A Polish lawyer who felt insulted by the comments that appeared on znanyprawnik.eu website, sued its owner. The case went through all instances. The Polish Supreme Court in its judgment of 18 January 2013 case file IV CSK 270/12 dismissed the cassation complaint filed by the offended lawyer. The Court held that all comments were not about facts that could be verified, only described the experience of cooperation with a lawyer and did not contain offensive or vulgar expressions. The plaintiff is an attorney, a public person performing certain services in the field of law and his services should be subject to assessment, which is not always favorable. Due to the nature of the activities carried out by the plaintiff, the limits of acceptable criticism are wider, because the person undertaking public activities does it voluntary, yet inevitable, undergo evaluation and public reaction.
TERRAVITA Sp. z o.o. from Poznan requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the international registration of 3D trade mark IR-882978 registered for Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli AG for goods in Class 30 such as chocolate and chocolate products. TERRAVITA argued that the international registration is a bar for a Polish company to introduce different chocolate products in a shape of a haze or bunny on the national market.
The Polish Patent Office in its decision of 15 April 2011 case no. Sp. 314/09 dismissed the request. The PPO ruled that TERRAVITA did not prove that the 3D trade mark lacks distinctive character, and there was no bad faith in the trade mark application, because the Polish company did not provide any evidence that Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli seek for the protection in order to forcing royalties and block market access. TERRAVITA filed a complaint against this decision.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 18 December 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1340/12 repealed the decision of the Polish Patent Office and ruled it should not be enforceable.
A Polish citizen wanted to know if the Mayor of Tłuszcz town and municipality has issued any official documents that would define and regulate actions of the municipality on Facebook. He decided to post a request to disclose such information using the official Facebook’s page of Tłuszcz’s municipality. After two weeks of inactivity, he filed a complaint against the mayor.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its decision of 15 March 2013 case file II SAB/Wa 513/12 dismissed the complaint and ruled that a post on Facebook is not a proper request for disclosure of public information.
The “Nigdy Więcej” (Never Again) Association and the “Zielone Światło” (Green Light) Foundation organized a social action entitled “Nazism never again on Allegro”. It was a protest against a Polish auction website Allegro.pl which allowed to buy and sell different Nazi gadgets and memorabilia. The Foundation together with a writer, artist and social activist Jerzy Masłowski prepared an illustration with Allegro.pl logotype in which in which two L letters were changed and shaped as the SS symbol. This illustration was used on postcards that were handed out to different people during the street-action that happened near Metro Świętokrzyska in Warsaw on 21 March 2010.
On 20 April 2010, the Foundation received a cease and desist letter from QXL Poland – the owner of Allegro. The Company requested the removal from all public places of all publications, photographs, posters and billboards, and other materials that included the altered trade mark. QXL demanded destruction of all the above mentioned materials and asked the Foundation to publish an apology on its website, as well as in the pages of Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. The Foundation refused to comply.
QXL Poland sued the “Zielone Światło” foundation and Jerzy Masłowski for the infringement of personal rights. During the trial, the Foundation argued that it has conducted correspondence with Allego with regard to products with fascist symbols or products referring to fascist ideology, that were offered at different auctions. However, it has not brought the intended effect, because Allegro.pl did not remove these items from its website. For this reason, the Foundation organized the street action. The Foundation argued that from 8 June 2010, the provisions of Article 256 of the Criminal Code were amended.
§ 1. Whoever publicly promotes a fascist or other totalitarian system of state or incites hatred based on national, ethnic, race or religious differences or for reason of lack of any religious denomination
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.
§ 22 The same punishment shall be imposed on anyone, who for the purpose of dissemination, produces, records or import, acquire, stores, possess, presents, transports or transfers a print, record or other item of the content specified in § 1 or being a carrier of the fascist, communist or other totalitarian symbolism..
§ 3 A crime is not committed by a perpetrator of a forbidden act specified in § 2, if he or she commits the said act in the course of artistic, educational, collectible or scientific activity.
