Archive for: Polish Act on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts

Trade mark law, case II GSK 553/10

August 19th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Przedsiębiorstwo Przemysłu Spirytusowego POLMOS w Warszawie applied for the right of protection for the word trade mark „spirytus rektyfikowany” (in English: rectified spirit) Z-204843. The Polish Patent Office refused to grant the right of protection. The PPOo ruled that this designation is purely descriptive. It informs about the type of product and how it is produced, and while examined as a whole, this sign does not have any sufficient distinctive character in relation to goods for which it was filed. Therefore, it will not allow for the identification of the goods available on the market in terms of their origin. The PPO decided also that this sign is devoid of any characteristic features that may engrave into memory of the recipient and lead to the association with the entrepreneur, from which they originate. The recipient buying the goods bearing the sign in question will be informed about the characteristics of the product, not its origin. POLMOS claimed that „spirytus rektyfikowany” has acquired secondary meaning.

The PPO did not agree with the argument that a number of word-figurative trade marks containing the term “rectified spirit” that were registered for POLMOS supports the position that this trade mark has acquired secondary meaning, because all these trade marks were registered by the PPO because of its graphics and not the distinctive character of the disputed sign. The PPO concluded that the information on the secondary meaning posted on Wikipedia website can not be considered fully reliable evidence and Wikipedia cannot be treated as the professional source of information. The PPO noted that the fact that POLMOS was able to register the word mark “rectified spirit” in the United States has no impact on the examination of trademark application Z-204843, because the Polish system is completely autonomous. The PPO noted that even POLMOS is advertising its main product as a word-figurative trade mark, where both words are placed on the green-yellow label.

POLMOS filed a complaint against this decision but it was dismissed by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 14 December 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 1859/09. POLMOS filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 May 2011 case file II GSK 553/10 dismissed the complaint. The Court cited the Dictionary of Polish language, published by PWN SA, the Internet edition, in which the word spirit is defined as a generic name of a specific type of alcoholic product – a high percentage water solution of ethyl alcohol. The word “rectified” is as an adjective derived from the noun “rectification” and it means the separation of liquid mixtures by repeated evaporation and condensation. The concept of rectification is commonly associated with a technological process, even if the recipient does not know the specific method. In conjunction with the first of the words in the trade mark in question it is associated with a way to produce a particular product. The two words – “rectified spirit” – contain only information about the type of product and how to produce it, and as such do not have sufficient distinctive character. The SAC shared in this regard the view expressed by the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 June 2008 case file II GSK 185/08. See also “Trade mark law, case II GSK 185/08“. The Court ruled that there was no reason to assign a long use and the reputation only to the “rectified spirit” designation as separated from other elements of a word-figurative trade mark that was corresponding to the label on the bottle. The SAC noted that a trade mark is an indivisible whole. The use of a word-figurative trade mark does not mean that association between the word element and a particular entrepreneur arise in the minds of the consumer.

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 466/10

July 5th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Aquatherm GmbH registered a single green color determined by RAL 150 60 40 as a trade mark IR-863506 for goods in Class 19 such as rigid pipes of polypropylene for the supply of drinking water and heating and air conditioning systems in houses, office buildings and industrial buildings. The Company sought the recognition of the protection of its trade mark on the territory of the Republic of Poland based on the provisions of the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks.

IR-863506

On 11 July 2006, the Polish Patent Office transmitted to the International Bureau in Geneva a notification of the grounds which prevent the protection of an international trademark to be recognised on the territory of the Republic of Poland. The PPO decided that according to Article 120 of the Polish Industrial Property Law this trade mark cannot distinguish the goods, because it is a single color and it is devoid of sufficient distinctive character.

On 20 April 2007, the Patent Office sent a letter to the International Bureau with information concerning the correction of a clerical error in the notification dated 11 July 2006, informing that the provisional refusal to recognize the protection should include Article 129(1)(ii) and Article 129(2)(i) of the IPL and not Article 120 of the IPL. At the same time, the PPO did not consider the request of the Aquatherm GmbH to initiate an administrative hearing on the correction of this error. The PPO pointed out that the correction did not change the legal basis of the notification. The difference in the numbering of Articles 120 and 129 was a result of unfortunate, in this case, close arrangement of numbers 9 and 0 on the computer keyboard.

