Procedural law, case VI SA/Wa 934/10

October 12th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2006, the Polish legal advisor (radca prawny) Sławomir Reszka from Warsaw applied for the right of protection for KHORTYTSA CHORTYCA Z-311311 and BLAGOV BLAGOFF Z-311312 trade marks for goods in Class 33 such as alcoholic beverages. During the examination proceedings, the Polish Patent Office has found almost identical signs such as word trade mark BLAGOV R-218323 and word-figurative trade mark KHORTYTSA ULTIMATE PERFECTION R-219919 owned by the Ukrainian company – the affiliate “Image Holding” of the JSC “Image Holding ApS” from Novoe Zaporozhye, that were also registered for alcoholic beverages. The Ukrainian company argued that it had used its trade marks previously in Poland and that these signs are still used in Ukraine. The PPO refused to grant the right of protection for Sławomir Reszka.

R-219919

Decisions of the Polish Patent Office are liable to a party’s request for re-examination of the matter within the meaning of the Administrative Proceedings Code. The provisions of the APC governing deciding on appeals from decisions shall apply accordingly to proceedings on re-examination of the matter. In this particular case, the PPO found that the illness did not entitled Sławomir Reszka for the restoration of the deadline because he had a representative. As a basis for denying the request the PPO cited provisions of Article 243(1) of the IPL.

Article 243
1. Unless otherwise stipulated in this Law, where in the course of proceedings a time limit to perform an act requisite, under this Law, for continuance of the proceeding has not been observed, the Patent Office may, at the party’s request, restore the time limit, provided that the party provides a plausible explanation that non-observance was without fault on its part.

2. Subject to paragraph (4), the request referred to in paragraph (1) shall be submitted to the Patent Office within two months from the date on which the reason for non-observance has ceased to exist, however not later than within six months from the date of the expiry of that time limit. At the same time, the requesting party shall be required to perform the act in respect of which the time limit was fixed.

3. A time limit to submit the request referred to in paragraph (2) shall not be restorable.

4. Where a decision has been taken on discontinuance of the proceeding for the reason of failure to observe a time limit for performance of a specified act, that decision, at the party’s request for re-examination of the matter, may be reversed, provided that the party provides in the request a plausible explanation that the non-observance was without fault on its part, while performing, at the same time, the act in respect of which the time limit was fixed.

5. Where the time limit for filing an application for the purpose of preserving the right of earlier priority or the time limit for furnishing a document expires on a day on which the Patent Office is closed to the public, the application or the document received on the first subsequent day on which the Patent Office is open to the public shall be deemed to have been received within the time limit concerned.

6. In respect of time limits, to which paragraph (1) is not applicable, and the non-observance of which has been caused by exceptional circumstances, the provisions on suspension of the course of negative prescription caused by acts of God shall apply accordingly. In such cases, the Patent Office shall give orders after having been furnished with relevant evidence by the interested party.

7. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (5) and (6), the Patent Office shall secure the reception at any time of day of letters delivered by interested persons.

Mr Reszka filed a complaint against this order. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 22 July 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 934/10 did not examine the merits of the case, namely whether, in the event of a failure to comply with a deadline, the illness of a representative should be taken into account. The VAC annulled the questioned order refusing to restore the deadline, because the PPO applied the wrong provision. The deadline for lodging a request for a retrial shall be restored on the basis of Article 58 of the APC.

Article 58
§ 1. If the deadline is infringed it may be rescheduled at the request of an interested party if it appears probable that the infringement was not caused by that party.
§ 2. A request to reschedule the deadline should be made within 7 days of the reason for the deadline’s infringement coming to an end. However, the actions for which the deadline was set must be carried out simultaneously with the request being made.
§ 3. It is not possible to reschedule the deadline for making the request referred to in § 2.

The Court held that the provisions of Article 243 of the IPL are applicable in deadlines set by the Polish Patent Office in the course of the given case. After the issuance of a negative decision in a case the the proceeding is not pending because it has been completed. It may be continued after upon successful acceptation of the request to reschedule the deadline. Therefore, Article 243 of the IPL could not be applicable in the above-mentioned case. See also “Procedural law, case VI SA/Wa 2091/07“.