Archive for: Art. 246 IPL

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1096/13

December 8th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

Dansk Supermarked A/S, the owner of word trade marks NETTO and word-figurate trade mark NETTO R-114747 filed to the Polish Patenet Office a notice of opposition to the final decision on the grant of a right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark NETO R-227788 that was registered for the goods in Classes 7, 11, 19, 20, 21 and services in Classes 35 and 42. The opponent pointed out that the services in Class 35 are identical to these that NETTO trade marks were registered for, and are directed to similar consumers through similar channels. Furthermore, the services in Class 35 are complementary to the goods and services from other classes. Dansk Supermarked A/S also argued that the compared trade marks are very similar. The dominant element of the sign in question is the word “NETO”, which is crucial for the perception of the character, and the figurative element is of secondary importance. The word “NETO” is entirely contained in the opposing signs, therefore the compared trade marks are “substantially similar” and that the average consumer may mistakenly associate the signs, and there is a real risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods and services.

The owner, Polish company Galicja Tomaszek sp. z o.o., argued that the chain stores NETTO offer both food and industrial goods, and in this case, the opposing sign is used for the determination of the store itself or chain of stores. In contrast, the disputed mark is used to designate the goods.

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection. The PPO found that trade marks at issue are similar, and pointed out that all the goods in Classes 7, 11, 19, 20 and 21, are covered by the services included in class 35, and relate to the sale of these goods. Galicja Tomaszek sp. z o.o. filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 19 December 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1808/12 dismissed it. The Court ruled that the term “providing a service” or “service” itself have no material content in the sense that the sign may be placed only on the elements used to provide a particular service, while a trade mark can be assigned to the goods, due to their material nature, and the consumer may directly related to the goods to which a sign is assigned. The similarity of the goods/services happens when the goods (services) covered by the earlier mark and the goods (services) covered by the later mark have the same purpose and method of use. Galicja Tomaszek sp. z o.o. filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 September 2014 case file II GSK 1096/13 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 582/13

June 26th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 1 February 2007, SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS GmbH filed before the Polish Patent Office an opposition against the grant of the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark lody SMYK NORDiS R-174465 that was registered for the Polish company NORDIS Chłodnie Polskie Sp. z o.o.

R-174465

SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS, the owner of the word-figurative trade mark SMYK R-151707 registered inter alia for goods in Class 30 such as confectionery and sweets, argued that both signs are similar and may cause consumers’ confusion. The questioned registration was also an attempt to use the trade mark that was known on the market for more than twenty years, and which has won the recognition of customers thanks to significant financial and organizational expenditures. SMYK also alleged violation of the right to the company name.

R-151707

NORDIS argued that the compared signs and the goods are not similar and there is no chance for confusion of potential buyers. The Polish company had applied for this sign in May 2003, because it should serve as a continuation of the word-figurative trade marks SMYK NORDIS NORDIS R-93343 and SMYK R-93586 that both lapsed on July 2003. NORDIS had the right to use all signs with the word elements SMYK and NORDIS, because both lapsed trade marks became the bar for registrations of new similar or identical signs for other entities, for two years after the lapse.

R-93343

SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS replied that the provisions of the Polish Industrial Property Law do not afford the institution of “continuation” of trade marks, and the modified sign does not derive legal force from the earlier marks, and the owner cannot be entitled to rely on the law that no longer exists.

R-93586

In 2008, the PPO dismissed the opposition. SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS decided to file a complaint, and the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 May 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 2315/08 overturned the decision, and ruled that the PPO has made an invalid interpretation of the provisions of the Polish Industrial Property Law on the similarity of signs and the goods with regard to the likelihood of confusion. The Court found that the semantic analysis lead to the logical conclusion that the concept of the term “ice cream” falls within the term of “sweets”, and hence there exist homogeneity of goods bearing compared signs due to the fact that ice cream are goods of “the same kind” as sweets. The homogeneity of goods follows from the semantic analysis of the concepts and the nature of the goods such as “ice cream” (narrower term) and “sweets” (broader term). The VAC also noted that the word element SMYK that is present in both signs, is also endowed with a similar graphics. The case went back to the PPO for further reconsideration.

On 3 August 2009, NORDIS Chłodnie Polskie Sp. z o.o. requested the Polish Patent Office to decide on the lapse of the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark SMYK R-151707 in part for goods in Class 30, becuse SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS failed to put this sign in genuine use on the Polish territory. SMYK argued that its trade mark was present on the market among others on candies available in SMYK’s stores that are located in big malls.

On December 2009, the Polish Patent Office decided that the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark SMYK R-151707 lapsed as of 18 December 2008 in part for goods in Class 30 such as confectionery except chocolate and chocolate products, and candy except chocolate and chocolate products. The PPO also dismissed the opposition against the grant of the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark lody SMYK NORDiS R-174465. SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 November 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 397/12 dismissed it. The Court ruled that there was no violation of the company name, because at the time the disputed trade mark was applied, there was no conflict of interest between both parties, because the scope of activities of the two companies was different. SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS has not shown that the registration will disrupt the function of the name of its company, NORDIS manufactures ice cream, while SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS is a producer of items for children, including toys and clothes and was never engaged in the production or sale of ice cream, moreover, the proceedings revealed that NORDIS does not use the sign in a possible colliding area. The Court agreed with the PPO that the trade mark was not applied contrary to law, public order or morality, because this provision, as it was aptly pointed by the PPO, refers to the content or form of how the applied sign is represented. Such contradiction lies in the violation of moral norms, ethics and customs adopted in business. It occurs primarily in the signs of vulgar or offensive content or form. The VAC noted that SMYK might have confused this regulation it with another institution i.e. bad faith. Legal provisions relating to signs applied in bad faith and signs which are contrary to public policy or morality that are included in the Polish Industrial Property Law are separate premises examined in the trade mark application or invalidation proceedings. The Court emphasized that the first condition is associated with the behavior of the applicant, and the second with the sign. SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 13 May 2014 case file II GSK 582/13 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 2005/12

April 8th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office dismissed the opposition filed by E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company against the decision on the grant of the right of protection for the word trade mark TEFAPAK R-199130 that was applied for the Polish company SINOGRAF S.A.

E.I. du Pont argued that the sign TEFAPAK is similar to its trade mark TEFLON R-49573 that was registered in Poland in 1968, and to its CTM TEFLON that was registered in 1996. According to the US company, the compared goods are identical or similar, and the signs share the same prefix TEF, which could lead to consumers’ confusion.

SINOGRAF S.A. requested the PPO to dismiss the opposition, and argued that the goods are directed to competent consumers of the proper level of technical knowledge, who have knowledge and experience in the field of materials, and thus much greater possibility of distinguishing different trade marks than the average recipient.