The Polish Patent Office in its decision of 9 May 2008 case DT-IR-863 506 refused to recognize the protection. Aquatherm GmbH filed a request for re-examination of the matter, but it was dismissed by the PPO in its decision of 10 June 2009 case PT-430/08 IR-863 506. The PPO did not agree with the Aquatherm GmbH that the registration on its behalf of the earlier trade marks such as IR-832895 or IR-837655 justifies the registration of the applied sign because each case is decided according to individual circumstances. The PPO held that it has not changed, as a result of correcting errors, the legal basis of the refusal.

Aquatherm GmbH filed a complaint against these decisions. The Company argued that the PPO infringed on Article 5(2) of the Madrid Agreement because it took its decision after the expiration of one year term that is calculated from the date of the international registration of the mark. The provisions that were used as the basis for refusal, were first indicated in the letter of 20 April 2007. Aquatherm GmbH argued also that the PPO mistakenly determined that the goods included in the list of goods and services are everyday consumer goods targeted for mass audiences, and that the green color is commonly used for the determination of water supply pipes, and aqueous solutions. According to the Company, the PPO has not made an exhaustive evaluation of the evidence, in particular, it completely ignored the key evidence submitted by the company in a statement of the Polish Corporation of Sanitary, Heating, Gas and Air-Conditioning Technology which included information on whether a given color may indicate the manufacturer
on the market of installations polypropylene systems, and whether the green color used as designation of pipes or installations allows the buyers to identify these products with Aquatherm GmbH.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 December 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 1452/09 dismissed the complaint. The VAC held that the provisional refusal cannot be considered ineffective. According to the Court, the PPO indicated the grounds for refusal which was in accordance with the Rule 17 of the Common Regulations under the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks and the Protocol Relating to that Agreement. The Court noted that in the case of color per se its concrete distinctive ability must be interpreted in the light of public interest, which is based on the rules of the limited reduction of the availability of colors for other entrepreneurs who offer goods or services of the same kind as the goods or services covered by the registration application. The basic function of the trade mark is to guarantee the final consumer or user the identity of the origin of the goods or designated services bearing the trade mark by letting them distinguish the goods or the service of goods or services of different origin. The distinctive character of the sign is based on such features which in the minds of consumers clearly indicate that a particular product bearing a given trade mark comes from the specific company. The VAC noted that in relation to the color per se, it is assumed that the existence of primary distinctive characteristic (without any prior use) is possible only in exceptional circumstances, especially when the number of goods or services for which the mark is applied for is very limited and when the relevant market is very specific. The Court noted that the green color in relation to the applied goods is not unusual. The VAC agreed with the PPO that, in the case of green color used for the pipes used for water flow, there is a risk that consumers will associate it with nature, therefore, it should not be monopolized by one company, in particular, that this shade of green RAL 150 60 40 is also not original.

Moreover, the VAC found that the Patent Office has rightly used the example of PN-70/N-01270 standards Guidelines for marking of pipelines. The standard recommends that the painting for the identification of pipelines made ​​of carbon steel or other materials susceptible to corrosion should be coordinated with anticorrosive painting in which the topcoat should also fulfill the function of identification. It is customary to use green for water and chemical solutions that pose no chemical and thermal threat. The Court noted that the statement of the Polish Corporation of Sanitary, Heating, Gas and Air-Conditioning Technology could be helpful to support Aquatherm position, but also found that such a document can not be regarded as expert evidence under the provisions of Polish Administrative Proceedings Code or substitute evidence for opinion polls.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 15 April 2011 case file II GSK 466/10 dismissed the cassation. The SAC agreed with the findings included in the judgment of the VAC and ruled that the provisional refusal to recognize the protection is, by its very nature, some kind of a general statement issued by an authorized body of the state that is the party to the Madrid Agreement, and it includes the grounds which prevent the protection of an international trademark to be recognized on the territory of the Republic of Poland. The reasons given in the notification of provisional refusal set the boundaries within which the Polish Patent Office then investigates the case and its matter. However, as it was mentioned, the notification is of a general (signaling) nature and it is clarified in a subsequent administrative proceedings. In the event of a dispute, the position included in the notification is subject to detailed examination by the administrative courts, reflecting inter alia the context of a trade mark application, the nature of the applied sign, etc. As a consequence, the reasons of a provisional refusal should be explained in general terms and take into account all the circumstances specified in the notification by the authority.

