Archive for: Art. 296(2)(iii) IPL

Trade mark law, case XVI GCo 204/13

September 30th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

On Augut 2013, Polish telecom Polkomtel sp. z o.o. started an advertising campaign of its mobile Internet access services. In a short movie, a girl named Basia is starting new life by dumping her boyfriend and moving to a new flat with an Internet access based on LTE technology. She mentions that her boyfriend had Internet access provided by Telekomunikacja Polska S.A. under the brand name Neostrada. She is very happy about the changes. The ad ends with the statement that Internet provided by Plus (brand name of Polkomtel) is faster from Neostrada. This comparison is based on the ranking provided by of July 2013.

On 9 September 2013, Telekomunikacja Polska requested the District Court in Warsaw to issue a preliminary injuntion against Polkomtel, in order to prohibit acts of unfair competition and trade mark infringement of the word trade mark NEOSTRADA R-182762. Telekomunikacja noted that Polkomtel is one its major competitors on the Polish telecommunication market. The Company argued that Polkomtel infringed its trade mark rights by taking unfair advantage of reputation and distinctive character of the NEOSTRADA brand, and the advertising movie was comparative advertising contrary to good practices, and as such, should be deemed as unfair competition.

The District Court in Warsaw in its order of 23 September 2013 case file XVI GCo 204/13 dismissed the request. The Court held that premises to secure the claims are based on substantiation of claims, i.e. on providing prima facie evidence of the infringement and legitimate interest in granting the order. According to the Court, Telekomunikacja did not provide evidence on reputation of its trade mark and Polkomtel did not infringe the right of protection for NEOSTRADA, because this sign was only used to specify the service to which it relates. The word was used as a name for a given service, not as a trade mark. The Court noted that advertising that allows to identify, directly or indirectly, the competitor or products or services offered by the competitor, described as “comparative advertising”, should be deemed the act of unfair competition if it is contrary to good practices. However, the short movie clip published by Polkomtel is not in any way contrary to such practices, because it is not misleading and it does not affect market decisions as to the purchase of goods or services. The Court agreed with the decision of the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection of 6 August 2009 case no. DDK 4/2009, according to which, advertising is deemed as misleading when a consumer gets false idea of ​​the goods or services, and misleading information influence the decision to purchase these products.

See also “Trade mark law, case XXII GWo 68/12“.

Trade mark law, case V ACa 77/11

April 18th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appeallate Court in Katowice in its judgment of 5 April 2011 case file V ACa 77/11 ruled that there is no reason to claim that a reputable trade mark must have a greater recognition than well-known signs. Decisive are the quality criteria, and not the quantity. A reputed trade mark does not have to be well-known, and a well-known sign does not have to be reputed one.

Trade mark law, case I ACa 988/08

October 17th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appeallate Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 17 December 2008 case file I ACa 988/08 held that the wide scope of protection of reputed trade marks should be afforded only for well-known signs that are characterized by prestige, that is associated with the goods of exceptional – especially high-quality – and, most importantly, signs of such a strong and established position that they attract attention no matter for which of the goods they are used.

Trade mark law, case IV CSK 393/10

October 5th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Hochland Reich Summer & Co. KG owns a three-dimensional trade mark IR-736770 in Poland, and Hochland AG is the owner of the right in registration of an industrial design Rp-5337. The 3D trade mark is not used in the clear registered form, but is marketed as a product package of ALMETTE cheese, with additional verbal and figurative elements. Both Hochland AG and Hochland Reich, Summer & Co. KG, together with Hochland Polska sued the Polish dairy cooperatives in Piątnica, because it has used the packaging for cheese, on which a graphic of a wooden pail that was similar to Hochland’s trade mark and design, was placed.