The PPO dismissed the opposition and found that the trade marks at issue are not similar, since they have significantly different overall impression both in the the visual and aural aspects. The PPO noted that there is no likelihood of confusion and it could not include the likelihood of association, because the goods are targeted to specialized recipients. E.I. du Pont filed a compliant against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 July 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 301/12 dismissed it. The Court held that the Polish Patent Office correctly established all circumstances of the case. The VAC agreed that the goods are identical or similar, however, the Court did not agree with the argument that the compared signs are similar to the extent that could lead to likelihood of confusion. In the opinion of the Court, the trade mark are not similar, so arguments about the use of someone else’s reputation and the reputation of the trade mark can not be justified. Dissimilar signs can not induce associations of customers, so there can be no conscious imitation and benefit from someone else’s reputation. E.I. du Pont filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Adminitrative Court in its judgment of 20 March 2014 case file II GSK 2005/12 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 270/12

September 24th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company INTERKOBO sp. z o.o., the owner of word trade mark MYBABY R-148924 registered for goods in Class 28 such as games, toys, sporting goods, requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate in part the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark MY SWEET BABY R-187751 registered for goods in Classes 12, 20, 25 and 28, and owned by PEXIM Artur Kamiński. INTERKOBO claimed high recognition of the MYBABY reputed trade mark among buyers of children’s toys and a high degree of similarity between the goods. The company noted that since 15 years it is one of the largest importers of toys in Poland. PEXIM argued that its trade mark is registered in class 28 for goods such as children’s toys – dolls, doll beds, cradles for dolls, doll furniture, doll clothing. PEXIM operates since 15 June 2001, and its activity is the manufacture of wicker and wood, which are exported. Wickerworks are made for young children. These are strollers, cribs and miniatures of these products as toys for children. The products are bearing a trade mark and a company name, therefore, the risk of confusion is excluded.

R-187751

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection in part of goods in Class 28. The PPO ruled that both trade marks are used to designate similar goods. The dominant element in both signs is the word baby, because it is a base or core to the other words, and in particular, their meanings so it shows that the these trade marks have a similar range of meaning, therefore there is a high risk of association by the public between the marks, and the likelihood that the consumer may be confused as to the origin of goods. PEXIM filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 29 September 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1407/11 dismissed it. The Court ruled that the PPO properly carried out the proceedings and correctly interpreted the law. According to the Court there was homogenity of goods in Class 28, and even the identity of the goods, because the Nice Classification was subject to change over the years, but the changes did not have any historically impact on the signs and the goods offered. The difference of one word that occured in the compared signs was so unimportant that it did not make them different enough to rule out the risk of confusion in the ordinary course of trade. PEXIM filed a cassation complaint, and additionally, a motion to stay the execution of the decision. The Company argued that the contested decision involves very high cost and its implementation would include a very serious consequences for its economic activity, and thus would cause irreparable consequences and expose the company to serious losses.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 27 July 2013 case file II GSK 270/12 dismissed the motion. The SAC ruled that PEXIM, despite its obligation to submit such evidence, has not shown the existence of statutory grounds that would allow to stay the execution of the contested decision. According to the Court, PEXIM only claimed very serious and irreparable consequences and big losses. Meanwhile, while citing in support of the motion specified circumstances, the Company should be able to substantiate their occurrence, thus going beyond the vague and unsubstantiated claims. By pointing to difficulties to reverse the effects of the contested decision, PEXIM did not substantiate the existence of conditions justifying the stay of execution. Therefore, the Court had no chances for the objective assessment. The arguments that the stay of execution of the decision does not endanger the health or human life, and it is not associated with exposure to the national economy from heavy losses, as well as it does not affect the party’s interest, were during the assessment of the motion irrelevant, since it is not a ground for staying the execution that is provided for in the Polish Law on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts. The SAC held that a reference to likely allegations that were raised in the cassation complaint cannot determine the stay, since at this stage it would be pointless and premature. The Court also noted that the order to stay the execution can be amended or repealed at any time if circumstances of the case change. The party seeking for the amendment or repeal of a decision or action, should demonstrate such a change of circumstances that would make its request justifiable and well-founded.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 912/12

September 13th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

Zino Davidoff SA filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Polish Patent Office on the grant of the right of protection for the word trade mark SILVER SHOW R-199238 applied for by Firma Handlowa A&S PARFUME FACTORY Marek Asenkowicz and registered for goods in Class 3 such as perfumery. Zino Davidoff SA argued that the trade mark in question is similar to its series of International registrations such as SILVER-SHADOW IR-0660174, SILVER SHADOW IR-0853401 and SILVER SHADOW IR-0879527. The compared signs are similar in verbal, aural and semantic aspects.

The PPO found that the compared signs are used to designate the goods of the same type, i.e. perfumes and various cosmetics, however the similarity of goods was not disputed by the parties. The PPO decided that there are no similarities between trade marks that would justify the risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods. The PPO ruled that a leaflet called “alternative scents” and the fact that perfume packaging produced by A&S PARFUME FACTORY were alike to the other well-known brands, were not sufficient evidence to decide on bad faith application. Zino Davidoff SA filed a complaint against this decision. The Company noted inter alia that the PPO wrongly justified its decision by citing a different trade mark owned by Firma Handlowa A&S PARFUME FACTORY Marek Asenkowicz.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 18 January 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1850/11 dismissed the complaint. The VAC fully agreed with the PPO’s findings. The Court acknowledged that the questioned decision included mistakes with regard to trade marks and their registration numbers which could point to automatic preparation of the decision’s text, however, such errors had no significant impact on the outcome of the case. Zino Davidoff SA filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 September 2013 case file II GSK 912/12 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1616/11

August 28th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On May 2008, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark V V V.V. MOTOR R-205440 for goods in Class 12. This sign was applied for by FUSAN HANDICRAFT Co. from Taiwan. On April 2009, Volkswagen AG filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Patent Office. VW argued that the trade mark in question is similar to its well-known and reputed CTM, and the reputation is obvious and does not require any evidence. After careful examination of the case, the PPO invalidated the right of protection. FUSAN HANDICRAFT Co. filed a complaint against this decision.

R-205440

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 November 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1616/11 dismissed the complaint. The Court ruled that despite the editorial differences in the lists of goods of compared trade marks, the PPO correctly decided that some of the goods are to be regarded as identical. The Court agreed that the dominant element of the trade mark at issue was a composition of graphics and letters placed in the circle. That was another argument in favour of finding the similarity of signs. So the phonetic differences resulting from the different pronunciation of the letters “VV” and “VW” did not neutralize the visual similarity between the marks. The Court did not agree with the argument that the PPO failed to properly assess the similarity of the goods. The PPO did not examine too broadly the comparable lists of goods, becasue there was no doubt that VW using the priority, had the chance to seek for the broader protection for its trade mark.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 666/10

June 4th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark Columbia R-182641 that was applied for by the Polish entrepreneur “ORION” Jerzy Czernek from Łódź. The German company Imperial Tobacco (EFKA) GmbH & Co. KG filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection, claiming similarity to its trade mark COLUMBUS IR-0613016 registered for some identical goods in Class 34. Mr Czernek argued that there is no likelihood of confusion between both trade marks, as the recipients of goods and services covered by those signs accurately identify the brand of cigarettes and they do not confuse them. The PPO agreed and dismissed the opposition. Imperial Tobacco filed complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Adminsitrative Court in its judgment of 25 January 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1798/09 dismissed it. Imperial Tobacco filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 15 June 2011 case file II GSK 666/10 repealed the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for further reconsideration. The Court held that consumer’s attention focuses on the similarities and the first part of the sign. The SAC also noted that the VAC has not explained why it considered that eight-letter signs, that share the same 6 letters and the identical first two syllables, are completely different. In the case of identical goods, the analysis of similarity between trade marks should be particularly careful and thorough. The SAC noted that it should be always remembered that trade marks are to help customers to associate the product with the manufacturer, and not obscure the market and lead to confusion.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 28 September 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1541/11 reversed the contested decision, ruled it unenforceable, and returned the case to the PPO for reconsideration.