The Foundation concluded that its action was a response to long-term omission of Allegro. The action was organized to draw the attention of relevant authorities and the public at auctions that poses a danger to others. It sought to protect an important public interest, and therefore was not unlawful. In addition, the Foundation argued that according to the legal doctrine the criticism aimed at improving the reality is not illegal, even if it is excessively expressive in description and in negative assessment, as well as it’s impolite way of expression and presentation of arguments, if it is justified by the importance of issues raised and the literary form that was used. Moreover, the scope of permissible criticism depends on the weight of social affairs, and in case of doubt, freedom of expression takes precedence, and in some cases even offensive criticism is acceptable. If the case requires so, the criticism might be very offensive, and it may even seek to destroy the enemy, for example, in the dispute against pedophilia or against the view that is glorifying Stalin. The Foundation argued also that a request for legal protection raised by Allegro cannot ban the Foundation and other individuals from expressing their critical opinions of the plaintiff’s conduct. Such behavior constitutes an abuse of the subjective right as decided by the Appeallate Court in Lódź in its judgment of 25 May 2006 case file I ACa 15/06, published in electronic database LEX, under the no. 512493.
On 9 November 20011, a lawyer representing the Foundation presented a legal opinion issued by Prof. Wojciech Sadurski. Prof. Sadurski wrote that there was no violation of personal interests. In the opinion of the author, the case brought by QXL Poland illustrates the conflict between two types of claims related to absolute rights protected by the law. The claims relating to freedom of expression, and intellectual property claims relating to the protection of trade marks owned by QXL Poland. Citing the case law of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, prof. Sadurski argued that freedom of speech is superior to other constitutional rights and freedoms. He noted that limiting the right to freedom of expression by issuing a ban on speech, would violate the essence of the constitutional right to freedom of speech. Prof. Sadurski cited Smith v Wal-Mart Stores, 537 F.Supp.2d 1302 (ND GA 2008), however he pointed out that the Foundation does not conduct any commercial activity, and the risk of consumers’ confusions is clearly excluded. Please bear in mind that such opinions are treated by the Courts as private documents, not as the expert witness evidence/testimony. The case is pending and the next hearing is scheduled on 6 February 2012.
QXL Poland filed also a request for preliminary injunction. The District Court in Warsaw in its order of 20 January 2011 case file XXIV C 1035/10 dismissed it during a closed-door court session (in camera). However, the Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its decision of 5 May 2011 case file I ACz 671/11 decided to secure the claim of QXL. The Court prohibited the Foundation and Jerzy Masłowski from transmitting and disseminating on their websites of any publications or materials containing the questioned trade mark.
The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 13 March 2013 case file XXIV C 1035/10 ruled that the “Zielone Światło” (Green Light) Foundation infringed personal rights of Allegro, such as reputation and fame. The Court decided that the demonstrations against the sale of Nazi memorabilia and interference with the logo of the portal were too excessive and bore the risk of linking the portal with Nazi organizations. The judgment is not final.
The Head of District Labour Office called an unemployed person to appear before the Office in order to confirm readiness for employment. The Head director informed that the absence will result in the deprivation status of the unemployed. The unemployed person informed the Office that he was not able to appear, becasue of the unexpected surgery. He also requested the Office to appoint a new date to appear, and for delivery of correspondence by e-mail. The Office sent another call by mail. The unemployed did not appear before the Office, and by the decision of the Foreman, he lost unemployment status and privileges. He decided to file a complaint against this decision.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gorzów Wielkopolski in its judgment of 28 February 2013 case file II SA/Go 43/13 annulled the contested decision, ruled it unenforceable. The Court ruled that according to the provisions of Article 391 of the Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments, the delivery should be be made by means of electronic communication if a party or other participant to the administrative proceedings applied to the public administration authority for the service, or consented to having the service effected by such means.
Bayerischer Brauerbund e.V. from Germany requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for the international word-figurative trade mark BAVARIA IR-1051133 registered goods in Class 32 such as beer and non-alcoholic beverages for the Bavaria N.V. from the Netherlands.
Bayerischer Brauerbund e.V. claimed infringement of the right to a geographical indication, and noted that the questioned trade mark is misleading, and it was applied in bad faith.
However, the PPO has not had the opportunity to comment substantively on the matter, because during the hearings, Bavaria N.V. waived its right. In these circumstances, the Adjudicative Board of the PPO in its decison of 22 January 2013 case no. Sp. 407/12 discontinued the proceedings as irrelevant.
