Archive for: bad faith

Trade mark law, case II GSK 2062/13

January 30th, 2015, Tomasz Rychlicki

Transformation and economic changes in Poland after 1990 left a lot of problems in the case of trademarks that belong to the state-owned enterprises. The case described below is one of many examples.

PPHU HERBAPOL spółka z ograniczoną odpowiedzialnością requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the word-figurative trade mark Herbapol Wrocław R-179901 that was registered for Wrocławskie Zakłady Zielarskie HERBAPOL Spółka Akcyjna for goods in Classes 3, 5, 30, 31 and 32. PPHU HERBAPOL argued that the questioned registration was applied for in bad faith and this sign is similar or identical to registration owned by PPHU HERBAPOL such as the word trade mark HERBAPOL R-00312 or the word-figurative trade mark HERBAPOL R-00356. PPHU HERBAPOL stressed that the goods are identical, are intended for the same consumers, on the same territory. The Company argued that according to the provisions of the Polish Industrial Property Law and regulations governing the use of Herbapol collective trade marks, the right to use this sign should be entitled only to PPHU HERBAPOL, and all affiliated entities, which also include HERBAPOL S.A., and the registration of an individual trade mark identical or similar to a collective trade mark Herbapol may only be made for the benefit of the PPHU HERBAPOL. Therefore, HERBAPOL S.A. obtained the right of protection “illegally”. It was emphasized that the right for the protection of the collective trade mark does not grant exclusivity to use the sign to one entity, because it is reserved for the organization with the right to its use by the organization and all of its affiliated entities. HERBAPOL S.A. is both a shareholder of PPHU HERBAPOL and the entity authorized to use the collective trade mark. Therefore, HERBAPOL S.A. was fully aware that its trade mark application was made without the knowledge and consent of PPHU HERBAPOL, which infringed PPHU HERBAPOL’s right of protection for the collective trade marks.

HERBAPOL S.A. requested the PPO to dismiss the case. The Company presented a genealogy of the transformation of the state owned company that was originally the sole owner of the Herbapol trade mark, and argued that PPHU HERBAPOL derives its priority to Herbapol sign “secondarily”. In this context, and bearing in mind that PPHU HERBAPOL does use the sign and not produce any goods under the name Herbapol, PPHU HERBAPOL is not the legal successor of the state enterprise. Consequently, HERBAPOL S.A. argued that PPHU HERBAPOL lacks of legal interest in seeking the invalidation of the disputed right of protection, and PPHU HERBAPOL did not object to the use of questioned sign in five years.

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection. The PPO decided inter alia that compared signs are similar in all three aspects, and the goods are identical or similar. HERBAPOL S.A. filed a complaint against this decision and argued that currently, between all companies included in PPHU HERBAPOL, there are no capital ties, on the contrary, they are in the classic competitive relationship, therefore as of the 1993/1994 they all began to use geographical designation like Wrocław, Poznań or Lublin alongside the sign Herbapol. Since then, HERBAPOL S.A. incurred large spending on advertising of its products thus the recipients of its products were able to distinguish the mark from other manufacturers that used the sign Herbapol. For these reasons, the HERBAPOL S.A. believed that its designation obtained independent and individual market position. HERBAPOL S.A. also argued that it has acquried the right to use Herbapol sign before PPHU HERBAPOL, because since 1959, it has used the word Herbapol in the company name. The state owned company Zjednoczenie Przemysłu Zielarskiego “Herbapol” in Warsaw applied for the right of protection for Herbapol trade mark in 1974, however in 1982 the company was dissolved and in its place another entity was created. Therefore, the right of protection has expired in 1984. PPHU HERBAPOL was founded in 1989 and in the same year the Company requested the Polish Patent Office to change the owner of all Herbapol trade marks in the Register kept by the PPO. From the foregoing, HERBAPOL S.A. brought the conclusion that the right to Herbapol sign should not derived by PPHU HERBAPOL from the “material priority”, but its right has kind of secondary nature.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 14 June 2014 case file VI SA/Wa 101/13 dimissed the complaint and ruled that because this case involved a collective trade mark, the Court had to indicate the nature of this type of sign. The main conclusion is that the right to collective trade mark belongs to the organization, but the organization’s affiliated entities are entitled to use the sign. The VAC cited recent judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 27 June 2007 case file II GSK 83/07 in which the SAC held that a collective trade mark serves many entities, although the right of protection is granted for a specific organization. The right to a trade and the right to use it separated. This institution should be distinguished from the joint right of protection, which is related to an individual trade mark, where such sign is intended for concurrent use by several undertakings who have jointly applied for the protection. In other words, the right of protection for a collective trademark does not grant exclusive rights to the use the sign by a single entity, but it’s owned by one organization, and it can be used by many entities associated in this organization. However, only the organization may be awarded the right, sell it, waive this right or request a change in the Register. Therefore, HERBAPOL S.A. infringed on registrations owned by PPHU HERBAPOL. With regard to the argument that PPHU HERBAPOL was not genuinely using the Herbapol collective trade mark, the Court noted that the organization may independently use the collective trade mark, however, the use of such sign only by entities affiliated also fulfills the conditions of trade mark use.

HERBAPOL S.A. filed a cassation complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 9 January 2015 case file II GSK 2062/13 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1542/12

February 17th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

On August 2008, The Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark TEFLEX Q R-211213 for goods in Class 9 such as optical apparatus and instruments, spectacle frames, sunglasses, eyeglasses, articles for the manufacture of spectacles, spectacle cases, chains for spectacles, sports eyeglasses, optical lenses, optical glasses, optical products, and services in Class 44 such as optical services, medical assistance, medical clinics, for the Polish company Krasnodębski i S-ka OPTIBLOK Spółka Jawna.

R-211213

Eschenbach Optik GmbH filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection. The German company argued that the trade mark TEFLEX Q is similar to its CTM t-flex no. 001821651 that was registered for goods in Class 9 such as spectacles and spectacle frames. Moreover, it pointed out that the questioned trade mark has been applied for registration in bad faith, and its registration and use may lead to the infringement of the applicant’s property rights and the unfounded use of the reputation of the t-flex designation. The fact that the registered sign is confusingly similar and resembles t-flex brand for the same narrow class of products was an argument for the bad faith. Such action indicated the intention to use consumers’ knowledge of products bearing t-flex sign. The brand t-flex is a fanciful designation and it was extremely unlikely for the OPTIBLOK to apply for registration of the sign that was very similar. It was merely a coincidence. The German company noted that it conducts its business in more than 80 countries, including Poland. From the beginning, the Company manufactured and sold of glasses and optical devices, and TITANflex technology is one of the most important of its products. The Polish company is a competitor on the local market. The registration and use of the trade mark TEFLEX Q infringes the Community trade mark t-flex and violates the property rights of Eschenbach Optik GmbH. The existence of similar signs can result in negative consequences for clients and lead them to confusion with regard to the origin of goods. The infringement of the reputation of the t-flex sign was based on its dilution. While referring to the similarity of the goods, the German company noted that the services of class 44 are complementary to the goods in Class 9.

CTM no. 001821651

The Polish company argued that it did not act in bad faith, because before filing the trade mark application, it used services of a patent and trade mark attorney and therefore acted negligently. At the time of registration there was no identical or similar signs to TEFLEX Q mark. Additionally, the brand t-flex does not have distinctive character, because there are tens of thousands of products with the same name in the world.

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for the trade mark TEFLEX Q R- 211213 because, it found that the characters are very similar. However, PPO did not agree with the argument that the application was made ​in bad faith. According to settled case-law and legal commentators, the mere fact that one party applies for a trade mark similar to a sign used by the other party is not deemed as acting in bad faith. The bad faith must be proved based on other factors than knowledge of market presence of similar brands and signs, such factors include for instance dishonesty in relation to the interests of another entrepreneur. The reputation of the trade mark t-flex was also not proved. The mere statement that the German company had its Polish subsidiary was not sufficient to prove that Eschenbach Optik GmbH was present on the Polish market before the questioned trade mark was applied.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 February 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1885/11 dismissed it and ruled that the PPO referred precisely and in detail to all facts and evidence of the case. OPTIBLOK filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 8 January 2014 case file II GSK 1542/12 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 730/12

September 17th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

On May 2008, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark COOL RIVER R-205208 in Class 3. This sign was applied for by the Polish company Firma Handlowa A & S PARFUME FACTORY Marek Asenkowicz from Katowice.

