Archive for: Art. 145 PBAC

Personal data protection, case I OSK 1666/12

August 26th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company Promedica Care Sp. z o.o requested the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO) to issue a decision that would order Agora S.A., the owner of gazeta.pl website, to disclose IP addresses of users who posted negative comments regarding Promedica24.pl website. The GIODO decided that Agora S.A. should disclose requested information, although, it also noticed that the provisions of Article 29 of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments, were repealed as of 7 March 2011.

1. The processing of data is permitted only if:
1) the data subject has given his/her consent, unless the processing consists in erasure of personal data,
2) processing is necessary for the purpose of exercise of rights and duties resulting from a legal provision,
3) processing is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is a party or in order to take steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into a contract,
4) processing is necessary for the performance of tasks provided for by law and carried out in the public interest,
5) processing is necessary for the purpose of the legitimate interests pursued by the controllers or data recipients, provided that the processing does not violate the rights and freedoms of the data subject.

However, these regulations should be still applied to proceedings initiated before the entry into force of the Act that repealed the above mentioned provisions, and there was no obstacle to justify the refusal to provide the requested data according to the provisions of Article 30 of the PPD.

Article 30
The controller shall refuse the access to the personal data of the filing system to subjects and persons other than those referred to in Article 29 paragraph 1, if it would:
1) result in the disclosure of the information constituting a state secrecy,
2) pose a threat to national defence or security of the state, human life and health, or security and public order,
3) pose a threat to fundamental economic or financial interests of the state,
4) result in a substantial breach of personal interests of the data subjects or other persons.

The General Inspector did not agree with Agora S.A. that providing the requested data would infringe personal interests of the users of gazeta.pl website and its fora. The violation was only hypothetical, and was not supported by proper evidence. Agora S.A. argued that there are no legal instruments that would allow for monitoring the use of disclosed data, and this may lead to their use not only inconsistent with the purpose for which they were disclosed, but even to such use that is contrary to law. The GIODO noted that the absence of such instruments is not synonymous with the use of disclosed data contrary to the purpose for which it was made available. At the moment such data was disclosed, the Company will become the controller (administrator) as defined in the Article 7(4) of the PPD.

Article 7
Whenever in this Act a reference is made to any of the following, it shall mean:
4) controller – shall mean a body, an organisational unit, an establishment or a person referred to in Article 3, who decides on the purposes and means of the processing of personal data.

According to the GIODO, the processing of these data will be subject to the regulations provided in the provisions of the PPD, in particular the obligation not to undergo further processing of the data collected that would not be in accordance with the objectives of the disclosure (so-called principle of expediency/purposefulness), and the control of data processing in compliance with the provisions on personal data protection will be still the competence of the Inspector General. Agora S.A. argued that the provisions of Article 18 of the Polish Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means – PSEM – (in Polish: ustwa o świadczeniu usług droga elektroniczną), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 144, item. 1204 with subsequent amendments, should be applied in its case, not the provisions of the PPD.

Article 18
1. The service provider may process the following personal data of the service recipient necessary for entering in, designing contents, amending or terminating legal relationship between them:
1) service recipient’s surname and names ,
2) his/her PESEL number (Personal Identification Number),
3) his/her permanent residence address,
4) his/her address for correspondence, if it is different than the address referred to in point 3,
5) data used for verifying the service recipient’s electronic signature ,
6) service recipient’s electronic addresses .
2. In order to effect contracts or other legal activity having been concluded with a service recipient, a service provider may process other data necessary due to nature (characteristics) of the service provided or way of its billing.
3. The service provider distinguishes and marks those data from among the data referred to in paragraph 2, as such being necessary for providing services by electronic means in accordance with art. 22 paragraph 1.
4. The service provider may process, upon consent of s service recipient and for the purposes set forth in art. 19 paragraph 2 point 2, other data concerning the service recipient, which are not necessary for providing service by electronic means.
5. The service provider may process the following data describing the way of using the service provided by electronic means by a service recipient (traffic data):
1) denotations identifying the service recipient assigned on the basis of the data referred to in paragraph 1,
2) denotations identifying the telecommunication network terminal or a teleinformation system, which have been used by a service recipient,
3) information about commencement, termination and a range of every usage of the service provided by electronic means,
4) information about using of the service provided by electronic means by a service recipient.
6. The service provider provides the information on data referred to in paragraphs 1 – 5 to the state authorities for the needs of legal proceedings carried on by them.