The Regional Court in Dzierżoniów in its judgment of 9 January 2013 case file II W 572/12 sentenced a Polish citizen for the fine in a sum of 300 Polish złoty for sending unsolicited e-mail to two persons. This case was based on the indictment afforded for in the Article 24 of the Polish Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means – PSEM – (in Polish: ustwa o świadczeniu usług droga elektroniczną), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 144, item. 1204 with subsequent amendments.. Anyone, who transmits by electronic communications means unsolicited commercial information, should be liable to fine. The prosecution of this offence is conducted on the request of the harmed party. Recent amendments to the Polish Telecommunication law introduced also new anti-spam provisions to the PSEM. As of 22 January 2013, sending unsolicited commercial information addressed to the specified recipient, who is a natural person, by electronic communications means, in particular electronic mail is prohibited. These amendments made the ban on sending unsolicited commercial information on whether the spam recipient is a natural person. Previous provisions of the PSEM did not provide such prerequisite.
The Polish company Zakład Gospodarki Komunalnej Organizacja Odzysku Biosystem S.A. requested the Polish Patent Office to take a decision on the lapse of the right of protection for IR-653449 and IR-585713 trade marks registered for goods in the following Classes 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 16, 20, 21, 24, 25, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, 39, 40, 42. Both trade marks are owned by Der Grüne Punkt Duales System Deutschland GmbH.
In support of its legal interest, Biosystem S.A. explained that it is one of more than 30 domestic companies that are specializing in recovery of certain categories of waste and like other market participants have the right to use the informational signs. While Rekpol S.A., being the sole licensee of Der Grüne Punkt Duales System Deutschland GmbH trade marks, is sending C&D letters to different businesses, including Biosystem S.A. According to Biosystem the questioned trade marks are spread and used among various companies and as the result of negligence of the owner and licensee these signs cannot fulfill the functions to designate the origin of a particular entrepreneur and have degenerated in respect of all goods and services and become a carrier of information in trade that the product bearing the mark shall be recovered.
The PPO decided that the Polish company had no legal interest (but only factual one) in all classes of goods since it produces none of the goods covered by the protection right (and it doesn’t not sell them), but only provides services related to recovery of certain categories of waste. The PPO only agreed that Biosystem S.A. has shown legal interest in seeking the lapse of the disputed trade mark registration in part, on all services (i.e., services included in Classes 35, 36, 39, 40, 42). In this respect, the PPO considered that the interest can be inferred from the principle of freedom of establishment guaranteed in the provisions of Article 20 of the Polish Constitution and Article 6 of the Act of 2 July 2004 on Freedom of Economic Activity. Biosystem filed a complaint against this decision.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgments of 15 April 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 1959/07 and VI SA/Wa 1960/07 held that the definition of waste and recycling, shows that waste are the goods. Thus, in the view of the Court it was possible to trade in such goods. The court held that it may be that the scope of activities of Biosystem S.A. include those goods. Hence the need to examine the legal interest in the classes of goods. Legal interest shall be tested at the beginning of hearings, therefore, the VAC did not address the merits of the dispute. The Court ruled that the repealed decisions of the Polish Patent Office should not be enforceable.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court has also decided on other PPO’s decisions with regard to IR-585714 and IR-653450 trade marks and held the same in its judgments of 24 April 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 1961/07 and VI SA/Wa 1962/07. All four cases went back to the Polish Patent Office.
Again, Biosystem argued that the characters have lost their distinctiveness, as they appear on millions of packages of goods from various manufacturers. The company cited a research institute Pentor that consumers do not identify these signs with a particular trader. They are applied by different manufacturers for packaging and currently only indicate that they are subject to disposal (safe for the environment). Biosystem claimed that information as such cannot serve as trade mark and the sign does not identify an entrepreneur.
Der Grüne Punkt-Duales System Deutschland and Rekopol noted that they were active in defending these trade marks against the lapse, because both companies warned many entrepreneurs, that Grüne Punkt trade marks cannot be used without a proper license. In this way, both companies care about the protection of the brand which excludes the possibility of the lapse due to lack of distinctive character. The Polish Industrial Property Law clearly states that the loss of the distinctive character must be the consequence of the owner’s acting or negligence.