Personal data protection, I OSK 1086/10

June 3rd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 19 May 2011 case file I OSK 1086/10 acknowledged the principle that in case of a disclosure of personal data in the media, the press law and civil law regulations are applicable, and not the provisions 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.

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

Trade mark law, case II GSK 67/10

April 14th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark 1001 R-157046 registered for goods in Class 16 such as posters, albums, almanacs, stationery, blocks, drawing blocks, brochures, magazines, charade magazines, prints, forms, newspapers, calendars, calendars with loose pages, filing cards, cards, card-notices, postcards, comics, books, crossword puzzles, stationery, stickers, notepads, covers, bookmarks, drawing kits, notebooks, and owned by Agencja Wydawnicza TECHNOPOL Spółka z o.o. The PPO ruled that this trade mark lacks distinctiveness. TECHNOPOL filed a complaint against this decision but it was dismissed by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 September 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 1164/09. Technopol filed a cassation complaint.

R-157046

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 10 February 2011 case file II GSK 67/10 dismissed it and ruled that a trade mark which lacks primary distinctiveness will acquire distinctiveness or secondary meaning through advertising, if it is used for so long that it will be associated not with the original descriptive content, but the source of its origin – a specific goods produced by a particular manufacturer. The practice of different publishers who used different numbers and numerals in tiles of magazines did not allow for 1001 to acquire secondary meaning.

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

March 16th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1088/09

February 19th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Polish company Śnieżka Invest sp. z o. o. from Świebodzice requested the Polish Patent Office to decided on the lapse of the right of protection for the trademark GOPLANA MICHAŁKI R-139668 owned by Jutrzenka S.A. Śnieżka claimed that the questioned trade was not genuinely used in the period of five successive years after a decision on the grant of a right of protection has been taken. Śnieżka also owns michałki R-72668 trade mark and the company from Świebodzice argued that the market existence of GOPLANA MICHAŁKI sign would interfere its business.

Jutrzenka argued that there existed very serious reasons of non-use – the pending administrative proceedings for invalidation of its trade mark. Jutrzenka claimed that the use of the mark in the course of those proceedings would be irrational and it would expose the company to any future claims of Śnieżka. The PPO in its decision of 1 July 2008 no. Sp. 398/07 held that GOPLANA MICHAŁKI trade mark has lapsed. Jutrzenka filed a complaint. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 26 June 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 81/09 dismissed it. Jutrzenka filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 14 December 2010 case file II GSK 1088/09 dismissed the complaint and ruled that the case for invalidation of the trade mark registration does not qualify as an important reason for non-use thereof. The serious reasons should be factual and/or legal obstacles. These may be external events of force majeure nature that are impossible to predict and prevent. All circumstances relating to ordinary business risks, which concerns the current operations of each business cannot be deemes as such obstacles. A legal obstacle,preventing the use of a trade mark may be, for example, an individual administrative act prohibiting the use of the mark.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1122/10

February 11th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 25 October 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1122/10 ruled that a trade mark application and examination case cannot be decided based on general assumptions and in an automatic way, because it is always resolved with regard to its specific conditions and references. The Polish Patent Office is required to conduct proceedings in such a way as to increase the trust of citizens in the State bodies and public awareness and appreciation of the law. According to the mentioned above principles, the PPO is required to precisely explain the circumstances of the case, respond to all claims and allegations and to include both public interest and the interests of the party, in the decision rendered.

