Trade mark law, case II GSK 765/09

October 18th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 21 September 2010 case file II GSK 765/09 held that the view that the content and scope of rights as referred to in Article 153 of the IPL were an obstacle to a possible objection by the entities, which do not have rights, which they claim to protect, does not deserve the acceptance.

Article 153
1. The right of protection shall confer the exclusive right to use the trademark for profit or for professional purposes throughout the territory of the Republic of Poland.

2. The term of the right of protection shall be 10 years counted from the date of filing of a trademark application with the Patent Office.

3. The term of protection may, at the request of the right holder, be extended for subsequent ten-year periods in respect of all or of a part of the goods.

4. The request referred to in paragraph (3) shall be submitted before the expiration of a running protection period, however not earlier than one year before the expiration thereof. The request shall be submitted together with the payment of a due protection fee.

5. The request referred to in paragraph (3) may also be submitted, against payment of an additional fee, within six months after the expiration of a protection period. The said time limit shall be non-restorable.

6. The Patent Office shall make a decision on refusal to extend the term of protection for a trademark, where the request has been submitted after the expiration of the time limit referred to in paragraph (5) or the due fees referred to in paragraphs (4) and (5) have not been paid.

The legislature thus entails exclusive rights to the use of the trade mark for the profit or professional purposes and filing the opposition is not a form of use of the mark as shown above. The same conclusions may be reached while interpreting the provisions included in Article 296(2) of the IPL, in which the legislature combines the scope of trademark protection in the form of civil claims with the use of signs in business, while the opposition is not an action in the context of economic activity.

Article 296
2. Infringement of the right of protection for a trademark consists of unlawful use in the course of trade of:
(i) a trademark identical to a trademark registered in respect of identical goods,
(ii) a trademark identical or similar to a trademark registered in respect of identical or similar goods, if a likelihood of misleading the public, including in particular a risk of associating the trademark with a registered trademark, exists;
(iii) a trademark identical or similar to a renown trademark registered for any kind of goods, if such use without due cause would bring unfair advantage to the user or be detrimental to the distinctive character or the repute of the earlier trademark.

Given those conditions, the exclusive rights of trademark protection does not cover the monopoly beyond the boundaries of economic activity or, in other words, use of the mark for the profit or professional purposes. The opposition remains outside the so-defined borders. This case concerned LORD R-88669 trade mark owned by REKORD S.A.