Archive for: geographical indications

Trade mark law, case no. Sp. 407/12

February 12th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

Bayerischer Brauerbund e.V. from Germany requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for the international word-figurative trade mark BAVARIA IR-1051133 registered goods in Class 32 such as beer and non-alcoholic beverages for the Bavaria N.V. from the Netherlands.


Bayerischer Brauerbund e.V. claimed infringement of the right to a geographical indication, and noted that the questioned trade mark is misleading, and it was applied in bad faith.

However, the PPO has not had the opportunity to comment substantively on the matter, because during the hearings, Bavaria N.V. waived its right. In these circumstances, the Adjudicative Board of the PPO in its decison of 22 January 2013 case no. Sp. 407/12 discontinued the proceedings as irrelevant.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1563/11

October 30th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeshipp Administrative Court in Warsaw its judgment of 21 December 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1579/10 dismissed the complaint filed by the Polish company Dimyat Polska Sp. z o.o. against the decisions of the Polish Patent Office on the refusal to grant the right of protection for the word trade mark PLISKA Z-135975 applied for the goods in Class 33 such as alcoholic beverages, wines, liqueurs, cognac, brandy, vodka, spirits. The PPO decided that the applied trade mark is devoid of sufficient distinctive character, because it does not individualise the goods on the market. The sign Pliska has no distinctive graphics, does not have any distinguishing features that would help to identify the manufacturer of the goods. Pliska is the name of the village in Bulgaria, in the Shumen district. It is not a fancy designation, but a sign informing about the geographical origin. The first figurative trade mark Pliska has been applied in the Republic of Poland in 1962 by the Bulgarian company. Since then alcohol products bearing Pliska trade mark have been introduced on different markets, among others, the Polish one. In addition, the PPO noted that the mark applied sign may contain inaccurate information, as it may cause confusion of the average consumer as to the origin of goods. The recipient who are buying alcoholic beverages bearing Pliska sign would believe that they were produced in Bulgaria. The Court agreed with the PPO and supported its view with the arguments included in the judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU of 4 May 1999 in joined cases C-108/97 and C-109/97 Windsurfing Chiemsee Produktions.

Dimyat Polska Sp. z o.o. filed a cassation complaint. The company argued inter alia that the decision in this case was issued by a person whose mother in law sat in the panel of the judges in the VAC. At the hearing before the Supreme Administrative Court, the counsel for the PPO acknowledged that the decision of the first instance in the Patent Office was issued by an expert who is daughter in law of one of the judges.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 28 September 2012 case file II GSK 1563/11 overturned the judgment of the VAC and sent it back for further reconsideration. The SAC held that despite the merits of the cassation complaint, there was a condition of nullity of the proceedings. The Polish Act on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts states that a judge is excluded in deciding a case in matters that concern his or her relatives in a straight line and in-laws to the second degree. In the present case, the mother-in-law is a first-degree relationship. The institution of exclusion of a judge is a procedural guarantee which consist of the impartiality of the judge that is identified with objectivity of the proceedings. The impartiality of judges is this kind of value for which the protection and execution is particularly important in a democratic state of law. Such defined impartiality should be identified with objectivity that is expressed in the equal treatment of the parties of any proceedings, so that there is no favorable situation for any of them. The court proceedings must be conducted in such a way that there is not even an apparent impression of behavior that would be deemed as disregard of standards of impartiality, being a manifestation of judicial independence.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1510/08

November 26th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

BWS Poland sp. z o.o. applied for trade mark registration for the word-figurative sign “SUNLINE TOKAJI FURMINT” Z-246957 on 26 February 2002, in class 33 for alcoholic beverages. The Polish company BARTEX-Bartol reported observations as to the existence of grounds that may cause a right of protection to be denied. BARTEX-Bartol claimed that Polish Patent Office (PPO) would undermine the protection of third-party rights, namely the Hungarian company Tokaji Kereskedőház Rt., because the sign that BWS applied for contained the name of the Hungarian Company. BWS explained that it imported wine from another Hungarian company and that the label “SUNLINE TOKAJI FURMINT” would not lead customers in confusion as regards the orgin of goods.

However, the Polish Patent Office issued a decision denying protection rights for a trade mark that BWS has applied for. The PPO held that granting protection rights would be against provisions included in articles 131(1)(iii) and 131(3) of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej) of 30 June 2000, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text on 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with later amendments.

Rights of protection shall not be granted for signs:
(iii) which, as for their nature, may mislead the public, in particular as to the nature, properties of the goods or, with regard to paragraph (3), as to the geographic origin thereof.


Article 131(3) of the IPL
In the case of wines and spirits, any trademark, which incorporates geographical elements discordant with the true origin of the good, shall be considered as a trademark misleading the public.

BWS appealed to the Voivodeiship Administrative Court (VAC) in Warsaw. During the hearings, the company claimed that it imported the wine from the vineyard of Vagra Pincészet Kft, which sells Tokaji Furmit Sulina wine, and that the Hungarian company agreed the sign could be used by its Polish business partner. BWS argued that Tokaj and Furmit means the region and strain of grapes. BWS presented an opinion that it applied for trade mark protection for a specific word-figurative sign, and that it had no intention to prohibit anyone to use these names.

The Polish Patent Office emphasized that TOKAJI is geographical indication of this kind of alcoholic beverage, which is used by manufacturers in Hungary as had been already agreed with the European Commission (and procedures for the arrangements are discussed with Slovakia) – this is why the PPO is obliged to take such term into account as a GI. The PPO also pointed out that the company may distribute the wine under SUNLINE name and to use it toghether with TOKAJI word, but it is not allowed to gain exclusive rights in TOKAJI and FURMIT signs. The VAC in judgment of 25 September 2008, case file VI SA/Wa 1510/08, has fully agreed with PPO’s decision and dismissed BWS appeal. The judgment is not final.