under copyright law, as well as Greek Law 3028/2002 on the Protection of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage, should be considered.

Social media, influencers and brand ambassadors/celebrities

The value of influencer marketing is increasing exponentially and social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, are extensively used by fashion brands to promote their products and maximise their impact. The speed in which content is uploaded online often underestimates the need for structure and legal certainty in the agreements with influencers and advertising laws may be overlooked. Fashion brands must be very thorough when signing an agreement with an influencer and ensure that they cover the influencer’s responsibilities as the brand’s representative, the use and protection of IPRs, compensation, the number and type of posts and content they must upload during a designated period, any restrictions regarding the influencer’s conduct to avoid any disparaging associations with the brand, guidelines regarding the text accompanying a social media post and the necessary wording to indicate the promotional nature of a post, all in accordance with applicable regulations. 

In Greece there is no specific legislation for influencer marketing, therefore the general provisions on advertising (see below “ Advertising standards, relevant authorities and advertising”) shall apply. 

Advertising standards, relevant authorities and advertising practice

Advertising in Greece is subject to, inter alia, Law 2251/1994 on Consumer Protection (Article 9), in line with the provisions of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive 2005/29/EC and Directive 2006/114/EC concerning misleading and comparative advertising. According to Article 5 of the PD 131/2003 any commercial communication must be clearly identified as such.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Hellas is a member of IAB Europe and acts as a sectoral representative for over 90 members in the digital and interactive marketing business. In line with the European regulations and (where necessary) in collaboration with IAB Europe and other agencies, IAB Hellas issues guidelines, codes of conduct and self-regulations, to ensure compliance with the applicable legal framework on advertising.

The Communication Control Council (TEU) is the body that controls the advertisements and ensures that the rules of ethics of the Hellenic Advertising - Communication Code (HACC) are observed. It is an independent, non-profit civil company, subject to Law 2863/2000, created in 2003 in the context of the advertising market’s self-regulation by advertisers, advertising companies, and the media. 

The HACC applies to any advertising communication, regardless of its type, form or means. It designates the rules of professional deontology and ethical behaviour towards consumers that must be complied with by anyone involved in advertising, including advertisers, advertised entities, as well as participants in the marketing ecosystem, such as influencers, bloggers and vloggers. 

The HACC issued by the TEU was recently amended to incorporate the developments in technology and the new marketing practices in the digital world. It became effective on 15th June 2023. 

Among its 2023 new provisions, the HACC makes a clear distinction between advertising communication and editorial or user-generated content, and the scope of the new provisions includes new media and new communication and advertisement participants. 

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3 . What regulations govern online marketing and how are the rules enforced?

Online marketing and e-commerce activities are subject primarily to: 

  • Law 2251/1994 on consumer protection, as amended and currently in force.
  • Presidential Decree 131/2003, implementing Directive 2000/31/EC (Directive on electronic commerce).
  • Regulation (EU) 2016/679 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (GDPR).
  • Law 4624/2019, implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and incorporating Directive (EU) 2016/680 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA (Greek Data Protection Law).
  • The Regulation (EU) 2022/2065 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 October 2022 on a Single Market For Digital Services and amending Directive 2000/31/EC (Digital Services Act). 
  • The Regulation (EU) 2022/1925 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 September 2022 on contestable and fair markets in the digital sector and amending Directives (EU) 2019/1937 and (EU) 2020/1828 (Digital Markets Act).

The Digital Services Act (DSA) builds on the rules of the e-Commerce Directive and addresses the particular issues emerging around online intermediaries setting horizontal rules covering all services and types of illegal content, including goods or services. 

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) introduces rules for platforms acting as “gatekeepers” in the digital sector, i.e. platforms that have a significant impact on the internal market, serve as an important gateway for business users to reach their customers, and enjoy, or will foreseeably enjoy, an entrenched and durable market position.

