Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 501/10

October 25th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company EDIPRESSE POLSKA S.A. from Warsaw applied for the right of protection for word trade mark NEW Z-294152 for goods in Classes 16, 35 and 41. The Polish Patent Office refused to register this sign claiming that it does not have sufficient distinctive character that would allow to individualize the source of the goods. The PPO concluded that the sign is not distinctive, because it informs that the goods and services for which the registration is sought, are… new. EDIPRESSE filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 27 May 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 501/10 held that the common practice of the Polish Patent Office in registering trade marks containing descriptive elements was definitely too liberal, especially if it is considered that while examining the registrability, the future interest of other entrepreneurs in access to a given sign should be taken into account. According to the VAC there must be a significant reduction in the number of registered trademarks with the descriptive elements, geographical or generic names, as the result of understanding the proper function of a trade mark, because the primarily function of a trade mark is to indicate the origin of the goods from a particular undertaking. If, therefore, the applied sign may be perceived by the average consumer as information about the characteristics (properties) of goods or services, the origin from a particular geographic area, it cannot be a trademark due to lack of distinctive ability which is required for trade marks. The importance of the principle of freedom of access to certain descriptive signs must therefore lead to a significant reduction in the number of signs with descriptive elements that were registered as individual trade marks. The judgment is not final.