ZINO DAVIDOFF SA filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection. DAVIDOFF argued that COOL RIVER is similar to its trade marks such as DAVIDOFF COOL WATER R-71968, COOL DIVE IR-0850699, Cool Water IR-0615313. All these signs are intended to indicate the same goods as the questioned trade mark. DAVIDOFF also claimed that its trade mark COOL WATER IR-0812386 is reputed one. Moreover, the trade mark COOL RIVER has been applied for in bad faith, because A & S PARFUME FACTORY knew about the existence of earlier marks owned by DAVIDOFF. The sale by A & S of perfumes in almost identical packagings, as packagings used by DAVIDOFF was the irrefutable evidence of the use of reputation of DAVIDOFF’s trade marks and the application of COOL RIVER in bad faith.

IR-0615313

The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office dismissed the request in its decision of 7 March 2011 case Sp. 483/09. While considering the visual and aural similarity of trade marks Cool Water, Davidoff Cool Water and Davidoff Cool Water Wave in relation to the questioned trade mark COOL RIVER, the PPO noted that all the words used in these trade mark have the origin of the English language. However, regardless of whether they will be pronounced in accordance with the spellings of the Polish language or in English, they are different in the visual and aural aspects due to the different verbal elements – WATER and RIVER. Furthermore, the PPO ruled that the word COOL, being the same element in all signs, is a common and popular word associated with something cold. The word WATER differs from RIVER in the visual aspect, and their pronunciation is different. The PPO also found that there were no circumstances indicating that A & S applied for its trade mark in bad faith. The burden of proving bad faith was on DAVIDOFF. At the same time, the overall assessment of the circumstances surrounding the consciousness of A & S at the date of trade mark application will decide on its bad faith. In the opinion of the PPO, such circumstances did not occur. Evidence such as the flyer entitled “list of alternative scents”, similar perfume packagings used by A & S as well as printouts from the website showing COOL WATER and COOL RIVER perfumes, were not sufficent to prove bad faith. Davidoff filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 January 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 2051/11 dismissed it. The Court agreed with the PPO that the trade marks are not similar. The VAC also held that the understanding of bad faith should be based on the provisions of the Polish Industrial Property Law. Bad faith occurs if someone applies for the trade mark in order to block other application or in order to block the use of the sign by other entity who uses this trade mark in the market or to take over the company’s market position. Bad faith also exists when someone is filing for a trade mark for speculative purposes, and there was no intent to use the applied sign, and in order to get benefits from the entity that owns such trade mark. Bad faith trade mark application happens when the applicant without due care or being aware, applies for a sign in violation of the rights of another person, or when the applied trade mark is contrary to morality or fair trade practices.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 September 2013 case file II GSK 730/12 dismissed the cassation complaint filed by ZINO DAVIDOFF SA.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 912/12

September 13th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

Zino Davidoff SA filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Polish Patent Office on the grant of the right of protection for the word trade mark SILVER SHOW R-199238 applied for by Firma Handlowa A&S PARFUME FACTORY Marek Asenkowicz and registered for goods in Class 3 such as perfumery. Zino Davidoff SA argued that the trade mark in question is similar to its series of International registrations such as SILVER-SHADOW IR-0660174, SILVER SHADOW IR-0853401 and SILVER SHADOW IR-0879527. The compared signs are similar in verbal, aural and semantic aspects.

The PPO found that the compared signs are used to designate the goods of the same type, i.e. perfumes and various cosmetics, however the similarity of goods was not disputed by the parties. The PPO decided that there are no similarities between trade marks that would justify the risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods. The PPO ruled that a leaflet called “alternative scents” and the fact that perfume packaging produced by A&S PARFUME FACTORY were alike to the other well-known brands, were not sufficient evidence to decide on bad faith application. Zino Davidoff SA filed a complaint against this decision. The Company noted inter alia that the PPO wrongly justified its decision by citing a different trade mark owned by Firma Handlowa A&S PARFUME FACTORY Marek Asenkowicz.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 18 January 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1850/11 dismissed the complaint. The VAC fully agreed with the PPO’s findings. The Court acknowledged that the questioned decision included mistakes with regard to trade marks and their registration numbers which could point to automatic preparation of the decision’s text, however, such errors had no significant impact on the outcome of the case. Zino Davidoff SA filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 September 2013 case file II GSK 912/12 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1716/11

November 15th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 4 January 2011, the Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark PIEKARNIA CUKIERNIA Jacek Gaj R-175774. The request for invalidation was filed by the Polish company who owned similar earlier trade mark registration. The PPO cited findings included in the judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 October 2005 case C-120/04 and in the judgment of the Supreme Administrative court of 26 October 2006 case file II GSK 37/06, and agreed with the Courts that by adding to the complex trade mark of the word element, indicating the company from which the goods originate, such method does not remove the risk of misleading the public, since the perception of the mark as a whole may lead to the impression that the goods or services of compared signs come from companies that are economically linked. Jacek Gaj filed a complaint against this decision.

R-175774

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 February 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1716/11 dismissed it. The Court ruled that general perception of trade marks by a potential customer – the consumer, is crucial for assessing the similarity. Verbal elements are generally dominant in the complex signs, but not when they are purely informative, descriptive, including word elements with the name of the other business.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 2324/11

October 5th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Julius Sämann Ltd., the owner of the figurative trade mark WUNDERBAUM IR-0579396, filed a notice of opposition to a final decision of the Polish Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark Forest Fresh R-183901 owned by S&S Smiczek & Smiczek Hanna Smiczek. Both trade marks were registered for similar goods in Class 5, mainly air freshening products. Julius Sämann Ltd. claimed that because of the similarity of goods there is a risk of misleading the public, in particular by evoking associations with the earlier mark. The company provided also evidence on reputation of its trade mark.

iR-0579396

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection. The PPO decided that three required conditions had to be cumulatively met in this case: i) the reputation of the earlier mark, ii) the similarity or identity of signs, iii) if it without due cause would bring unfair advantage to the owner of the later trade mark or be detrimental to the distinctive character or the repute of the earlier trademark. The PPO noted that the case law distinguishes between absolute and relative methods of assessing reputation. The first one considers knowledge of the mark and takes into account primarily the percentage of a certain degree of its recognition on the market. The relative method emphasizes different criteria, including the degree of the recognition of the trade mark, the market share in terms of quantity and value of goods sold, the extent and duration of product advertisements marked by the sign, territorial and temporal scope of its use, licenses granted, quality of the goods, the value of the sign in the evaluation of independent financial institutions, the size of expenditures incurred in connection with the promotion of trade, as well as relationship price of substitute goods. The evidence material can be public opinion polls, prizes and awards, press releases, ratings, reports, invoices and other commercial documents, as well as various promotional materials. The Polish Patent Office has adopted a mixed methodology in this case, and ruled that both the evidence on reputation, that was claimed and established before the date of application of the contested trade mark, as well as documents from the later period, strengthen the recognition of reputation of the trade mark WUNDERBAUM IR-0579396. The PPO decided that both trade marks are similar in visual, aural and conceptual aspects. The PPO noted that the market presence and existence of a trade mark which consumers associate with reputation of another sign, harm the interest of the owner. S&S Smiczek & Smiczek Hanna Smiczek filed a complaint against this decision.