However, the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 4 April 2012 case no. Sp. 538/11 did not decide on the mertis of the case, becasue Mr Czernek waived his right of protection and Imperial Tobacco withdrew the opposition.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1530/11

April 16th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On May 2007, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark Vondutch R-190394, that was applied for by “SEREN TEKSTIL” Sp. z o.o. for goods in Class 25 and Class 35. The Irish company V D Europe from Dublin filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection. V D Europe argued that it is the owner of the CTM VON DUTCH no. 000336495, that was registered with the earlier priority of 8 August 1996 for good in Class 25. On 20 January 2010, the patent attorney representing V D Europe informed the PPO that the company Royer Brands International Sàrl is the new owner of the CTM VON DUTCH. The representative provided proper evidence of total transfer of ownership, and the POA from the new owner.

CTM 000336495

The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 3 February 2010 case no. Sp. 499/08 dismissed the opposition, and decided that Royer Brands International has no rights to conduct proceedings that were started by another company. The PPO ruled that Royer Brands International is not related structurally, financially, or linked in any legal way with V D EUrope. The PPO decided that the request was unfounded, because the owner sold its rights to a trade mark. Royer Brands International filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 23 November 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1530/11 repealed the contested decision, ruled it unenforceable, and returned the case to the PPO for further reconsideration. The Court found that Royer Brands International has confirmed all the declarations of will and actions that were taken during the opposition proceedings by every person acting on the basis of previously submitted POA. In the opinion of the Court, the wording of Article 162 of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments, was deciding in the present case.

Article 162
1. The right of protection for a trade mark may be assigned or be subject to succession. The provisions of Article 67(2) and (3) shall apply accordingly.

11. The right of protection for a trade mark may be transferred to the organizations referred to in Articles 136 and 137 as a collective trade mark or collective guarantee trade mark respectively or to a number of entities as a collective right of protection.

12. Transfer of the right of protection, referred to in paragraph (11) may be effected only with the consent of the parties who enjoy that right.

13. Entry in the trade mark register of the transfer of the right of protection, referred to in paragraph (11) after the regulations governing use of the trade mark, referred to in Article 122 (2), Article 136(2) or Article 137(1) have been submitted.

14. A collective right of protection may be transferred to a single party as a right of protection for a trade mark.

2. (deleted)

3. The right of protection for a collective trade mark may be assigned as a joint right of protection to the undertakings grouped in the organisation referred to in Article 136. The contract of assignment shall determine the rules governing the use of such trade mark to the extent to which it is practised in respect of the regulations referred to in Article 122(2).

31. A collective right of protection may be transferred to the organizations referred to in Articles 136 and 137 as a collective trade mark or a collective guarantee mark. A contract for the transfer of the right should specify the rules governing use of that trade mark to the extent as it is provided for in respect of the regulations referred to in Article 136(2) and Article 137(1) respectively.

4. The right of protection for a trade mark may also be assigned in respect of certain goods for which the right of protection has been granted, if the goods for which the trade mark remains registered on behalf of the vendor are not of the same kind. Once assigned, the right in question shall be dealt with as independent of the right enjoyed by the vendor.

5. The contract of assignment of a share in the joint right of protection shall be valid subject to the consent given by all of the joint owners.

6. Paragraphs (1), (3) to (5) shall apply accordingly to the right deriving from an application filed with the Patent Office, for which no right of protection has yet been granted.

This provision introduces a general principle of transferability of the right of protection for a trade mark. The disposal of rights of protection may be primarily based on a contract of sale, exchange, or a contract of donation. However, it should be also stressed that the agreement transferring the right of protection shall be in writing, in order to be valid. Also, the relevant provisions of the Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments, were applicable in this case.

Article 30.
§ 1. Legal capacity and the capacity to enter into legal transactions shall be determined according to the provisions of civil law, unless specific provisions provide otherwise.

§ 2. Natural persons with no capacity to enter into legal transactions shall act through their legal representatives.

§ 3. Parties not being natural persons shall act through their legal or statutory representatives.

§ 4. In matters concerning transferable or hereditable rights, in case of a transfer of the right or death of the party during the pendency of the proceedings the legal successors of the party shall join the proceedings in lieu of the party.

In the opinion of the Court, Royer Brands International, under the law being in force in the Republic of Poland, has not only become the legal successor to the CTM VON DUTCH, which was the results of the valid contract of transfer of the Community trade mark, that was accepted and confirmed by OHIM in 2009, but is also the legal successors in the opposition proceedings. This means that the PPO has committed a violation of the provisions of substantive law (regulations included in Article 162 of the IPL) through their incorrect interpretation, and consequently its improper application in the case. Furthermore, the Court ordered the PPO a careful analysis of the substantive merits of the opposition, including the similarity of the signs.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1346/10

December 13th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for the trade mark BIO-ACTIVE R-169823, in part for goods in Class 3, i.e. body care cosmetics. The owner BIO-ACTIVE DYSTRYBUCJA Sp. z o.o. filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 19 April 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 109/10 upheld the questioned decision and ruled that a trade mark consisting exclusively of informational signs that are normally used to designate the type of goods or services, even if those signs are in a language other than Polish, is not registrable. The Court also noted that the disputed trade mark is the so-called “internationalism”, that is a sign, which is present in other languages in almost identical form. In different languages it has the same meaning, construction reading and tone. As a result of the granting of the right of protection to the trade mark in question, all cosmetics producers except the owner were deprived of the opportunity to introduce to the market of all products bearing the term containing given information, and consumers could not be adequately informed about the characteristics of these products.