The Adjudicative Board of the PPO in its decisions of July 2010 case no. Sp. 363/08 and case no. Sp. 433/08 and ruled on the lapse of the right of protection. The PPO agreed with the argument that Grüne Punkt trade marks became very popular in many markets, especially in Europe. According to the case file, there are around 95,000 licenses granted all over the world for their use, and for example, in Western Europe, they are placed on almost 91% of the packaging. Such method of placing trade marks on a variety of products that originate from different manufacturers does not meet the conditions of the genuine use of the mark in its function.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its two judgments of 9 March 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 2169/10 and case file VI SA/Wa 2171/10 dissmissed complaints filed by Der Grüne Punkt-Duales System and Rekopol. Both companies filed cassation complaints. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgments of 21 November 2012 case file II GSK 1551/11 and case file II GSK 1646/11 dismissed them both which in consequence lead to the final lapse of both trade mark rights on the Polish territory.
The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for word trade mark Orlen R-192731 owned by the company ORLEN Spółka z o.o. that was registered for goods in Class 9 and services in Class 42 with the priority of 2002. The request was filed by the big Polish oil company PKN ORLEN S.A. which argued that the questioned sign is similar to its reputed trade mark ORLEN R-125559 that was registered with the priority of 1999. Orlen sp. z o.o. claimed that its company had been registered and has been operating since 1992 under the name “Orlen”, and Orlen S.A. adopted and appropriated that name in 2000. Orlen S.A. called Orlen sp. z o.o. to discontinue use of that name due to getting the right of protection for the earlier trade mark ORLEN. After an exchange of correspondence between the parties, there was no consensus due to divergent expectations, in particular with regard to financial issues. Orlen S.A. proved that there were contacts and negotiations between the parties, subject to the cease of use of the mark ORLEN and argued that the trade mark application was mercantile in nature, becasue the applicant seek only commercial interest and wanted to sell this trade mark. Orlen S.A. submitted copies of correspondence between the parties and photocopies of sale offers. ORLEN Spółka z o.o. filed a complaint against this decision and pointed out that it has offered to sell the company as a whole rather than the trade mark itself.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 24 October 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1376/11 dismissed the complaint and ruled that an entrepreneur performing its business activities must be guided by the degree of care that is expected from more than the average person in order to predict the consequences of his or her actions and omissions. The content of the right to the company name within the meaning of the Polish Civil Code is not in fact an absolute and unrestricted right that allows to apply on its behalf for a trade mark that is convergent with this company name, regardless of the rights of third parties. Therefore, the person who uses a given sign and does not register it on his or her own behalf as a trade mark, acts at own risk. An entrepreneur who does not seek to acquire protection for its trade mark cannot rely on the earlier right to its company name, when the other party has obtained a right to a sign identical to the name of the business with an earlier priority and through significant investments earned its reputation. In such a situation, an identical trade mark application made by the entrepreneur who has the right to the company after many years from the commencement of his business, when the other party has made a substantial investment and broad actions leading to the reputation of its trade mark, should be regarded as taking unfair advantage of the reputation of the earlier sign.
