Trade mark law, case I ACr 770/93

February 24th, 2005, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appellate Court in Gdańsk in its judgment of 24 November 1993, case file I ACr 770/93, held that the name “Gdańsk” is not the local government unit, which is the “Gdańsk Municipality”, but a geographical name used in Poland and abroad. Foreign language versions are well-established names of Gdańsk, e.g. German – Danzig, Italian – Danzica, Latin – Gedania. Nouns and adjectives form the geographical name are used without restrictions. Restrictions on freedom to use and commercialize the public goods requires introduction of a legal act. However, there is no law limiting the use of the name of the city. In particular, the provision of article 18(1) of the Polish Act of 8 March 1990 on Local Self-government (in Polish: ustawa o samorządzie terytorialnym) Journal of Laws (Dziennik ustaw) of 1990 No. 16 item 1995, as amended, does not authorize the municipal council to restrict the use of geographical names and the introduction of fees for their use. There is another legal basis for such commercialization.

It should be also noted that the names of Polish towns and cities were settled in the Polish Act of 29 August 2003 on the official names of localities and physiographic objects, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 166, item 1612, as amended. The name, short name and coat of arms of Capital City of the Republic of Poland are regulated by the Act of 15 March 2002 on the system of Capital City of Warsaw, Journal of Law (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 41, item 361, as amended. In the case of place names, which are both common nouns, the refusal of protection shall be permitted only if the other elements of the trade mark are clear that the applicant refers his sign to the name of the village and not to an ordinary noun (e.g. in addition to the trade mark there is attached a map that identifies a name with a specific town).

See also posts entitled “Trade mark law, case 6 II SA 1156/02“, “Trade mark law, case II SA/Wr 2928/02” “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1945/05“, “Trade mark law, case Sp. 127/07 and Sp. 254/07” and “Trade mark law, cases VI SA/Wa 1996/08 and VI SA/Wa 1995/08“.