Trade mark law, case II GSK 883/11

September 3rd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of a story described in “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 827/10“. INTER GLOBAL decided to file a cassation complaint against the judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court of 29 October 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 828/10 that upheld the decisions of the Polish Patent Office of 16 October 2009 case no. Sp. 449/05, in which the PPO invalidated the registration of the word-figurative trade mark TEMPO R-104245 because it was applied for in bad faith.


The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 9 May 2012 case file II GSK 883/11 dismissed the appeal. The Court noted that there was some sense in INTER GLOBAL’s legal arguments that there is a need to provide legal certainty in a situation where the disloyal agent used the trade mark of a foreign entrepreneur who was conscious of this fact, even if the trade mark was applied for registration in bad faith. However, the Court held that the protection of property rights against actions taken in bad faith is so extended that it will undoubtedly take precedence over considerations on legal certainty resulting from the long-term use of the mark. This rule will not be changed by the argument that the disloyal agent promoted the foreign trade mark and incurred significant expenses. The Polish legislator adopted the ban on registration of signs that were applied in bad faith as one of the main principles of industrial property law, so there is not any possibility of legalization of any unethical actions, even qualified, because characterized by bad faith of professional entities that are involved in business activities. Because of the legal certainty of market turnover, a foreign rightful owner of a trade mark used by another entity, will not be able to demand the invalidation of or to oppose the use of a later trade mark, in a situation in which the use of the later sign has been knowingly tolerated for a limited time, at least of 5 consecutive years, unless the application for registration of the later mark was made in bad faith. At the same time it should be noted that the registration of a trade mark that belongs to foreign trade partner by his disloyal agent without the consent is not always deemed as an act of bad faith. Although the cases in which an agent acting without the authorization of the proprietor will not be acting in bad faith are veru limited, however, such situations may occur. The court also said that the acceptance of INTER GLOBAL’s argument would lead to a situation of unequal treatment of foreign entrepreneurs compared to those operating in Poland. If, as the Polish Industrial Property Law rules only apply to relationships between a Polish agent and foreign entrepreneur, it would allow for an unlimited in time option of invalidation of the registered trade mark that was applied in bad faith (that option lapse after 5 years of the use of such mark, with the knowledge of a foreign entrepreneur), in the situation of the agent and a company operating in Poland. The company operating in Poland and being in the agency relationship with another entrepreneur (agent) could, therefore request for the invalidation of the signs registered by the latter in bad faith at any time. The foreign entrepreneur represented by a Polish disloyal agent would be deprived of such a right.