On 17 August 2009, EMPIK CAFE sp. z o.o. applied to the Polish Patent Office for the right of protection for the word trade mark Lody prawdziwie domowe Z-359478 for goods and services in Classes 29, 30, 35 and 43. “Lody prawdziwie domowe” means real homemade ice cream. The PPO decided that the sign lacks distinctiveness because in terms of semantic, the combination of three words does not create the concept that would be distant from content directly read from the statement, and refused to grant the right of protection. This nominal phrase is a carrier of advertising message, referring to the characteristics of the goods and has no features that would suggest that it is more than a slogan, that is a trade mark. Monopolization of such a non-distinctive designation by one entrepreneur, which is the carrier of information and used in advertising, would violate the principle of freedom of economic activity and fair competition. EMPIK CAFE filed a complaint against this decision.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 23 April 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 2032/11 dismissed it. The Court held that the essential function of a trade mark, which follows from its very definition, is to distinguish the goods of one undertaking from those of other undertakings, and ruled that the advertising nature of a trade mark does not eliminate its recognition as a distinctive or nondistinctive sign. The Court repeated that rights of protection should not be granted for signs which are devoid of sufficient distinctive character, especially, signs which consist exclusively or mainly of elements which may serve, in trade, to designate the kind, origin, quality, quantity, value, intended purpose, manufacturing process, composition, function or usefulness of the goods. Descriptive signs may be one of the components of a trade mark, such as a specific binding word or symbol indicating a characteristic of the goods. Both, the legal commentators and the case law of administrative courts say the descriptive trade mark is a sign that has the characteristics of actual, specific and direct descriptiveness. The actuality of signs is examined objectively and leads to determining whether from the point of view of current market conditions such indication is useful for the description of the goods, and as such, it should be available for all participants. The rule of specific descriptiveness indicates that a sign is excluded from the registration as a descriptive only if it points to the specific characteristics of the goods, for which the trade mark is intended. The direct description occurs when a descriptive mark provides information about the characteristics of the particular goods directly, clearly and unambiguously, so that it may be well to read directly, and not by the way of connotations. Then a trade mark is assessed as a whole, and not only through the prism of one element – a descriptive word, but other accompanying elements. After all, not every slogan has to be registered. Of course, there is no normative definition of distinctiveness. Distinctiveness of a slogan serving as a trade mark must be sufficient. This means that in the minds of consumers the sign will be able to identify the origin of the product or service with an entrepreneur. It is therefore only possible if such belief collapse in the minds of consumers that the goods or services are produced under the control of a given company, and with its consent. This is the only way such a slogan as a trade mark will be recognizable, yet can serve as a valuable business asset.
The Polish entrepreneur Przedszkola Pomarańczowa Ciuchcia A. Sławek sp. jawna from Warszawa, the owner of the word-figurative trade mark pomarańczowa ciuchcia przedszkola R-247390 (orange choo-choo kindergartens), sued another entrepreneur seated in Mińsk Mazowiecki who runs kindergarten as its business activity under the name “Wesoła ciuchacia” (Jolly choo-choo).
The District Court in Siedlce did not grant a preliminary injunction. The Court ruled that the plaintiff owns trade marks that only include the word “ciuchcia”, and the ban would block the use of such word for any other business, which would hamper the proper functioning of the market and could lead to the monopolization of this word by one company.
The Appeallate Court in Lublin in its judgment case file I ACz 1156/12 dismissed the complaint filed by A. Sławek. The Court held that the company cannot extend the right of protection for the word mark “orange choo-choo” on the mere word “choo-choo” in order to prevent others to use it in their company names. The right of protection include a sufficiently distinguishable words “orange choo-choo” and the word “choo-choo” itself, according to the Court, is not distinctive. Although these rights are in force throughout the whole territory of the Republic of Poland, but the risk of misleading recipients of kindergarten services is limited because both entrepreneurs are operating in very different areas – Warsaw and Mińsk Mazowiecki. The risk of confusion between the name “orange choo-choo” and “jolly choo-choo” is also minimized by establishing the entity that is responsible for running kindergartens, the scope of education and educational services, human resources services and the method of financing.
Polish citizen demanded the publication of his complaint against the cancellation of the proceedings of his action that was filed before the Constitutional Tribunal, on Tribunal’s website. He argued that this is public information and should be widely available. The Tribunal refused. Therefore, he decided to submit a complaint for failure to act to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw. Legal counsel representing the Tribunal argued at the hearing that there is no legal basis for publication of such complaint on the Internet, and explained that the complaint has been filed after a final decision to discontinue the proceedings and, therefore, should not at all be processed by.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 December 2012 case file II SAB/Wa 335/12 dismissed the complaint. The Court ruled that public authorities are required to publish information if they are obliged to do so by law. The Court pointed out that there is a failure to act if the authority refuses to disclose information, which is required to make available. According to the Court, the complaint is not such information. In addition, according to the decree of the President of the Constitutional Tribunal on the disclosure of pleadings at www.trybunal.gov.pl website, under the link “cases”, the following materials are available: i) the decision for posting complaints, but it does not apply at the initial stage of deciding on the admission of a complaint or request, ii) an electronic copy of the complaint (with supplementary documents), without attachments after referring the constitutional complaint (application) by the Court to decide on the mertis.
