Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2168/10

March 16th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Red Bull GmbH filed a notice of opposition to a final decision of the Polish Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection to the “red dragon” trade mark R-179732 registered for DODONI Roman Górzyński, Marek Górzyński, Marcin Górzyński sp.j for goods in Class 32 such as mineral waters and non-alcoholic beverages. Red Bull claimed that “red dragon” is similar to its RED BULL R-207549, RED BULL ENERGY DRINK IR-0715531 and the CTM RED. Red Bull based its opposition on the reputation of these trade marks. The PPO dismissed the opposition and ruled that the opposed trade marks, despite the identical word element “red”, are different at all levels of perception, i.e., aural, verbal and conceptual, so that they produce a completely different impression on the average customer. These signs also have other verbal elements and the word “red” is present in other trade marks registered for goods in Class 32. In view of significant differences between opposed trade marks that excluded the risk of confusion as to the origin of the goods, the PPO decided that the reputation of Red Bull’s trade marks enjoyed on the Polish market is not relevant for the assessment of the risk of consumers confusion. Red Bull filed a complaint to the administrative court.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 14 December 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 2168/10 dismissed the complaint. The court agreed with the PPO that the consumer who does not speak English will perceive RED BULL and RED BULL ENERGY DRINK as fanciful trade marks, and “red dragon” composed in part with the fanciful word “red” and in part of the Polish word of some specific meaning (Dragoon – mounted infantry or as a tall, stout, vigorous, sprawling woman) will be perceived differently. The court held that since the opposed trade marks are not similar, therefore the registration of “red dragon” R-179732 will not bring unfair advantage to DODONI or be detrimental to the distinctive character or the repute of Red Bull’s trademarks.