The provider is therefore obliged to provide information on all categories of data listed in Article 18(1-5) of the PSEM, to the State authorities for the purpose of the proceedings conducted by them. The Inspector General noted that the disclosed information should also be understood as such data. The GIODO said that the provision of Article 18(6) of the PSEM are constructed in general terms and do not indicate either the types of bodies that may request such information, or the types of proceedings: criminal, civil, administrative or enforcement. The Inspector General noted that the provision of Article 18(6) of the PSEM only requires the provider to disclose information to State bodies, and it should not be interpreted broadly as the legal norm that is prohibiting the disclosure of such information to other entities. The GIODO decided that if the legislature had the intention to limit the disclosure of the information referred to in Article 18(1-5) of the PSEM, only for the bodies referred to in Article18(6) of the Act, it would explicitly formulate this provision, for example, by using the phrase “only”, which is a legislative method of defining the closed circle of entities, as it was provided in other regulations, for instance in the Article 66g and Article 66j § 4 of the Polish Act of 17 June 1966 on Administrative Enforcement Proceedings, or in the Article 72(1) of the Polish Act 5 August 2010 on Protection of Classified Information and in Article 105(1) of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 Banking Law. The Inspector General noted that the legislature did not use the phrase “only” in the provisions of Article 218 of the Criminal Proceedings Code – CRPC – (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Karnego) of 6 June 1997, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 89, item 555, with subsequent amendments, in relation to an obligation to disclose, at the request contained in the order, to the court or the prosecutor any mail and packages and the data referred to in Article 180c and 180d of the Polish Act of 16 July 2000 on Telecommunications Law – TLA – (in Polish: Prawo telekomunikacyjne), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 171, item 1800 with subsequent amendments.

Article 180c
1. The obligation referred to in Article 180a (1) shall cover the data necessary to:
1) trace the network termination point, telecommunications terminal equipment, an end user:
a) originating the call,
b) called;
2) identify:
a) the date and time of a call and its duration,
b) the type of a call,
c) location of telecommunications terminal equipment.
2. The minister competent for communications in agreement with the minister competent for internal affairs, having regard to the type of telecommunications activities performed by operators of a public telecommunications network or providers of publicly available telecommunications services, data specified in paragraph 1, costs of data collection and retention as well as the need to avoid multiple retention and storage of the same data, shall specify, by means of an ordinance:
1) a detailed list of data referred to in paragraph 1;
2) types of public telecommunications network operators or providers of publicly available telecommunications services obliged to retain and store the data.

Article 180d
Telecommunications undertakings shall be obliged to provide conditions for access and retention as well as to make available at their own cost the data referred to in Article 159 (1) (1) and (3) to (5), in Article 161 and in Article 179 (9) related to the provided telecommunications service and processed by them to authorized entities, to the court and to the prosecutor, under the terms and observing the procedures specified in separate provisions.

The Inspector General stressed that the legislature has indicated that only the court or the prosecutor is allowed to open the correspondence, mail and data, or order for their opening.

Article 218
§ 1. Offices, institutions and entities operating in post and telecommunications fields, customs houses, and transportation institutions and companies, shall be obligated to surrender to the court or state prosecutor upon demand included in their order, any correspondence or transmissions significant to the pending proceedings. Only the court and a state prosecutor shall be entitled to inspect them or to order their inspection.

The Inspector General also stressed that the above-cited provisions of the CRPC should not be applied in this case, because Promedica Care Sp. z o.o is not the authority conducting the proceedings in a criminal case, and the disclosed personal data will be used by it to initiate civil, not criminal proceedings. The GIODO indicated that Promedica may follow the procedure provided for in Article 29 of the PPD, and civil proceedings under 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, regardless of actions taken under the criminal proceedings. Agora S.A. filed a complaint.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 8 March 2012 II SA/Wa 2821/11 repealed the contested decision, and held that according to the provisions of Article 18(6) of the PSEM, the only one empowered to obtain data collected by the service provider within the meaning of that Act, are the State bodies. The PSEM does not contain any other provision, which serve as the basis for disclosure of data to the entities other than state authorities. The court stated that if the legislature’s intention was to give permission to obtain operational data to entities other than state authorities, it would have included a clear regulation providing for such permission in the PSEM. Data protection is a general rule. The service provider may process personal and operational data only in the extent and on terms defined in the PSEM. Only in the absence of regulations provided in the PSEM such processing may be based on an appropriate application of the PPD. The disclosure of data to third parties – such as Promedica Care – is breaking of that protection and as an exception to the rule cannot be interpreted broadly. GIODO filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 21 August 2013 case file I OSK 1666/12 dismissed it. The SAC held that any company or individual has the right to request ISPs to disclose e-mail addresses and IP addresses that are associated with the offensive entries.

See also “Polish regulations on personal data protection“, “Polish case law on personal data protection“.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1242/11

March 26th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 23 March 2008, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word-figurative 3D trade mark PŁ 1764 R-205770, that was applied for by the Polish company Fabryka Wódek POLMOS ŁAŃCUT S.A, for goods in Class 33 such as vodka. The trade mark represents a glass bottle with a blade of grass put inside, and the crest on the bottle.

