Archive for: Art. 154 IPL

Trade mark law, case II GSK 839/10

January 17th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Nufarm Australia Limited, the owner of the trade mark DUAL SALT TECHNOLOGY R-164428 registered for goods in Class 5, requested the Polish Patent Office to decide on the lapse of the right of protection for DUAL IR-0534713 owned by Syngenta Participations AG. Earlier before, Syngenta opposed the registratin of the trade mark DUAL SALT TECHNOLOGY R-164428.

Syngenta requested the PPO to dismiss the request. The Company provided evidence of use of the trade mark DUAL IR-0534713. There were six copies of VAT invoices from the period from 2002 to 2006, of sale of goods bearing the sign “DUAL GOLD 960 EC”, and two newspaper articles concerning this product and the material safety data sheets of “DUAL GOLD 960 EC of August 2005.

The Polish Patent Office decided on the lapse of the right of protection for DUAL IR-0534713 and dismissed the opposition against the registration of the trade mark DUAL SALT TECHNOLOGY R-164428. Syngenta filed a complaint against this decision. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 19 March 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1807/09 dismissed it. Syngenta filed a cassation compliant.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 October 2011 case file II GSK 839/10 repealed the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for further reconsideration. The SAC ruled that the cassation complaint can be based on the following grounds: a) the violation of substantive law by its erroneous interpretation or misuse, or the violation of proceedings rules, if it could affect the outcome of the case. The specific provisions of substantive law or procedural law, which were violated the court of first instance, should be indicated. Furthermore, it should be precisely explained What was the misapplication or misinterpretation – in relation to substantive law, or it should be demonstrated what was the significant impact of the violation of procedural law to decide the case by the court of first instance – in relation to the rules of proceedings. The Supreme Administrative Court cannot change or precise cassation complaints and their grounds, or otherwise correct them, due to limitations resulting from the mentioned rules. If the cassation complaint alleges violation of both substantive law and proceedings, as it was in the present case, the Supreme Administrative Court recognizes the allegation of violation of proceedings, in the first place.

The SAC decided the PPO has erred in its findings because it considered that the evidence submitted on, was from the years 2002-2006, while there was also an invoice from March 2007 on the case file, which was of the relevance to the case. It was a sales invoice of the preparation DUAL GOLD 960 EC 12 XI and DUAL GOLD 960 EC 4X 5 L. Surprisingly, the Supreme Administrative Court acknowledged, that the case facts showed that the trade mark DUAL GOLD lapsed on June 2006, so as a trade mark it ceased to exist on the market from that date (it was not registered). Since the trade mark DUAL GOLD ceased to exist in legal transactions after June 2006, the Polish Patent Office should examine whether this sign could be used in this situation, as indicated on the invoice of March 2007, or perhaps the invoice indicated the use of any other trade mark, for example, the trade mark DUAL, and therefore the Article 170 (1) of the IPL should be applied in this case.

Article 170
1. Subject to paragraph (2), the Patent Office shall dismiss a request for declaring the right of protection lapsed in the case referred to in Article 169(1)(i), if before the submission of the request genuine use of the mark has started or has been resumed.

2. Start or resumption of the use of the trademark after the expiration of an uninterrupted period of five successive years of non-use and within a period of three months preceding the submission of the request for declaring the right of protection lapsed, shall be disregarded, if preparations for the start or resumption of the use have been undertaken immediately after the right holder became aware of possible submission of such request.

3. Paragraphs (1) and (2) shall apply accordingly in the cases referred to in Article 169(7).

4. Loss of a right to use a sign or a symbol, referred to in Article 131(2) incorporated in a trademark shall not constitute a ground for non-making a decision declaring the right of protection for that trademark lapsed, if that sign or symbol ceased to be used in the trademark before a request for the declaration of the right of protection lapsed has been submitted.

