Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1319/11

November 28th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Designer drugs are well-known as “dopalacze” in Poland (in English: boosters). They were freely available on the Polish market because of the legal loophole in the Polish Act of 29 July 2005 on Counteracting Drug Addiction. In 2010, after different mainstream media reported on several cases involving health problems caused by such drugs, the Polish Government ordered a nationwide crackdown on shops selling designer drugs, memory enhancers or noothropic substances.

In 2008, the Polish company KONFEKCJONER Sp. z o.o., one of the biggest suppliers of these products, tried to register the word trade mark Z-345673 in Classes 30, 33, 34 and 39, but the Polish Patent Office refused to grant the right of protection. KONFEKCJONER filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 4 October 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1319/11 dismissed it, and held that the word trade mark DOPALACZE.COM was intended to designate, inter alia, herbal substitutes for coffee, alcoholic beverages, tobacco and smokers’ articles, and delivery of goods and parcels. The recipients of these goods and services are generally understood as the broadest public possible, and the “average consumer” is reasonably well informed and reasonably observant and circumspect. The Court ruled that the sign in question may suggest that the consumption of goods bearing this trade mark may cause specific narcotic effect. There was a sufficiently serious risk that consumers receive wrong message regarding the goods. Although, products such as coffee, cigarettes, tobacco, function as goods that add energy, they are treated as stimulants or tranquilizers, however, such a trade mark may suggest that the goods have been strengthened to induce a certain narcotic effect. Smokers’ articles are deemed as ancillary to the aforementioned goods for which the registration was sought, the same applies to delivery of parcels and goods.