Trade mark law, case Sp. 334/05

July 30th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 1 March 2004, the Polish Patent Office registered word-figurative trade mark CZUWAJ R-152214 (in English: “Be Prepared”). Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego – Główna Kwatera is the owner. The sign looks exactly the same as the Scouts Cross.

The final design of Scout’s Crass was approved during ZHP’s unification conference held on October 1-2 1918 which has choosen this sign as the official badge of Polish scouting In November 1918 the Polish Ministry of War decreed that the Krzyż Harcerski was the only civilian emblem that might be worn on military uniforms. The tradition continues to this day.

Nowadays, there are three major scouting organizations in Poland. Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego, Związek Harcerstwa Rzeczypospolitej and Stowarzyszenia Harcerstwa Katolickiego Zawisza.


ZHR filed a request for invalidation of the right of protection. The request was based on provisions of article 8(1) of the old Polish Trade Mark Act – TMA – (in Polish: Ustawa o znakach towarowych) of 31 January 1985, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 5, item 15, with subsequent amendments.

A trademark shall not be registrable if:
1) it is contrary to law or to the principles of social coexistence,

The Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej) of 30 June 2000, 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, provides more stricter regulations against registering such signs.

Article 131
1. Rights of protection shall not be granted for signs:


(ii) that are contrary to law, public order or morality, or


2. A right of protection shall not be granted for a sign, if:
(i) it has been applied for protection with the Patent Office in bad faith,
(ii) it incorporates the name or abbreviated name of the Republic of Poland, or its symbols (emblem, national colours or national anthem), the names or armorial bearings of Polish voivodships, towns or communities, the insignia of the armed forces, paramilitary organisations or police forces, reproductions of Polish decorations, honorary distinctions or medals, military medals or military insignia, or other official or generally used distinctions and medals, in particular those of government administration, local self-administration or social organisations performing activities in vital public interests, where these organisations’ activities extend to the entire territory of the State or to a substantial part thereof, unless the applicant is able to produce evidence of his right, in particular in a form of an authorisation issued by a competent State agency or a permission given by an organisation, to use the sign in the course of trade,


(v) it incorporates elements being symbols, in particular of a religious, patriotic or cultural nature whose use could hurt religious feelings, sense of patriotism or national tradition,

The Polish Patent Office in its decision case file Sp. 334/05 invalidated the right of protection. The PPO ruled that all Polish scouts’ organizations should have the right to use this sign. This decision is not yet final. A complaint may be filed to the Voivodeship Administrative Court.