Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 233/09

March 8th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for 3MA R-171362 trade mark owned by the Polish company MARMA Polskie Folie Sp. z o.o. The proceeding were initiated by the 3M Company, the owner of 3M R-84046 and word-figurative 3M R-84047 trade marks. The American company has claimed the reputation of its signs and argued that the registration of 3MA R-171362 trade mark would bring its owner unfair advantage and it would be detrimental to the distinctive character and the reputation of 3M’s trade marks. The complaint of MARMA Polskie Folie Sp. z o.o. company was rejected by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in a judgment of 9 October 2009, case file VI SA/Wa 233/09.

The VAC ruled that in the absence of a legal definition of the reputation it was the legal doctrine and the courts who have defined the essential criteria for determining the reputation of the trade mark. Accordingly, the reputation of the trade mark is associated with the established opinion among customers about the characteristics of the goods bearing the mark. The reputation is not a simple consequence of the use and circulation of a trade mark, but it’s also a well-established and deeply rooted image in the consciousness of buyers of vital goods. The reputation of a trade mark is a result of the care for the high quality of products, the consistent preservation of a sign on the market by long and intensive advertising. An established reputation of a trade mark occurs when the quality of the goods bearing the sign satisfy customers who can easily recognize it and connect with the goods marked by the proprietor, even if it means that the goods are placed on the market for the first time. The reputation of a trade mark means its attractive value of advertising, the positive perceptions of the goods bearing the sign. In assessing whether the sign is reputed, one cannot take into the account only the degree of knowledge of a sign among the customers and the extent and intensity of advertising of goods bearing the sign, but also the quality of these goods. Prizes and certificates awarded for the goods bearing the sign, expert opinions and presentation of the goods at trade fairs in order to promote products also show the reputation of the trade mark. This judgment is not yet final. A cassation complaint may be filed to the Supreme Administrative Court.

See also “Poland: proving the fame of a trade mark“.