In Greece a Working Group on the coordination of actions to adapt national legislation to the provisions of the DSA was established in April 2023 working on specific amendments regarding the existing relative legislative framework.

This Working Group prepared a draft Law entitled ‘Adoption of measures for the implementation of Regulation (EU) 2022/2065 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 October 2022 on the single market for digital services and amending Directive 2000/31/EC ("Digital Services Act")’ which was published in public consultation (opengov.gr) between February, 27th and March, 1st 2024. Comments and observations are being assessed in order to contribute to the final formulation of the draft law which will be submitted to the Greek Parliament to be voted.

 

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3.1. Consumer protection regulations

Articles 3 and 4 of Law 2251/1994 (in line with the Consumer Rights Directive), govern distance and off-premises contracts between a trader and a consumer, to achieve a high level of consumer protection, while ensuring the market’s proper functioning. 

Among the information that traders are required to provide through the website’s Terms and Conditions (TC), prior to the conclusion of the contract, are the following:

  • the main characteristics of the goods/services;
  • the trader’s identity;
  • the total price of the goods/services (including taxes and delivery charges); 
  • where a right of withdrawal exists, the conditions, time limit and procedures for exercising that right, the model withdrawal form and, where applicable, that the consumer bears the cost of returning the goods; and 
  • where withdrawal is not provided, information that the consumer will not benefit from a right of withdrawal.

The consumer has a period of 14 days from the day of acquiring physical possession of the goods to withdraw from a distance contract, without giving any reason, and without incurring any costs other than the direct cost of returning the goods. After communicating their decision to withdraw, the consumer has another 14 days to deliver the goods back to the trader.

Furthermore, Article 3ib of Law 2251/1994 provides for specific exceptions from the right of withdrawal, including the supply of goods made to the consumer’s specifications or clearly personalised. In practice, when a product is custom made (e.g. a dress with specific measurements, clothing with the consumer’s initials, customised footwear, etc.), the trader may refuse withdrawal, since the product after its return shall be of no use to the fashion brand, as it will not be able to resell it to another consumer. 

The exemptions must be clearly stated in the website’s TCs, otherwise the company cannot refuse the consumer’s withdrawal from the sale. Interestingly, several e-businesses in Greece have decided, as part of their customer care policies, to grant consumers the right of withdrawal, even if they are entitled to an exemption, to enhance customer loyalty. Withdrawals are a ‘thorny’ issue for fashion businesses in Greece with a high volume of returns which, depending on the size, organisation and structure of each business, may prove extremely challenging to handle. 

Consumer protection has been further enhanced by virtue of Law 4933/2022 that incorporates the Omnibus Directive 2019/2161 in the Greek legal system. Law 4933/2022 aims to provide more robust safeguards for consumers, focusing primarily on online purchases and unfair commercial practices. Furthermore, the Law introduces additional transparency obligations to digital markets’ providers, such as: 

  • The provision of understandable and accessible information to consumers, regarding the parameters that determine the ranking of search engine results.
  • The provision of information on whether a third-party offering goods/services/digital content (seller) is a business or acts individually — in other words, if the transaction is B2C or B2B.

Privacy and data protection. Collection and processing of data regarding consumers’ purchases, preferences and browsing activity is an essential tool for fashion businesses wishing to target and attract consumers, optimise their business processes and website operations, and design new products that better fit customer needs and trends. 

However, such activity is subject to the strict provisions of the GDPR and Law 4624/2019 that set out the conditions (together with Law 3471/2006 on the protection of personal data in electronic communications, implementing the ePrivacy Directive 2002/58/EC) under which businesses can lawfully engage in online marketing, while safeguarding the consumers’ right to privacy. 