R-205770

POLMOS BIAŁYSTOK S.A., the company that was the owner of the word-figurative trade mark POLMOS ŻUBRÓWKA BISON BRAND VODKA R-62081, registered with the earlier priority of 30 August 1985, for goods in Class 33, filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection. POLMOS BIAŁYSTOK claimed similarity of signs and identicality of goods. The Company argued that a blade of grass identifies its product’s image, and the long-term presence on the market caused that the trade mark POLMOS ŻUBRÓWKA BISON BRAND VODKA R-62081 created the belief of the recipients of this type of goods, that the alcoholic product with a grass motif comes from POLMOS BIAŁYSTOK. The Company also claimed that its trade mark is the reputed one, and provided rich evidence material including certificates of quality and market position of vodka sold in bottles with a blade of grass, market research results and reports confirming a strong position of trade marks owned by POLMOS BIAŁYSTOK, as well as articles published in specialized trade magazines. POLMOS BIAŁYSTOK claimed that POLMOS ŁAŃCUT acted in bad faith because its strategy and intention was to create and to file for the right of protection for a product that would look like the brand of “Żubrówka” vodka, by giving it a full set of protected characteristics of the trade mark POLMOS ŻUBRÓWKA BISON BRAND VODKA R-62081, and this situation happened long before the filing date of the questioned sign.

R-62081

The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office dismissed the request and decided that the comparision of POLMOS ŻUBRÓWKA BISON BRAND VODKA and PŁ 1764 trade marks gave no similarities. The blade of grass inside a bottle may give potential customers certain associations that it is a vodka based on wisent grass. The PPO relied on the provisions of § 3 of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of 25 January 2007 on the definition of requirements for certain spirit drinks with geographical indications relating to the Polish territory, which specifies requirements for a spirit drink “Herbal Vodka from the North Podlasie Lowland aromatised with an extract of visent grass. The PPO has decided that the vodka producers could use the trade marks containing a blade of grass to indicate the type of vodka. The PPO ruled that these signs are examples of commonly used vodka bottles that were sold in the 80s and 90s of the last century. Such bottles are also present in considerable numbers in the Polish market. Thus, these signs per se do not possess distinctive characteristics. The Adjudicative Board noted that legal commentators emphasizes that the packaging of a product is now deemed as a “silent salesman”, and its appearance affects decisions of customers. A distinctive and visually appealing packaging may cause the client to choose the particular product. The PPO cited K. Jasińska, Naśladownictwo opakowań produktów markowych w świetle prawa własności intelektualnej (in English: Imitation of packagings of branded products in the light of intellectual property rights), Warszawa 2010. The PPO found these arguments relevant to the package created by POLMOS ŁAŃCUT which, in PPO’s opinion differs from other packages available on the market. POLMOS BIAŁYSTOK filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 24 August 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1242/11 repealed the contested decision and ruled it unenforceable. The VAC decided that the analysis of similarity between the signs including its reputation, in this case, was not exhaustive. The PPO did not consider the dominant elements that draw the attention of the buyer. Although PPO stated that the compared trade marks are 3D signs, but the examination of these elements was reduced to comparison of packages only, i.e. bottles. Although, the PPO stated that as a principle, the visual aspect of a 3D sign, is the shape of package and its content, but these two issues (the shape and contents) were separated in the analysis carried out in this case. The Court found that the long time existence of the characteristic element of 3D signs owned by Polmos Bialystok that were intended for designating vodka products and alcoholic beverages – a blade of grass placed in a simple, transparent bottle, as a whole can easily sink into the minds of customers and build the strength that distinguishes this kind of packagings. The Court pointed out that POLMOS BIAŁYSTOK provided evidence that the original żubrówka can be recognized by a wisent grass blade in the bottle. This would mean that for consumers, contrary to the assessment of the PPO, this 3D element constitutes the dominant part of the trade mark, and it can also influence the perception of the trade mark reputation and the need for protection against dilution. The VAC noted that this case involved more than 20-year presence in the market of a bottle with a grass inside, that was associated with POLMOS BIAŁYSTOK. However, in situation, when the package is transparent, placing a characteristic element inside of the packaging, determines distinctiveness of the whole sign, e.g. two similar bottles. The distinctive 3D form – a blade of grass in the bottle increases the message of each of the word trade marks, brings more originality to signs that are protected for over 20 years. There was no doubt that the floating grass in the bottle is the original message that distinguishes the goods of POLMOS BIAŁYSTOK, and is attributed to the origin of goods produced by this particular company. It was impossible to overlook the fact that consumers are seeing a bottle with a characteristic blade of grass, that is associated by them not only with visent vodka, but they also have a guarantee that this is the original product whose reputation was proved by complex evidence. This means that customers choose a product, guided by the attractiveness of its form, because they “see” in this product a trade mark that originates from POLMOS BIAŁYSTOK, whose quality is known to them. The fact is that all signs have a distinctive element. The Polish Patent Office erred by not attaching any importance to it, despite the fact that POLMOS BIAŁYSTOK was the first company that introduced to market a product with such a distinctive element: a long blade of visent grass.

See also “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2038/09“.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 875/11

October 27th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Juliusz Marek Nabiałek who owns the word-figurative trade mark Platan R-210901, filed a request for invalidation of the word-figurative trade mark PLATANUS OGRODY NATURALNE R-210602 registered for Przemysław Sochański. Mr. Nabiałek claimed that both signs are similar and cause the risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods and services, especially since most goods and services are identical.

