Trade mark law, case II GSK 349/05

March 23rd, 2006, Tomasz Rychlicki

Imperial Tobacco requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for “KIERY A K D mocne” R-131390 registered for GALLAHER POLSKA Sp.z o.o., for goods in Class 34 such as cigarettes.


Imperial Tobacco is the owner of the right of protection for “M mocne” R-68755 trade mark registered for goods in Clss 34 such as cigarettes. The PPO dismissed the request and explained that the Trade Marks Act contains no provisions on the so-called disclamation rule which is based on identifying which elements that are part of a registered trade mark should not be protected and deemed as informational sings/elements. The word “mocne” (in English: “strong”) refers to the characteristics (properties) of cigarettes, which is associated with the fact that strong cigarette contains more tar and nicotine than light cigarette. The M-Mocne brand due to the presence in the market for several decades acquired the status of well-known trade mark among smokers, which according to the assesment of the Polish Patent Office does not change the fact that “mocne” sign is deemed as the informational term. Imperial Tobacco filed a complaint against this decision.


The Voivodeship Administrative court in warsaw in its judgment of 20 January 2005 case file VI SA/Wa 333/04 agreed with the PPO and dismissed the complaint. The VAC held that it is wrong assumption that the use of the registered word-figurative trade mark “M mocne”, resulted in obtaining the status of well-known trade mark of one of its elements, i.e. “mocne” word. Imperial Tobacco filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 26 January 2006 case file II GSK 349/05 held that the word “mocne” lacks sufficient distinctiveness. Therefore, the right to use this term (as well as “lekkie”) have all manufacturers of tobacco/cigarettes. This does not affect the personal or property rights, because the word is not property. Moreover, the Court noted the term “mocne” can never acquire distinctive character and all the time should be considered as an informational indication.