Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1269/11

July 18th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On August 2008, the Polish law firm BSO PRAWO & PODATKI – Bramorski Szermach Okorowska Kancelaria Prawna Spółka komandytowa from Wrocław applied to the Polish Patent Office for the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark BSO RECHT & STEUERN Z-344756, for legal services in Class 45. The PPO refused because of the similarity with the CTM BSO no. 001463017 registered with the earlier priority for services in class 41 such as education and providing of training relating to intellectual property, patent, trademark, design and legal matters and relating to research and development for others, and in Class 42 for services such as Intellectual property consultancy, patent, design and trademark agency, including legal consultancy, engineering services, research and development for third parties and computer programming and services in relation to computer hardware, all relating to intellectual property, patent, trademark, design and legal matters and relating to research and development for others. This CTM is owned by the Danish IP law firm BUDDE SCHOU A/S. The PPO stated that the phrase “Recht & Stenern” (English: tax and law) is devoid of any distinctive character, as an expression, which determines only the scope of activities. This expression is not noticeable in the sign, because it is written in very small letters at the bottom, so there is no significant impact on public perception. Undoubtedly for the PPO, the acronym BSO was predominant, and the fact that the applied trade mark consists of three words and the earlier sign only one – BSO, was not important in this situation for the assessment of similarity. The PPO concluded that the same assesment applies to the figurative element. BSO PRAWO & PODATKI filed a complaint against this decision.


The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 October 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1269/11 dismissed it. The Court ruled that a stylized symbol of section sign (paragraph) is generally accepted as an indication of the persons and entities providing legal services. Such a figurative element, no matter in what color or in any styling, recognizable as a double S symbol, is perceived to be connected with the law. It was difficult to accept that such an element, in a graphic that indicates the applicant’s company, would distinguish it from other law firms or companies providing legal services. The difference in the territorial operation of both companies was irrelevant for the PPO and the Court, because the CTM covers the entire territory of the European Union, and both companies are located there, in different Member States. This judgment is final.