Industrial design case, II CSK 302/07

January 8th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

I have to write about another important judgment I forgot to report two years ago. This time it is the judgment of the Supreme Court – Civil Chamber of 23 October 2007, case file II CSK 302/07, published in the Jurisprudence of the Polish Courts (in Polish: Orzecznictwo Sądów Polskich) of 2009, No 6, p. 451, together with the gloss by Maria Poźniak-Niedzielska at p. 455.

Some readres may be confused with regard to different courts deciding the same subject matter – in this case – designs and I need to explain that the administrative proceedings in designs’ cases, in general, concerns all decisions made or orders issued by the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland (the PPO takes decisions on granting, refusal to grant of a right in registration for an industrial design etc.) which are liable to complaint lodged to the Voivodeship Administrative Court (VAC) in Warsaw. Judgments made by the VAC may be a subject of a cassation complaint filed before the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC). However, cases with regard to infringement of a right in registration granted for an industrial design are decided in civil law proceedings. That was the reason the aforementioned case was decided at the last stage by the Supreme Court. See “Administrative, civil and criminal proceedings in trade mark cases in Poland“.

The Supreme Court had to give the interpretion of provisions of Article 104 and 105 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.

Article 104
1. An industrial design shall be considered to have individual character, if the overall impression it produces on the informed user differs from the overall impression produced on such a user by any design which has been made available before the date according to which priority is determined.

2. In assessing individual character, the degree of freedom of the designer in developing the design shall be taken into consideration.

Article 105
1. For an industrial design a right in registration may be granted.

2. The right in registration shall confer the exclusive right to exploit the industrial design for profit or for professional purposes throughout the territory of the Republic of Poland.

3. The holder shall enjoy the right to prevent any third party from making, offering, putting on the market, importing, exporting or using a product in which the design is incorporated or to which it is applied, or stocking such a product for those purposes.

4. The right conferred by the registration of an industrial design shall include any design which does not produce on the informed user a different overall impression. Article 104(2) shall apply accordingly.

5. The right conferred by the registration of an industrial design shall be limited to the kind of products, in respect of which the protection has been applied for.

6. Subject to Article 111, the term of a right in registration shall be 25 years counted from the date of filing of an industrial design application with the Patent Office, the said term being divided into 5-year periods.

Wzór Przemysłowy 6751

The SC held that the examination whether there was any infringement of the registered industrial design requires a comprehensive comparison of designs from the perspective of the person using (on a permanent basis) these items, which belong to specific group of goods, a person being oriented/informed in designs that originate from the creative freedom and to examine/assess whether the overall impression produced by the questioned design on such a person differs or not from the general impression caused by the registered design.

Legal commentators stressed the fact that the concept of “informed user” (oriented) was implemented in the IPL following the adjustment of Polish law to protection standards that exist within the EU law. The person being an informed user is a newcomer in the pantheon of fictional characters of industrial property rights, functioning as a certain pattern. In article 26(1) of the IPL already exists such character called “a person skilled in the art”.

1. An invention shall be considered as involving an inventive step if, having regard to the state of the art, it is not obvious to a person skilled in the art.

The Polish commentators also noted and commented on foregin judgments such as Procter & Gamble Company v Reckitt Benckiser (UK) Ltd., [2007] EWCA Civ 936 and Woodhouse UK Plc v Architectural Lighting. Systems t/a Aquila Design and Urbis Lighting Ltd. [2005] ECPCC (Designs) 25, [2006] RPC 1 and OHIM Invalidity Division’s decisions such as Eredu S Coop v Arrmet SRL, ICD 24, 27 April 2004 and Honda Motor Company Ltd v Kwang Yang Motor Company Ltd, ICD 1006, 30 August 2006.

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