Industrial design and trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 710/08

November 25th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 10 April 2001, the Polish company Rosinski Andrzej Rosinski Michal Rosinska Joanna Zaklad Produkcji Opakowan Rosinski i S-ka, Sp. J (this is the actual company name – the firm, which consist of names of partnes “Rosinski Andrzej Rosinski Michal Rosinska Joanna”, the name “packages production plant” and the type of legal entity they operate “general/partnership company”) applied for the design registration for bottle with top. On 14 January 2003, the Polish Patent Office has registered the design, Rp-2543.


In 2006, Unilever NV of Holland asked the PPO to annul its decision regarding Rp-2543. Unilever based its claims on the provisions of Article 117(2) of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No. 49, item 508, consolidated text on 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments.

A finding that the exploitation of the industrial design infringes third parties’ personal or author’s economic rights will also constitute a ground for invalidation of the right in registration.

Unilever’s legitimate interest to request the invalidation was based the earlier 3D trade mark registration, R-134678, which was granted by the PPO in a decision of 28 January 1999. However, the problem with applying article 117(2) lays in the rules of Polish administrative procedure. The PPO is not allowed to decide if third parties rights are infringed.


The PPO in its decision of 19 October 2007, act signature Sp. 187/06 invalidated the contested design. The Office recognized the similarity between the trade mark and the design based on arguments presented by Unilever’s patent attorney. The Polish company appealed. Its representative called into question the correctness of PPO’s decision in applying provisions of article 117(2). In his opinion the infringement issue should be decided by the civil court, not the administrative body which the Polish Patent Office is. However, the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 21 November 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 710/08 did not agree with the Polish company arguments. In Court’s opinion the PPO has been given the opportunity to assess similarities between a registered trade mark and a design. PPO’s conclusions that there exist a significant similarity may entitle the Office to decide with regard to the infringement of third parties rights.

This judgment is not yet final. A cassation complaint was filed to the Supreme Administrative Court. It will clarify the interpretation of Article 117(2) of the IPL. See “Industrial design and trade mark law, case II GSK 481/09“.

See also “Polish regulations on industrial designs” and “Polish case law on industrial designs“.