R-210901

Mr. Sochański claimed that he cooperated with Mr. Nabiałek in years 2001-2005. He emphasized that Mr. Nabiałek, without his knowledge or consent registered the trade mark Platan in 1995, but it was the name of a company that was founded by Sochański. In March 2007, he learned about this registration when he was served with the cease and desist letter prohibiting the use of the name Platan. Therefore, Sochański applied on 15 March 2007, for the right of protection for PLATANUS OGRODY NATURALNE trade mark. Therefore, he thought that the request for invalidation is a malicious and solely personal action. Mr Nabiałek decided to narrow the request only for services in Class 42 such as services in architecture, biological research, advice on environment protection. The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection. Sochański filed a complaint against this decision.

R-210602

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 3 October 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 875/11 overturned the decision of the Polish Patent Office and held it unenforceable. The Court ruled that both trade marks are not similar and the similarity of goods and services is reduced only to their common numbering according to the Nice Classification. The VAC ruled that there was violation of the provisions of the administrative procedure, because the PPO did not consider all of the evidence required to decide the case, and has not indicated why certain facts were accepted as proven, and why others were denied the credibility and probative value.

Copyright law, case II SA/Gd 529/10

October 10th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Mayor of Gdańsk city received a request to disclose an architectural project of the building. The Mayor refused and explained that this request could not be executed because it concerns the copyrighted work. By issuing certified copies the Mayor creates new documents, that may be used in different situations. The applicant argued that he needs a copy, not a certified one. The case was dismissed by the Voivode in its order of 25 May 2010 no. WI.I/EK/7111-121/10. The Voivode is the administration body that hears complaints against such decisions, and the applicant decided to bring his case before the court.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gdańsk in its judgment of 26 January 2011 case file II SA/Gd 529/10 overturned both decisions. The Court held, that although the architectural project of a building is a work covered by copyright protection, according to the provisions of Article 332 of the Polish Act of 4 February 1994 on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 24, item 83, consolidated text of 16 May 2006, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 90, item 631, with subsequent amendments, it is permitted to use copyrighted works for the purposes of public security or for the purposes of administrative, court or legislative proceedings and any reports thereof.

See also “Polish regulations on copyright” and “Polish case law on copyright“.

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.

Tax law, case I SA/Po 210/11

September 26th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Poznań in its judgment of 28 Jue 2011 case file I SA/Po 210/11 held that a subsidiary company is allowed to depreciate trade marks that were transferred to it as an apportionment, starting from the first day of a month, after one month the Polish Patent Office has granted the right of protection for these signs.

Tax law, case I SA/Łd 762/10

September 24th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Łódź in its judgment of 23 September 2010 case file I SA/Łd 762/10 held that a person whose account on an auction website was illegally hacked and used for sale of goods by someone else, is not obliged account to tax for such activity.

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 II GSK 611/10

July 12th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Tiffany & Broadway Inc. Div. of Texpol Corporation from Huston filed a cassation complaint against the judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw of 19 October 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 643/09. The VAC dismissed the complaint against the decision of the Polish Patent Office in which the PPO invalidated the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark TIFFANY R-153644. The request for invalidation was filed by Tiffany & Co. from New York. The New York’s company claimed the similarity of signs and a breach of its over 150-years reputation applied to jewellery products.

R-153644

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 31 May 2011 case file II GSK 611/10 overturned the questioned judgment and sent the case back for reconsideration. The SAC ruled that the reputation of a trade mark is associated with its high distinctive ability, and such ability is weakened if more entrepreneurs are using the same or similar trade marks to designate their goods. The Court noted that the reputation is a matter of facts and the evidence suggesting that this sign could be well-known and considered to be attractive also in Poland, due to the popularity of Truman Capote’s book and the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, was not sufficient. What was also important is the fact that the SAC noted that cases between the same parties relating to trade marks with the word “Tiffany” were already the subject of recognition by this Court. See “Trade mark law, case II GSK 1110/08“, “Trade mark law, case II GSK 1111/08” and “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 214/08“. Although there were similar arguments presented by the parties, each case brought before the SAC was related to the legality of separate and non-identical decisions. The VAC has to consider these differences, but the SAC also ruled that it would be advisable to take into account the views expressed in earlier judgments of the Supreme Administrative Court based on the background of similar cases between the same parties.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 538/11

July 9th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of the story described in “Trade mark law, case Sp. 457/08“. Unilever filed a complaint against the decision of the Polish Patent Office in which the PPO decided on the lapse of the right or protection of 3D trade mark R-134678 because of its non-use in the form in which the trade mark has been registered.