Procedural law, case GSK 940/04

January 25th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 7 January 2005 case file GSK 940/04 held that the SAC shall apply the measures provided for in Article 135 the Polish Act of 30 August 2002 on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts – PBAC – (in Polish: Prawo o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 153, item 1270 with subsequent amendments, in order to eliminate breaches of law in respect of actions or acts issued or undertaken in all proceedings that were conducted within the case to which the cassation complaint was filed, if it is necessary to its final ending. The Court is obliged to go beyond the boundaries of a cassation complaint, but it does not mean, however, that the court is not bound by the limits of a case in which the action was brought. It cannot therefore adopt the measures provided for by the law and “interfere” in the new issue which has been or shall be the subject of proceedings before an administrative authority, and acts that should be issued in this kind proceeding.

This case concerned the request to decide on the lapse of the right deriving from registration of a trade mark that was filed before the Polish Patent Office by P.H. “Jubiler” Spółka z o.o. from Poznań. The proceeding before the PPO proved that this case should be focused on other important issues, mainly, the validity of transfer of the registration of the trade mark JUBILER R-60833. The PPO dismissed the request. The company from Poznań filed a complaint against this decision. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Poznań in its judgment of 16 March 2004 case file II SA 2550/02 dismissed it. P.H. “Jubiler” sp. z o.o. filed a cassation complaint.

R-60833

The Supreme Administrative Court held that the boundaries of the administrative case are determined by the extent of judicial review of public administration, which is provided in Article 1 of the Polish Act of 25 July 2002 on Law on Administrative Courts – LAC – (in Polish: Prawo o ustroju sądów administracyjnych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 153, item 1269 with subsequent amendments. Therefore, in the case that concerned a complaint filed on the issue of the lapse of the registration of trade mark, the Court could not examine and apply the measures provided for by law in another case, namely concerning the agreement on the transfer of the registration of the trade mark.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1090/10

January 20th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Polish entrepreneur “MALWA” Tea Wojciech Fabisiak from Lubiszyn applied for the right of protection for FITO APTEKA Z-327704 trade mark for goods in Classes 05, 30, 35 and 39 such as medicinal tea, medicinal drinks, medicinal herbs, tinctures of herbs for medicinal purposes, extracts of herbs for medicinal purposes, herbal tea, medicinal herbs, dried herbs, herbal mixtures for medical purposes, tea, ice tea, fruit tea, instant tea, coffee, coffee substitute, coffee substitute vegetable preparations, retail services and/or wholesale to third parties in the field of herbs, packaging of herbs, tea packaging. The Polish Patent Office refused to grant the right of protection. The PPO found that the sign in question contains two verbal elements “Fito” and “Apteka”. The word “fito” according to the Dictionary of Foreign Words PWN (published by PWN, in 1993) is a first element of compound words that are denoting plants, for plants (from Greek “phyton” – plant). The word “Apteka” (in English: pharmacy) indicates the type of store where drugs are sold or made, as well as herbs, some cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, herbal teas, coffee. The PPO ruled that the applied signs lacks distinctive character. MALWA filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 November 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1090/10 dismissed it. The VAC agreed with the PPO and held that the trade mark is devoid of distinctive character, where the words making up the sign in question have their specific meaning, both alone and in combination. The trade mark should provide information on the origin of goods from a particular manufacturer, and no information about the type of goods. The Court ruled that in case of word trade marks the criteria for granting a right of protection are much stricter than for word-figurative trade marks (combined signs) due to less room for maneuver for other businesses wanting to use a given word. The registration of a word trade mark, which lacks fanciful elements, but consist of a generic name, may unreasonably restrict the right of other entrepreneurs to describe their products.

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

January 7th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

Trade mark law, case 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 II GSK 258/07

December 13th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Aveda Corporation from Minneapolis, filed an opposition to avea R-151914 trade mark owned by INTERSILESIA MCBRIDE POLSKA Sp. z o.o. from Strzelce Opolskie registered for goods in Class 03. Aveda Corporation argued that avea trade mark is similar to its earlier AVEDA R-131741 trade mark. The Polish Patent Office has dismissed the opposition arguing that although the cosmetics in class 03 are goods for everyday use, the consumers pay special attention before their purchase, they check the ingredients of these products and are often testing them. Moreover avea trade mark is a word-figurative mark so it is protected as a whole.