BIO-ACTIVE DYSTRYBUCJA Sp. z o.o. filed a cassation complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 9 December 2011 case file II GSK 1346/10 dismissed it. The SAC ruled that widespread availability of descriptive signs and indications is in the public interest.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1236/11

December 6th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

LEK, tovarna farmacevtskih in kemicnih izdelkov filed a notice of opposition to a final decision of the Polish Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection for the word trade mark KETOGEL R-190416 registered for Polpharma S.A. for goods such as pharmaceuticals. LEK argued that KETOGEL is similar to its word trade mark KETONAL. The PPO dismissed the opposition, and LEK filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 7 September 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1236/11 dismissed it. The court noted that in case of the assesment of similarities between trade marks, the number of syllables, their sound and touch have the importance in deciding on phonetic similarity. Visual similarity is assessed in terms of number of words or letters in general, the number of words or letters of the same type, their shape, layout and color. Consequently, a sign containing an altered distinctive element, even if there is some resemblance to other parts, will not be similar. The Court took into account the specificity of the pharmaceutical market, and excluded the likelihood of confusion in this case.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 396/11

November 8th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

EAST SEA POLAND Spółka z o.o. filed a notice of opposition to a final decision of the Polish Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark BIEN DÔNG R-204010 registered for services in Classes 36, 39 and 43, and owned by AEROCENTER TRAVEL Trinh Huy Ha.

R-204010

EAST SEA claimed that this mark is descriptive, because in the translation from Vietnamese to Polish language, it is the name of the South China Sea – Biển Đông. This name is the official designation of the geographic area used in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and as such it should remain free to use on the market. The company argued that this trade mark may lead to consumers’ confusion, in particular those of Vietnamese nationality, as to the nature or characteristics of services provided by the owner, because the sign in its content relates to the maritime area, which is associated with maritime transport, and not to the services that it was registered for. EAST SEA argued that the Bien Dong designation may be misleading as to the place where services are provided, as the owner provides its services in Poland and not in Vietnam. It is worth mentioning that EAST SEA applied for three trade marks that include BIEN DONG words.

Z-290648

AEROCENTER TRAVEL argued that the Bien Dong is strictly abstract expression for the average Pole who doesn’t know what it means in Vietnamese. The Company disagreed, that this is false or fraudulently marked geographical origin of their services, since none of the customers going to the office in Warsaw would expect it to be in Vietnam at the South China Sea.

The Polish Patent Office dismissed the opposition and EAST SEA POLAND decided to file a complaint against this decision. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 13 May 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 396/11 dismissed it and held that the Polish Industrial Property Law – in principle – does not preclude the registration in Poland as a national trade mark, the word that is taken from the language of another country in which language this word is devoid of distinctive character or it is descriptive for the goods or services for which the registration was sought, unless recipients/consumers in the State in which registration is sought, would be able to read the meaning of this word.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1970/09

July 20th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark Veraderm żel silikonowy R-167213 registered for goods in Class 5 and owned by P.A.D. Technologies Ltd. Spółka z o.o. The request was filed by the producer of Zerader gel, who claimed that the trade mark in question is similar to the name of its product and that the Polish company acted in bad faith.

R-167213

The Voivodeship Adminsitrative Court in its judgment of 15 January 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1970/09 repealed the contested decision and held it unenforceable. The Court ruled that similarity of signs cannot serve as a basis in recognition of bad faith. The Court also noted that the oppositon was brought after the prescribed term has expired and there was no adequate justification for it. Such formal errors lead to the outcome of the judgment.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1901/10

July 15th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark VILLA PARK WESOŁA R-171029 owned by “VILLA PARK WESOŁA” Spółka z o.o. The request was filed by MPM PRODUCT Spółka z o.o. the owner of the word trade mark “villa park” R-139436 that was registered with an earlier priority. MPM filed also a civil suit against “VILLA PARK WESOŁA” Spółka z o.o. claiming the infringement of its trade mark rights. However, the court dismissed the injunction.

R-171029

“VILLA PARK WESOŁA” Spółka z o.o. decided to file a complaint against the decision of the PPO. The Company claimed inter alia that even a civil court shared the company’s argument stating that there is no risk of confusion in a group of relevant recipients of services bearing the trademarks at issue.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 24 March 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1901/10 dismissed the complaint and ruled that, undoubtedly, the Polish Patent Office, while considering the specific case at issue, acts under certain laws and regulations. In such situation one must understand that the PPO does not decide on the case based upon the judgments of the courts. This, of course, does not mean that if the specific circumstances of the case allow for taking into account the judgment, the Patent Office may not decide on a case in accordance with a convergent judicial decision issued in a similar case. This judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2623/10

June 15th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 April 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 2623/10 ruled that, during proceedings for invalidation of the right of protection for trade mark, the applicant should be required to participate actively in evidence proceedings. It should be also noted that in the literature and the case-law on the grounds of general administrative proceedings, it is assumed that the party is not exempted from the obligation to participate actively in the process of gathering evidence, particularly when not proving certain actual circumstances can lead to results unfavorable to the party.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2180/10

April 19th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 11 March 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 2180/10 ruled that the word-figurative trade mark 60 R-156991 is not sufficiently distinctive in standard business transactions because it does not individualize the goods of the trade mark owner among the goods of the same type that originate from different companies.

R-156991

The Polish Patent Office properly assessed the consumers of goods such as crosswords publications, and considered this groups as very diverse. Its members are people of different ages and different levels of education. There was no reason to believe that such a broadly defined consumer will identify a specific numerical designation with a given publisher, not the number of crosswords included in the publication. This judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2168/10

March 16th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Red Bull GmbH filed a notice of opposition to a final decision of the Polish Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection to the “red dragon” trade mark R-179732 registered for DODONI Roman Górzyński, Marek Górzyński, Marcin Górzyński sp.j for goods in Class 32 such as mineral waters and non-alcoholic beverages. Red Bull claimed that “red dragon” is similar to its RED BULL R-207549, RED BULL ENERGY DRINK IR-0715531 and the CTM RED. Red Bull based its opposition on the reputation of these trade marks. The PPO dismissed the opposition and ruled that the opposed trade marks, despite the identical word element “red”, are different at all levels of perception, i.e., aural, verbal and conceptual, so that they produce a completely different impression on the average customer. These signs also have other verbal elements and the word “red” is present in other trade marks registered for goods in Class 32. In view of significant differences between opposed trade marks that excluded the risk of confusion as to the origin of the goods, the PPO decided that the reputation of Red Bull’s trade marks enjoyed on the Polish market is not relevant for the assessment of the risk of consumers confusion. Red Bull filed a complaint to the administrative court.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 14 December 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 2168/10 dismissed the complaint. The court agreed with the PPO that the consumer who does not speak English will perceive RED BULL and RED BULL ENERGY DRINK as fanciful trade marks, and “red dragon” composed in part with the fanciful word “red” and in part of the Polish word of some specific meaning (Dragoon – mounted infantry or as a tall, stout, vigorous, sprawling woman) will be perceived differently. The court held that since the opposed trade marks are not similar, therefore the registration of “red dragon” R-179732 will not bring unfair advantage to DODONI or be detrimental to the distinctive character or the repute of Red Bull’s trademarks.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1936/10