In light of this evidence, which were the facts of this case, where a detailed analysis could affect the outcome of the case, it was premature by the court of first instance to rule and to say that, in this case that the genuine use of the mark has not started or has not been resumed, and PPO in this case did not erred in law, because it has analyzed all the evidence gathered. Considering other procedural allegations, the SAC held that administrative courts are not required in justification of its judgments to refer to each decision of Polish or European courts, that were cited by the author of a complaint. Such obligation can not be inferred from any provision of the Polish Act on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts. However, the administrative court should refer to these judgments, of which the applicant derives important arguments for the assessment of the case. In this case, the Court of first instance did not meet this requirement.

The SAC noted that the doctrine of law and case-law indicate that the trade mark proprietor may use its sign in an altered form in connection to the form of a sign that was registered. This alteration however, cannot apply to elements that decide on the distinctiveness of the sign, or may not lead to changes in represented form as a distinctive whole. See the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 24 May 2006 case file II GSK 70/06. The SAC confirmed the high degree of freedom to dispose of a trademark by its proprietor, and cited the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 24 June 2008 case file II GSK 251/08. See “Trade mark law, case II GSK 251/08“. The SAC found that the VAC has not sufficiently analyzed of all substantive rules in the context of this case. However, both situation where the violation of substantive law may happen, i.e., violation of substantive law by its incorrect interpretations or inappropriate use, refer only to cases where the facts of the case were established in no uncertain terms. Otherwise, the alleged breach of substantive law is at least premature. This situation took place in this case, because the author of the complainant cassation alleged in the first place the violation of the proceedings by the VAC. The violation of proceedings was based on the refusal by the court of first instance to repeal the decision issued by the Polish Patent Office, in a situation when that PPO did not adequately explain the facts of the case and did not examine in a comprehensive manner the whole of the evidence.

Internet domains, case I ACa 1087/10

August 2nd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Conciliation for Internet Domains at the Polish Chamber of Information Technology and Telecommunications (the CCID) in its award of 9 March 2010 case file 74/09/PA dismissed the complaint brought by Italian company Bisazza against Polish entrepreneur Rafał Kacprzak from Wrocław who registered the following domain names:, and Bisazza claimed that the registration of .pl domains infringed on its CTM BISAZZA no. 001494590 and word-figurative CTM “BISAZZA mosaico” no. 001500248. Surprisingly, the Court did not agree with arguments provided by the Italian company and held that there was no infringement because the regulations included in the Polish Industrial Property law that did not allow for such interpretation. According to the CCID, there was no delict/tort of unfair competition as activities of both companies should be deemed as complementary. The CCID noted that Bisazza could act more carefully and it should have registered both domain names much earlier. According to the Court, by advertising products of the Italian company, Mr. Kacprzak was not acting as a cyber squatter because he did not only intend to increase his financial benefits but he was doing it in order to maximise mutual benefits. The Court also said the Mr. Kacprzak did not infringe on the company name.

CTM no. 001500248

Bisazza S.p.A. filed a complaint against this controversial decision. The Company claimed the arbitration award is contrary to the public policy rules established in the Republic of Poland, including the protection of acquired rights, social justice, stable and secure law, comprehensive examination of the case, consistency of legal decisions and integrity of the legal system.

The Court for the Community Trade Marks and Community Designs (in Polish: Sąd Okręgowy w Warszawie Wydział XXII Sąd Wspólnotowych Znaków Towarowych i Wzorów Przemysłowych) in its judgment of 20 September 2010 case file XXII GWzt 17/10 annulled the questioned award. To begin with, the Court reminded that the Polish legislator sought to strengthen the arbitration proceedings by limiting the possibility of challenge of the awards issued by courts of arbitration. The competence of common courts in controlling the correctness of awards issued by arbitration courts are very limited and strictly defined. The petition for the reversal of the arbitration award belongs to the category of special appeals. It has a cassatory character (annulment of a judicial decision is allowed only in certain cases under strict conditions). In such proceedings the Court will not examine the merits of the dispute (if the facts warrant issued ruling) or verify the correctness of the findings that were made and accepted. All the grounds justifying of the petition for the reversal of the arbitration award are included in the Article 1206 §1-2 of the Civil Proceedings Code – CPC – (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Cywilnego) of 17 November 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 43, item 296, with subsequent amendments.