The District Court in Białystok in its judgment of 13 October 2009 case file VII GC 49/07 dismissed the suit and refused to recognize the trade mark as a reputed one. However, the Court agreed with the opinion issued by the expert witness that a clean pail, without any identifiers, stands out positively in comparison to other packagings, and by its distinctive shape is strongly associated with the Almette brand. The District Court agreed with Piątnica that this trade mark was not used in trade in its registered form, and that Hochland did not prove that the use of cup-like pail brings Piątnica unfair advantage or is detrimental to the distinctive character of Hochland’s trade mark, which is a prerequisite to the protection of reputed/renown trade marks. The Appellate Court in Białystok in its judgment of 26 February 2010 upheld these findings except the costs and the issue of trade mark use. Hochland filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Court in its judgdment of 10 February 2011 case IV CSK 393/10 found that the Appellate Court decided that the expert’s opinion had no probative value because of the unrepresentative range of research on which it was based, and as a result, the Court found that Hochland failed to prove that its trade mark is a distinctive sign, with reputation. The Appellate Court spoke on the inadequacies of the expert opinion only in the justification of the judgment, and not during the proceedings, which precluded Hochland from filing proper evidence. The Supreme Court ruled that renowned trade marks enjoy special protection – wider than the other trade marks, i.e., even if there is less similarity between trade marks or the goods. In the case of reputed signs, the risk of confusion or the likelihood of confusion is not required. The association with the earlier renowned sign is a sufficient condition. The Court noted that the Polish Industrial Property Law does not provide any definition of reputable trade mark, but only points to the specific conditions of protection. The Supreme Court emphasized that the definitions provided in the legal commentaries, as well as in the case law of the Court of Justice of the EU and Polish courts, differ in this respect. The Court noted that a reputable trade mark is recognized by a significant part of relevant public. The Polish legal commentators argue that such a sign must be known at least by 25 percent of relevant public, and if the percentage exceeded 50 percent, the reputation is always proved. The Supreme Court also noted that the protection of a reputable trade mark does not require the owner to prove that the use of a similar trade mark has brought its user unfair advantage or was detrimental to the distinctive character or the reputation of the earlier mark. A mere possibility of obtaining unfair advantage by the infringer or the very possibility of harmful effects to the distinctive character or the repute of the earlier trade mark, is a sufficient condition. Therefore, these conditions have normative and hypothetical nature. The Supreme Court held that the Appellate Court erred in the examination of the opinion of another expert witness, who showed that the use of the image of a wooden pail on the packaging of cheese, in the assessment of 69% of consumers may affect their decision on the purchase of goods, and therefore it could potentially influence the purchase of the goods produced by the defendant in its packagings. This circumstance was important for assessing whether the use by the defendant of Hochland’s trade mark could bring Piątnica unfair advantage at the expense of the owner of the trade mark, who first used the sign and incurred substantial costs for its promotions within a few years.

The Appeallate Court in Białystok in its judgment of 7 July 2011 case file I ACa 305/11 was bound by the decision issued by the Supreme Court. The Court pointed out that according to the opinion of Grzegorz Urbanek, who was appointed as an expert witness, the wooden pail is associated to the Almette brand in the perception of most respondents. Both the opinion and attached results showed that even a same wooden pail without and with identifiers has the same effect, i.e. the half of the respondents, because of the packaging, was willing to buy the Almette cheese, and not other cheese of the same type but in the same packagings. Therefore, the Appellate Court prohibited Piątnica to use in the course of trade of a figurative sign representing a wooden pail with a handle, on the packaging of its cheese products. Piatnica still uses the packaging for its cheese, which is similar to a wooden pail. The dairy cooperatives replaced the image from the packaging with the milk-churn with pouring milk.

Internet domains, case I ACa 1087/10

August 2nd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

CTM no. 001500248

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

Trade mark law, case XXII GWzt 5/10

March 17th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court for the Community Trade Marks and Community Designs (in Polish: Sąd Okręgowy w Warszawie Wydział XXII Sąd Wspólnotowych Znaków Towarowych i Wzorów Przemysłowych) in its judgment of 31 May 2010 case file XXII GWzt 5/10 ruled that when deciding whether a trade mark has a repute, the Court examines in detail the evidence offered with respect to the scope and level of commercial, sponsorship and promotional actions of the proprietor, used for building the reputation. The Court pays attention to the type of goods, their volume of sale, popularity among consumers, the size, frequency and regularity of sponsoring of various events attracting a large number of viewers, allowing it to decide that the trade mark meets the requirement of repute and thus should be known to a significant part of the public.

Trade mark law, case I ACa 767/07

October 13th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appellate Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 3 October 2007 case file I ACa 767/07, published in Lex no. 519252, held that reputable characters in comparison with other signs are characterized by stronger distinguishing ability that results from good information and notions of quality and prestige, provided by a sign to potential customers, facilitating the sale of goods bearing that trade mark.At the same time, such trade mark has a measurably market value and represents a significant, or even dominant component of the company’s assets. A reputed trade mark is protected even outside of its class or classes. Because, in such cases, advertising and qualitative functions of a trade mark are protected, and not the function of designation of origin of the product or service. The term of reputation refers both to the registered trade marks as well as well-known signs that are not registered.