Aveda Corporation filed complaint against this decision. The Voivodeship Administrative Court, in its judgment of 23 February 2007, case file VI SA/Wa 2048/06 dismissed the case. The Court held, that there is no risk of misleading the potential consumers although the trade marks AVEA and AVEDA are intended for marking the same goods, namely cosmetic products in class 03. Moreover the Court has agreed with the PPO, that the overall impression that trade mark exerts on the potential consumer is the most important factor. Although both trademarks differ from each other only in one letter, the figurative element in avea trade mark has crucial meaning.

Aveda Corporation filed a cassation complaint against this decision. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 December 2007 case file II GSK 258/07 held, that the Voivodeship Court could have agreed with the Polish Patent Office that the fact that both trade marks consist of the same element “ave” does not have to mislead the potential consumer when the letter “d” in the middle of the trade mark AVEDA this influences different perception of the trade mark. Although it was argued that the overall impression of the word-figurative trade marks in which the dominant element is a word, depends generally on the number of letters and the structure of the word.

The Supreme Administrative Court held, that the average consumer perceives the trade mark as a whole and does not analyze its particular elements. Therefore small differences between the trade marks are not sufficient to exclude the risk of visual similarity, especially when the trademarks have the common structure. In this particular case, it was considered that without analyzing the details of AVEDA and avea trade marks, the average consumer would notice the differences between both trade marks.

In answer to request of the plaintiff to refer to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling, stating that currently in force, test of assessment of risk to mislead a consumer and associating of trade marks on the basis on the art. 4 paragraph 1 point b), art. 5 paragraph 1 point 5 of Directive still raise concerns and in consequence there are discrepancies in the judgments of courts and Polish Patent Office, based on the judgments of OHIM, the Supreme Court held, that question formulated in this way did not meet criteria of Article 187 § 1 of Act on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts, according to which if, during cognisantion of the cassation appeal, there would appear a legal issue, that will raise doubts, the Supreme Administrative Court may postpone the proceedings and introduce this issue to the Composition of seven judges of this Court for deciding.

Regarding the following question of plaintiff to the Court of Justice of European Union i.e. whether increased level of attention of the average consumer can be admitted regarding the goods of common use, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the answer to this question was not of vital importance to this matter, because even lack of higher level of attention of the average purchaser of cosmetics did not affect the assessment that in the subject case, during the assessment of the opposite trade marks there was no risk of misleading the potential consumers.

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.

E-signature law, case II SA/Gd 573/10

September 11th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gdańsk in its order of 9 September 2010 case file II SA/Gd 573/10 held that the legal effectiveness of a letter brought by a party to an administrative court by electronic means must be confirmed by its later signature. This is the requirement provided in Article 46 § 1 pt 4 of the Act of 30 August 2002 on the Law on proceedings before administrative courts – PBAC – (in Polish: Prawo o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 153, item 1270, with subsequent amendments, which says that each letter must contain the signature of the party or its representative. This also applies to letters sent by electronic means. This ancient requirement is still in force even if there is the Polish Act of 17 February 2005 on the Informatization of Entities Performing Public Tasks – IEPPT – (in Polish: ustawa o informatyzacji działalności podmiotów realizujących zadania publiczne), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 64, item 565 as amended, and the Act of 18 September 2001 on Electronic Signature – ESA – (in Polish: ustawa o podpisie elektronicznym), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw), No 130, item 1450, with subsequent amendments, because both acts did not introduce the electronic administrative proceedings or electronic docketing systems to the Polish procedure.

See also “E-signature law, case I OPP 25/08” and “E-signatures in Poland“.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 21/10

September 7th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company Atlantic sp. z o.o. applied for the word-figurative trade mark ATL ATLANTIC Z-313731 in classes 03, 18 and 25. The Polish Patent Office refused to grant the right of protection in part of the goods covering deodorants for personal use, soaps, perfumery, cosmetics, cosmetic kits, portable suitcases for cosmetics, travel bags for clothing, shopping bags, beach bags, handbags and women handbags.

Z-313731

The PPO held that there are similar and conflicting trade marks such as Atlantic R-141375 for goods in class 18, Atlantic IR-631190 and ATLANTIC IR-787876 for goods in class 03.

