Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 769/12

November 5th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Red Bull GmbH requested the Polish Patent Office to decide on the lapse of the word-figurative trade mark TAURUS IR-604762 owned by Gablitzer Getrankeindustrie und Kaffeehandelsgesellschaft M.B.H. from Austria, and effectively registered on the Polish territory since 27 July 1993. Red Bull claimed that Gablitzer Getrankeindustrie und Kaffeehandelsgesellschaft was deleted from the registry of entrepreneurs in June 2001, and attached, as evidence, an excerpt from the register, which showed that the trade mark proprietor after the bankruptcy has been removed from the register of companies. Red Bull provided also a certified translation of the document.


The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 14 December 2011 case no. Sp. 286/10 ruled on the lapse of the right of protection as on 13 September 2007. Red Bull requested the PPO to correct an obvious mistake in the date of the lapse. The Company noted that the PPO made that mistake, because there was an error in translation into Polish of the extract from the Austrian register. Red Bull attached corrected translation from the German language, explaining the reasons for the correction. The PPO in its order of January 2012 ruled that the mistake was no committed by PPO, but by the translator. Thus, it was not subject to correction. Red Bull filed complaint against the decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 5 September 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 769/12 annulled the contested decision, and ruled it unenforceable. The VAC noted that the public authority is obliged to carry on the proceedings in the Polish language, both in oral actions and in order to keep the documentation of the procedure in Polish, and it’s a legal obligation to use in administrative proceedings translated documents. However, the Court held that the public authority, acting on the request of a party, cannot decline to investigate the content of the document along with its translation, as the results of this examination should be unambiguous, and failure to do so, constitutes a breach of the rules of administrative proceedings that may have a significant impact on the outcome of the case. The case-law of administrative courts generally accepted the rule that – regardless of the requirements of Article 5 of the Act on the Polish language – the evidence is the content of the document created in foreign language, not its translation. Translation does not a substitute a document written in a foreign language, but serves only to determine what is the content of that document.