§ 1 By way of an application a party may apply for the award to be set aside if:
1) there was no arbitration agreement, the agreement is not valid, ineffective or has expired under the law applicable to it;
2) the party was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator, of the arbitration proceedings or was otherwise unable to present its case before the arbitration tribunal;
3) the award deals with a dispute not contemplated by or beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement, provided that, if the decisions on matters submitted arbitration can be separated from those not so submitted or falling beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement, then only that part of the award which relates to the matters not submitted or falling beyond the submission may be set aside; the fact that a matter is beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement cannot constitute a ground for setting aside the award if a party who participated in the proceedings did not object to those claims being heard;
4) the composition of the arbitration tribunal or the fundamental rules of arbitral procedure were not in accordance with the agreement of the parties or with a provision of law;
5) the award was obtained by way of a crime or on the basis of a forged or falsified document,
6) a final judgment has already been made in the same case between the same parties.

§ 2. The arbitration award shall also be set aside if the court finds that:
1) the dispute was not capable of settlement by arbitration under the law;
2) the award is contrary to the public policy rules in the Republic of Poland (public order clause).

The Court noted that when assessing whether an arbitration award is contrary to the fundamental principles of law, the Court should take into account its content and not the correctness of the proceedings that were held before the arbitration body. The basic principles of the law underlying the assessment of the award should be understood not only as the constitutional rules but also as the general norms and rules in particular areas of law. The breach by an arbitration body of the proper substantive law justifies the reversal of the arbitration award only if the award is contrary to legal order. The arbitration body shall decide on the dispute according to the law of the legal relationship and when the parties explicitly mandated it – by the general principles of law or equity/fairness. The Court for the Community Trade Marks and Community Designs concluded that the interpretation of basic principles of trademark law both national and Community, that was provided by the CCID in its award, shows lack of understanding of the merits of law and lack of the ability to apply existing rules to the facts of this case. The arbitration court committed various irregularities: by qualifying the rights to Bisazza trade marks as national property rights, in examining the infringement based on only one character – probably a word trade mark – without considering the reputation, by dismissing the infringement claims on the basis of facts that do not have any meaning in trademark law while failing to examine identity/similarity of the marks and signs included in Internet domains and the goods and services of each party. The court reminded the arbitrator that the rules and regulations under the First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks, the CTMR and the case law of the Court of Justice of the UE apply directly in disputes over infringement of the Community trade mark. These rules and regulations must be applied also by national courts including arbitration bodies. Incorrect choice of legal norms and wrongful interpretation led to an unjustified deprivation of protection which is afforded to Bisazza in relation to its trademarks. Mr Kacprzak appealed.

The Appellate Court in Warsaw in its judgement of 1 April 2011 case file I ACa 1087/10 overturned the judgment of the Court for the Community Trade Marks and Community Designs. The Appellate Court found that since the CCID ruled that it has no jurisdiction to hear and decide upon some of the demands made by Bisazza, and rejected them in the suit, the decision was final and could not be controlled at all by the civil courts, including the proceedings caused by an action for annulment of an arbitration award. The findings stating that the CCID had no jurisdiction, that were based on the domain names regulations issued by the Scientific and Academic Computer Network (Naukowa i Akademicka Sieć Komputerowa), did not constitute a breach of the basic principles of the law (the public order clause), because Bisazza could take these demands to a civil court. In the opinion of the Appellate Court, the District Court failed to consider whether the erroneous application of the Polish law rather than the EU by the CCID was tantamount to violation of the basic principles of the law. It could have been so, only if it had a significant impact on the content of the decision rendered by the CCID. In the opinion of the Appellate Court, however, there was no such effect in this case. The Appellate Court ruled that the relevant regulations provided in the Polish law are the result of the implementation of the Directive 89/104/EEC and its relevant provisions required for this case to be then included in the CTMR. The Court decided that the solutions provided in the Polish law are similar to those of EU legislation, and the classification of infringement of trade mark rights is done by the same rules. The Appellate Court noted that the CCID found that Mr Kacprzak used, in the course of trade, a trademark identical to a protected mark not in relation to identical or similar goods but to goods protected by this trademark. The defendant is an installer of Bisazza mosaics but not identical or similar mosaics. The CCID examined also whether or not there is an infringement of reputed trademark, however, found no such breach. The Appellate Court also ruled that the award of the CCID did not violate the rules and principles of a stable and secure law because these rules should relate to the creation of law and not its application.