R-141375

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 7 April 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 21/10 dissmissed Atlantic’s complaint and upheld the contested decision. The Court ruled that in all cases where the problem of the similarity of the opposed trade marks arises, it is the result of two closely related issues, i.e. the similarity of signs and the similarity (homogeneity) of goods/services for which the signs are applied for, registered or used. Both these factors determine the scope of trademark protection (citing M. Kępiński [in:] Niebezpieczeństwo wprowadzania w błąd odbiorców co do źródła pochodzenia towarów w prawie znaków towarowych, ZNUJ PWOWI zeszyt no 28 of 1982, p. 10). The VAC held that the convergent elements of disputed signs have crucial meaning for the buyers and such conclusion is justified from a psychological point of view, since the purchaser keeps in mind only a general representation of the sign for which is he or she looking for. Therefore the buyer chooses a sign based only on dominant elements while ignoring differences.

Procedural law, case II GPS 1/10

September 3rd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 28 June 2010 case file II GPS 1/10 held that provisions of Article 272 § 1 of the Act on the Law on proceedings before administrative courts – PBAC – (in Polish: Prawo o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi) of 30 August 2002, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 153, item 1270, with later amendments, serve as the basis for resumption of proceedings in administrative courts, whenever the ruling of the Constitutional Tribunal on compliance of the provisions of substantive and procedural with the Constitution, international agreement or act, concerned a legislative act, which was applied or should be applied before the administrative court or public authority in a given case.

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.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 495/09

August 10th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

R-148641

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

R-132619

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

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

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

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

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

Telecommunications law, case I OSK 1079/10

August 3rd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of a story described in “Personal data protection, case II SA/Wa 1598/09“. The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 15 July 2010 case file I OSK 1079/10 decided to stay the execution of the decision issued by the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO), and ruled that 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, provides broader protection of personal data because of telecommunications confidentiality, than the provisions of the Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 29 October 1997, No. 133, item 883, unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments. The Court held that the disclosure of IP addresses which enable identification of specific individuals, that was ordered during administrative proceedings initiated with regard to disclosure of such data, while such proceedings did not ended with judgment in force, may violate the provisions of Article 160 of the TLA.

Article 160.
1. An entity participating in the performance of telecommunications activities within public networks and entities cooperating with it shall keep the telecommunications confidentiality.
2. Entities referred to in paragraph 1 shall maintain due diligence, within the scope justified by technical or economic reasons, while securing telecommunications equipment, telecommunications networks and data collections from disclosing the telecommunications confidentiality.
3. A person coming into possession of a message not meant to be read by him/her when using radio or terminal equipment shall keep the telecommunications confidentiality. The provisions of Article 159 (3) and (4) shall respectively apply.
4. The recording of a message acquired in a manner described in paragraph 3 by a body executing control of telecommunications activities in order to document a violation of a provision of the Act, shall not be a violation of the telecommunications confidentiality.

While assessing the validity of the request to stay the execution of GIODO’s decision to disclose the requested IP address at this stage of proceedings, the Court agreed with the author of the cassation complaint, that the execution of the questioned decision at this stage makes it impossible to reverse the actions taken after the disclosure of the IP addresses, and such action should be seen as causing the effects that are difficult to reverse according to Article 61(3) of the Act of 30 August 2002 on the Law on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts – PBAC – (in Polish: Prawo o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 153, item 1270, subsequent amendments.

§ 1 Filing a complaint does not stay the execution of the act or actions.

§ 3 After the delivery of a complaint to the court, the court may issue at the request of the applicant, the order to stay the execution, in whole or in part of the act or actions referred to in § 1, if there is a risk of causing significant damage or cause to be difficult to reverse, with the exception of the provisions of local law which entered into force, unless the special Act excludes the stay of their execution. The refusal to stay the execution of the act or actions by the authority, does not deprive the applicant of action to the court. This also applies to acts issued or adopted in all proceedings conducted within the same case.

The SAC held that if the Supreme Administrative Court would agree with the cassation complaint filed against the judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court of 3 February 2010 case file II SA/Wa 1598/09, the effects of the execution of the questioned decision could not be reversed, because the IP address identifying a specific person is available to another participant in the proceedings. Accordingly, the court held that the correct solution at this stage of proceedings, is to stay the execution of the questioned decision also with a view to the impact of which its execution might result in, as well as the nature of the protection of personal data resulting from the relevant regulations such as, inter alia, the TLA.

