In the columns of the Index, we reported every moment of the taxi war. The front was opened by the National Taxi Association (OTSZ) when it sent a petition to the Budapest Metropolitan Municipality that violates the Bolt branding practice, through which they call for a level playing field with traditional taxi companies. However, the proposal is directly or indirectly aimed at ousting the Estonian technology company. A similar story happened in the summer of 2016 when taxi protests hit each other and Uber finally pulled out of the Hungarian market.
We are a Hungarian company, like any of our competitors. We are unique in that we provide taxi services on a modern platform in a completely transparent manner.
Laszlo Sabiani, managing director of Bolt, said earlier in an exclusive interview with Index. “I confess that we do not really understand what this proposal is based on, since the use of our trademark is legal in all respects. The word BOLT TAXI is protected, after consultation with trademark lawyers, we acted legally, as did the BPC as the organizer of transportation in the capital when it issued our license,” the head of our newspaper said. He stressed that they work with Hungarian partners and have a Hungarian dispatch service.
The taxi war has taken a new turn
The new declaration of war came on Monday morning, representatives of the capital’s transportation companies, professional organizations and experts objected to the use of the Bolt trademark as well as the billing practice in their press release sent to Index.
We are unequivocally committed to operating in accordance with the law and impartially regulated equal competition. In our opinion, against the backdrop of clear formulations of legislation, the unexpectedly broad legal interpretation of trademarks by the Capital and their approval in some kind of “lightweight” procedure violates fair competition. We intend to adhere to these principles, as we have done so far: we all believe in fair competition, which we undertake on equal terms.
they said in the announcement, emphasizing that they believe the billing practices used by Bolt HTX Kft., which have also received press coverage in recent days, are considered more serious than trademarks, as well as violating the legitimate interests of the companies they represent as competitors and their right to compete fairly.
They explained: “According to this practice, he does not carry out his licensed activities himself, but actually outsources it to his foreign partner in order to take advantage of the EU tax regulation (the possibility of issuing invoices without VAT in the case of cross-border services) to allegedly provide more favorable conditions for passenger carriers concluded with him under a contract – mainly at the expense of the budget, that is, all taxpayers. The fact that this advantage is only apparent, i.e. after billing without VAT, the taxi passenger has to pay VAT at home, will not necessarily be clear at first to the taxi driver, who is otherwise usually tax-exempt and not particularly familiar with the intricacies of tax returns. Especially since the Store didn’t pay enough attention to it for years (the text “please apply local and European Union law” on the invoice is not only grammatically incorrect, but also contains minimal instructions on what to do)”.
Now, in the course of tax audits, many of Bolt’s taxi drivers – as a result of multimillion-dollar NAV fines – are learning the hard way that a seemingly profitable scheme is not so profitable, but at least not in their favor.
– they wrote in the ad. They hope that “a comprehensive investigation carried out by the tax authority will ensure the restoration of legal status, i.e. the permitted activity will be carried out by the Hungarian-registered licensee Bolt HTX Kft. and will be invoiced in accordance with the applicable Hungarian tax rules, together with VAT, as all competitors do.” In their opinion, this measure would be a significant step towards fair competition, which, in addition to their companies, is “obviously in the interests of taxi drivers, passengers and taxpayers.”
Notice sent on behalf of the following members:
- 6×6 Taxi
- Best Taxi
- City Taxi
- Main Taxi
- Representatives of independent taxis
- GO Taxi
- MB Elite
- Magazine “World of Taxi”
- TELE5 taxi
BKK also did not stay away from the taxi war.
Earlier, the Budapest Transport Center issued a statement claiming that it acted legally and in accordance with the provisions of the Taxi Ordinance when giving prior consent to Bolt Taxi.
The BPC considered Bolt Taxi’s free mark trademark practice legal when it issued the free mark permission (otherwise it would not have issued the certificate), and still considers it so.
– indicated in the BPC, adding that before the preliminary approval, the traffic police also requested a professional opinion regarding the technical serviceability of the traffic light. After that, based on the documents for the trademark and the conclusion of the traffic police, the BPC issued a preliminary approval.
In a statement, they added: It is common knowledge that Bolt Taxi’s free signal is different from the single free signal used by independent service providers. Its uniqueness is ensured by a clearly distinguishable word mark. Legally, its use is perfectly legal. Thus, the BPC acted lawfully in issuing the certificate.
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