February 4th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office dismissed the opposition against the registration of the trademark TARGA R-189862 owned by the Polish company VALVEX S.A.. The request was filed by Aloys F. Dornbracht GmbH & Co. KG. The German company based the opposition proceedings on the CTM TARA no. 827659.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 January 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1936/10 ruled that the risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods or/and the manufacturer must be examined globally, taking into account all elements relevant. These elements include in particular: the degree of recognition of the earlier trade mark on the market, an association that may occur between that trade mark and the opposed trademark of another entrepreneur, the degree of similarity between the signs and goods and services. The Court agreed with the PPO that the goods covered by both trade marks were similar and of the same kind. These goods were directed mainly to professionals in the field of sanitary installations, construction or architectural design. The VAC found that these consumers were specialists with an above-average degree of product awareness, who purchased the products at issue in specialized points of retail or wholesale. With regard to the remaining consumers (i.e., non-professionals), the Court pointed out that the goods at issue were not likely to be bought impulsively. The Court found that TARGA and TARA were both simple, and easy to read, pronounce and remember. These signs are composed of four or five letters, and the first three letters ‘TAR’ and the last letter ‘A’ are identical. The trademark TARGA contains an additional letter ‘G’. Both marks are short, so the letter ‘G’ will be easily noticed and heard by consumers. The court found that the additional letter ‘G’ would have an impact on the perception of the marks. Where the trademarks concerned are short, one different letter is in general sufficient to exclude similarity.

Industrial design law, case VI SA/Wa 736/10

January 19th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 4 October 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 736/10 ruled that the protection of unregistered Community design that results from the Community regulations does not allow for its extension through the registration of that design. Moreover, the protection of an unregistered Community design starts from the date of its first public disclosure.

Rp-12166

This judgment concerned the industrial design “Urządzenie treningowo-sportowe” (in English: Sports-based training device), Rp-12166. The judgment is not yet final. A cassation complaint may be filed to the Supreme Administrative Court. See also “Polish regulations on industrial designs” and “Polish case law on industrial designs“.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1056/10

January 18th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

This case concerned the opposition proceedings against the decision on grant of the right of protection for NATURTEA R-191045 trade mark, owned by the Polish company ZAS-POL Sp. z o.o., and registered for goods in Class 30 such as tea, fruit teas, black, green, red, flavored tea. The opponent argued that NATURTEA is not sufficiently distinctive, because it is a descriptive term that indicates only the type of product – tea. The Polish Patent Office dismissed the case and ruled that such a trade mark, as a combination of two words is a fanciful sign and does not indicate characteristics of the marked goods. The opponent decided to file a complaint against this decision. According to ZAS-POL, the law firm that was the applicant in this case, had no legal interest (locus standi) in the invalidation of the right protection.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 30 September 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1056/10 annulled the questioned decision and set the case back for reconsideration. The Court ruled that the PPO completely ignored evidence submitted by the opponent as to the existence of the term “natural tea” in the market, and in fact, the PPO relied solely on the arguments provided by the trade mark owner. It was an example of violation of the principle that requires the public administration body to comprehensively collect and examine all evidential material.

The VAC reminded also that legal interest is not required to be proven only in case of oppositions filed according to Article 246 of the Polish Industry Property Law, where any person may give reasoned notice of opposition to a final decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a patent, a right of protection or a right in registration, but only within six months from the publication in “Wiadomości Urzędu Patentowego” (the official journal of the Polish Patent Office) of the mention of the grant of a title of protection, and justifying at the same time the existence of the circumstances causing the invalidation of such right. The Court noted that it is the only example of the so-called actio popularis – a legal remedy that was introduced to the Polish Industrial Property Law because of the importance of public interest. This action is available to any person with the capacity to be a party in the administrative proceedings, even if such person is not directly interested in the matter. This judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1345/10

January 7th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Polska Agencja Fotograficzna Studio 69 filed a notice of opposition to a final decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection for STUDIO 69 R-182300 trade mark owned by Marcin Maculewicz from Kielce. PAF claimed that the phrase STUDIO 69 was widely known and used by PAF as its trade mark. PAF also argued that according to 15 years of its business practice one can successfully operate on the media market without reserving or registering a brand name, and STUDIO 69 is a common sign that is also used widely by many companies. At the same time PAF did not claim infringement of the company name and explained that different entrepreneurs use such a sign.

The Polish Patent Office ruled that it is the duty of the opposing party to prove that a given sign is well known and is associated with products coming from the opponent. This should be demonstrated at the filing date of an application for the registration of a trade mark. The PPO explained that the well known sign is characterized by two elements. The first one is related to the function of marking the origin of goods/services (the distinctive function). A sign must have this feature in order to be registered as a trade mark. The second element is the requirement that a trade mark has became commonly known as a result of the use. According to the Polish case law and legal doctrine, a well known sign should be recognized in most of the territory, by more than half of potential purchasers of the goods. The basic criteria for assessing the objective possibility to become a well known trade mark include: the period of time of trade mark use, the situation of goods on the market (quantity, availability, method and scope of distribution), advertising campaigns and the strength/distinctive character of a trade mark. The PPO examined the evidence presented and reminded that common knowledge is assessed in terms of knowledge among potential customers. The PPO ruled that PAF has not demonstrated that more than 50% of potential customers on the Polish territory is familiar with STUDIO 69 trade mark and decided to dismiss the opposition. PAF filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 14 October 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1345/10 dismissed the case. The Court ruled that the Administrative Court, as a rule, does not carry out hearing of evidence, because the examination of legality of an administrative decision is based on the evidence gathered in the proceeding before an administrative authority (in this case the PPO) issuing the contested decision. According to Polish legal commentators, in principle, there are three sources of trademark protection within the industrial property law: the grant of a right of protection for a trademark (in the form of an administrative decision issued by the PPO), the use of a trade mark and common knowledge of a sign. The Court cited W. Włodarczyk, The distinctive ability of a trade mark, Lublin 2001, p. 28. The VAC held that PAF did not prove that STUDIO 69 was a well known sign. The judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 299/10

November 15th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 14 March 2007, the Polish Patent Office registered the word-figurative trade mark Oxford Wielka Historia Świata R-187352 for goods in Class 16 such as books and periodicals. The Polish company “Oxford Educational” sp. z o.o. from Słupsk was the applicant and the holder of the right of protection. The Chancellor Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford (Oxford University Press) filed a request for invalidation. The OUP argued that it is obvious to everyone that Oxford is a place uniquely associated by the public around the world with the home of a famous university. Therefore, marking the goods with a signs associated with Oxford – the seat of the famous University of Oxford – may mislead the public as to the true geographical origin of products. The OUP also pointed out that, with priority from 24 April 1995, is entitled to the rights of protection to three trade marks sharing the same verbal element, OXFORD, R-103399, OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS R-102351 and OXFORD ENGLISH R-102350.

R-187352

The Polish company argued that the trade mark at issue does not refer to a geographical name of Oxford town, but to holder’s company name, and therefore it is not misleading. Oxford Educational also argued that the disputed sign was created in collaboration with an English company. The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection. The PPO ruled that the conflicting trade marks are registered for identical goods, therefore, there is a risk of misleading the public as to their origin. Oxford Educational filed a complaint against this decision.

