Archive for: Art. 152 PBAC

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.


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.


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.

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.


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“.


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.


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.

Procedural law, case VI SA/Wa 934/10

October 12th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 28th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

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


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