Bakoma sp. z o.o. from Warsaw requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate in part in Classes 29 and 30 the right of protection for the 3D trade mark IR-700040 owned by Compagnie Gervais Danone. Some time ago, Danone sued Bakoma for the trade mark infringement, arguing that Bakoma has used similar product packaging for its line of Frutica yoghurts. Bakoma claimed that the sign in question lacks distinctiveness and it was applied in bad faith, because Danone did not intent to use this trade mark in form it was applied for. Bakoma pointed that Danone also owned registered design for a similar packaging, and the registration of trade mark was intended to extend the protection provided for a design, and it could indicate that Danone wanted to bypass the law.
Danone argued that Bakoma does not distinguish between the concept of functionality and the technical features that may give the impression that the functionality is a prerequisite to prohibit registration. Patent attorneys representing Danone cited judgments of the CJUE and noted that only forms which are simply based on technical solution are not subject to the trade mark registration, and the sign in question clearly lacks of such solutions. Danone claimed that the package has not technical features because the container does not provide a transfer of filling (from a smaller to a larger compartment), it does not prevent from shedding, and it’s not a compact package. In addition, Danone argued that Bakoma failed to prove that at the time of the trade application on the Polish market, there were similar packaging that would prevent registration of an industrial design (formerly called ornamental designs), which means that the design was new. Danone emphasized that the mark at issue can not be used on to market alone, without any label. The French company also provided evidence that the trade mark is recognized by the consumers. At the time of trade mark application, the sign was present on the market for almost 14 years and it has acquired the secondary meaning. Its use was confirmed in advertisements and price lists.
Bakoma argued that the technical solution solves a problem. In this case, as a result, how to mix one component with another, and how to serve it mixed – a solution to this problem is to move the component. These functional features are technical. Such example was even displayed in the commercial movie during the hearing. Bakoma stated that the 3D sign was not distinctive at the date of application, nor it has acquired the secondary meaning, because a 3D form can be a trademark when the average recipient will associate it with the origin of the goods. 3D form can attract the attention of consumers in terms of aesthetics, but it does not mean that it functions as a trade mark. There is no doubt that goods may be aesthetic, may encourage the purchase, but do not work as a sign. In addition, the sign could not acquire secondary meaning because it is used as a technical function, utility function. Bakoma argued that Danone seeks for the right of protection for a sign that was not intended to be used in the applied form. Even, while deciding trademark infringement case, the Appeallate Court ruled that Danone uses in the course of trade a combined mark. Bakoma argued that through the registration of the trade mark Danone wanted to obtain a monopoly on technical solutions with the use of the institution of the right of protection for a trade mark. It is a clear example of bad faith.
On 19 November 2012, the Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office held its hearing, case no. Sp. 500/10. Danone’s representative has requested the PPO to postpone the hearing to allow him to get acquaint with the pleading filed by Bakoma. The PPO acceded, and set a two-week deadline. The PPO obliged both parties to complete all claims in a period of two months, under pain of losing the chance to raise them at a later date. Bakoma also requested the Polish Patent Office to decide on the lapse of the protection for the 3D trade mark IR-700040, however the PPO did not schedule the hearing in this case, no. Sp. 513/08.
On 11 January 2008, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark SEYDAK R-199882 for goods in Class 4 such as fuel, lubricants, engine and gear oils and hydraulic oils, and services in Class 39 such as parking services, and in Class 43 such as hotel services: motels and restaurants. This sign was applied for by the Polish entrepreneur Przedsiębiorstwo Usługowo Handlowe Marian Seydak.
BP p.l.c. filed a request for the invalidation of the SEYDAK trade mark. The British company argued that the questioned sign uses a composition of colors (green and yellow) that are presented in the reputed trade marks owned by BP. The Company referred to the judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU of 3 September 2009 case C-498/07 and the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 20 February 2007 case file II GSK 247/06, judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 12 October 2010 case file II GSK 849/09, and the judgment of the Supreme Court of 23 October 2008 case file V CK 109/08. See “Trade mark law, case II GSK 247/06“, “Trade mark law, case II GSK 849/09” and “Trade mark law, case V CSK 109/08“. BP claimed that it is not possible to assume that in the case of word-figurative trade mark, the verbal elements always dominate. The above cited judgments have changed this principle, and provided that sometimes colors or images are the dominant elements that may raise associations between compared trade marks. A patent attorney who was representing Marian Seydak, pointed to the discrepancy of the case-law, and stressed that the mere similarity of background is not significant enough when compared to the visual aspect of both signs. Marian Seydak argued that the trade mark at issue is different in terms of visual aspect, colors, and the layout of letters. He also provided that he is a local entrepreneur, who has just five gas stations distant from the main routes.