R-183901

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 2 June 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 334/11 dismissed it. The Court agreed with the the assessment of the PPO, and repeated that an entrepreneur, who for the goods of the same type, chooses a sign that is similar to a trade mark with earlier priority, given that there is an infinite number of signs to be selected, acts at its own risk. S&S Smiczek & Smiczek Hanna Smiczek brought a cassation comaplaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 10 July 2012 case file II GSK 2324/11 repealed the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for further reconsideration. The Court held that the important drawback of the contested judgment and the decision of the PPO was the assumption on the similarity of the opposed trade marks that was based on the mere fact of the use in their visual aspect, a form of tree, without trying to examine whether the different presentation, including the type and shape of the tree, used in these signs, allowed for the adoption of the view that there exists the similarity of the signs. As a result, the Polish Patent Office, followed by the VAC, accepted the monopoly (exclusiveness) of the company to use very idea of ​​the tree element in its trade mark. The SAC recommended that the VAC should also take a stand on the consequences of the fact that S&S Smiczek & Smiczek Hanna Smiczek used its trade mark for a considerable period of time from 2002. After almost 5 years, Julius Sämann Ltd. initiated a civil action against the S&A. The civil proceedings with regard to trade mark infringement ended before the Supreme Court in its judgment of 14 October 2009 case file V CSK 102/09. The Supreme Court dismissing a cassation appeal filed by Julius Sämann Ltd., based on the argument that long-standing and undisturbed use of the sign in question, in connection with the principle venire contra factum proprium, according to which, if the party continued at a specific practice, it can not rely on its illegality, if other entity accepted such practice in good faith and it could suffer injury as a result of the changes. The application of this rule would come into play especially in a situation, if after the reexamination of evidence, the similarity of opposed signs has been established, and there was not any proof of bad faith on S&S side. The argument that there was bad faith requires evidence and proof, because good faith is presumed. Whether, in connection with long-term use, the S&S trade mark has acquired distinctiveness under average conditions of the market, a feature which is required for any sign to be registered, could speak in favor of the principle of venire contra factum proprium. In addition, marking the goods produced by S&S with its own trade mark, which are the goods of the same kind as products of Julius Sämann Ltd., undoubtedly positively affected the overall demand for such goods on the marker. Therefore, the invalidation of S&S trade mark in situation of its use in good faith, could easily lead to the acquisition of the customers of S&S by Julius Sämann Ltd., without incurring the costs which were attended by S&S in the promotion of the sign, The Court found it difficult to accept. The SAC also held that it should be borne in mind that the right of protection for a trade mark, as every object in the closed list (numerus clasus) of property rights, is admittedly an absolute personal right effective against all (erga omnes), however, this right is not subject to absolute protection. In the light of the general principles for the exercise of property rights as defined in the Polish Civil Code, the boundaries of this right are defined in the Acts and the rules of social coexistence. The Polish Industrial Property Law also refers to these rules. For these reasons, the circumstances giving rise to the allegation of the infringement of the principle of venire contra factum proprium, are one of the limits to the exercise by the owner of its legitimate socio-economic use of the right of protection that derives from the registration of the trade mark. Thus, the invalidation proceedings started against the trade mark Forest Fresh R-183901, in violation of the above mentioned principle, may be considered as the abuse of the right of protection for a trade mark by the proprietor of such a right, that is not entitled to the protection.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 883/11

September 3rd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of a story described in “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 827/10“. INTER GLOBAL decided to file a cassation complaint against the judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court of 29 October 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 828/10 that upheld the decisions of the Polish Patent Office of 16 October 2009 case no. Sp. 449/05, in which the PPO invalidated the registration of the word-figurative trade mark TEMPO R-104245 because it was applied for in bad faith.

R-154752

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 9 May 2012 case file II GSK 883/11 dismissed the appeal. The Court noted that there was some sense in INTER GLOBAL’s legal arguments that there is a need to provide legal certainty in a situation where the disloyal agent used the trade mark of a foreign entrepreneur who was conscious of this fact, even if the trade mark was applied for registration in bad faith. However, the Court held that the protection of property rights against actions taken in bad faith is so extended that it will undoubtedly take precedence over considerations on legal certainty resulting from the long-term use of the mark. This rule will not be changed by the argument that the disloyal agent promoted the foreign trade mark and incurred significant expenses. The Polish legislator adopted the ban on registration of signs that were applied in bad faith as one of the main principles of industrial property law, so there is not any possibility of legalization of any unethical actions, even qualified, because characterized by bad faith of professional entities that are involved in business activities. Because of the legal certainty of market turnover, a foreign rightful owner of a trade mark used by another entity, will not be able to demand the invalidation of or to oppose the use of a later trade mark, in a situation in which the use of the later sign has been knowingly tolerated for a limited time, at least of 5 consecutive years, unless the application for registration of the later mark was made in bad faith. At the same time it should be noted that the registration of a trade mark that belongs to foreign trade partner by his disloyal agent without the consent is not always deemed as an act of bad faith. Although the cases in which an agent acting without the authorization of the proprietor will not be acting in bad faith are veru limited, however, such situations may occur. The court also said that the acceptance of INTER GLOBAL’s argument would lead to a situation of unequal treatment of foreign entrepreneurs compared to those operating in Poland. If, as the Polish Industrial Property Law rules only apply to relationships between a Polish agent and foreign entrepreneur, it would allow for an unlimited in time option of invalidation of the registered trade mark that was applied in bad faith (that option lapse after 5 years of the use of such mark, with the knowledge of a foreign entrepreneur), in the situation of the agent and a company operating in Poland. The company operating in Poland and being in the agency relationship with another entrepreneur (agent) could, therefore request for the invalidation of the signs registered by the latter in bad faith at any time. The foreign entrepreneur represented by a Polish disloyal agent would be deprived of such a right.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2041/11

February 15th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Sfinks Polska S.A. requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the rights of protection for word-figurative trade mark CLEOPATRA R-153234 owned by Restauracja CLEOPATRA Bachar Aziz from Lublin. Sfinks Polska owns earlier registered word-figurative trade mark SPHINX R-105162.

R-153234

Sfinks claimed that the trade mark CLEOPATRA R-153234 is similar to its trade mark and argued that it has legal interest in this proceedings as there is a possibility of misleading customers based on the similarity of trade marks. This could be particularly applicable considering the fact that SPHINX trade mark is already known on the market and, therefore, it has a stronger distinctive ability. Sfinks also argued that Bachar Aziz filed its trade mark in bad faith with an intent to use the reputation of Sfinks’ trade marks by suggesting a common origin from a single entity.

R-105162

The Polish Patent Office dismissed the request and decided that the trade marks, in this case, are different in all aspects. Sfinks Polska S.A. filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 27 December 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 112/11 dismissed it. The Court held that the PPO correctly decided that there are visible differences in both signs. The VAC also ruled that the application for a trade in bad faith may occur in a situation in which the applicant is linked with the owner of the earlier sign with a special relationship of trust resulting, for example, from cooperation contracts or agreements. The trade mark can be filed in bad faith in order to acquire a financial extortion from the owner of an earlier sign, or to gain control of that entity, or to force the conclusion of the license agreement, etc. The trade mark can be also filed in bad faith with the intention to block the use of the prior sign or in order to acquire of the market position of the holder of the earlier mark. However, the allegation of bad faith trade mark application has not been proven by Sfinks Polska S.A.

See also “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 112/11“.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 617/11

October 24th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 17 October 2007, the Polish Patent Office registered the word trade mark Auto-dap R-197829 for Dariusz Chudobiński from Łódź. Andrzej Teodorczyk who owns Auto Serwis Dap, that is located in Pabianice town, filed a notice of opposition.

Mr Teodorczyk claimed that Mr Chudobiński acted in bad faith. He also noted that the sign in question was widely known in Pabianice and it was associated with the automotive garage operated by him under the name “AUTO DAP”. The garage was located in the immediate vicinity of the garage owned by Mr Chudobiński. Mr Teodorczy argued that the DAP company was founded by him in 1984, and its designation is an abbreviation of three names. Mr Teodorczyk pointed out that he had shares in the company AUTO-DAP sp. z o.o., that was also founded by Mr Chudobiński and his wife, however, he never transferred the right to the AUTO DAP sign.