Trade mark law, case IX GC 104/06

July 5th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2003, Polish company Zakłady Tytoniowe Lublin started to produce “Full Flavor ZTL Mont Blanc” and “Light ZTL Mont Blanc” cigarettes. Te tanie papierosy miały być konkurencją dla przemycanych z Ukrainy papierosów Monte Carlo. These latter cheap cigarettes were meant to be competition for Monte Carlo cigarettes smuggled from Ukraine.


German company Montblanc – Simplo sued Polish company for infringement of Montblanc trade marks’ reputation, unfair competition delict and infringement of personal rights/interest. Montblanc – Simplo demanded the cessation of production of these cigarettes and the publication of a statment on illegal use of the trade mark, in nationwide newspapers.


The District Court in Lublin in its judgment case file IX GC 104/06 dismissed these claims. The court held that that the contested name is written on cigarette packs separately (as the name of a mountain peak) and in a figurative aspect it has a different color, font and background. Therefore it cannot mislead consumers, what is more important, these are goods of various kinds. The expert in the field of commodities found that use of the trade mark for cheap cigarettes has no effect on the reputation of Montblanc sign and there is no percolation of the two groups of consumer of both products. Also an expert in the field of social psychology, did not reveal blurring of Montblanc reputation by the use of the geographical name “Mont Blanc” on the cheap cigarettes.

Trade mark law, case V CSK 71/09

March 11th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Technopol Publishing Agency filed a suit against Phoenix Press and Bauer Publishing House. Technopol requested the court to prohibit both defendants from putting on the market all magazines and periodicals bearing the number “100” or its multiples, and journals bearing the titles composed of three Arabic numerals together with the words “panorama” (in Polish: panorama) or “panoramic” (in Polish: panoramiczny), and to order the withdrawal of such publications from the market, to order the publication of an apology of specific content in the press, to order the defendants to pay the amount of 75000 PLN as compensation and the amount of 99000 PLN as unjustified benefits received by the defendants as a result of the unlawful use of Technopol’s trade marks, and to order defendants to withdraw particular trade mark applications from the Polish Patent Office. Technopol argued that it has introduced characteristic titles of crosswords magazines, presenting the number “100” or its multiples, with the words “panorama” or “panoramic” since 1994. Bauer Publishing House gave a licence to Phoenix Press to publish crosswords magazine entitled “Chwila na 100 panoramicznych”. Later on, Phoenix Press began to publish crosswords magazines with titles composed of the multiple of “100” and the “panoram” word. Technopol based its claims on articles 3, 10 and 18 of the Polish Act of 16 April 1993 on Combating Unfair Competition – CUC – (in Polish: ustawa o zwalczaniu nieuczciwej konkurencji), Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 47, item 211, with subsequent amendments.

Article 3
(1) The act of unfair competition shall be the activity contrary to the law or good practices which threatens or infringes the interest of another entrepreneur or customer.
(2) The acts of unfair competition shall be in particular: misleading designation of the company, false or deceitful indication of the geographical origin of products or services, misleading indication of products or services, infringement of the business secrecy, inducing to dissolve or to not execute the agreement, imitating products, slandering or dishonest praise, impeding access to the market and unfair or prohibited advertising and organising a system of pyramid selling.
Article 10
(1) Such indication of products or services or its lack, which may mislead customers in relation to the origin, quantity, quality, components, manufacturing process, usefulness, possible application, repair, maintenance and another significant features of products or services as well as concealing the risks connected with their use, shall be the act of unfair competition.
(2) Releasing for free circulation products in the packing which may cause effects referred to in section 1 above shall be the act of unfair competition, unless the use of such packing is justified by technical reasons.
Article 18(1) Where the act of unfair competition is committed, the entrepreneur whose interest is threatened or infringed may request:
1) relinquishment of prohibited practices,
2) removing effects of prohibited practices,
3) making one or repeated statement of appropriate content and form,
4) repairing the damage, pursuant to general rules;
5) handing over unjustified benefits, pursuant to general rules,
6) adjudication of an adequate amount of money to the determined social goal connected with support for the Polish culture or related to the protection of national heritage – where the act of unfair competition has been deliberate.
2. The court, upon a motion of the entitled party, may also adjudge on products, their packing, advertising materials and another items directly connected with commitment of the act of unfair competition. In particular, the court may order their destruction or include them on account of the indemnity.

Technopol’s claims were also based on articles 120(2) and 296(1) and (2) of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej) of 30 June 2000, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No. 49, item 508, consolidated text on 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments.

