Archive for: homogenity of goods

Trade mark law, case II GSK 269/10

August 5th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Polish company Przedsiębiorstwo Produkcji Lodów “KORAL” Józef Koral Spółka jawna from Limanowa, the owner of the word trade mark RED BLUE Z-277694 requested the Polish Patent Office to decide on the invalidation of the right of protection for the word trade mark RED BULL IR-708694 in part for goods in Class 30. KORAL claimed inter alia that the registration of the questioned trade mark was made in violation of Article 6(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, becasue goods in Class 30 are not subject to the activities of the Red Bull GmbH.

(1) A trademark shall be registrable on behalf of a specific enterprise, but only in respect of goods falling within its field of economic activity.

On 15 December 2008, Red Bull informed the PPO that with effect from 5 December 2008, the Company renounced the protection of the questioned trade mark for goods in class 30 on the Polish territory. The PPO dismissed the request and noted that Red Bull GmbH is a limited liability company under the Austrian law. According to the registry of commercial activity, the company uses the Red Bull brand in the course of trade. In the opinion of the PPO, the Austrian law does not require further specification of the scope of the commercial activity of a company. The PPO has indicated that the minimum condition for which the entrepreneur must meet while applying for a trade mark in order to be grated the exclusive rights to that sign, is the intent of use. Such intent may be interpreted from the list of goods and services covered in the application and registration of the trade mark. KORAL filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 26 October 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 1263/09 dismissed the complaint and KORAL filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 13 April 2011 case file II GSK 269/10 dismissed the cassation. The SAC ruled that the Polish legislature adopted the law which implies that a trade mark may be registered if it’s related to the business activity of an entrepreneur and, therefore, that this is not property in itself, which can belong to anyone, but it is an intangible component of the company/enterprise, that serves to distinguis the goods or services from other goods and services of the same kind of other companies. The second of those conditions preclude the possibility of marking other goods than the goods covered by the activities of a company. There is no doubt that the product (or service) that is actually offered in the market by the company, is a commodity, which is the subject of its business. However, a trade mark can (and should) also be used for goods that are not currently offered. Therefore, some problems of interpretation arise in the case of these goods (and services) that can be marketed by the company in the future. The SAC noted that the case law and legal doctrine adopted the view, that commodities which are the subject of a business activity will also be goods or services, what a company intends to introduce to the market in the future. Thus, the need arose to determine the criteria that would allow for the identification of the types of goods that are covered at the time of filing of a trade mark application (and consequently by the registration) by the intention of marking them in the future by that trade mark. Such intention is disclosed by identifying of the company activities in the appropriate register, because it is a public declaration of the entrepreneur on which fields of economic activities it intends to participate, or what kind of goods or services it will be offering on the market.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 807/10

November 8th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 27 January 2007, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for GUCIO trade mark R-187648 for goods in Class 25 such as children’s shoes.

Guccio Gucci S.p.A. the owner of two word-figurative trade marks GUCCI R-181633 and GUCCI R-184796 gave a notice of opposition to a final decision of the PPO on the grant of a right of protection to GUCIO trade mark. While proving the reputation of GUCCI trade marks, the Italian company stressed the fact that it owns many stores, where high-quality clothing and footwear is sold and it also includes shoes for children. The customers of these stores are known and influential people. The company argued that since the mid-twentieth century, the Gucci brand and products bearing this trade mark are associated with the highest quality and luxury – Gucci has become sort of “certificate of quality.” The Company pointed out that Gucci fashion house brings together leading, world fashion designers thus have a substantial impact on global fashion trends. Consequently, the goods that are marked with this symbol appear in numerous television programs, shows and magazines on fashion. GUCCI argued that similar trade marks in conjunction with the homogenity of goods for which these signs are clearly intended, may to lead to the risk of their association, and even confusion by customers, and this causes the possibility of customer confusion as to the origin of goods.


Sławomir Piwowarczyk, the holder of GUCIO trade mark argued that the word GUCIO is a diminution of GUSTAW. The PPO dismissed the opposition. Guccio Gucci S.p.A. filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 30 August 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 807/10 dismissed the complaint and held that dissimilar signs cannot lead to customers’ associations, so there can be no issue of imitation, and conscious deriving of benefits from someone else’s reputation. If the similarity between the signs does not occur there is no need to examine whether there was the use of another person’s reputation. The examination whether there are similarities between the trade marks is the “precondition” of establishing the argument/view that the use of reputation has been made. The second condition is to establish/examine that the trade mark has a reputation. The judgment is not final yet.