R-134678

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 22 June 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 538/11 overturned the decision of the Polish Patent Office and held it unenforceable. However, the Court did not even consider the arguments submitted by the parties. The decision was overturned because of the procedural issues. One of the members of the Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office who was involved in taking the questioned decision did not sign it and later on she retired, therefore, the PPO was not able to obtain her signature. An administrative decision should include at least the name/designation of authority, the addressee of the decision, the conclusion and a signature of the person entitled to issue an administrative decision. If the document lacks a signature, it is not an administrative decision but a draft of such a decision. See also “Procedural law, case IV SA/Po 304/10“. Unilever’s case returns to the PPO where it will be decided on again.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 903/09

January 5th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 16 November 2010 case file II GSK 903/09 held that the whole evidence material that was gathered in the file on the grant of the right of protection for a trademark is an integral part of the evidence concerning the invalidation proceedings that was initiated as a result of a notice of opposition to a final decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 785/10

January 4th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Unilever N.V., the owner of the word trade mark SOLERO IR-0622723 and the word-figurative trade mark SOLERO IR-0628636, has requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for the trade mark SOLEY R-129356 owned by the Polish company Maria Ziębińska, Stanisław Ziębiński “ICE MASTRY” sp. j. from Czaniec. Unilever claimed that the questioned sign is similar to its earlier registered well-known trade marks and that the Polish company acted in bad faith while applying for the right of protection because in 1997-2001, Unilever and ICE MASTRY were involved in two civil suits (case files V GC 252/97 and V GC 217/98) that have ended in a settlement in which the Polish company commited to discontinue use of the signs SOLER, Soller and SOLLEI. The PPO invalidated the right of protection. ICE MASTRY filed a complaint against this decision.

IR-0628636

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 4 October 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 785/10 held that the date of application for registration under Article 11 of the old Polish Act of 31 January 1985 on Trade Marks – TMA – (in Polish: Ustawa o znakach towarowych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 5, item 15, with subsequent amendments, determines the priority of the right of protection associated with the applied sign (prior tempore potior jure). These provisions still apply in cases where the trade mark has been applied for registration when the old Act was in force. Thus, by this date all subjective and objective issues related to the right applied for protection must also be assessed, in particular,and whether the applicant has the right to the sign.

Article 11.
Subject to Article 12, priority for obtaining the right deriving from registration of a trademark shall be determined on the basis of its regular filing for registration with the Patent Office.

The Court also noted that the TMA, as well as the new Polish Act on Industrial Property Law, does not include a provision that would regulate differently the question of the trade mark application, in relation to its subjective and objective elements and that would take into account as authoritative another, later, point in time. Moreover,the adoption at of a later date to assess the qualifications of the applicant, not only would provide an option for revalidation of trade mark applications that were filed in contradiction with the law, or principles of social coexistence (in bad faith), but may also violate other laws. The filing date of an application for the registration of a trade mark should be taken into account when assessing whether the applicant has acted in bad faith, not the date of trade mark registration. The judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 347/10

October 29th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 9 July 2005, the Polish Patent Office registered word-figurative trade mark “PERŁY I ŁOTRY SHANGHAJU” R-164275 for Grzegorz Majewski “SINONIS” from Katowice. Michał Gramatyka, Wojciech Harmansa, Adam Saczka and Sławomir Olko filed a request for the invalidation of the right of protection. They claimed that they were members of the music band “PERŁY I ŁOTRY SHANGHAJU”, the band’s name is a common right and therefore the registration of this name as a trademark by Grzegorz Majewski violated the rights of other band members. The applicants alleged that Majewski filed for the registration at a time when he was not an active member of the band and he also knew that “PERŁY I ŁOTRY SHANGHAJU” continues its operation, accordingly he acted in bad faith. Bad faith is also confirmed by the fact that based on the granted right of protection for the trade mark in question, Majewski demanded the cessation of business activity of the other band members. The sign in question is a word-figurative trade mark and similarities that exist may mislead the public with “PERŁY I ŁOTRY” R-194932 trade mark registered for Firma Usługowo-Handlowa HARPEL II Wojciech Harmansa. See also “Trade mark law, case Sp. 211/08“.

R-164275

The Polish Patent Office dismissed the request and concluded that there was no reason to believe that the grant of protection to the trade mark at issue violated the personal rights of applicants if a civil court’s judgment submitted during the invalidation proceedings included a statement that they are not entitled to such a personal right/interest to the band name. The applicants filed a complaint against this decision.

R-194932

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 24 August 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 347/10 annulled the contested decision and ruled it unenforceable. The VAC held that there was a breach of procedural law. The Court held that the PPO, in fact, did not properly examine the request for invalidation. The PPO based its findings only on certain statements issued in the judgment of the Apellate Court in Katowice, and draw more far-reaching conclusions. And so, from the finding of the Appellate Court that plaintiffs have not demonstrated the fact that they are entitled to the name of the band “Perły i Łotry Szanghaju”, the PPO reached a conclusion that the applicants shall have no personal or property rights, and then ruled the argument of acting in bad faith as unfounded. This jugdgment is not final.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1133/10

October 25th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of a story described in “Trade mark law, case II GSK 496/09“. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 4 August 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1133/10 anulled the PPO’s decision and ruled it unenforceable. The Court held that the Polish Patent Office, while assessing the similarity of the opposing signs, ignored in general the question of the impact of a trade mark on recipient/consumers/buyers of the goods bearing the sign, and therefore it did not considered in a comprehensive way the impact of the entire mark, focusing only on one of its verbal elements – PREMIUM word, without attempting to explain the “impact strength (distinguishing ability)” of PREMIUM word as an informational sign that is used to designate the exceptional quality of a product.