The PPO dismissed the opposition and ruled that the Company AUTO-DAP sp. z o.o. has the property right to its company name, and Mr Chdobiński received a proper authorization to file for a trade mark Auto-dap for his own. The PPO ruled that a short abbreviation DAP, as an abstract term, can not be attributed to specific individuals, as their personal interest due to the order of letters in this expression. These letters can have different meanings for the average customer in perception of this determination. The Patent Office did not agree that Auto-dap trade maw was filed in bad faith. Mr Chudobiński submitted evidence documents that he used the name DAP in his business. Mr Teodorczyk, as one of the founders of the AUTO-DAP company, has agreed (and did not oppose) the use of the company’s name (firm) in this way. He used the same DAP designation in his business activities as an individual and in a company which shares has has sold to the owner of the registered trade mark. Mr Chudobiński filed a trade mark application according to the authorization and undertook the obligation to transfer the disputed trade mark on the company, for each request. It was therefore an application that has been made in good faith – the mark was used by the company for nearly 6 years – and the authorization for its registration by Mr Chudobiński did not violate the provisions of the Articles of Association. Mr Teodorczyk filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 16 June 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 617/11 dismissed it. The Court ruled that Mr Teodorczyk did not prove that Mr Chudobiński wanted to block business activities of Mr Teodorczyk for the reason that he has registered the disputed mark. The VAC noted also that Polish law provides that a right of protection will not be granted for a trade mark in respect of identical or similar goods, if the trade mark is identical or similar to a trade mark which, before the date according to which priority to obtain a right of protection is determined, has been well-known and used as a trade mark in respect of the goods of another party. However, this trade mark has to be well-known on the whole territory of the Republic of Poland or on a substantial part of it. The recognition and knowledge of the trade mark only in less than a significant part of the Polish territory, even if it is intense, does not create the right to a well-known trade mark. Knowledge of the trade mark in one city and its surroundings, even if it’s a large one, is not enough for the sign to be regarded as a well-known trade mark.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 211/11

October 6th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

SOREMARTEC S.A. requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for the trade mark Raffaello Spumante Dolce Sweet Spumante QUALITA SOPERIORE R-182895 registered for Toruńskie Piwnice Win VINPOL Sp. z o.o., currently VINPOL Sp. z o. o.

R-182895

SOREMARTEC claimed that this sign is similar to the renowned series of RAFFAELLO trade marks registered on its behalf, that the application was filed in bad faith, and that this sign is similar to SOREMARTEC’s trade marks to a degree that causes a risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods. SOREMARTEC noted that it is aware of VINPOL’s word trade mark RAFFAELLO R-87046 applied for registration in 1993 and subsequent word and figurative trade marks that include in their verbal elements the word “Raffaello”. Therefore, the Company did not oppose the coexistence of Raffaello pralines and sparkling wine bearing the label with the word “Raffaello” on the Polish market. However, the disputed trade mark includes the graphic version of RAFFAELLO that confusingly similar to the one that is consistently used by Ferrero for many years on the packaging of Raffaello pralines. The existence of the contested trade mark would be harmful to both the reputation and distinctiveness of its trade marks, as well as it would be unfairly “impersonating” the reputation of its trade marks without the cost of advertising and promotion. To prove the reputation of its trade marks SOREMARTEC submitted a copy of the public poll report entitled “RAFFAELLO Brand Recognition” and a copy of the report “Development of praline market in Poland”, which shows that the brand RAFFAELLO was in the forefront of the most popular brands of sweets in Poland, its advertising was one of the most remembered and associated advertising of pralines, and Raffaello pralines were among the 10 most frequently purchased and consumed pralines within 6 months preceding the date of the polls. SOREMARTEC also presented a tabulation of the total expenditure on advertising and promotion of Raffaello products in Poland, which have been incurred by Ferrero from 2001 to 2005, and a tabular summary of quantitative results of sales of Raffaello pralines for the period from February 2001 to February 2006. These data indicated that SOREMARTEC has continually expanded and refining the Raffaello’s product line incurring increasing financial investments and extensive marketing campaigns and advertising, so the demand for its products continues to grow. Moreover, SOREMARTEC argued that VINPOL applied for two other trade marks, which verbal element is identical to SOREMARTEC’s trade mark, i.e. MON CHERI R-194468 and word-figurative Mon Cheri CHERRY BRANDY & Delicious 18 High Quality R-203339, and this proves conscious and deliberate action designed to use the reputation of SOREMARTEC’s trademarks. In response, VINIPOL argued that the goods produced by SOREMARTEC, i.e., pralines, and wine are not identical or similar, and therefore there is no risk of misleading the public.

R-203339

The PPO invalidated the right of protection for the trade mark Raffaello Spumante Dolce Sweet Spumante QUALITA SOPERIORE R-182895. The PPO ruled that the circumstances, i.e. several years of presence on the Polish market of Raffaello pralines before the filing date of the contested trade mark, a volume of sales and high percentage of recognition of Raffaello trade marks and its distinctive character, what is the result of both the original form of a trade mark, as well as expenditures on promotion and advertising, confirmed the reputation of Raffaello pralines. According to the PPO, the goods such as alcohol and sweets have many features in common, particularly because they are not consumed for nutritional purposes but for pleasure, such goods can be produced by one company, and may also be sold in a set, or eaten together, which may cause the potential audience to associate sparkling wine with Raffaello pralines. The PPO decided that the contested trade mark, because of its form, will attract the attention of consumers who know the early signs and the goods, in connection with which these trade marks are used. As a result, VINPOL would gain unfair advantage that is mostly based on creating the effect of interest in the goods and services marked with this sign, without having to incur any expenditure on promotion of its goods and services. The PPO has also stressed that the fact that earlier registrations of trade marks for wines with the Raffaello element did not authorize VINPOL to create labels of those products in a form, which resemble them to reputable trade marks, and therefore let VINPOL to benefit from the fact that the recipient seeing the wine Raffaello associate them with products offered by SOREMARTEC that enjoys good reputation among buyers. VINPOL filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 29 July 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 211/11 dismissed it. The Court noted that provisions of the Polish Act on Industrial Property Law does not contain a legal definition of a reputable/renown trade mark, so the Court had to refer to the opinion developed by case law and doctrine. The Court of Justice in its judgment of 14 September 1999 Case C-375/97 Chevy formulated the definition of a renowned trademark for the first time. The doctrine points out that the reputation of a trade mark depends primarily on the quality of the goods bearing it, the financial investment made by the entrepreneur to promote its sign in the media and the period of time required for the customer to establish relationship between a specified quality with goods that bears a sign that represents this high quality (recognition of goods bearing the trade mark on the market). The passage of time needed for the establishment of reputation of the trade mark is different for goods from different industries. The period of time depends on many factors, in particular on the intensity of advertising surrounding the launch of the goods bearing the sign. Furthermore, by creating a reputation of a trade mark, the advertising function of a sign is also strengthen, because such a mark encourages customers to purchase goods bearing it. This function is the result of an advertising of a sign staggered in time, by the use of a mark by an authorized entity and the relationship created in the minds of consumers between a sign with positive associations, particularly with regard to quality, usefulness, of product, the profitability of its acquisitions, and other characteristics relevant to the recipients of goods bearing the trade. Also the domestic case law provides that the reputation of a trade mark is characterized by market share/participation (both quantity and value of sold goods), range and long-lasting of an advertisment of the product bearing a trade mark, territorial and temporal range of use, licences granted for trade mark use, quality of goods bearing a trade mark, value of a given sign in assessment of an independent financial institution, size and extent of expenditures spent on promotion of a mark, the relationship on prices of substitute goods, if (and to what extent) the mark is used by third party, as it was decided in the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 9 May 2008 case file II GSK 506/07, the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 27 February 2008 case file II GSK 359/07.