Businesses can process personal data for the purposes of commercial communication, subject to the consumers’ prior consent. Where the processing involves the creation of detailed customer profiles, a separate consent is required. When the data subject is an existing customer, the controller may rely on the soft opt-in exemption (pursuant to the company’s legitimate interest to market its products and services) and send them commercial communication regarding the company’s own goods and services, without the customer’s prior explicit consent, on the condition that the controller provides the option of unsubscribing from the communication. Regarding the use of cookies and similar trackers, the businesses can only install them to the consumer’s browser if the user has granted their consent to such cookies (with the exception of absolutely necessary, technical cookies and functional session cookies that are a prerequisite for the website’s operation, functionality and proper display and which are installed without the user’s prior consent). Pre-ticked boxes are explicitly prohibited and analytic cookies are also subject to the requirement of the user’s prior consent. 

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3.2. Physical store and online store layout

According to Greek legislation (physical and online) store layouts can be protected as a non-traditional trademark, design, or as an original work, provided they meet the specific legal requirements, as illustrated above in the respective sections. 

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4 . What are the most relevant unfair competition rules for fashion businesses and how do the courts interpret and enforce these rules?

In Greece, the institutional and legal framework for the protection of competition consists of Law 146/1914 on anti-competitive practices and Law 703/1977 against competition restrictions.

The law of unfair competition intervenes to close ‘gaps’ of the protection offered by IP.

According to Law 146/1914, anyone who commits unfair competition acts will face civil and criminal sanctions. Common acts of unfair competition are the use of a similar or identical trademark, the use of an identical or similar name or logo and the use of identical packaging. The acts of unfair competition also include the dissemination of false news to defame a competitor, as well as false advertising about the products/services provided, which is likely to mislead consumers. Moreover, although Law 146/1914 is limited to commercial transactions, the jurisprudence in Greece today has extended protection to the self-employed, thus helping a predominantly vulnerable group to safeguard its rights.

Customer solicitation, as well as exploitation of another company’s reputation and organisation, can, under specific circumstances, be unfair when they take place in a manner contrary to good faith. Devaluation — that is the reduction of the selling price of goods or services — is permissible and is not contrary to good faith when the new price is equal to the market value. Unfair competition is exacerbated when combined with misleading advertising. Advertising is lawful only when the information provided is true and corresponds to reality. It is, on the other hand, prohibited when its inaccuracy is capable of influencing in any way the buying behaviour of the advertisement’s recipients. (See Supreme Court (Areios Pagos) 79/2001 in: ΕλλΔνη 42/904 and ΔΕΕ 2011/988, Court of Appeal 1514/2011, and 1439/2007 in: ΔΕΕ 2007, 575), Multi Member Court of First Instance Piraeus 3766/2012.)

Trade secrets regulations

Trade secrets relate to confidential or proprietary information of commercial value. In the absence of specific provisions until recently, trade secrets were subject to Law 146/1914.

Law 4605/2019 implemented Directive 2016/943 for the protection of know-how and trade secrets and introduced amendments to Law 1733/1987 on patents, which provides (in Articles 22A – 22K) specific regulations for the protection of know-how and trade secrets. Greek provisions are mainly a translation of the Directive’s related articles. For the rights to be granted, pursuant to the Greek legal provisions, the person who lawfully controls the trade secret must implement measures to protect it. As such, all companies doing business in Greece must develop strategies on the protection of trade secrets, such as security systems, encryption of communications, access barriers, NDAs, etc. Any disclosure of secret information shall result in such information no longer enjoying protection and being free for use by competitors. 

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5 . Is there any regulation specifically addressing sustainability or ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) in the fashion industry?

In Greece the fashion industry is steadily shifting towards a new ecosystem with ecological principles and production practices, social responsibility and ethical manufacturing processes. The Slow Fashion Movement has inspired Greek designers who incorporate the principles of fairness, transparency and sustainability in the production cycle. Yet, no regulation specific to sustainability in fashion industry exists.

Apart from the ISO certifications, the EU eco-label and organic label, there is a long list of different eco-labels both at an EU and international level, some of which are specific to the fashion industry (for Greece see: www.ecolabelindex.com/ecolabels/?st=country,gr).

