Archive for: Art. 252 IPL

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 262/11

October 2nd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office refused to recognize the protection of the FERRERO OPERA IR-0891152 trade mark owned by SOREMARTEC S.A. The PPO decided that there are already registered similar or identical trade marks owned by Ferrero S.p.A.

SOREMARTEC argued that there is no real risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods bearing signs question, due to the fact that these trade marks are owned by closely related companies, and the goods are produced by all companies according to uniform quality standards. The Company presented documents confirming relationship between the companies, and submitted also a letter of consent.

The PPO agreed that there are regulations on letters of consent provided in the Polish Industrial Property Law. According to this provisions the owner of a lapsed trade mark may agree for a registration of a new trade mark, but the Polish legislator did not foresee similar rules relating to the signs remaining in force. However, and this is not a legal loophole. This rule is clear and there are no doubts. There’s an exception to that rule but it is very limited and it should not be interpreted broadly. As the PPO noted this is a classic example of a positive-negative regulation that is used in the legislation. As a contrario interpretation, Article 133 of the IPL sets two standards: a positive – that permits registration of the trade mark after obtaining the consent of the owner of an earlier mark that has lapsed, and negative – it does not allow for consent letters for the other collision (i.e. with signs of remaining in force, renown, reputed signs, etc.).

Article 132
1. A right of protection shall not be granted for a trade mark in respect of identical or similar goods, if the trade mark is identical or similar to:
(iii) a trade mark earlier registered in the Republic of Poland, whose registration has terminated, provided that an interval between the date of lapse of the right of protection for the trade mark and the date on which a similar trade mark has been applied for by another party, is, subject to Article 133, no longer than two years.

Article 133
The provision of Article 132(1)(iii) shall not apply where the protection has terminated under Article 169(1)(i) or the right holder of the earlier right has given his consent for the later trade mark being granted a right of protection.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 December 2007 case file II GSK 279/07 supported this interpretation. The SAC ruled that the provision of Article 4(5) of the First Council Directive 89/104 has not been implemented into Polish law, and it was futile to rely on the infringement of this provision, because such a consent has not the legal effect under Polish law. See “Trade mark law, case II GSK 279/07“. The examination system was adopted for the registration of trade marks in Poland. Letters of consent do not eliminate the risk of consumers’ confusion as to the origin of goods. This fact must therefore be taken into consideration during the examination of applied trade marks. The sign has to distinguish one entrepreneur from another entrepreneurs. The capital group is the association of many entrepreneurs linked to each other in different ways. If the goods are actually marketed by such a group and do not cause the confusion of consumers, the institution of a joint right of protection. The obligatory regulations governing use of trade marks adopted by the undertakings who have jointly applied for the trade mark protection, ensures that the signs will not be misleading at the time of filing the trade mark application, but also during their existance on the market. However, one can not assume in advance that the signs coming from companies that are linked organizationally and financially do not mislead consumers. There always will be a risk of consumers’ confusion. During the application proceedings, it is not possible for the PPO to examine the policy of big companies in order to identify the origin of each product offered. Therefore, if a number of separate legal entities want to use a similar trade mark, they must, in accordance with Polish law, to use the institution of a joint right of protection or simply trade mark licenses. There is no legal justification to treat the origin of signs from companies linked organizationally and financially as a guarantee of the absence of the risk of consumers confusions as to the origin of these goods.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 May 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 262/11 overturned the decision of the Polish Patent Office and held it unenforceable. The VAC agreed with the PPO that in principle, the mere letter of consent that was issued by a company that was unrelated organizationally and/or legally with entitled to the trade mark application, is not a basis for registration of a mark identical or similar. However, this document was not the only document on which SOREMARTEC relied to demonstrate the lack of the risk of conumers’ confusion. When examining the collected evidence material the PPO completely ignored the fact that the applicant has a number of trade marks with the word element “Ferrero” including signs from the earlier priority than the opposed trade marks. In addition, the VAC noted that SOREMARTEC owns trade marks containing the “Ferrero” element which were registered by the PPO on the basis of letters of consent.

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.