The Court ruled that the PPO correctly concluded, based on the evidence presented that SOREMARTEC’s trademarks are reputable, and the sign at issue is similar in such a way that consumers can associate these characters with each other, and the use of this trade mark by VINPOL may bring unfair advantage due to the obvious use of the reputation of the trade marks owned by SOREMARTEC. The evidence showed that Raffaello pralines were present on the Polish market several years before the filing date of the contested trade mark, the sales were rising over the years, the high percentage of recognition of Raffaello, and a significant volume of promotion and advertising, created the image of the brand as a symbol of quality, delicacy and elegance. All this confirms the reputation of Raffaello pralines. At the same time as it was pointed by the Appellate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 3 October 2007, case file I ACa 767/07, there is no requirement of likelihood of confusion in relation to reputed trade mark, only the possibility to associate a sign with a reputed trade mark that was registered earlier, which results that the first sign is able to attract customers through positive images carried by a reputable character. Associations between such trade marks occur when the designation used by the infringer automatically brings in minds of potential customers a reputable character originally used by the owner, even if the recipient is aware of the fact that both entities are completely independent. If these signs are also used to designate similar goods, there is no need to show any additional evidence. Apart whether consumers will confuse this trade mark as to the origin of the goods designated, it will draw attention to goods bearing a renowned trademarks. Such a situation would give unfair advantage resulting only from similarity to the earlier reputed mark, based mainly on the effect of interest that would arouse in the goods covered by the contested mark, without incurring any expenses for promotion of those goods.

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 2154/10

June 23rd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office in its decision of June 2010 case file Sp. 334/05 invalidated the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark CZUWAJ R-152214 (in English: “Be Prepared”) registered for Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego (ZHP). See “Trade mark law, case Sp. 334/05“. ZHP filed a complaint against this decision.

R-152214.jpg

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 14 April 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 2154/10 dismissed it. The Court agreed with the PPO that ZHP filed the questioned trade mark in bad faith. The VAC held that the trade mark application at issue violated the principle of free access to the scouting symbols that were traditionally used by different organizations. In 1990, the Polish legislator abolished this kind of “exclusive privilege” to use the symbols and insignia of the scout movement that was previously granted to ZHP. Despite the intentions of the legislator, ZHP somehow tried to restore this kind of monopoly by applying for the right of protection. The judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 86/11

May 10th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office dismissed the request for the invalidation of the word trade mark Laurina R-186513 registered in Class 31 for goods such as seeds of dwarf yellow pod common bean, fresh dwarf bean, yellow pod bean. The applicant filed a complaint against this decision.

The applicant argued that the mark does not have sufficient distinctive characteristic because it is the name of common bean varieties that was entered into the national registry in Poland. The names of plant varieties are used to distinguish plant, and not their origin from specific growers or producers. The more important argument was that new names of plant varieties can be protected for cultivators only under the provisions of the Act on the Legal Protection of Plant Varieties -LPPV – (in Polish: ustawa o ochronie prawnej odmian roślin) of 26 June 2003, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 137 item. 1300 with subsequent amendments. The present variety is not subject to such protection and seeds marked with Laurina are marketed by many manufacturers, and following all the procedures provided for in the LPPV.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 8 April 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 86/11 annulled the contested decision and held it unenforceable. The Court ruled that the distinctiveness of word trade marks should be assessed primarily in relation to specific goods that will be bearing such a sign. Informational or descriptive nature of a sign is a feature that demonstrates a lack of concrete, not abstract distinctiveness of a trade mark. The assessment should be made also in relation to the so-called “ordinary course of business/trade”, taking into account the views of the criterion of the average consumer.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1860/10

April 21st, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 20 December 2006, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark O’LEARY R-180416 applied for by Piotr Kasprzycki PPH Eveline Cosmetics from Lesznowola for goods in Class 03 such as skin, hair and body care products for children, women and men, mascaras, creams, lotions, shampoos, soaps, gels baths, creams and gels, cosmetics, perfumery, and cleansing tissues and goods in Class 05 such as medicinal cosmetics.

R-65340

French company L’OREAL Societe Anonyme filed a request for invalidation. L’Oreal owns the word trade mark L’OREAL R-42203 registered with the earlier priority of 5 May 1960 for goods in Class 03 such as perfumery and cosmetics, toilet soaps, lipsticks, products for oral care, hair coloring agents, shampoos. The Company also owns the word-figurative trade mark L’OREAL STUDIO LINE R-65340 registered with the priority of 24 November 1988 for goods in Class 03. The French company argued that its trade marks are well-known and reputed. It presented a survey of consumers in the years 2001-2003, which proved the knowledge of the brand and consumer trust in the products. L’OREAL was the brand that has won numerous awards. The company argued that some of the goods are identical other are similar and raised an argument that the trade mark application was made in bad faith. The company relied on the judgment of the French court, which forbade the company that was created by Piotr Kasprzycki in France, the violations of trade marks and company name of L’Oreal, by the use of the name O’LEARY. L’OREAL also claimed the company created by Mr Kasprzycki was fictitious becuase its capital was 1 euro.

R-151141

O’LEARY argued that its trade Mark Has Irish origins and the average consumer is reasonably well informed and reasonably observant and circumspect. O’LEARY admitted that L’Oreal is a strong and very distinguishable brand and the consumer who buys these cosmetics will not pay attention to the other cheaper products. O’LEARY noted that since the French court judgment has been appealed, so the case has not been finally decided. In its opinion, the proceedings in France is not relevant in the proceedings before the Polish Patent Office.

The Adjudicative Board of the PPO in its decision of 16 March 2010 case no. Sp. 251/08 invalidated the right of protection for the trade mark O’LEARY. The PPO ruled that O’LEARY is confusingly similar to L’OREAL. Piotr Kasprzycki PPH Eveline Cosmetics filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 12 April 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1860/10 agreed with the PPO and dismissed the case. The judgment is not final yet. The cassation complaint can be brought before the Supreme Administrative Court.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 91/10

April 5th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company Biuro Miss Polonia Sp. z o.o. filed a request for invalidation of the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark “MISS POLONIA WORLD” R-152218 owned by MISS POLONIA A. Aldona Von Laübe from New Britain, USA. Biuro Miss Polonia argued that the registration infringes on its personal interests (company name) and the Polish company operates on the marker since a long time as the organizer of the annual, national beauty pageant. The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right in question. Aldona Von Laübe filed a complaint against this decision but it was dismissed by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 17 July 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 337/09. The American company filed a cassation complaint.

R-152218

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 8 February 2011 case file II GSK 91/10 dismissed it. The SAC ruled that there were no rational arguments that in case of existence of a trade mark similar to the company name, the infringement of personal interests and the rights to company name could take place only in cases when the entire trade mark consist of the company name. The promotion and marketing of goods bearing trade marks that are confusingly similar to the company name is also deemed as the threat to personal interests or property rights. The fact that the questioned trade mark in addition to the words “Miss” and “Polonia” (that were concurrent with the partial company name of the applicant) contained the word “World” did not deprive the applicant of the protection of the company name as a personal interests, because the designation “Miss Polonia” had sufficient distinctive characteristics that would allow for the identification of an applicant and help to distinguish it from other entities.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 827/10

January 31st, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Czech entrepreneur Druchema Drużstvo pro Chemickou Vyrobu a Sluzby requested the Polish Patent Office for the invalidation of the right of protection for TEMPO R-104245 and TEMPO R-154752 trade marks registered for goods in Classes 02 and 03 such as wax paste for maintenance and renovation of car lacquer. Both trade marks are owned by INTER GLOBAL Sp. z o.o. Druchema argued that it owns TEMPO trade mark that was registered in the Czech Republic and INTER GLOBAL was for many years its sales representative in Poland and in this period the representative applied for on its own behalf and obtained trademark protection for TEMPO signs in Poland. The Polish and Czech company entered into an exclusive sales agreement, however, its provision did not include the powers to register TEMPO trade marks. INTER GLOBAL argued that it created and registered different trade marks. The PPO invalidated the rights of protection in its decisions of 5 October 2009 case files Sp. 448/05 and Sp. 449/05 . INTER GLOBAL filed a complaint against both decisions.

