Trade mark law, case II GSK 626/09

September 6th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Swiss company Marquard Media, current publisher of the magazine “Przegląd Sportowy”, which since 1974 always includes a supplement entitled “Skarb Kibica” (in English: Fan’s Treasure), succeeded in registering SKARB KIBICA R-134960 at the Polish Patent Office.

In 2004, Profus Management requested the invalidation of the right of protection for the SKARB KIBICA trade mark. Profus claimed that this sign has informational nature rather than distinctive character. It provided an opinion written by professor Urszula Promińska to support its arguments with this regard. In 1992 Profus Management bought the weekly football magazine “Piłka Nożna” with “Skarb Kibica” column. Marquard Media filed a trade mark infringement suit.

In 2006, the PPO has decided on the invalidation of the right of protection. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 2 October 2006 case file VI SA/WA 791/06 reversed this decision, but only because of deficiencies in the proceedings and send it back to the PPO for reconsideration.

When examining the case after the judgment, the PPO in its decision of 25 February 2008 case file Sp. 213/07 dismissed Profus Management request. The PPO held that the mere use of the sign in question by different entities cannot deprive its distinctiveness. When the case went again in 2009 to the VAC, the owner of “Przegląd Sportowy” and “Skarb Kibica” was Axel Springer Poland. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 27 February 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 2219/08 dismissed Profus complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 31 August 2010 case file II GSK 626/09 upheld this decision. The SAC held that the mere use of this sign by different publishers at the date of its registration cannot deprive its distinctiveness. The distinctive character of such a sign is examined, of how it was perceived by readers interested in football and sport activities.