The Adjudicative Board of the PPO in its decision of 12 November 2012 case no. Sp. 566/09 dismissed the request. The decision is not final yet. The complaint may be filed before the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw.
In another case of Tomasz Zieliński, the author of transportoid.com service and software available for Android and Windows Phone that provides timetables of public municipal transport systems, the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Kraków in its judgment of 26 November 2012 case file II SAB/KR 152/12 ruled that source code that was used to create a website with public communication timetables is not deemed as public information.
On 2004, JOOP! GmbH requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for the word trade mark JUUPI ! R-103654 registered for goods in Class 3 and owned by “AQUAREL” Kosiorek Spółka Jawna. The German company argued that JUUPI ! is similar to its trade marks JOOP! R-64463 and JOOP! IR-73926 that were registered with the earlier priority. The PPO in its decision of 7 February 2006 no Sp. 323/04 dismissed the request. Joop! filed a complaint against this decision, but the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 13 October 2006 case file VI SA/Wa 1339/06 dismissed it. Joop! decided to file a cassation complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 5 July 2007 case file II GSK 98/07 overturned the judgment of the VAC and sent it back for further reconsideration. The SAC held that the PPO and the VAC misinterpreted the provisions of the Polish Industrial Property Law with regard to the knowledge and awareness of the requesting party on the use of the later trade mark for a period of five successive years. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 12 October 2007 case file VI SA/Wa 1403/07 re-examined the case in accordance with what has been determined by the Supreme Administrative Court. The case went back to the PPO. Meanwhile, JOOP! GmbH transferred the rights to JOOP! R-64463 and JOOP! IR-73926 to COTY B.V. COTY appointed its representative (advocate), who submitted to the case file properly paid power of attorney that authorized him to act in this particular case, together with a copy of the relevant register of companies, however it was not recorded in the minutes and documents offered have not been adopted in the case file, which also has not been recorded in the minutes of the hearing, because the Polish Patent Office did not consider these requests and documents as coming from the party of the proceedings. The PPO dismissed the request, and decided that opposed trade marks are not similar, and the reputation of JOOP! R-64463 has not been proven. COTY filed a complaint against this decision.
The Voivodeship Admiistrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 2 August 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 122/12 dismissed it and ruled that the existence of legitimacy to file a complaint is subject to examination by the administrative court. This is the basic step, the result of which depends on the further course of the proceedings. The finding by the court that the complaint to the administrative court was brought by a party without legitimacy to file such a complaint, resulting in dismissal of the complaint without examining the merits of the contested decision. The Court held that the transfer (assignment) of trade mark rights in the course of proceedings before the Court for invalidation of the right of protection for a trade mark, i.e. rights to a trade mark that was used as an opposing sign, does not create the right for the new owner to seek legal interest (locus standi) in this proceedings as a party to the proceedings.
The Polish Patent Office refused to grant the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark Quatro Pak quality packaging Z-370075 applied for the goods in Class 16 such as paper, printed matter, instructional and teaching material (except apparatus) by the Polish company Sokpol sp. z o.o. The PPO decided that the applied sign is similar to the CTM QUATRO no. 005799325 and International registration QUATRO IR-0923559, both registered for the same goods in Class 16. Sokpol filed a complaint against such decision. The Company argued that the main element of its word-figurative sign are two words – QUATRO PAK, and not the word QUATRO itself.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 October 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 959/12 dismissed it. The Court held that the assessment of the dominant meaning to the word elements in the word-figurative trade mark word is grounded in the belief that words are the most easily seen and remembered elements and thus are the most effective channels of communication with the customer. This assumption cannot be questioned only in relation to the words that carry a clear and understandable information to the average consumer, so to the words quite well-known and understood in the Polish language. There should be no doubt that the word QUATRO cannot be attributed to any clear and understandable information in Polish. Thus, it will be perceived by the average consumer as an abstract expression in relation to the goods bearing trade marks at issue.