R-154752

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 29 October 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 827/10 dismissed the complaint and ruled that it was not necessary for the recognition of bad faith of the applicant for the right of protection for a trade mark, that the the contracting party has used a trade mark identical to a sign of its business partner during their commercial cooperation. It was sufficient that during the commercial cooperation the contracting party has used a trade mark that was very similar to the trademark invalidated.

R-104245

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 29 October 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 828/10 also dismissed the complaint and ruled that many years of cooperation between Polish and Czech entrepreneurs led to the fact that INTER GLOBAL had clear information about Druchema, and how it designates its products. For these reasons, by applying for the protection for the mark in question that was very similar to a trade mark used by Druchema and doing it without its consent and knowledge, INTER GLOBAL was clearly acting in bad faith. Both judgments are not final yet.

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 779/09

December 1st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of a story described in “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 121/09“. HOUSE Spółka z o.o filed a cassation complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 23 September 2010 case file II GSK 779/09 dismissed the case. The Court agreed with the VAC that ICT had the status of “owner” of the trade mark within the meaning of Article 161 of the IPL in connection with Article 6 septies of the Paris Convention although ICT at the date of the application of the questioned trade mark, i.e. on 11 March 1994, was not entitled under Article 161 of the IPL to XL XAVIER LAURENT IR-763083 trade mark, since the registration has been granted on 23 September 1999, and the protection of international registration lasts until 10 July 2001.

IR-763083

The SAC ruled that the provisions of Article 8(1) of the TMA concerns the substantive conditions of registration of the mark (it is not allowed to register a sign, which is contrary to the law or the rules of social coexistence) and it was referred to in Article 29 of TMA as a basis for invalidation of the registration of the trade mark, if the conditions provided in Article 8(1) were met. However, Article 161(1) and (2) of the IPL concerns only a request (claim) for invalidation of the right of protection.

Article 161
1. To the extent as follows from an international agreement, where a trademark has been applied for protection by and on behalf of, or the right of protection has been granted for, an agent or a representative of the person enjoying the exclusive right to use that trademark in another country, that person may, if the agent or representative acted without that person’s consent, demand that the protection granting proceeding be discontinued or the right of protection revoked. He may also demand that the right of protection be granted on his behalf, or the right already granted transferred to him.
2. The right may not be demanded to be revoked or transferred, where the entitled person referred to in paragraph (1) has acquiesced, for a period of five successive years, in the use of the registered trademark while being aware of such use.

It was obvious for the Court that if the conditions mentioned in the Article 161(2) of the IPL were met, then there is no need to study the substantive grounds for invalidation of the registration, as referred to in Article 8(1) in connection with Article 29 of the TMA. It is in accordance with Article 161(2) of the IPL that the request for the invalidation or transfer of rights cannot occur if, for a period of five consecutive years, the holder referred to in paragraph 1, being aware of such use, did not object to the use of a registered trade mark.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 11/10

November 23rd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 22 October 1999 Jarosław Synowiec Agencja Kurier-Media from Iława applied for the word-figurative trade mark “KURIER Iławski TYGODNIK POWIATU IŁAWSKIEGO” Z-208891 for goods and services in class 16 and 42 such as publishing and printing a newspaper. The Polish Patent Office refused to grant the right of protection. The PPO found that the applied trade mark is also the title of the magazine with the same graphics and colors, which is published by Wydawnictwo Pomorskie in which Jarosław Synowiec previously worked as editor in chief. Due to long-term presence on the Polish market, this sign became widely known in public. Jarosław Synowiec filed a complaint against this decision.

Z-208891

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 6 July 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 11/10 dissmissed the complaint. According to the Court, the PPO reasonably assumed that the registration of the questioned trade mark was inadmissible because of the conflict with the law and rules of social coexistence. The registration of signs, whose use as a trade mark could be an act of infringement of property rights of third parties, such as the right to the company, the right to press title, copyright, etc. is not allowed. The VAC held also that whenever the collision of the rules specific to the system of formal protection (the principle of registration of signs) with the principle of protection of designations used effectively and genuinely in business occurs, the priority is given to the latter.

Trade mark law, case no. Sp. 133/08

November 10th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Wyborowa S.A. from Poznań filed a request for invalidation of the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark WYBORNA ŻYTNIA EXCELLENT RYE VODKA BLENDED R-172468 and word-figurative trade mark WYBORNA EXCELLENT VODKA R-172469, both applied for on 1 October 2002, for goods in Class 33 such as alcoholic beverages. The right of protection was granted to PPS Polmos S.A. Warszawa. Wyborowa S.A. argued that there is a confusing similarity to the WÓDKA WYBOROWA R-151215 trade mark and that the application of the both signs was made in bad faith.

R-151215

Wyborowa S.A. relied on an agreement regarding the division of trade marks that were registered for the stated owned Polmos company before socio-economic transformations that have occurred in Poland after 1989. Both WYBORNA R-64663 and WYBORNA WÓDKA R-64855 trade marks were transferred to PPS Polmos S.A. Warszawa.

R-64855

These trade marks received protection in the 90’s, and in 2003, Wyborowa S.A. requested the PPO to decide on the lapse of the right of protection. At the first stage, the PPO dismisses the case due to the lack of legitimate interests of Wyborowa S.A. The Company filed a complaint against this decision and the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 12 July 2006 case file VI SA/Wa 704/06 annulled the contested decisions and ruled them unenforceable. The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office in its final decisions of 28 April 2008 case number Sp. 285/06 and Sp. 543/06 decided on the lapse of the protection.

R-64663

PPS Polmos Warszawa applied again for the right of protection for very similar labels, hence Wyborowa S.A. filed a notice of opposition (dismissed by the PPO) and the request for invalidation,

R-172468

The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 8 October 2010 case no. Sp. 133/08 invalidated both questioned trade marks. The PPO held that the application of those trade marks was made in bad faith, which was intended to circumvent the law. This was because these signs have been applied for during the proceedings of on the lapse of the above trade marks R-64663 and R-64855.

R-172469

The PPO ruled that Polmos Warszawa still wants to continue to maintain a monopoly and block other entrepreneurs to the use of the Wyborna sign. This is kind of a precedent decision, because the PPO probably for first time in its case-law considered that the re-application for similar signs is contrary to the principles of merchant’s honesty, as a matter of acting in bad faith. The decision is not final yet.

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

October 29th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

R-164275

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

R-194932

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

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 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 VI SA/Wa 574/10

August 23rd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 15 June 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 574/10 ruled that Article 8 of the Paris Convention is a “conflicting norm” i.e. a norm/rule in private international law that points to appropriate substantive law that should be applied in a given case. The “trade name” on the basis of Article. 8, 9, 10 bis of the Paris Convention covers both the company name as an indication of business and company name in the subjective meaning. A trade name is the name of an entity being endowed with a right (merchant, trader, businessman – the subject of rights ), under which it is established and is performing its business activity, usually organized as the company/enterprise (the object of rights). It is therefore a designation of a business, which includes distinctive elements, and all these elements that allow for the individualization of economic activity.

R-194401

The disclosure of company’s name in the registry (National Court Register – Polish public register maintained by the selected regional courts and the Ministry of Justice which includes the register of enterprises) has a declaratory nature and provides the legal basis for the possibility of setting up/starting a business, therefore the priority of use decides on the priority of right to the company name.

Trade mark law, case Sp. 334/05

July 30th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 1 March 2004, the Polish Patent Office registered word-figurative trade mark CZUWAJ R-152214 (in English: “Be Prepared”). Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego – Główna Kwatera is the owner. The sign looks exactly the same as the Scouts Cross.

The final design of Scout’s Crass was approved during ZHP’s unification conference held on October 1-2 1918 which has choosen this sign as the official badge of Polish scouting In November 1918 the Polish Ministry of War decreed that the Krzyż Harcerski was the only civilian emblem that might be worn on military uniforms. The tradition continues to this day.