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

September 7th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

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


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


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

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1302/09

November 15th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for “METAL-CHEM” R-138491 trade mark in part for goods in Class 7. The owner Przedsiębiorstwo Wdrażania Postępu Technicznego METAL-CHEM Spółka z o.o. from Gliwice filed a complaint against this decision, claiming inter alia that the PPO refrained from taking evidence from expert witness with regard to homegenity of the goods.


The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 13 October 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1302/09 upheld the contested decision and ruled that the Adjudicative Board of the PPO, consisting of experts and the deciding cases in litigation proceedings may under the Article 84 § 1 of the APC appoint an experts witness to establish the facts on which the Patent Office has doubts, while the knowledge of the Board members is not sufficient.

Article 84
§ 1. If a case requires specialist information, a public administration body may consult an expert or experts for an opinion.
§ 2. An expert shall be excluded from proceedings on the basis of the rules set out in Article 24. The provisions regarding the hearing of witnesses shall also apply to experts.

It follows that the use of an experts witness should be incidental in nature as it was already discussed in by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 October 2006, case file VI SA/Wa 1075/06. Thus the PPO has the right but not the obligation, to refer to any opinion and it is also indicated by the optional nature of Article 84 § 1 of the APC. The PPO as a specialized authority that grants rights of protection for trade marks and other industrial property rights under the rule of law, is the only body that verifies under litigation proceedings, whether or not the exclusive right of protection for trademark meets statutory requirements. In this case, the task of the Board was the correct assessment of the similarity of the goods contained in the opposing trade marks, in which both parties used the terms in which the general range of meaning was available and is not misleading.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 197/08

June 11th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 5 September 2007, the Polish Patent Office dismissed the opposition filed by the German company Merck against the word trade mark zalbion R-159782 owned by the Polish company Bioton and registered for goods in Class 5 such as pharmaceuticals. Merck argued that the opposed trade mark is similar to its word trade mark cebion R-64136. Merck noted that Cebion is a well known sign since 80ties and enjoys big reputation on the Polish and international market. The PPO decided that the goods bearing the opposed trade marks are homogenous and it did not matter that they have a different application and are directed to different consumers. Cebion is a preparation with vitamin C, and it is a type of product available without any prescription, zalbion is eye drops product available only on prescription. However, the PPO found that both signs are phonetically dissimilar, despite the common syllable, and they have fanciful meaning. The PPO also said that evidence of the reputation of cebion presented by Merck was insufficient. Merck filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 12 August 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 197/08 anulled the contested decision and decided that it was not subject to execution. The Court held that the PPO has not made a thorough review of the presented evidence. The judgment is final.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1208/08

December 27th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 October 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 1208/08 held that it is unacceptable to grant a right of protection for a sign that identical or similar to other trade mark, if it results in a right, the scope of which at least partially overlap with the scope of protection right with an earlier priority.


The Court held also that the problem of homogenity of the goods is a preliminary issue, which is decided before the examination of similarity of the goods because the use even of identical marks for dissimilar goods does not lead to the risk of confusion as to the origin of goods. This case concerned word-figurative trade mark application UNI-GRUNT Z-295169 applied for by Atlas Sp. z o.o. and UNIGRUNT R-86202 trade mark owned by PPG DECO POLSKA Spółka z ograniczoną odpowiedzialnością.

Trae mark law, case II GSK 380/07

March 5th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office refused to recognize the right of protection for CHECK-UP IR-0595827 registered under the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks for Zabaione GmbH and used to designate the goods in class 25, such as clothing for men, women and children and bars for clothes. The PPO ruled that the questioned sign is similar to CHECK-IN IR-0552746 trade mark registered with an earlier priority from 19 June 2002, for Hohe-Modelle Maria Hohe GmbH & Co., intended for marking of the goods in Class 25 such as outerwear for ladies and children.

The PPO ruled that to fulfill the provisions of Article 132(2)(ii) of the IPL, it is necessary to accumulate of the several factors: the signs must be similar to each other, the goods for which trade marks are meant should be homogenous, and as the consequence of the similarity of the signs and the goods, there is a risk of confusion as to the origin of the goods covered by those trade marks.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 23 April 2007, casefile VI SA / Wa 145/07 dismissed the complaint filed by legal predecessor of Zabaione GmbH. In the opinion of the VAC, the Polish Patent Office correctly refused to recognize the right of protection for a trademark CHECK-UP, pointing to its similarity to CHECK-IN trade mark and the similarity of the goods in class 25, and acknowleded that it may lead to the risk of misleading the public. According to the Court, the PPO correctly assessed the similarity of signs, and rightly pointed out that the trade marks are similar to each other both visually and phonetically because of the first parts of the two signs. Both trade marks are composed of two elements, and have the same first part, “CHECK” and accordingly the suffix “UP” in the applicant’s character and the suffix “IN” in the opposed sign interconnected by a hyphen. According to the Court, the signs are also similar in the aural aspect – they are pronounced very similarly. Different suffixes are not sufficient to prove diversity of both signs. These are components are of secondary importance. The court shared the view of the PPO that the recipient pays more attention to the first elements of signs, and less to the endings, because visually the first letters and syllables attract the most attention and are better remembered. The average customer usually does not examine in detail all the elements of the trade mark, but it perceives a given sign as a general impression.