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

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 370/10

July 21st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its order 17 June 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 370/10 held that if the party did not act properly within a given period of time in court proceedings without its fault, the court may decide on the request, on the restoration of a deadline. The request for restoration shall be filed within the Court, in which the act was to be made within seven days from the time as the cause of transgression ceased. The request for restoration of a deadline to file a complaint must be filed through the court or authority. The restoration of a deadline has unique nature and can only occur if the party convincingly proves of the absence of its guilt. The lack of guilt means a situation in which circumstances that were impossible to overcome and that were independent from the party, have occurred , and these were the reasons that the deadline set by the law was exceeded (see the order of the Supreme Administrative Court of 11 April 2008 case file I OZ 246/08).

In assessing the occurrence of this condition, the Court has to adopt an objective “test of care”, which may be required from everyone duly taking care of its interests. The restoration is therefore not admissible if the party is guilty of even slight negligence. If the party is represented by a professional representative, while assessing the guilt of not preserving a deadline, the representative acts should be considered, adopting an objective test of care, which may be required from a professional legal representative duly caring for the interests of its client, with the reservation that negligence of people, whom such representative employs, burden the representative itself, and therefore do not release the party from the guilt in non-reserving a deadline.

This means that the negligence made by administrative staff in activities necessary to preserve the procedural deadline, which was commissioned by a patent attorney who is a representative of a party, does not justify the restoration of a missed deadline.

Terravita Holding Establishment from Vaduz, Lichtenstein was a party who lost this case. See also “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 370/10“.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 503/10

July 20th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In January 2010, Polish company LMW sp z o.o. represented by a patent attorney filed via the Polish Patent Office (PPO) a complaint to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw, against the decision of the PPO on the refusal to grant a right of protection for LIBERTY MOTORS trade mark Z-315048.

Z-315048

In the Court’s order of 8 April 2010, a representative of LMW was asked to remedy the formal deficiencies of a complaint by submitting a power of attorney/proxy to act on behalf of the applicant before the voivodeship administrative court or before administrative courts and the document setting out the power to represent the applicant, i.e. the original or a certified copy of the full entry from the National Court Register, within 7 days from the date of service of summons under pain of dismissal of the action. This summons were served on 16 April 2010. The deficiencies were not removed.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its order of 31 May 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 503/10 rejected LMW’s complaint. The Court held that according to provisions of article 58 § 1 pt 3 of the Act on the Law on proceedings before administrative courts – PBAC – (in Polish: Prawo o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi) of 30 August 2002, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 153, item 1270 with later amendments, the administrative court shall reject the complaint, if it was not compensated for the formal deficiencies, within the prescribed period of time.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 452/10

July 19th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2009, the Polish Patent Office declared that the right of protection for REAL trademark owned by real SB-Warenhaus GmbH from Germany, lapsed partially. The German company requested for the suspension of the contested decision. The request stated that the contested decision would cause a negative economic impact for real SB-Warenhaus GmbH, which, through a Polish subsidiary, uses lapsed trade mark continuously since 1997. The German company has made far-reaching financial investments to build market position of REAL trade mark, in Poland – around 10 million PLN. In addition, the public awareness of the brand position, has not only financial backing but also social, because the company built on Polish territory large-area markets, which are operated under the name REAL, therefore, renaming the company and its markets would also affect the 13,500 employees. Given the increasing competition in the market, other competitors, could in good faith (or intentionally) use this trade mark. There was therefore a real risk that, until final completion of this case, the distinctive character of REAL trade mark would be weakened.

R-132135

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 15 June 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 452/10 decided to stay the execution of the questioned decision and ruled that if the decision of the Patent Office has not been suspended, REAL trade mark used by the Polish subsidiary could not be used, and others could exploit the position of this trade mark. The Court also agreed that financial outlays made for the creation and operation of REAL’s supermarkets, were large, and the scale of employment in these supermarkets and the necessary change of the company name and the supermarket, could adversely affect the situation of workers.

See also “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 451/10“.