Trade mark law, case II GSK 269/06

October 6th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

By decision of 11 August 2005, the Patent Office refused to grant a right of protection for word-figurative “R-Profit” Z-234207 trade mark applied for by Raiffeisen Bank Polska S.A. for goods in Class 36 such as banking services for small and medium enterprises. The Patent Office concluded after examination proceedings that this sign may not be registered because it is similar to PROFIT R-87400 trade mark, registered for Bank Polska Kasa Opieki SA, with priority of 3 November 1993 for goods in Class 36 such as management of interest bearing money investments in zlotys. The PPO also stated that, in this case, the issue of services could not be challenged, since both signs are designed for the same services to a wide audience, i.e. banking services. The PPO ruled that both signs cannot exist simultaneously in trade without the risk of consumers confusions. In the opinion of the PPO there was no doubt that the trade marks are also similar phonetically and semantically.


The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 11 May 2006 case file VI SA/Wa 542/06 dismissed the complaint filed by Raiffeisen Bank Polska S.A. and noted at the beggining that Article 315(1)(3) of the IPL, expresses the principle that the issue of the registrability of signs that were registered or applied for registration before 22 August 2001, is assessed on the basis of existing regulations. therefore the provisions of the Act of 31 January 1985 on trade marks are the basis for assessing the registrability of R-Profit trade mark, because it was applied for registration on 10 April 2001.

Article 315
1. Rights conferred in respect of inventions, utility models, ornamental designs, topographies of integrated circuits, trademarks and rationalisation projects, existing at the time of entry into force of this Law, shall remain effective. To these rights the previous provisions are applicable, unless the provisions of this Part stipulate otherwise.

2. Legal relationships established prior to the entry into force of this Law shall continue to be governed by the previous provisions.

3. Statutory requirements for the grant of a patent, a right of protection or a right in registration shall be assessed under the provisions effective at a date of filing of an application concerning an invention, a utility model, a trademark or topography of an integrated circuit with the Patent Office. However, the provision of Article 37(2) shall apply to patent and utility model applications pending at the date of entry into force of this Law.

In the opinion of the VAC that this case involved the same type of services. The Court agreed with the analysis of the list of services performed by the PPO that there exists homogenity of services between in both lists of goods. In the opinion of the Court, the PPO has properly analyzed the similarity of “R-Profit” and opposing “Profit” signs. Both signs should be compared in aural conceptual and phonetic aspects, bearing in mind that “R-Profit” is a word-figurative trade mark. According to the VAC, even though this case concenrs word and word-figurative trade marks, one may say that there exists graphic similarity, as “R-Profit” and “Profit” differ only by the letter “R” and the core of the two characters – “Profit” is identical. The VAC ruled that the argument that services in question have different distribution channels does not preclude the likelihood of confusion, because an average consumer may think that the service is derived from an entity that combines the organizational relationship and legal rights with the owner of “Profit” trade mark.

Raiffeisen Bank Polska S.A. filed a cassation complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 February 2007 case file II GSK 269/06 dissmised the case. The SAC held that the comparison of signs should be based on the general, overall impression, which compared trade marks have on the recipient, and thus if the dominant element in both signs are their common elements, there is a similarity between trade marks that is posing a risk of consumers confusion.