Imagine buying a phone from the site apple-international.com which is registered by the Association Apple International. However, instead of the desired company brand product, you get something that is almost the same in appearance but completely different inside. And this thing has nothing to do with the original product of the renowned Californian company…

A similar surprise awaits you if you commission a poll to “Gallup International” in Bulgaria. The product that you will get will be not at all American but purely Bulgarian. “Gallup International” is actually the agency of sociologists Andrey Raychev and Kancho Stoychev, also mockingly known together as “The Kanchos”. In the legal world, the agency is not named “Gallup” but “BALKAN BRITISH SOCIAL SURVEYS” (BBSS). What connects the company of the Bulgarians with the original GALLUP is their membership in the “Gallup International” Association.

However, the company Gallup,Inc., founded by George Gallup in the United States, emphatically argues that “BBSS” is illegally taking advantage of their name in Bulgaria and is challenging the Bulgarians in court.

The story is actually much more complicated than the one with the “Apple” brand. George Gallup was an American forerunner of survey sampling techniques and inventor of the Gallup poll, an effective statistical method of survey sampling for measuring public opinion. In 1935, George Gallup founded Gallup, Inc. He became famous the next year (1936) when he successfully predicted that Franklin Roosevelt would defeat Alfred Landon for the US presidency, while all newspapers were predicting the opposite. Until today, the agency Gallup Poll remains a big name in the United States and worldwide. It has local offices in many countries, but not in Bulgaria.

In 1947, George Gallup launched the “Gallup International” Association, whose president he remained until his death in 1984. In 1958, he established The Gallup Organization, whose Gallup Poll division deals with the surveys. According to US law, this company is the brand-holder of the name Gallup.

After George Gallup passed away, discord emerged. The heirs of the American company Gallup, Inc. did not like the enrollment of random polling agencies in the registered in Switzerland “Gallup International” Association and them presenting their research under the brand “Gallup”. The American company left the Association and started litigation over the use of the brand name all over the world, while the legal dispute continues.

In Bulgaria, Gallup, Inc. took care to reserve their brand in 1993. However, it was registered then only for print publications. In 1997, the company of Andrey Raychev and Kancho Stoychev “BBSS” also register the brand Gallup, written in English just like the original, but with sociological and political surveys as its main activity.

 

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“The Kanchos” managed to register their “Gallup” in Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia, Belarus, Moldova, Montenegro, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

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Excerpt from the registration log of WIPO, which shows the exact spelling of the brand registered by the company of Andrey Raychev and Kancho Stoychev.

However, the registration was refused in Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. The US Gallup found out the misappropriation of its brand name in Bulgaria and responded by registering in 1998 activities in categories 35 and 42, including carrying out surveys and research of public opinion.

 

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This registration is to date the only proper and legal registration of the “Gallup” brand in Bulgaria. Acting on the complaint of the original Gallup.Inc, on October 13, 2010, the Bulgarian Patent Office revoked the registration of Raychev and Stoychev. This fact was entered in the WIPO database on January 14, 2011. (see attached file).

Nevertheless, Raychev and Stoychev never abandoned their already popular brand “Gallup” and continued to sign their surveys with “Gallup International”.

However, the difference between something signed by “Gallup” and something else signed by “Gallup International” hardly matters to the Bulgarian public. Meanwhile, confusion reigns as a number of well-known journalists and public figures responded to a question by Bivol “What is this Gallup International?” with “How come what is this, it is Gallup, of course!“

“Gallup” or “The Kanchos” after all?

The Vice-President of Gallup, Inc., Ken Andersen, told Bivol that BBBS is not connected in any way with Gallup and that Gallup, Inc. is the owner of all Gallup brands in Bulgaria. They have logged several legal cases against BBSS. The latter has reached the Supreme Court and they have won. Andersen further explained that despite all this, BBSS are still using illegally the name GALLUP, so the owners of the brand are continuing with legal proceedings against them in Bulgaria.

Approached for comment, Andrey Raychev explained in detail the schism between Gallup, Inc. and Gallup International and the international legal dispute. “In Bulgaria, BBSS are universally recognized by the society and the state as the sole owner of the name Gallup International. They (Gallup, Inc. – editor’s note) have no chance because we are using the name totally legitimately since we became members of Gallup International.”  According to the sociologist, all cases in Bulgaria have been won by BBSS, but there were countries such as Hungary, where Gallup, Inc. has won.

“I do not see any reason at all to talk to them. Everyone knows that we are Gallup in Bulgaria is and have been for 20 years,” Raychev argued.

Documents and facts

In 2008, the Sofia City Court upheld the civil action of Gallup, Inc. against BBSS for acting in bad faith in registering the trademark Gallup, a check in court documents shows. However, the Sofia Appellate Court revoked this rule in January 2010 and in March 2011 the Supreme Court of Cassations did not allow an appeal in cassation of Decision № 194 from April 16, 2010, in civil case № 3213/2009 by the Sofia Appellate Court. Thus, according to these legal proceedings, Andrey Raychev and Kancho Stoychev have not acted in bad faith in registering the trademark GALLUP.

However, there is a final decision of the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) from 2010 which confirms the verdict of the Sofia City Court in the administrative case for using the brand GALLUP. On this front, Raychev and Stoychev lost the dispute. Interestingly, the Patent Office is also a party in the case since it initially refused to cancel the registration of “The Kanchos”.

“The Sofia City Court finds that since 1968 there is back data in the country on the use of the brand GALLUP for the service “polling of public opinion”, conducted by the American Polling Institute GALLUP INC. – United States, which is associated with the high quality of these services and enjoys wide international reputation. The use of the brand by “Balkan British Social Surveys” has begun under conditions of prominence of the same brand for the services provided by GALLUP INC. – United States. The membership in GALLUP INTERNATIONAL Switzerland since 1992 does not constitute a right for registering the brand in Bulgaria.” The rule is final and has also been conclusively confirmed by the Supreme Administrative Court.

In the end, the Bulgarian Patent Office was forced to cancel the registration of the name GALLUP by BBSS of Raychev and Stoychev and the revocation was listed by WIPO.

Thus, although BBSS are universally recognized by the society and the state as the sole owner of the brand name Gallup International in Bulgaria, if anyone wants to commission a survey to Gallup, they should contact the company Gallup, Inc. at 1001, Gallup Drive, Omaha, NE 68102 USA. If not, they can ask Kancho…

 

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