On 4 January 2011, the Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark PIEKARNIA CUKIERNIA Jacek Gaj R-175774. The request for invalidation was filed by the Polish company who owned similar earlier trade mark registration. The PPO cited findings included in the judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 October 2005 case C-120/04 and in the judgment of the Supreme Administrative court of 26 October 2006 case file II GSK 37/06, and agreed with the Courts that by adding to the complex trade mark of the word element, indicating the company from which the goods originate, such method does not remove the risk of misleading the public, since the perception of the mark as a whole may lead to the impression that the goods or services of compared signs come from companies that are economically linked. Jacek Gaj filed a complaint against this decision.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 February 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1716/11 dismissed it. The Court ruled that general perception of trade marks by a potential customer – the consumer, is crucial for assessing the similarity. Verbal elements are generally dominant in the complex signs, but not when they are purely informative, descriptive, including word elements with the name of the other business.
Nike International Ltd., filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Polish Patent Office on the grant of the right of protection for the figurative trade mark R-215109 that was registered for Sinda Poland Corporation sp. z o. o. for goods in Class 25 such as shoes. Nike claimed similarity of its signs and the unfair use of reputation.
The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 26 October 2012 case no. Sp. 484/10 dismissed the opposition. The PPO did not find similarity between the opposed trade marks, and ruled that the disputed signs brings to mind an arrowhead. The decision is not final yet.
Red Bull GmbH requested the Polish Patent Office to decide on the lapse of the word-figurative trade mark TAURUS IR-604762 owned by Gablitzer Getrankeindustrie und Kaffeehandelsgesellschaft M.B.H. from Austria, and effectively registered on the Polish territory since 27 July 1993. Red Bull claimed that Gablitzer Getrankeindustrie und Kaffeehandelsgesellschaft was deleted from the registry of entrepreneurs in June 2001, and attached, as evidence, an excerpt from the register, which showed that the trade mark proprietor after the bankruptcy has been removed from the register of companies. Red Bull provided also a certified translation of the document.
The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 14 December 2011 case no. Sp. 286/10 ruled on the lapse of the right of protection as on 13 September 2007. Red Bull requested the PPO to correct an obvious mistake in the date of the lapse. The Company noted that the PPO made that mistake, because there was an error in translation into Polish of the extract from the Austrian register. Red Bull attached corrected translation from the German language, explaining the reasons for the correction. The PPO in its order of January 2012 ruled that the mistake was no committed by PPO, but by the translator. Thus, it was not subject to correction. Red Bull filed complaint against the decision.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 5 September 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 769/12 annulled the contested decision, and ruled it unenforceable. The VAC noted that the public authority is obliged to carry on the proceedings in the Polish language, both in oral actions and in order to keep the documentation of the procedure in Polish, and it’s a legal obligation to use in administrative proceedings translated documents. However, the Court held that the public authority, acting on the request of a party, cannot decline to investigate the content of the document along with its translation, as the results of this examination should be unambiguous, and failure to do so, constitutes a breach of the rules of administrative proceedings that may have a significant impact on the outcome of the case. The case-law of administrative courts generally accepted the rule that – regardless of the requirements of Article 5 of the Act on the Polish language – the evidence is the content of the document created in foreign language, not its translation. Translation does not a substitute a document written in a foreign language, but serves only to determine what is the content of that document.
On February 2012, the Polish patent attorney requested the President of the Polish Patent Office to delete her from the list of patent attorneys. She pointed out that due to lack of interest in services provided by her, she decided to return the Patent attorney identity card issued for her by the Polish Patent Office, and she also announced that on 18 October 2003, she has changed marital status and surnname. The PPO requested her to clarify the request. She did not respond to this properly delivered letter. On March 2012, The President of the PPO deleted the patent attorney from the list of professional representatives. She filed complaint against this decision.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 29 august 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 912/12 dismissed the complaint. The Court ruled that the change of the surname of a patent attorney in connection with marriage does not cause a loss of power to conduct her professional activities, however, it may the basis to change of an entry in the list of patent attorneys. The PPO properly deleted the applicant from the list of patent attorneys as requested. The request left the PPO no chances to make any other decision than delivered.