In addition to ISO 9001 (implemented by textile manufacturers to lower operation costs and control output quality, while maintaining customer satisfaction), ISO 14001 (Environment Management System, see www.pearl-certification.com/iso-14001-certification) can also be applied to the textile and apparel industries.

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6 . Customs monitoring: do any special import and export rules apply to fashion products?

In Greece the procedures for custom monitoring and seizures by local Custom Offices are subject to Regulation 608/2013 (the Regulation). 

The Regulation allows Customs authorities to prevent or suspend authorising the receipt of goods to the recipient or allows them to seize goods they suspect infringe IPRs, and to inform the rights holders of their right to appeal before the competent Judicial Authority. In Greece the competent authority for the receipt and examination of the rights holders’ applications is the Customs Region of Attica.

The Regulation’s scope includes, inter alia, counterfeit products and goods infringing an IPR. Although not explicitly referenced, the above also includes fashion products.

The rights holder may submit a written request either for the intervention of the Customs Authorities of Greece (national request for intervention), or the intervention of the Customs Authorities of both the country and other EU Member States (EU application for intervention). The application must contain all the necessary information to allow the Customs Authorities to easily identify the goods. No fee or warranty is required for the administrative costs relating to the examination of the application.

The Regulation prescribes a simplified procedure for the destruction of the seized goods or those whose licence has been suspended (Article 23) under Customs control if certain requirements are fulfilled. The Customs authorities shall keep samples of the goods, which will then be destroyed at the expense and under the responsibility of their owner. The Regulation further provides for a new special procedure (to be requested by the IPR holder, with the submission of an intervention request) for the destruction of goods in small consignments (Article 26) provided that foreseen requirements are met. 

The EU handbook on national and Community applications for intervention includes the useful Documents & Information/Instructions e-Services (www.aade.gr/sites/default/files/2020-12/manual_EL_1_COM_FEBR_2009.pdf) on the application process for intervention in the competent Customs Region of Attica.

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7 . Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it possible to use famous quotes or pictures from famous works of art in my fashion products?

Quotes may be used if they exist in the public domain. Works for which copyright protection has expired may be used on fashion products, bearing always in mind the moral rights of the creators. 

Photographs that fulfil the requirements of copyright protection and that are (still) protected may not be used without permission of the rights holder. One should be careful when using pictures of a person (celebrities or not) on textiles and general fashion products, since personality rights are acknowledged and may prohibit (commercial or non) use of their image. 

When using works of art from the past (i.e. works which are no longer protected under copyright) one should also bear in mind the Law on the Protection of Antiquities and cultural heritage in general (Law 3028/2002), which protects publicly owned artifacts.

EXPERT ANALYSIS

Chapters

Australia

Derek Baigent
Ellen Baker
Jennifer Wyndham-Wheeler
Shannon Fati

Belgium

Christine De Keersmaeker
Katrijn Huon

Brazil

Flavia M. Murad-Schaal
Isadora Schumacher Jeong

Finland

Hilma-Karoliina Rozell

France

Floriane Codevelle
Karina Dimidjian-Lecomte

Germany

Ariane Hettenkofer
Gina Maria Ziaja

Hong Kong

Hank Leung
Harry Wong

India

Radha Khera
Ashwin Julka

Ireland

Patricia McGovern

Italy

Alice Fratti
Beatrice Cazzanelli
Carlo Colaci
Francesca Ferrero

Mexico

Erik Pérez Caballero
Luis Pavel García Costinica

Nigeria

Annie Oti

Singapore

Lorraine Tay
Cheryl Lim

Spain

David Fuentes Lahoz
José Miguel Lissén Arbeloa

Taiwan

Cathy Wang
Huan-Yi Lin
Matthew Lee

Thailand

Chanya Veawab
Michelle Ray-Jones

United Kingdom

Gary Assim

United States

Megan Bannigan

Vietnam

Chi Lan Dang
Diep Thi Bich Le
Hien Thi Thu Vu
Tu Ngoc Trinh

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