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 173/10

July 18th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 21 May 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 173/10 held that the statutory condition for the lapse of the right of protection is intended to eliminate the rights of protection granted to those signs that are not actually used in trade. The grant of the protection for a trademark is associated with the statutory obligation of genuine use of the mark for goods and services for which the trade mark is registered. It cannot be used symbolically, only to maintain the rights of registration. This case concerned the proceedings on lapse of the right of protection for “transpak gotuj ze smakiem” R-129729 trade Mark owned by Grajewski Zbigniew, Przedsiębiorstwo Produkcyjno-Usługowo-Handlowe TRANSPAK from Puszczykowo.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1033/09

January 19th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

EMO-FARM Spółka z o.o., the owner of “A sio !” R-173579 trade mark filed the opposition to a final decision of the Polish Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection to SI R-184885 trade mark applied for by Przedsiębiorstwo Farmaceutyczne ZIOŁOLEK sp. z o.o. The dispute between these two companies concerned inter alia the issue of trade mark use.The Voivodeship Administrative Court (VAC) in a judgment of 9 October 2009, case file VI SA/Wa 1033/09 provided the interpretation of adequate provisions 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.

The Court ruled that under the conditions set in the IPL, the trade mark use occurs when it is real, which means that the sign is used for goods and it is used in business transactions in a manner that enables the creation and persistence of the association between the sign and the product, it is unambiguous, which means as the trade mark use, at least in its primary function, i.e., to distinguish goods of the entitled person on the basis of their origin and it is used according to specialization. These abovementioned conditions must be met together, irrespectively of the form of the trade mark use. Their sum is beyond the pale of article 154 of the IPL which contains only a list of examples of trade mark use:

The use of a trademark shall, in particular, consist of:
(i) affixing the trademark to the goods covered by the right of protection or to the packaging thereof, offering and putting the goods on the market, importing or exporting thereof, or their storing for the purpose of offering and putting on the market, as well as offering or providing services under that trademark,
(ii) using the trademark on business documents handled in putting the goods on the market or in rendering services,
(iii) using the trademark in advertising.

This judgment is not yet final. The parties may file a cassation complaint to the Supreme Administrative Court.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 762/08

April 12th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

Bauer Publishing House owns the word-figurative trade mark TWÓJ STYL R-69382 which is registered for goods such as printed matter, newspapers, magazines, books, packaging, clothing, shoes, advertisement services for third-party hotel and catering services. In 2007 the Polish Patent Office issued a decision on the lapse of the right of protection for TWÓJ STYL trade mark in class 25 for goods such as clothing and shoes.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 6 February 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 1418/07 agreed with PPO’s decision and dismissed Bauer’s complaint. The Company filed a cassation complaint.


The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 12 March 2009 case file II GSK 762/08 has dismissed Bauer’s cassation complaint. The SAC ruled that, according to Polish case law and legal doctrine, the “genuine use” of a trade mark should be directed towards the consolidation of the brand in the market and should seek for its awareness between consumers and competitors. The opposite to “genuine use” is usually the occasional action taken in order to avoid a non-use accusations and actions that are taken other than for purposes of actual business activity. As part of the obligation to make genuine use of a mark, Polish doctrine established the concept of “preparatory action”, which allows to preserve of the right of protection for a trade mark and possible refutation of the non-use allegations. Examples of such “preparatory action” are: a contract of the importation of goods bearing the trade mark, intense advertising in the media or a license agreement for trade mark use. These are activities that aim to genuinely use a trade mark and such actions should be temporarily and functionally associated with the future use of a trade mark. According to the PPO’s findings the owner of TWÓJ STYL trade mark sold clothing with this sign, but this activity ended in 1998 with the last sale of these products.