R-102350

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 13 May 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 299/10 dismissed the complaint. The Court held that in case of a collision between a company name (the firm) and a trade mark that was registered with the “worse priority,” the priority shall be given to the right that was previously-formed. The mere registration of a trademark that is identical or similar to another company’s name (firm) does not provide even a breach of the rights to the company. However, the right to the company name would be infringed if the registration of a conflicting trade mark interferes with the exercise of this right. This distortion is misleading as to the identity of actors (acting under the company name and usign the sign) and therefore may jeopardize the company name. In case of a known, reputable, i.e. “strong” trade mark it means that the consumer awareness is associated with the recognized high-quality of products, derived from the manufacturer with high reputation. Thus, the registration of the questioned trade, and more – its application was made with a clear intention to benefit from the reputation of the OXFORD trade mark.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 765/09

October 18th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 21 September 2010 case file II GSK 765/09 held that the view that the content and scope of rights as referred to in Article 153 of the IPL were an obstacle to a possible objection by the entities, which do not have rights, which they claim to protect, does not deserve the acceptance.

Article 153
1. The right of protection shall confer the exclusive right to use the trademark for profit or for professional purposes throughout the territory of the Republic of Poland.

2. The term of the right of protection shall be 10 years counted from the date of filing of a trademark application with the Patent Office.

3. The term of protection may, at the request of the right holder, be extended for subsequent ten-year periods in respect of all or of a part of the goods.

4. The request referred to in paragraph (3) shall be submitted before the expiration of a running protection period, however not earlier than one year before the expiration thereof. The request shall be submitted together with the payment of a due protection fee.

5. The request referred to in paragraph (3) may also be submitted, against payment of an additional fee, within six months after the expiration of a protection period. The said time limit shall be non-restorable.

6. The Patent Office shall make a decision on refusal to extend the term of protection for a trademark, where the request has been submitted after the expiration of the time limit referred to in paragraph (5) or the due fees referred to in paragraphs (4) and (5) have not been paid.

The legislature thus entails exclusive rights to the use of the trade mark for the profit or professional purposes and filing the opposition is not a form of use of the mark as shown above. The same conclusions may be reached while interpreting the provisions included in Article 296(2) of the IPL, in which the legislature combines the scope of trademark protection in the form of civil claims with the use of signs in business, while the opposition is not an action in the context of economic activity.

Article 296
2. Infringement of the right of protection for a trademark consists of unlawful use in the course of trade of:
(i) a trademark identical to a trademark registered in respect of identical goods,
(ii) a trademark identical or similar to a trademark registered in respect of identical or similar goods, if a likelihood of misleading the public, including in particular a risk of associating the trademark with a registered trademark, exists;
(iii) a trademark identical or similar to a renown trademark registered for any kind of goods, if such use without due cause would bring unfair advantage to the user or be detrimental to the distinctive character or the repute of the earlier trademark.

Given those conditions, the exclusive rights of trademark protection does not cover the monopoly beyond the boundaries of economic activity or, in other words, use of the mark for the profit or professional purposes. The opposition remains outside the so-defined borders. This case concerned LORD R-88669 trade mark owned by REKORD S.A.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 495/09

August 10th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 14 March 1994, Polish entrepreneur operating under the name Usługi Pogrzebowe “Hades” Włodzimierz Wasilewski from Częstochowa applied for the right of protection for HADES Z-130892 trade mark in class 45, funeral services. Another Polish entrepreneur operating under the name Nowak Tomasz Firma Pogrzebowa HADES from Łódź filed an opposition to a final decision of the Patent Office on the grant of the right of protection for HADES R-148641 trade mark.

R-148641

Tomasz Nowak claimed that the Polish Patent Office ruled on the discontinuance of examination proceedings for HADES Z-130892 because of the failure to pay application fees and on 6 March 1999, he decided to file for the right of protection for word-figurative trade mark HADES Z-198798 in classes 26 31 39 42. On 26 September 2001 the PPO granted the right of protection for HADES R-132619 trade mark. Tomasz Nowak argued that the resumption of proceedings by the Patent Office on the application of HADES Z-130892 trade mark, which led to the granting of the right of protection, deprived him of part of the right acquired in good faith and the possibility to obtain the protection for the next sign. According to Tomasz Nowak the decision on the grant of the right of protection for HADES R-148641 trade mark, not only violates his right to earlier acquired trade mark, but most of all it violates the principle of certainty and security of legal transactions. It leads to a situation where the market will experience two identical trade marks, registered for identical goods, however, enjoyed by the various owners, which is contrary the rules of trade mark law of course.

R-132619

The PPO dismissed the opposition and Tomasz Nowak filed a complaint against this decision of the PPO. He based its claims on provisions of article 8(1) and (2) of the old Polish Trade Mark Act – TMA – (in Polish: Ustawa o znakach towarowych) of 31 January 1985, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 5, item 15, with subsequent amendments.

Article 8
A trademark shall not be registrable if:
1) it is contrary to law or to the principles of social coexistence;
2) it infringes the personal or economic rights of third parties;

Tomasz Nowak also challenged the examination proceedings which led to the registration of the questioned trade mark.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 14 January 2009 case VI SA/Wa 1941/08 ruled that legal provisions invoked in the complaint cannot be applied to assess the legality of the registration proceedings conducted by the PPO. Accordingly, the request for invalidation of right of protection of HADES trade mark under these provisions was irrelevant. The provisions of the TMA, or the IPL does not provide in the course of the litigation proceedings lead by the PPO, the possibility to control the legality of the administrative proceedings that concerned the registration of the questioned trade mark. The Court ruled that the allegations of violation of the administrative procedure by the PPO could only qualify as a basis for annulment of the decision. Tomasz Nowak was required to bring such claims in the complaint, however he did not so. Tomasz Nowak filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 15 June 2010 case file II GSK 495/09 dismissed the cassation complaint. The SAC ruled that the VAC could not review the decision on the grant of a right of protection for HADES R-148641 trade mark. The VAC had to decide within the scope of the complaint and shall be bound by the legal ground invoked by the requesting party. The SAC also expressed the view that the registration of the name of someone else’s company does not preclude the registration of a trademark but the right to a name of the company must be infringed, and the existence of such right has not been proven by Tomasz Nowak. The complainer has not demonstrated that he had the right to name of the company. Actually both entrepreneurs have the right to use HADES sign as their business name. The complainer also argued that the mere prior use of the sign and not in relation to the applicant, but in relation to the entitled to the right of protection, provides a sufficient argument that the questioned trade mark infringes personal or economic rights of third parties. The SAC ruled that this view is incorrect. It clearly refers only to infringement of personal or property rights.