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 635/07

October 27th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Okręgowa Spółdzielnia Mleczarska from Nowy Sącz requested the Polish Patent Office to disclose a copy of the Rules of the use of word trade mark bryndza Z–248134. Bryndza is a sheep milk cheese produced in Poland and other Eastern European countries. OSM from Nowy Sącz is also a producer of that type of cheese. In 2003, OSM applied for the right of protection for word-figurative trade mark TERMIZOWANA Bryndza sądecka Z-259477 and argued that the copy of Rules is required to analyze whether OSM may use the name bryndza for its product. The word trade mark bryndza Z-248134 was applied for by Regionalny Związek Hodowców Owiec i Kóz (Regional Union of Sheep and Goat Breeders) from Nowy Targ, as the collective guarantee trademark. Such trade mark can be registered for any organisation enjoying the status of legal entity, which itself refrains from using the trade mark, but undertakings being members of such organisation may use this trade mark if they follow the Rules laid down in the regulations governing use of trade marks adopted by the entitled organisation and are liable to control by that organisation to this extent. A holder of the right of protection for a collective guarantee trademark may not, without important reasons, deny the undertakings, which meet the conditions specified in the Rules, the right to use that trademark.

The PPO refused to disclose the Rules, because at that time, the case was under examination and at this stage of proceedings, all trade mark application’s files can be shared only with the consent of the applicant. OSM filed a complaint against the PPO. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw ordered the PPO to reconsider the case. After rehearing, the PPO refused to disclose the Rules and decided that the OSM did not have legal interest (locus standi) in requesting the access.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 26 June 2007 case file VI SA/Wa 635/07 ruled that the PPO is obliged to disclose the Rules, because OSM posses legal interest in this particular case. The Court noted that OSM is producing a food product with defined parameters bearing the name “bryndza”. The text of the Rules determines whether OSM will be able to continue and freely conduct its business activities in part on the production of sheep cheese. Or – on the contrary – without complying with the Rules will be infringing the trade mark.

Procedural law, case VI SA/Wa 934/10

October 12th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2006, the Polish legal advisor (radca prawny) Sławomir Reszka from Warsaw applied for the right of protection for KHORTYTSA CHORTYCA Z-311311 and BLAGOV BLAGOFF Z-311312 trade marks for goods in Class 33 such as alcoholic beverages. During the examination proceedings, the Polish Patent Office has found almost identical signs such as word trade mark BLAGOV R-218323 and word-figurative trade mark KHORTYTSA ULTIMATE PERFECTION R-219919 owned by the Ukrainian company – the affiliate “Image Holding” of the JSC “Image Holding ApS” from Novoe Zaporozhye, that were also registered for alcoholic beverages. The Ukrainian company argued that it had used its trade marks previously in Poland and that these signs are still used in Ukraine. The PPO refused to grant the right of protection for Sławomir Reszka.


Decisions of the Polish Patent Office are liable to a party’s request for re-examination of the matter within the meaning of the Administrative Proceedings Code. The provisions of the APC governing deciding on appeals from decisions shall apply accordingly to proceedings on re-examination of the matter. In this particular case, the PPO found that the illness did not entitled Sławomir Reszka for the restoration of the deadline because he had a representative. As a basis for denying the request the PPO cited provisions of Article 243(1) of the IPL.

Article 243
1. Unless otherwise stipulated in this Law, where in the course of proceedings a time limit to perform an act requisite, under this Law, for continuance of the proceeding has not been observed, the Patent Office may, at the party’s request, restore the time limit, provided that the party provides a plausible explanation that non-observance was without fault on its part.

2. Subject to paragraph (4), the request referred to in paragraph (1) shall be submitted to the Patent Office within two months from the date on which the reason for non-observance has ceased to exist, however not later than within six months from the date of the expiry of that time limit. At the same time, the requesting party shall be required to perform the act in respect of which the time limit was fixed.

3. A time limit to submit the request referred to in paragraph (2) shall not be restorable.

4. Where a decision has been taken on discontinuance of the proceeding for the reason of failure to observe a time limit for performance of a specified act, that decision, at the party’s request for re-examination of the matter, may be reversed, provided that the party provides in the request a plausible explanation that the non-observance was without fault on its part, while performing, at the same time, the act in respect of which the time limit was fixed.

5. Where the time limit for filing an application for the purpose of preserving the right of earlier priority or the time limit for furnishing a document expires on a day on which the Patent Office is closed to the public, the application or the document received on the first subsequent day on which the Patent Office is open to the public shall be deemed to have been received within the time limit concerned.

6. In respect of time limits, to which paragraph (1) is not applicable, and the non-observance of which has been caused by exceptional circumstances, the provisions on suspension of the course of negative prescription caused by acts of God shall apply accordingly. In such cases, the Patent Office shall give orders after having been furnished with relevant evidence by the interested party.

7. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (5) and (6), the Patent Office shall secure the reception at any time of day of letters delivered by interested persons.

Mr Reszka filed a complaint against this order. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 22 July 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 934/10 did not examine the merits of the case, namely whether, in the event of a failure to comply with a deadline, the illness of a representative should be taken into account. The VAC annulled the questioned order refusing to restore the deadline, because the PPO applied the wrong provision. The deadline for lodging a request for a retrial shall be restored on the basis of Article 58 of the APC.

Article 58
§ 1. If the deadline is infringed it may be rescheduled at the request of an interested party if it appears probable that the infringement was not caused by that party.
§ 2. A request to reschedule the deadline should be made within 7 days of the reason for the deadline’s infringement coming to an end. However, the actions for which the deadline was set must be carried out simultaneously with the request being made.
§ 3. It is not possible to reschedule the deadline for making the request referred to in § 2.

The Court held that the provisions of Article 243 of the IPL are applicable in deadlines set by the Polish Patent Office in the course of the given case. After the issuance of a negative decision in a case the the proceeding is not pending because it has been completed. It may be continued after upon successful acceptation of the request to reschedule the deadline. Therefore, Article 243 of the IPL could not be applicable in the above-mentioned case. See also “Procedural law, case VI SA/Wa 2091/07“.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 839/09

August 28th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative in its judgment of 5 August 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 839/09 decided on the complaint  of the holder of the Polish trademark registration DSC R-82966 against the decision Sp. 2/98 of the Polish Patent Office of 28 January 2009 on invalidation of this trademark.


The VAC has not examined substantive issues of the matter because as it has stated the decision of the Polish Patent Office is too general and it does not specify documents on which the Polish Patent Office has based its findings. In the Court’s opinion the Polish Patent Office quoting his findings has only used the phrase “it results from the submitted documents that…”, instead of giving precise description of each relevant document, which prevents the Voivodeship Administrative Court from presenting its opinion on the correctness of the questioned decision. In view of above, the complaint has been accepted and the matter has been transferred to the Polish Patent Office for reexamination.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1715/09

February 16th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 10 January 2010, case file VI SA/Wa 1715/09, ruled that the registration proceedings is not a source of the entitlement to a trade mark, but it only provides specified changes in the Trade Mark Register with regard to the holder of that right and therefore it is totally different from proceeding related to the invalidation or declaration on the lapse of a trade mark. The standing in registration proceeding cannot be justified based on the same arguments, that were used in the course of proceedings, which aimed to resolve trade mark rights. This judgment is not yet final. A cassation complaint may be filed to the Supreme Administrative Court.

Access to public information, case II GSK 459/07

August 7th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 March 2008 case file II GSK 459/07 held at the begining of judgment’s justification that administrative decisions are public information within the meaning of article 1(1) of the API and may be disclosed, in accordance with 6(1) pt 4 letter a, first tiret of the API. According to the SAC, after completion of the application proceedings, including any inter partes proceedings, article 251 of the IPL will no longer be applicable, and access to case files will be based on the general provisions of the API. Pursuant to article2(2) of the API, the Authority cannot require to prove legitemate or factual interest from the person entitled to a right to public information.

The Court also held that not all documents from the case file should be considered public information. Such nature have only official documents. Pursuant to article 6(2) of the API, an official document within the meaning of the Act is the content of the declaration of will or knowledge, recorded and signed, in any form by a public official under the provisions of the Penal Code, within its competence, that is addressed to another entity or put to the file.

See also “Polish Patent Office, case II SAB/Wa 99/06“.

Procedural law, case VI SA/Wa 2091/07

June 27th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 March 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 2091/07 held that the restoration of a deadline/time limit is an institution aimed at protecting individuals against the consequences of failure to fulfill the term. It applies only to procedural time limits and to deadlines to perform proper actions in the proceedings, for example, the deadline for lodging an appeal. Article 252 of the IPL excluded the application of the provisions of the APC in matters governed by the IPL.

Article 252
Subject to Article 253, the provisions of the Code of Administrative Procedure shall apply accordingly to cases not regulated by this Law.

The Court ruled that it is possible for a party to file a request for the re-examination of the case even if that case ended with the decision that has beneficial consequences for the requesting party. In the opinion of the Court there are no provisions forbidding to challenge decisions favorable to the party. See also “Procedural law, case VI SA/Wa 934/10“.