The VAC agreed with the applicant that the two signs have completely different meaning in English, however, the similarity of signs shall be always from the perspective of the average consumer. The knowledge of English in Polish society is not yet sufficiently widespread. For a person who does not speak English language these signs are fanciful.

The Court shared the opinion of the PPO that both signs are intended to designate similar goods in class 25 and the goods are complementary. According to the Court, a customer who knows goods under the brand CHECK-IN, may think the same company introduces a new range of clothing for men, women and children, branded with CHECK-UP trade mark. The Court emphasized the fact that Article 132(2)(ii) of the IPL uses the term “identical or similar goods”, i.e. the similarity of the goods is not identical as their identity. Similarity occurs in the case of goods of the same kind of similar purpose and conditions of sales. Clothes, for which both trade marks are deisgnated are undoubtedly similar goods regardless of their differences in assortment. The average customer can therefore assume that they are produced by the same manufacturer. An outerwear manufacturer of high quality and original clothes designed for specific audiences, could in fact release a new line of clothing of average standard intended for a wider audience, marking it with CHECK-UP trade mark.

Referring to the applicant’s argument that the two signs benefit from protection in Switzerland and Germany, the Court emphasized that protection of trademarks in each country and the guarantee that effective protection is not absolute. The registration under the Madrid Agreement does not mean that a trade mark is protected automatically in each Member State. The applicant is seeking trademark protection on the Polish territory, so Polish law is applicable to the assessment of the trade mark registrability. The Company decided to file a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 28 February 2008, case file II GSK 380/07 dismissed the cassation. The SAC noted that the Company has not provided any arguments concerning the erroneous interpretation of Article 132(2)(ii) of the IPL. It did not indicated whether there was the breach of any regulations on administrative proceedings. If there is no infringement of the proceedings, it can not be argued that there is a breach of substantive law, in this case, Article 132(2)(ii), just because the plaintiff thinks the facts are different. The SAC ruled that if the cassation complaint is based on allegation of improper application of a given provision of substantive law, the arguments included in such a complaint should explain why the accepted legal basis for settlement of the contested provision has no relation to the facts established, and what other provision the court should apply.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 269/06

October 6th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

By decision of 11 August 2005, the Patent Office refused to grant a right of protection for word-figurative “R-Profit” Z-234207 trade mark applied for by Raiffeisen Bank Polska S.A. for goods in Class 36 such as banking services for small and medium enterprises. The Patent Office concluded after examination proceedings that this sign may not be registered because it is similar to PROFIT R-87400 trade mark, registered for Bank Polska Kasa Opieki SA, with priority of 3 November 1993 for goods in Class 36 such as management of interest bearing money investments in zlotys. The PPO also stated that, in this case, the issue of services could not be challenged, since both signs are designed for the same services to a wide audience, i.e. banking services. The PPO ruled that both signs cannot exist simultaneously in trade without the risk of consumers confusions. In the opinion of the PPO there was no doubt that the trade marks are also similar phonetically and semantically.


The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 11 May 2006 case file VI SA/Wa 542/06 dismissed the complaint filed by Raiffeisen Bank Polska S.A. and noted at the beggining that Article 315(1)(3) of the IPL, expresses the principle that the issue of the registrability of signs that were registered or applied for registration before 22 August 2001, is assessed on the basis of existing regulations. therefore the provisions of the Act of 31 January 1985 on trade marks are the basis for assessing the registrability of R-Profit trade mark, because it was applied for registration on 10 April 2001.

Article 315
1. Rights conferred in respect of inventions, utility models, ornamental designs, topographies of integrated circuits, trademarks and rationalisation projects, existing at the time of entry into force of this Law, shall remain effective. To these rights the previous provisions are applicable, unless the provisions of this Part stipulate otherwise.

2. Legal relationships established prior to the entry into force of this Law shall continue to be governed by the previous provisions.

3. Statutory requirements for the grant of a patent, a right of protection or a right in registration shall be assessed under the provisions effective at a date of filing of an application concerning an invention, a utility model, a trademark or topography of an integrated circuit with the Patent Office. However, the provision of Article 37(2) shall apply to patent and utility model applications pending at the date of entry into force of this Law.

