Trade mark law, case II GSK 1088/09

February 19th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Polish company Śnieżka Invest sp. z o. o. from Świebodzice requested the Polish Patent Office to decided on the lapse of the right of protection for the trademark GOPLANA MICHAŁKI R-139668 owned by Jutrzenka S.A. Śnieżka claimed that the questioned trade was not genuinely used in the period of five successive years after a decision on the grant of a right of protection has been taken. Śnieżka also owns michałki R-72668 trade mark and the company from Świebodzice argued that the market existence of GOPLANA MICHAŁKI sign would interfere its business.

Jutrzenka argued that there existed very serious reasons of non-use – the pending administrative proceedings for invalidation of its trade mark. Jutrzenka claimed that the use of the mark in the course of those proceedings would be irrational and it would expose the company to any future claims of Śnieżka. The PPO in its decision of 1 July 2008 no. Sp. 398/07 held that GOPLANA MICHAŁKI trade mark has lapsed. Jutrzenka filed a complaint. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 26 June 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 81/09 dismissed it. Jutrzenka filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 14 December 2010 case file II GSK 1088/09 dismissed the complaint and ruled that the case for invalidation of the trade mark registration does not qualify as an important reason for non-use thereof. The serious reasons should be factual and/or legal obstacles. These may be external events of force majeure nature that are impossible to predict and prevent. All circumstances relating to ordinary business risks, which concerns the current operations of each business cannot be deemes as such obstacles. A legal obstacle,preventing the use of a trade mark may be, for example, an individual administrative act prohibiting the use of the mark.