Nowadays, there are three major scouting organizations in Poland. Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego, Związek Harcerstwa Rzeczypospolitej and Stowarzyszenia Harcerstwa Katolickiego Zawisza.

R-152214.jpg

ZHR filed a request for invalidation of the right of protection. The request was based on provisions of article 8(1) 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.

A trademark shall not be registrable if:
1) it is contrary to law or to the principles of social coexistence,

The Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej) of 30 June 2000, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text on 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments, provides more stricter regulations against registering such signs.

Article 131
1. Rights of protection shall not be granted for signs:

(…)

(ii) that are contrary to law, public order or morality, or

(…)

2. A right of protection shall not be granted for a sign, if:
(i) it has been applied for protection with the Patent Office in bad faith,
(ii) it incorporates the name or abbreviated name of the Republic of Poland, or its symbols (emblem, national colours or national anthem), the names or armorial bearings of Polish voivodships, towns or communities, the insignia of the armed forces, paramilitary organisations or police forces, reproductions of Polish decorations, honorary distinctions or medals, military medals or military insignia, or other official or generally used distinctions and medals, in particular those of government administration, local self-administration or social organisations performing activities in vital public interests, where these organisations’ activities extend to the entire territory of the State or to a substantial part thereof, unless the applicant is able to produce evidence of his right, in particular in a form of an authorisation issued by a competent State agency or a permission given by an organisation, to use the sign in the course of trade,

(…)

(v) it incorporates elements being symbols, in particular of a religious, patriotic or cultural nature whose use could hurt religious feelings, sense of patriotism or national tradition,

The Polish Patent Office in its decision case file Sp. 334/05 invalidated the right of protection. The PPO ruled that all Polish scouts’ organizations should have the right to use this sign. This decision is not yet final. A complaint may be filed to the Voivodeship Administrative Court.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 608/09

July 13th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 19 March 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 1888/08 ruled that the consequence of the transfer of trade mark rights to another party, is that its previous owner is not allowed to continue to invoke the claims of the infringement of these trade marks. However, such a possibility is not excluded if the assignment of the trade mark rights will include appropriate provisions authorizing the previous owner of the trade mark to continue proceedings in which it claimed it has rights to assigned trade marks.

R-149940

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 13 May 2010 case file II GSK 608/09 repealed the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for further reconsideration. The SAC held that at both the opposition proceedings as referred to in article 246 of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej) of 30 June 2000, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments, that served as the basis for the decision to refuse to grant a right of protection, and subsequent proceedings before the Polish Patent Office under litigation for invalidation of a right of protection, due to the recognition by the proprietor of a trade mark that the opposition is to be unfounded, the applicant who wants to support the opposition does not have to show the legal interest.

Article 246
1. Within six months from the publication in “Wiadomości Urzędu Patentowego” of the mention of the grant of a title of protection, any person may give reasoned notice of opposition to a final decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a patent, a right of protection or a right in registration.
2. The opposition referred to in paragraph (1) may be filed on the same grounds, on which a patent, a right of protection or a right in registration may be invalidated.

This case concerned the invalidation proceedings of the trade mark CARLO BOSSI R-149940 that was registered for goods in Class 3 by KIVI Dr Krzysztof Słoń from Izabelin Laski.

Internet domains, case C-569/08

June 3rd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justic of European Union in its judgment of 3 June 2010, case C‑569/08, Internetportal und Marketing GmbH v. Richard Schlicht, ruled on bad faith registration of EU domain names.

1. Article 21(3) of Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004 of 28 April 2004 laying down public policy rules concerning the implementation and functions of the .eu Top Level Domain and the principles governing registration must be interpreted as meaning that bad faith can be established by circumstances other than those listed in Article 21(3)(a) to (e) of that regulation.

2. In order to assess whether there is conduct in bad faith within the meaning of Article 21(1)(b) of Regulation No 874/2004, read in conjunction with Article 21(3) thereof, the national court must take into consideration all the relevant factors specific to the particular case and, in particular, the conditions under which registration of the trade mark was obtained and those under which the .eu top level domain name was registered.

With regard to the conditions under which registration of the trade mark was obtained, the national court must take into consideration, in particular:

– the intention not to use the trade mark in the market for which protection was sought;

– the presentation of the trade mark;

– the fact of having registered a large number of other trade marks corresponding to generic terms; and

– the fact of having registered the trade mark shortly before the beginning of phased registration of .eu top level domain names.

With regard to the conditions under which the .eu top level domain name was registered, the national court must take into consideration, in particular:

– the abusive use of special characters or punctuation marks, within the meaning of Article 11 of Regulation No 874/2004, for the purposes of applying the transcription rules laid down in that article;

– registration during the first part of the phased registration provided for in that regulation on the basis of a mark acquired in circumstances such as those in the main proceedings; and

– the fact of having applied for registration of a large number of domain names corresponding to generic terms.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 344/09

April 20th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of the history described in the post entitled “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1388/07“.

The Polish Patent Office (PPO) and the Voivodeship Administrative Court (VAC) ruled that EAU DE TOKYO trade mark is totally dissimilar to KENZO or to L’eau par Kenzo trade marks. The mere fact of the use of the word eau did not predict similarity of questioned signs, because the word as part of the expression of eau de toilette, in relation to cosmetics does not have any distinctive character. The PPO and the VAC did not agree with arguments that MGT Parfum Création wanted to use the reputation that was understood as the good name of KENZO.

According to the PPO and the VAC, the use of packaging that is confusingly similar to the packaging used by KENZO could only give rise to claims of delict of unfair competition which is decided in the civil proceedings. The very fact of any dishonest conduct of the holder of the disputed registration cannot be interpreted that the trade mark application has been made in bad faith. Even if the court agreed that events which took place in 2006, i.e. MGT actions based on producing EAU DE TOKYO packaging that looked alike L’eau par Kenzo perfumes, and advertising of its products with “the type of Kenzo perfume” slogan, could raise doubts about compliance of such actions with the rules of fair competition, but these were not sufficient facts to consider that in 2000, MGT had the intention to act dishonestly – in bad faith.

The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) in a judgment of 26 January 2010,case file II GSK 344/09, ruled that the PPO has properly established and the VAC correctly agreed to facts, that at the time of application for the protection right for EAU DE TOKYO R-153843 trade mark, the bad faith could not be attributed to MGT Parfum Création.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1988/09

April 15th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Kraft Foods Polska Spółka Akcyjna from Warsaw, the owner of PRINCE POLO R-148617 trade mark gave a reasoned notice of opposition to a final decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a a right of protection to MARCO POLO R-174796 trade mark that was applied for by Zakłady Przemysłu Cukierniczego MIESZKO S.A. for goods in class 30.

Kraft Foods claimed that there is a risk of confusion between these trade marks, which is the result of the similarity of the compared signs and the identity of the goods. Kraft also submitted evidence to prove the reputation of PRINCE POLO trade mark. Mieszko argued that the signs are dissimilar because the graphic/figurative element of these marks is essential, and verbal elements are blurred or faint and even minor. Mieszko also found arguments of POLO PRINCE reputation very questionable, because even Kraft indicated that the goods for which its trade marks are registered marks are cheap and directed for the mass consumer.

The Polish Patent Office (PPO) In a decision of 23 April 2009, ruled that the same element POLO does not determine the similarity between both signs, because the differences occurring in the conceptual aspect rule out the risk of consumer confusion as to the origin of goods. The PPO held that contrary to the Kraft’s arguments, Marco Polo sign will primarily be associated by purchasers of goods with a famous explorer, because it is simply his name. However, PRINCE POLO sign, regardless of how it can be translated into Polish, is not used to identify a specific person and it is not a proper name. Despite the recognition of Kraft’s trade marks on the Polish market, the average consumer will associate MARCO POLO in the first place with a person of a traveler rather than as Kraft claimed with its PRINCE POLO trade marks. Therefore, the PPO rejected the notice of opposition. Kraft filed a complaint to the administrative court.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court (VAC) in Warsaw in a judgment of 11 February 2010, case file VI SA/Wa 1988/09, agreed with the PPO’s assessment of the similarity and ruled that since the signs are not similar then the discussion about using someone else’s reputation is not justified. Dissimilar signs cannot cause association in consumer’s mind, so there can be no question of imitation, and conscious deriving of benefits from someone else’s reputation.