IR-802093

In the opinion of the courts, this issue is very important, because while examining the compared signs, the impact of the opposing character – its distinctive ability may not be indifferent, and a “weak” sign must often tolerate the coexistence of the close signs. See U. Promińska, Ustawa o znakach towarowych. Komentarz, Wydawnictwo Prawnicze PWN, Warszawa 1998, p. 42.

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.

R-219919

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 II GSK 691/09

October 5th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 14 October 2002, the Polish company BWS Polska Sp. z o.o. based in Zaczernie applied for the right of protection for VARNA Z-256235 trademark for goods in Class 33 such as wines. The Polish Patent Office informed the applicant that it cannot be granted a right of protection because VARNA is also a geographical name of the Bulgarian city of Varna, which is located in the eastern Black Sea region famous for producing high quality white wines. Due to the fact that the seat of the applicant is located on Polish territory, the sign may lead the potential buyers to confusion as to the origin of goods. In response, BWS noted that the sign does not contain any false information, while simultaneously indicating that it is an importer and distributor of wines from south-eastern Europe, including Bulgaria.

The PPO received also comments issued by BSG Poland Sp. z o. o. in which the company raised objection of lack of statutory requirements for the protection of the questioned trade mark. Comments were sent to BWS but the company has not agreed to these statements.

The Polish Patent Office refused to grant a right of protection. The PPO ruled that VARNA sign is information on the place of the origin of wine – the site of a wine-growing and processing, without informing the consumer about anything else. According to the PPO, the importer has the right to register its trade mark, but the choice that violates the rights of manufacturers who conduct business in the region of Varna – infringes on the principles of merchant’s honesty. A situation in which the Bulgarian wine producers could not provide the Polish consumer that the wine has been produced by them is not fair, because they were outrun by an entity whose relationship with Bulgaria is at least questionable.

BWS requested the retrial of its case. The company reduced the original list of goods to wines from Bulgaria. It argued also that, under a contract with the Bulgarian multi-vendor, which is located in Varna, it has exclusive rights to sell original bottled VARNA wine. BWS indicated that the packaging of imported wine, includes bottle shape and color and shape, color, composition and location of the graphic label and it is its own creation. The company pointed out that the Trade Mark Register includs other signs being the name of national and international cities, towns, and in its opinion, the registration of VARNA trade mark will not be the monopolization of the word, because the Varna city remains a geographical name, the name of the appellation of origin or possibly the name of the seat of the suppliers of wine.

After reconsidering the matter, the Polish Patent Office upheld the contested decision. The PPO withdrew from contesting the trade as contrary to good merchant’s practice and public policy, pointing out also that the limited list of goods also been removed as an obstacle to the misleading nature of the sign. However, the PPO ruled that VARNA is the word trade mark, with no graphics, and indicates the origin of goods, therefore, it cannot be registered. The average consumer will read the sign as the Bulgarian city or geographic region on the Black Sea, famous for making wines. BWS filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 March 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 2098/08 held that the contested decision is the right. According to the Court the basic prerequisite for the grant of the right of protection is the distinctive character of a sign. The legal doctrine distinguishes between the so-called abstract distinctive ability and the concrete distinctive ability. The mark is characterized by the abstract distinctive ability, where a sign is examined abstractly (in isolation from the specific goods or services) capable of distinguishing the goods of one undertaking from those of another. The mark has concrete distinctive character when it is capable of distinguishing goods or services specified in the application to the Patent Office of goods or services of another company.