Industrial design law, case VI SA/Wa 599/10

August 2nd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 12 May 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 599/10 held that the factual justification of the decision of the Polish Patent Office should contain the facts that the PPO regards as proven, the evidence relied upon and the reasons for which other evidence has been treated as not authentic and without probative force. The legal justification should contain the legal authority for the decision with reference to the relevant law. Only justification prepared in accordance with these requirements allows for a full review of the contested decision. The Court upheld the contested decision and ruled it unenforceable because the PPO found that the design meets the requirement of individual character, but it did not explain which differences in shapings decide on their individual character. The position of PPO as to a small range of creative freedom was also not apparent from the justification.

Wzór Przemysłowy Rp-12232

This judgment concerned the industrial design “Plafoniera sufitowa” (in English: Ceiling plafoniere/ceiling-mounted chandelier) Rp-12232. This judgment is not yet final. A cassation complaint may be filed to the Supreme Administrative Court. See also “Polish regulations on industrial designs” and “Polish case law on industrial designs“.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 808/10

July 28th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its order of 28 June 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 808/10 ruled that according to article 143 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 of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with later amendments, the Polish Patent Office shall publish a trademark application immediately after the expiration of three months from the date of filing of that application. As from the date of publication any third parties may acquaint themselves with the trademark determined in the application and with the list of the goods for which the mark is intended. They may also submit to the PPO their observations as to the existence of grounds that may cause a right of protection to be denied. Therefore, anyone has the right to submit comments to a trade mark application, but filing such comments does not make someone a party to the examination proceedings. These observations are only material that will be taken into consideration when examining the trade mark application

The VAC also noted that according to article 246 of the IPL any person may give reasoned notice of opposition to a final decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection within six months from the publication in “Wiadomości Urzędu Patentowego” of the mention of the grant of a title of protection, and according to article 164 of the IPL, the right of protection for a trademark may be invalidated in whole or in part at the request of any person having a legitimate interest therein, provided that that person is able to prove that the statutory requirements for the grant of that right have not been satisfied. In such cases, the person is a party to the proceedings. This case concerned Gobired trade mark R-222675 owned by Przedsiębiorstwo Handlowo-Usługowe MAREL PLUS Leszek Marcinowski from Gdańsk.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 608/09

July 13th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 19 March 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 1888/08 ruled that the consequence of the transfer of trade mark rights to another party, is that its previous owner is not allowed to continue to invoke the claims of the infringement of these trade marks. However, such a possibility is not excluded if the assignment of the trade mark rights will include appropriate provisions authorizing the previous owner of the trade mark to continue proceedings in which it claimed it has rights to assigned trade marks.

R-149940

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 13 May 2010 case file II GSK 608/09 repealed the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for further reconsideration. The SAC held that at both the opposition proceedings as referred to in article 246 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 of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments, that served as the basis for the decision to refuse to grant a right of protection, and subsequent proceedings before the Polish Patent Office under litigation for invalidation of a right of protection, due to the recognition by the proprietor of a trade mark that the opposition is to be unfounded, the applicant who wants to support the opposition does not have to show the legal interest.

Article 246
1. Within six months from the publication in “Wiadomości Urzędu Patentowego” of the mention of the grant of a title of protection, any person may give reasoned notice of opposition to a final decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a patent, a right of protection or a right in registration.
2. The opposition referred to in paragraph (1) may be filed on the same grounds, on which a patent, a right of protection or a right in registration may be invalidated.

This case concerned the invalidation proceedings of the trade mark CARLO BOSSI R-149940 that was registered for goods in Class 3 by KIVI Dr Krzysztof Słoń from Izabelin Laski.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2013/09

June 23rd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 8 April 2010, case file VI SA/Wa 2013/09, held that the reputation is not a simple consequence of circulation of a trade mark on the market.

R-179043

The renown trade mark is one that has its own reputation, and so in addition to its recognition it must be distinguished by additional characteristics, i.e. market share (in terms of both quantity and value of traded goods), the extent and continuity of advertising of the product marked with the sign, territorial and temporal scope of trade mark use, licenses granted for the use of the trade mark, the quality of the goods, the value of a trade mark in the assessment of independent financial institutions, the amount of expenditures incurred in connection with the promotion of trade mark, the relationship to the price of substitute goods, whether (and if so, to what extent) the mark was used by third parties.

This judgment is not yet final. A cassation complaint may be filed to the Supreme Administrative Court.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1917/08

August 18th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 23 September 2005, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark COROTAPE R-168086 for goods such as tape, foil and anti-corrosion membranes in class 2 and goods in class 16. The right was granted to the Polish company CB Spółka z o.o. from Opole. Coroplast Fritz Müller GmbH & Co.K.G. from Wuppertal, Germany, filed a notice of opposition based on article 246 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 of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 119, item 1117, with later amendments.

1. Within six months from the publication in “Wiadomości Urzędu Patentowego” of the mention of the grant of a title of protection, any person may give reasoned notice of opposition to a final decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a patent, a right of protection or a right in registration.

2. The opposition referred to in paragraph (1) may be filed on the same grounds, on which a patent, a right of protection or a right in registration may be invalidated.

Coroplast Fritz Müller argued that COROTAPE was similar to its COROPLAST mark R-91907, registered for goods in classes 2, 9, 16 and 17 and that they were confusingly similar because they shared the same prefix “coro”. There was therefore a risk that the average recipient of the goods bearing compared trade marks, may think that the conflicting signs, as having a common, “coro” prefix, derived from the same manufacturer or from companies affiliated (legally or organizationally). In addition, Coroplast Fritz Müller argued that the trade mark application was made in bad faith, because its products were present in Poland for many years and had established a reputation of which CB Spółka z o.o. must have been aware.

CB Spółka z o.o. argued that it continued the development of the COROTOP brand and that the disputed trade mark was not similar to the trade mark and company name of Coroplast Fritz Müller in their phonetic aspect because, in spite of the identical prefix, they had a completely different ending, indicating the nature of the product. In addition, the Polish Patent Office had registered a number trade mark starting with the prefix “coro” or “koro” for goods in classes 2 and 17. What’s more, there was no risk of misleading, because the goods were placed on the market in conjunction with the information for the customer and for a limited group of specialized recipients.

Coroplast Fritz Müller further stated that the Polish company acted in bad faith because it had used COROPLAST on its website which was removed as a result of the cease and desist letter, and since the seat of CB Spółka z o.o. was located where two Polish subsidiaries of German companies also operated.

While assessing the similarity of the two characters, the PPO found that they consisted of three syllables, with the same fanciful prefix, which is a distinctive element and acts as a tip about the commodity. As a result, the PPO found that the disputed trade mark was similar to the earlier registered sign in its visual and aural aspects but was not similar in the conceptual context. The PPO indicated that the visual similarity was based on the same syllables, the same letters in the same or similar quantities. The PPO also stressed that the disputed mark was of three syllables, using the same “coro” prefix, which was fanciful, and was definitely a distinctive element. The “tape” ending was far less important, fulfilling an information role about the function of the goods. The use of the “coro ” prefix maked the signs phonetically similar.