Article 120
1. Any sign capable of being represented graphically may be considered as trademark, provided that such signs are capable of distinguishing the goods of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.
2. The following, in particular, may be considered as trademarks within the meaning of paragraph (1): words, designs, ornaments, combinations of colours, the three-dimensional shape of goods or of their packaging, as well as melodies or other acoustic signals.
Article 296
1. Any person whose right of protection for a trademark has been infringed or any person who is permitted by law to do so, may demand the infringing party to cease the infringement, to surrender the unlawfully obtained profits and in case of infringement caused by fault also to redress the damage:
i) in accordance with the general principles of law,
ii) by the payment of a sum of money at the amount corresponding to the license fee or of other reasonable compensation, which while being vindicated would have been due on account of consent given by the holder to exploit his trademark.
1a. To the claims referred to in paragraph (1) the provisions of Article 287(2) and (3) shall apply accordingly.

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.

Phoenix Press and Bauer Publishing House requested the court to dismiss the suit. They argued that all trade marks in question have only informational character, and they refer to the title of the magazine “Chwila dla Ciebie”, and substantially differ from plaintiff’s trade marks, which excludes the risk of confusion. The judgments of the District Court and the Court of Appeal did not satisfy any of the parties and as a consequence, both appealed.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 24 November 2009 case file V CSK 71/09 ruled that the admissibility of a cassation complaint in matters of property rights is dependent on the minimum value of the subject matter of litigation, which in economic cases, cannot be less than 75000 PLN. The legal doctrine and the case law of the Supreme Court has expressed the view that the claims under article 18(1) points 1, 3 and 4, of the CUC have non-financial nature. See judgment of the Supreme Court of 9 March 2006, case file l CZ 12/06, and a judgment of the SC of 9 January 2008, case file II CSK 363/07. But this view has no legal justification which was the most widely expressed by the Supreme Court in the opinion of 8 March 2007, case file III CZ 12/07, published in OSNC 2008/2/26. The Court held that the claims set out in the CUC, though – according to the prevailing view – are not based on the absolute rights (enforceable against anybody infringing that right, an erga omnes right can be distinguished from a right based on a contract, which is only enforceable against the contracting party), they are directly contingent upon economic interests of persons who have the absolute right, and thus have the financial character. This view is justified by the general objective of the unfair competition law as defined in article 1 of the CUC, which is to prevent and combat unfair competition, and by provisions of article 20 of the CUC which set the same term of terminations of actions as for claims ensuing from property rights. For this reason, the Supreme Court dismissed the cassation complaint brought by Phoenix Press.

Technopol based its cassation complaint inter alia on the reputation of its trade marks. The Supreme Court ruled that according to the legal doctrine and the case law established by the SC, the distinction made between well-known and reputed trade marks is based on a different criterion. The reputation of a trade mark means its attractiveness, the value of advertising it creates and the ability to stimulate sales of goods marked with it. It is therefore a criterion referring rather to the special quality of a sign than to the degree of its knowledge. Such opinion was issued by the Supreme Court in a judgment of 7 March 2007, case file II CSK 428/06. The Supreme Court in a judgment of 12 October 2005, case file III CK 160/05, published in OSNC 2006/7-8/132, ruled that, the reputed or renowned trade mark serves as a carrier of information and ideas/opinions about high quality and high prestige. The last word is synonymous with “reputation” in Polish. However, the concept of a reputed/renown trade mark does not indicate an association with the exclusive services or goods of significant value. A renowned trade mark is a carrier of information on a specific, expected and tested quality of a sign. It includes a settled belief about the expected values of the goods, in the minds of buyers. The Supreme Court pointed out that the reputed trade mark in relation to other signs is characterized by ever stronger distinctive characteristic. Numerical trade marks owned by Technopol and registered for crosswords periodicals do not have the distinctive character. Trade marks intended to use for such periodicals have informational nature and are descriptive. They demonstrate direct and specific relationship with goods at stake which could allow its buyers to see them as a description of quantity of goods or one of their essential characteristics. In any case, a numerical trade mark placed on the cover of the magazine informs about the amount of crosswords that are appearing in the magazine and it is seen by buyers as a description of the characteristics of the goods, in particular the number of crosswords appearing in the magazine. Similarly, the word signs “panorama” or “panoramas” are used to describe the features of crosswords printed in a journal. The weak distinctive characteristic of Technopol’s trade marks that were registered for crosswords periodicals proves that these are not reputed trade marks, and there is no risk of confusion as referred to in article 296(2)(ii) of the IPL.

There was no evidence for the Court, that Technopol’s trade marks acquired the secondary meaning. On the contrary, such arguments were denied by the Court because of the use of these trade marks in such a way that they became a carrier of information about the origin of the goods. The Court confirmed that, as a general rule, it is possible for a trade mark that also serves as a press title, to acquire secondary meaning and distinctive character while performing informational function, but only taking into account all the circumstances the of use of such sign for designation of the goods.