BWS filed a cassation complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 13 July 2010 case file II GSK 691/09 reversed the contested judgment and refered the case back for reconsideration. The SAC held that the VAC overlooked in its deliberations, the fact that the disputed word mark VARNA is not present in the Polish language as the name of the city in Bulgaria. This spelling of the city name does not occur in Bulgarian either (it’s Варна). However, in Polish language the city is known as Warna. Meanwhile the VAC in assessing the facts of the case stated that it was undisputed that the sign is the name of the VARNA city in Bulgaria and that by placing it on the goods (wines originating from Bulgaria) it will indicate the relevant public without difficulty and without no additional actions the origin goods. The Court had the duty to assess the legality of the contested decision of the Polish Patent Office even if the allegation was not raised in the complaint. The law requires that the assessment whether the mark is sufficiently distinctive has to be made individually for each sign. The VAC should also examine the issue whether a questioned sign due to the use of the first letter “V” and not “W” (as is correctly spelled in Polish) has sufficient distinctiveness, although phonetically the “V” and “W” letters sound the same in the Polish language. Of those grounds the SAC held that the VAC has not made an overall assessment of distinctive character of the sign in question, taking into account its visual, aural or conceptual elements, and therefore the VAC infringed on Article 113 §1 and Article 145 §1 point 1 C of the Polish Act on Proceedings before Administrative Courts, since it dismissed the case without adequate explanation of the matter. The SAC noted also that the BWS claimed that, under the earlier decisions of the PPO, it acquired rights of protection for trademarks, even though they were the names of cities (Melnik – a city in Bulgaria), Calama (a city in Chile), or Beverly Hills (a city in California), however, the VAC did not respond to such arguments. In light of the settled case-law of the Supreme Administrative Court, the administration body can change its opinion on the content of the right conclusion, which should be issued in a specific type of cases, but it must carefully justify such a change, especially when changing the view of decisions taken in relation to the same applicant. The case-law of the administration may therefore be subject to change, if the authority demonstrates that there are reasonable grounds.

Procedural law, case IV SA/Po 304/10

September 24th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivoideship Administrative Court in Poznań in its judgment of 22 September 2010 case file IV SA/Po 304/10 confirmed once again one of the fundamental principles of administrative law that an administrative decision should include at least the name/designation of an authority who issued it, the addressee of the decision, the conclusion and a signature of the person entitled to issue an administrative decision. When there is no signature, it is not the administrative decision, but a draft of such a decision.

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.

R-82966

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.

Personal data protection, case I OSK 756/09

July 11th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

A former entrepreneur (natural person) requested a telecommunications company to remove his personal data that were used for marketing purposes. The company did not want to take into account the above-mentioned demands, arguing that the rights provided in Article 33 of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments, are not afforded for persons who perform or performed professional business activity (entrepreneurs).

Article 33
1. At the request of the data subject, within the period of 30 days, the controller shall be obliged to notify the data subject about his/her rights, and provide him/her with the information referred to in Article 32 paragraph 1 point 1-5a as regards his/her personal data, and in particular specify in an intelligible form:
1) the category of personal data contained in the file,
2) the means of data collection,
3) the purpose and the scope of data processing,
4) the recipients of the data and the scope of access they have been granted.
2. At the request of the data subject, the information referred to in paragraph 1 shall be given in writing.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 15 March 2010 case file I OSK 756/09 held that provisions of Article 6 of the PPD does not differentiate the rights of individuals, depending on whether they are performing business activity or not. In this situation, there was no reason to exclude information about natural persons conducting business/economic activity from the protection guaranteed by the PPD.

Article 6
1. Within the meaning of the Act personal data shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person.
2. An identifiable person is the one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his/her physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity.
3. A piece of information shall not be regarded as identifying where the identification requires an unreasonable amount of time, cost and manpower.

See also “Polish regulations on personal data protection” and “Polish case law on personal data protection“.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1144/08

October 17th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 25 September 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 1144/08, published in LEX under the no. 513878, held that the descriptiveness of a trade mark is the sole and direct information which indicates the characteristic of the goods. The signs are not deemed as descriptive if in only through indirect conclusion can be considered as a determination of such features. This case concerned the examinations proceedings of the trade mark telepizzeria Z-284471 that was applied for by the Polish company BONO A. MAZUREK Spółka Jawna for goods and services in Classes 29, 30, 31, 32, 35 and 43.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 896/08

May 31st, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 28 April 2009 case file II GSK 896/08 held that the question of similarity or dissimilarity of trade marks does not belong to the realm of substantive law, but is decided based on the regulations on administrative proceedings, because it involves questions of the facts, not law. From the viewpoint of the risk misleading the customer to confusion as to the origin of the goods, in principle, the whole sign, not its individual elements are examined.

R-164202

The Court ruled that during the proceedings in this case the company was trying to protect its trade mark “VANILA FASHION Izabella Kowalska” R-164202 based on the provision of Article 132(2)(ii) and not Article 132(2)(iii) 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.

2. A right of protection for a trademark shall not be granted, if the trademark:
(ii) is identical or similar to a trademark for which a right of protection was granted or which has been applied for protection with an earlier priority date (provided that the latter is subsequently granted a right of protection) on behalf of another party for identical or similar goods, if a risk of misleading the public exists, in particular by evoking associations with the earlier mark,
(iii) is identical or similar to a renown trademark registered or applied for registration with an earlier priority (provided that the latter is subsequently registered) on behalf of another party for any kind of goods, if it without due cause would bring unfair advantage to the applicant or be detrimental to the distinctive character or the repute of the earlier trademark. The above provision shall apply to well-known trademarks accordingly.

The Court noted that the protection afforded to in Article 132(2)(ii) of the IPL is weaker in comparison to a renown mark.