Referring to the case law, the PPO emphasized that assessment of a trade mark is made as a whole and the risk of misleading the consumer must be assessed globally, taking into the account all relevant factors. In the PPO’s assessment, despite the assumption that the average consumer is a person duly informed, careful and cautious, there is a risk of confusion. The buyers, while recognizing the difference between COROPLAST and COROTAPE, would wrongly assume – because of the prefix which is identical – that they purchased the goods originating from one manufacturer or from the entities that are economically and organisationally linked.

The PPO did not agree with an argument that it had registered a number of trade marks for goods in in class 2 and 17 with “coro” and “Koro” prefixes. It pointed out that none of these trade marks was intended to designate the goods that were concerned in this dispute, adhesive tapes for industrial use.

In addition the PPO found that the applicant made a bad faith application for COROTAPE. It was evidenced by the use of “coroplast” in the offer and on its website. The PPO found that it was not accidental that the use of the prefix “coro” in the COROTAPE and COROTOP trade marks, which are leading brands of CB Spółka z o.o. The PPO also stressed the significant fact that there were two factories belonging to Coroplast Fritz Müller GmbH, located in small towns around Opole (where CB Spółka z o.o. has its business seat), which have operated since 1994 and 1998. According to the PPO, it was not possible that CB Spółka z o.o. was not aware of the existence of these factories and unwittingly created a trade mark with a “coro” prefix.

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for COROTAPE R-168086 trade mark. CB Spółka z o.o. filed a complaint to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw. Although the VAC in a judgment of 19 February 2009, case file VI SA/Wa 1917/08 ruled that an application for the rights for protection of a trade mark in bad faith occurs when, despite the knowledge or ignorance, which is a corollary of a lack of diligence, regarding the existence of someone else’s rights or interest worth of protection, which may be threatened by such application, and with the intent to harm someone’s else interests. The intention, assessed from the point of view of fairness and honesty, is of great importance for the assessment of applicant’s bad faith.

Such is the case when the trade mark application is done in order to eliminate a competitor with the intent to capture his clientele. Acting in bad faith is one who knows or with due diligence should know about the use of a trade mark by another highly successful entrepreneur and – anticipating his application for the right of protection for a trade mark – he applies for the registration of such trade mark. Acting in bad faith is a person who applies for a trade mark rights for a sign belonging to a foreign entrepreneur to prevent him in obtaining protection in the Republic of Poland or in order to obtain profits from the sale of such acquired rights.

But the Court also held that the Polish Patent Office did not properly justify its decision on the bad faith application. The VAC found that the issueance of the contested decision was made in breach of the procedural law, and it annulled it, ruling that the decision was not a subject to execution. The judgment is final.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 764/08

May 22nd, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

In March 2007 the Polish Patent Office issued a decision invalidating the right of protection for the trade mark OFF THE LIP R-153658 owned by Polish company PREMIERE Spólka z o.o. from Chorzów, registered for goods in classes 18 and 25. The request for invalidation was brought before the PPO by German entrepreneur Kurt Wendler-Rothenberger, who owned two German trade mark registrations for OFF THE LIP RN-1120143 and RN-2015151. The request was based on article 8(i) of the old Polish Trade Mark Act – TMA – (in Polish: ustawa o znakach towarowych) of 1985, published in Dziennik Ustaw (Journal of Laws) of 1985 No 5, pos. 15, with later amendments:

A trade mark shall not be registrable if:
(i) it is contrary to law or to the principles of social coexistence;
Mr. Wendler-Rothenberger claimed that he had business relationships with the Polish company in the period from 1992 to 1996. In PPO’s opinion it had been proved that Polish company was fully aware of the fact that OFF THE LIP sign belongs to another entity, and such action of submitting someone’s else trade mark for registration in the Republic of Poland was contrary to the principles of good conduct in trade.

The Polish company brought a complaint against this decision. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 24 January 2008, act signature VI SA/Wa 1394/07 dismissed it, and ruled that all procedural matters have been sufficiently and thoroughly investigated and determined by the Polish Patent Office. The Court acknowledged that, from the beginning, the Polish company knew that OFF THE LIP sign was somebody else’s property — that of its contractor and business partner. In the court’s assessment it was a classic example of bad faith, since PREMIERE was aware that it does not have the right to this sign and even if it could not be aware – it should have known about that.

PREMIERE Sp. z o.o. filed a cassation complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 12 March 2009 case file II GSK 764/08 rejected the complaint and ruled that the provision of article 8(1) of the TMA provides an independent and sufficient condition for the inadmissibility of the registration of a sign, and it’s in any way unrelated to the exclusive protection of marks registered and benefiting from protection in a given country. The SAC clearly held that filing a trade mark application of someone else’s sign when a special relationship of trust existed between parties of a contract, is a classic example of behaviour contrary to the principles of social coexistence.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1601/08

January 28th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

On July 4, 2002 Polish company Aldo sp. z o.o. applied for the right of protection for word-figurative mark ALDO S Z-252456 in classes 6, 19, 35, 37. The services indicated to operating a store and wholesalers with building materials. In 2005, The Polish Patent Office has issued a favourable decision and registered the submitted mark R-169096.

R-169096

German company Aldi Einkauf GmbH has opposed the registration. The opponent based its claims on two registrations. However, only the second of the presented trade marks ALDI R-173352 covered the contested class. This sign was also registered later in 2006 (the trade mark application was filled on June 11, 2002). After finding the opposition justified the The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office transformed it into the motion to cancel trade mark rights.

However, after parties submitted additional observations and after hearing oral arguments, The Board found that Aldi just started its business on the Polish market and does not offer or sell building materials so far. Aldo’s representative argued that the contested sign differs because of its figurative elements and due to small amount of letters and its ending there is no verbal similarity. Another argument presented that Aldo was using its sign since 1995 and there was no Aldi’s presence on the Polish market at this time. It was also noted that goods and services are aimed at the careful consumer so there is no risk in the association of the origin of such goods. Therefore, the PPO rejected the ALDI’s request in its decision of 26 February 2008 case act signature Sp.148/07. The PPO noted that contested wholesales services are alike but goods sold by Aldo are being offered in special shops where Aldi’s products are available in hipermarkets. The Board also held that both marks are not similar because they differ visually and they sound differently.

The German company filed a complain before the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw. In its complaint Aldi Einkauf still claimed that the disputed trade mark may lead to association with its brand. The German company alleged that the PPO wrongly assessed similarities. Aldi’s representative argued that the verbal aspect has greater importance in word-figurative trade marks. The letter “S” is separated from the word Aldo. Therefore, this expression will be perceived by the public as a dominant. However, the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 11 December 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 1601/08 dismissed Aldi’s complaint. The VAC held that PPO provided a proper and complete assessment of the disputed signs. The Adjudicative Board compared them globally, and also referred to the verbal elements. The difference of even a single letter is a sufficient factor to distinguish these signs, in visual, phonetic and aural perspective — said judge Ewa Marcinkowska, (the rapporteur). The judgment is not final yet. The cassation complaint may be filed before the Supreme Administrative Court.