The Court also ruled that the risk of consumers confusion as to the origin of goods, which creates the infringement of the right of protection for a trade mark, has many factors that require a comprehensive examination. The degree of knowledge of the registered trade mark, the degree of similarity between trade marks and the goods, and the circumstances in which the marked goods are sold, but also its distinctiveness should be taken into account while determining the risk of consumers confusion. According to the Court, the risk of consumers confusion was excluded because of the weak distinctive characteristic of the descriptive numerical signs, and the allegations of violation of article 296(2)(ii) of the IPL were unfounded, irrespective of any similarity between Phoenix Press and Technopol’s trade marks. Article 296(2)(ii) of the IPL applies to the infringement performed in the form of imitation, which may involve the use of an identical or similar trade mark to a trade mark registered, for the same or similar goods to these listed in the registry. The premise of violation is not only the unlawful use of a sign, but also the risk of confusion as to the origin of goods. The common knowledge of Technopol’s trade marks has not been proved and such knowledge cannot be equated with the popularity, especially as these trade mark serve for the designation of crosswords magazines that are targeted to specific audiences.

The Supreme Court also ruled that there was no violations of the provisions of the CUC related to the likelihood of consumers confusion as to the origin of the goods. The condition for the application of article. 10(1) of the CUC is decided on the factual basis. As it was noted by the Supreme Court in a judgment of 23 April 2008, case file III CSK 377/07, published in OSNC 2009/6/88, the difficulties in establishing such datum stem from the situation that it’s a fact of a legal nature and which may arise, as well as the fact that the likelihood of confusion must relate to a specific model of the consumer. According to article 10(1) of the CUC, the indication of the goods or services must have such a distinctive character so it’s illegal use would cause the likelihood of consumers confusion as to the origin of the goods. Only the use of words and numbers in a specific composition could cause such a risk. A similar opinion was issued by the Supreme Court in a judgment of 21 February 2008, recognizing that the numerical designation placed on the cover of the crosswords magazine can make the average consumer confused as to the origin of the goods, only if it is put in the place usually reserved for the title of a periodical. There was also the need for an appropriate balance between the rights and interests of different market participants, so giving due protection would not allowed to abuse their position.

The Supreme Court also noted that Technopol wrongly raised the plea of faulty decision of a case where it argued that the lower court did not take into account its claim against the defendants to withdraw given trade mark applications from the Polish Patent Office and the claim to abandon of their trademarks rights. The Court ruled that these claims relate to the rights on the existence of which decides an independent body – the Polish Patent Office. It is the PPO’s jurisdiction to decide on the invalidation of the right of protection for a trade mark at the request of any person who has a legitimate interest if it’s shown that the statutory conditions for obtaining this right have not been met. For all these reasons, the Supreme Court dismissed the cassation complaint brought by Technopol.

Trade mark law, case IV CSK 335/08

June 14th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 4 March 2009, case file IV CSK 335/08, published in Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court Civil Chamber (in Polish: Orzecznictwo Sądu Najwyższego Izba Cywilna) of 2009, No. C, item 85, p. 161, ruled that the degree of similarity, which leads to linking (associating) both signs by relevant recipients is sufficient for the assessment of the similarity of the signs as a condition for infringement of a reputed trade mark. However, first, it is necessary to determine whether a trade mark has a status of reputable one, if the claim is based on article 296(2)(iii) 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.

2. Infringement of the right of protection for a trademark consists of unlawful use in the course of trade of:
(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.

Trade mark law, case II CSK 428/06

June 18th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court Civil Chamber in its judgment of 7 March 2008, case file II CSK 428/06 ruled that the fact that the company has been operating on the Polish market for several years, has a rich tradition, and its trade marks are well known because of the long-term mass production, continuous use and continuous presence in the market, advertising, and customers and that they will associate the sign and its manufacturer with a product, cannot determine the method of accepting these signs to the category of reputed trade marks.

The selection of reputable trade marks is made by using a different criterion than the one which help to distinguish a group of well-known trade marks. The Reputation of the trade mean its attractiveness, the value of advertising and the ability to stimulate the sales of goods marked. It is therefore a criterion referring to the particular quality of a mark rather than to the degree of knowledge about such sign. It expresses the opinion that a reputable sign, which – unlike trade marks used as the indication of origin – implements a “clean” function of attracting customers. In the absence of legal definition, a reputed trade mark should therefore be assess according to the abovementioned criteria, rather than by knowledge in the market that provides the basis for a well known trade marks.