Kraft filed a cassation complaint to the Supreme Administrative Court. See “Trade mark law, case II GSK 746/10“.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 387/09

March 30th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Tianjin Cosmetics Scientific – Technical Research Institute Co., Ltd from China filed a request for invalidation of PULANNA R-76294 and PULANNA R-76424 trade marks. The company from China claimed that the person who applied for the protection of these two trade mark was acting as a Polish agent of Tianjin Cosmetics Scientific and he has concealed the fact of both trade mark applications and subsequent registrations.

The Supreme Administrative Court in a judgment of 17 February 2010 case file II GSK 387/09 ruled that to the extent as follows from an international agreement, where a trademark has been applied for protection by and on behalf of, or the right of protection has been granted for, an agent or a representative of the person enjoying the exclusive right to use that trademark in another country, that person may, if the agent or representative acted without that person’s consent, demand that the protection granting proceeding be discontinued or the right of protection revoked. He may also demand that the right of protection be granted on his behalf, or the right already granted transferred to him. The right may not be demanded to be revoked or transferred, where the entitled person has acquiesced, for a period of five successive years, in the use of the registered trademark while being aware of such use. Moreover, the facts of each case are examined on the date of trade mark application. See also “Trade mark law, case II GSK 950/08“.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1111/08

January 13th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 24 July 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 237/08 dismissed Tiffany & Broadway Inc. Div. of Texpol Corporation’s appeals against the Polish Patent Office decisions of 19 March 2007 case files Sp. 68/04 and Sp. 69/04, regarding the invalidation of the right of protection for word-figurative trade marks TIFFANY R-128063 and “Tiffany & Broadway Inc.” R-128064 which were registered in class 25 for shoes. The New York’s company argued inter alia that use of TIFFANY trade mark for goods such as footwear is a parasitic activity that uses another’s trade mark reputation and is bringing undue financial benefit to the holder of national registrations. The Company also stressed the fact that its trade mark is subject to protection under article 8 of the Paris Convention.

The VAC ruled that the application for the protection of the TIFFANY mark for goods in class 25 was contrary to the principles of social coexistence because it caused the risk of weakening the reputation of the trade mark. Given the fact that the shoes are cheap and readily available, there is a risk of dilution of the reputation of TIFFANY trade mark and it may lead to lose its attractiveness among the exclusive clientele of goods bearing this mark.

The SAC in a judgment of 8 July 2009, case file II GSK 1111/08 ruled that 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, subsequent amendments, do not explicitly provide for any special protection for unregistered reputed trade marks. However, the doctrine and the Polish case law have already accepted the concept, that such protection could be provided under article 8(1) of the TMA.

A trademark shall not be registrable if:
1) it is contrary to law or to the principles of social coexistence;

In particular looking at the circumstance of “a trade mark conflicting with the principles of social coexistence”, from the subjective perspective – it was commented that, the “contradiction/variance with the principles of social coexistence” may concerning the conduct/behavior of the applicant. On the basis of such conclusions, the registration of a sign for the goods of another kind, if the registration was intended to use the reputation of another’s trade mark or it was a threat of such reputation, was excluded. A trade mark application that was filed contrary to the principles of social coexistence, was an application made in bad faith. The absolute grounds/obstacles that are provided against the registration of the mark as defined in article 8(1) of the TMA do not directly refer to the relationship between the sign that was applied for and any other competing trade mark, however, in accordance with the accepted interpretation of that provision, in case of the infringement of the rules of social coexistence, the obstacle could be the inappropriate behavior on the applicant (its actions done in bad faith). The assessment of applicant’s actions, who was motivated by the desire to use another’s trade mark reputation, should therefore be also varied according to circumstances of its motivation and, not only related to the trade mark itself.

The application for the right of protection for a trade mark that was made with the intent to use another trade mark’s reputation should be judged as an application that was made with the breach of the rules of social coexistence (application made in bad faith), regardless of whether it concerns a reputed registered trade mark or unregistered reputed trade mark.

The Polish case law, for instance the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 9 May 2008, case file II GSK 506/07, that was previously reported in the post entitled “Trade mark law, case II GSK 506/07“, already established the rule that in a case of famous trade mark and its reputation, besides its recognition, it must be also characterized by the following characteristics:

  • market share/participation (both quantity and value of sold goods),
  • range and long-lasting of an advertisment of the product bearing a trade mark,
  • territorial and temporal range of use,
  • licences granted for trade mark use, quality of goods bearing a trade mark,
  • value of a given sign in assessment of an independent financial institution,
  • size and extent of expenditures spent on promotion of a mark,
  • the relationship on prices of substitute goods,
  • if (and to what extent) the mark is used by third party.

The SAC also noted that the Community case law provides several fundamental conditions for the recognition of a trade mark as a reputed one. These are:

  • knowledge of the trade mark by a significant group of customers,
  • the contribution of the trade mark in the market,
  • intensity and geographic scope of the use,
  • intensity matching of goods with the trade mark,
  • the size of expenditures on advertising and promotion of the trade mark.

The SAC cited, inter alia, the judgment of the Court of Justice of the UE of 14 September 1999 case C-375/97, General Motors and the judgment of the Court of First Instance of 13 December 2004 case T-8/03, El Corte Ingles and the CFI’s judgment of 25 May 2005 case T-67/04, Spa Finders.

It is also clear that the reputation of a trade mark must be assessed and established in the country in which the protection is sought. If one would like to qualify a given trade mark as a reputed one in the Republic of Poland, then the argument of the international reputation of a trade mark is not sufficient. The basic circumstance for the recognition of the reputation of a sign in a specific country is to show by a person who is invoking this argument, the market share in terms of both quantity and value of goods sold.

The SAC held that provisions of the First Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 do not preclude the possibility of granting the protection to unregistered reputed trade marks under the national law. Just to keep it in order, it is worth adding, that the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text on 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments, provides for such a possibility in the Article 132(2)(iii).

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

The protection of registered trade marks to the extent of the wording of Article 4(4)(a) of the Directive. The trade mark application that was made in bad faith shall be rejected based on the absolute ground for refusal of protection based on the provisions of Article 131(2)(i) of the IPL.

2. A right of protection shall not be granted for a sign, if:
(i) it has been applied for protection with the Patent Office in bad faith,

The SAC ruled that the provisions of Article 4(4)(a) of the Directive cannot be interpreted as the maximum limitation for the protection of famous marks in the national law and it would be difficult to follow the arguments that the First Directive 89/104 is an example of the so-called “complete harmonization” citing the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 9 January 2003 in case C-292/00, Davidoff & Cie S. A.

According to the SAC, the court of first instance (VAC) wrongly assumed the bad faith of the applicant and it did not consider the fact that the applicant has conducted its business in Poland since 1990 with the use of the mark, and after about five years of its activity, the company applied for the registration of the mark. These circumstances certainly were not indifferent to assess the intentions and purposes of the applicant so the VAC should address them in the grounds of the appeal.

When deciding on the interpretation of Article 8(1) of the TMA, which allows for the protection of not registered reputed trade marks in Poland, it should be also noted, that such protection have a special character because it applies to unregistered marks, and it is an exception to the principle of protecting industrial property rights by the registration process. This requires preserving much care, so that without proper justification, would not depreciate the importance of registering trade mark and it would not reduced the registration to a purely formal procedure that has no importance.

Therefore, the SAC annulled both questioned judgments of the Voivodeship Administrative Court and returned to the VAC for reconsideration in accordance with the conclusions reached and ordered the Polish Patent Office to pay Tiffany & Broadway Inc. Div. of Texpol Corporation 1200 PLN as reimbursement of costs of the cassation compliant.

See also “Trade mark law, case II GSK 1110/08” and “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 214/08“.