Industrial design and trade mark law, case II GSK 481/09

July 14th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of the history described in “Industrial design and trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 710/08“. Rosinski Andrzej Rosinski Michal Rosinska Joanna Zaklad Produkcji Opakowan Rosinski i S-ka, Sp. J. decided to file a cassation complaint to the Supreme Administrative Court, hoping that the Court would clarify the interpretation of Article 117(2) of the 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 of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 15 May 2010 case file II GSK 481/09 ruled that there is no issue of wrong implementation of the provisions of Article 11 of the Directive 98/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998 on the legal protection of designs. The Court noted that even the preamble of Design Directive explicitly states that Member States should remain free to fix the procedural provisions concerning registration, renewal and invalidation of design rights and provisions concerning the effects of such invalidity. Therefore, there is no need to refer a question to the Court of Justice of EU for a preliminary ruling. The SAC did not agree with arguments that the issue of finding that the exploitation of the industrial design infringes third parties’ personal or author’s economic rights shall be decided by civil court and not by the PPO. The question of similarity of the questioned design and 3D trade mark should also be decided by the PPO. The Court did not follow arguments presented by the General Court in its judgment of 12 May 2010 in case T-148/08, Beifa Group Co. Ltd v Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market, Schwan-Stabilo Schwanhaüßer GmbH & Co. KG. However, the SAC did agree with the Polish company that facts of the case were not handled properly by the Voivodeship Administrative Court. Therefore, the SAC annulled the questioned judgments and returned the case to the VAC for reconsideration and ordered the Polish Patent Office to pay the Polish company a reimbursement of costs of the cassation compliant.

The Court noted also that if the trade mark that was used as a basis of the application for invalidation of the industrial design, is a sign that was registered with an earlier priority in Germany, which is not identical with the Community design that was questioned in the aforementioned application, is similar to this design, the law of the Member State (in this case § 14 section 2 pt 2 of Markengesetz, similar to Article 296 of the IPL) affords Unilever, the proprietor of the mentioned trade mark, the right to prohibit use of this sign in a later design only if because of the similarity of the design to the said trade mark and identical or similarity of the goods or services, which relate to the trade mark and the later design, there is a likelihood of confusion.

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