Trade mark law, case file II GSK 138/07

September 10th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 19 March 1998, with the notification of 17 September 1996, the Austrian company Red Bull GmbH has received the right of protection for its word trade mark based on the international registration IR-641378 A, in almost all classes (3, 5, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 39,41 and 42). On March 2004, the Polish company Przedsiebiorstwo Produkcji Lodów “KORAL” applied for the registration of the word trade mark RED BLUE Z-277694 in Class 30 for goods such as ice creams and other products. However, the Polish Patent Office recognized earlier priority of Red Bull’s trade mark and rejected the application.

Koral requested a motion to declare the expiration of Red Bull’s trade mark rights in Class 30, claiming that the Austrian company failed to put to genuine use of the registered trade mark for the goods covered by the registration for a period of five successive years. The PPO agreed with “Koral” and declared the expiration of Red Bull’s trade mark in its decision of 30 October 2005 case file Sp. 199/04. Red Bull’s evidences of use that were based on the fact that Austrian company has put its trade mark on boxes with sweets which were later sent during different occasions to customers and business partners were found insufficient. The date on which five years period ended was set by the PPO on 9 July 2004 (the date on which the request for invalidation was filed). Both parties filed a complaint against this decision. The Polish company did not agree with PPO’s findings as regards trade mark rights’ expiration date, and the Austrian company claimed that PPO should consider reputation of its trade mark.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 7 September 2006 case file VI SA/Wa 557/06 held that reputation is not taken into account during proceedings for lapse of a right of protection. Arguments that Koral company has no standing were rejected by the Court because both parties were also involved in unfair competition proceeding before civil court. Once again, both companies filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 September 2008 case file II GSK 138/07 ruled that the reputation of a trade mark is irrelevant when there are the invalidation proceedings. This is not the proper stage. The reputation could be taken into account during the application proceeding for Koral company’s trade marks. A single fact of non-used Red Bull’s trade mark being an obstacle for registration was a sufficient condition for declaring its expiry. Koral has also called into question the date of expiry of the right of protection. It was the reason for the Court to discuss this issue in the extended chamber. The Supreme Administrative Court in its opinion of 23 April 2008 case file II GPS 1/08 gave a very detailed explanation of that problem. See also “Trade mark law, case II GPS 1/08“.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 309/07

March 30th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 20 March 2007, case file VI SA/Wa 1998/06 ruled that the source of legal interest to seek a declaration on the lapse of the right of protection for a trade mark may be general rules of law that create the right of establishment of business activity (article 20 and article 22 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland). However, any person requesting the Patent Office to make a decision on the lapse of the right of protection for the trade mark must prove, on pain of dismissal of such application, that the disputed trade mark limits business activity of an applicant, or it has negative impact the legal situation of the applicant. This case concerned ION R-110244 and ION WEST R-11020 trade marks.

The court deciding this case was aware that divergent views on the subject of legal interests are presented both in the legal doctrine and the case-law. One part of the legal doctrine and practising lawyers believes that a lack of legal interest justyfies the issuance of a refusal based on the formal reasons, and another part’s view is that in this case, the PPO should take the decision to discontinue the proceedings. The court cited the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 7 September 1989, act signature SA/Ka 441/89 and its critical gloss written by Barbara Adamiak, published in OSP 1991/2/33.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 25 January 2008 case file II GSK 309/07 ruled that the request for a referral to the Court of Justice regarding the question whether the article 12(1) of First Directive 89/104/EEC of the Council, of 21 December 1988, to Approximate the Laws of the Member States Relating to Trade Marks allows Member States to introduce into the national law an additional substantial prerequisite regarding the legitimate interest, limiting the class of persons allowed to seek for a declaration on the lapse of the right of protection for a trade mark that was failed to be put to genuine use to those who are able to demonstrate their interest and depriving such possibility the business entities having the actual interest, including economic one, is unfounded.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1470/07

October 30th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

This case concerned the invalidation proceedings of MURBET R-155245 trade mark owned by Przedsiębiorstwo Wielobranżowe MURBET Andrzej Zaborski. The proceedings were initiated by the MURBET Gabrylewicz Spółka Jawna company from Ełk.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 October 2007 case file VI SA/Wa 1470/07 held that the registration of a trade mark which infringes personal or property rights of third parties is unacceptable, and in light of case-law, in case of conflict between the company name (the firm), and a trade mark that registered with the “worse priority”, the priority shall be given to the earlier right. However, the exclusive rights to the company name (the firm) is not absolute. Its limits are set by the territorial and substantive coverage, the actual activity of person using the names. Only within these limits there may be a collision between identical or similar company name (the firm) and trademark.

R-222381

The VAC held that because of the distinct areas of the business activity of the person entitled to the company name and the holder of the right of protection to MURBET R-155245 trade mark, there is no risk of leading their consumers to confusion as to the identity of such business or the owner of the later trade mark. The owner of the questioned trade mark does not use the reputation associated with the earlier (identical or similar ) company name (the firm), then it is difficult to find the collision of these two rights, and consequently a breach of an earlier right to the company name by the registration of the later trade mark. The judgment is not final. See also “Trade mark law, case II GSK 400/08“.