Trade mark law, case II GSK 406/08

October 28th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

The MIŚ company has operated on the Polish market since 1956 in the form of an “industrial plant”, but until 1978, it used the name “Wojewódzki Zwiazek Gminnych Spóldzielni Samopomoc Chlopska-Zaklad Wyrobów Cukierniczych Miś” in Oborniki Śląskie. The complex name was changed to “Spóldzielnia Pracy Produkcyjno Handlowa MIŚ” in 1978 and again to “Zaklady Wyrobów Cukierniczych MIŚ” in 1992.


Włodzimierz Miś and Jerzy Miś – “Bracia Miś” (Bear’s brothers) have started their activity in 1989. They use a single word “Miś” (bear) as their company name and produce confectionery since 1993. “Bracia Miś” have applied for the word-figurative trade mark “Mis” in 1992. The Polish Patent Office has granted the protection right in 1995 under the no. R-83022. The Company from Oborniki Slaskie received trade mark protection right for the figurative sign consisting of bear’s head in 1996 under the no. R-90583.


Zaklady Wyrobów Cukierniczych MIS filed a request for invalidation of the right of protection of “Bracia Miś” trade mark. The PPO agreed and invalidated the contested trade mark in 2001 for the first time. The case went for the appeal to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw which annuled the PPO’s decision. The Administrative court pointed that Polish Patent Office did not properly justified its decision and did not consider judgments of two civil courts that previously ruled in case of “Bracia Miś” and Zaklady Wyrobów Cukierniczych MIŚ as regards similarity of both signs and the use of “Bracia Miś” trade mark as a company name (a short explanation: Polish civil courts decide trade mark infringement cases while administrative courts decide appeals and cassation complaints related to administrative procedure and cases before PPO).

Once again, the PPO invalidated “Bracia Miś” trade mark in 2007. The Office ruled that the registration should not be allowed because it violated personal rights of Zaklady Wyrobów Cukierniczych MIŚ – the right to a company name – which enjoyed a long tradition and reputation. Again, the case went for an appeal to VAC. Trade mark attorney who was representing “Bracia Miś” presented arguments that their products are only sold in company’s owned shops and there is no risk of consumers confusion. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 22 October 2007 case file VI SA/Wa 921/07 did not follow such arguments so the case went to the Polish Supreme Administrative Court as cassation complaint. The SAC agreed with “Bracia Miś” and held that the PPO did not indicate on which evidences the annullement was based in its decision and that the PPO failed to comply with regulations provided in the Code of Administrative Procedure. The VAC by accepting PPO’s decision has failed to comply with administrative proceedings rules which which in consequence was the reason to invalidate VAC’s judgment.

The judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 6 October 2008 case file II GSK 406/08 is final and binding. It means that the Voivodeship Court has to annul the Polish Patent Office’s decision from 2007 and order the PPO to reconsider the invalidation of “Bracia Mis” trade mark. See also “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2258/08“.