In the opinion of the VAC that this case involved the same type of services. The Court agreed with the analysis of the list of services performed by the PPO that there exists homogenity of services between in both lists of goods. In the opinion of the Court, the PPO has properly analyzed the similarity of “R-Profit” and opposing “Profit” signs. Both signs should be compared in aural conceptual and phonetic aspects, bearing in mind that “R-Profit” is a word-figurative trade mark. According to the VAC, even though this case concenrs word and word-figurative trade marks, one may say that there exists graphic similarity, as “R-Profit” and “Profit” differ only by the letter “R” and the core of the two characters – “Profit” is identical. The VAC ruled that the argument that services in question have different distribution channels does not preclude the likelihood of confusion, because an average consumer may think that the service is derived from an entity that combines the organizational relationship and legal rights with the owner of “Profit” trade mark.

Raiffeisen Bank Polska S.A. filed a cassation complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 February 2007 case file II GSK 269/06 dissmised the case. The SAC held that the comparison of signs should be based on the general, overall impression, which compared trade marks have on the recipient, and thus if the dominant element in both signs are their common elements, there is a similarity between trade marks that is posing a risk of consumers confusion.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 296/06

September 30th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

By its decision of 15 July 2003, the Polish Patent Office has granted a right of protection for FEMISTEN R-146192 trade mark for goods in Class 5 such as pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical preparations. On 28 July 2004, the Patent Office received a notice of opposition, filed by Solvay Pharmaceuticals B.V. from Netherlands, and it based its oppsition on FEMOSTON IR-624469 trade mark also registered for goods in Class 5. The Dutch company argued that the FEMISTEN is confusingly similar to FEMOSTON both in the phonetic, and aural aspects, and both signs are meant to designate the same kind of goods. The owner of the registration requested the PPO to dismiss the case.

The PPO in its decision of 16 November 2005 dismissed the application for the invalidation of the right of protection for FEMISTEN trade mark. In support of the decision the PPO stated that in its opinion there is no similarity of the signs and it likely will not mislead consumers as to the origin of goods. Both signs were considered as a whole as fanciful. The component FEMI in FEMISTEN trade mark indicates that the product is designed for women. There was some similarity in structure and wording of these signs (the two characters have the same number of letters and syllables, and the difference comes down to differences of vowels in these assays), but in the assertion of the PPO it would not mislead the recipients as to the origin of the goods from a particular entrepreneur. FEMOSTON is a trade mark meant for designation of pharmaceutical preparations used in hormone therapy, which are bought only on prescription, so these goods are available to the customer through doctors and pharmacists. Products bearing FEMISTEN are the skin-care goods, available without a prescription and not associated with hormone therapy. The buyers of pharmaceutical products are adults, which, thoughtfully make their choice by paying attention.

Solvay filed a complaint. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 25 May 2006, case file VI SA/Wa 537/06 dissmied the complaint and ruled that the collected evidence made it clear, that the proprietor of FEMISTEN trade mark at the moment of filing a request for invalidation did not market the goods covered by the disputed mark, but according to the declaration of the holder, Glaxo intended to bring to the market skin care preparations in the form of ointments and gels available without prescription. The Court considered the findings of the Patent Office in this regard as correct. The legal doctrine and the case law established already the method of examining of the homogenity of goods. It should be assessed according to the type of the goods, purpose of the goods and the conditions of their sale, and the mere fact of belonging to a common class of goods is not a decisive argument for the recognition of the goods as belonging to the same kind. The Court ageed with the comparison of these signs that was made by the PPO and noted that the similarity of signs, as referred to in Article 9(1), point 1 of the TMA, is not an independent category, but it serves a purpose, namely the elimination by refusing to register the mark, which would under normal conditions of economic activity to deceive consumers as to the origin of goods. Evaluation of the similarity of the marks must be made at the same time from the perspective of the average consumer of the goods.

Solvay Pharmaceuticals B.V. Decided to file a cassation complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court i its judgment of 13 March 2007, case file II GSK 295/06 ruled that the issue of similarity of trade marks has both the factual and legal aspects, and that the administrative court can conduct its own assessment of the similarity criteria used by the Polish Patent Office. See “Trade mark law, case file II GSK 36/05“.

The SAC noted that according to settled case-law, the similarity of trade marks are resolved on the basis of risk of confusion as to the origin of goods. And the risk of confusion as to the origin of goods consists of similarity of goods and similarity of signs. See “Trade mark law, case file II SA 2778/01“.

Therefore, an essential element of the facts established for purposes of comparison of trade marks in terms of their similarity is to determine what goods bear these marks. Such a requirement does not occur when the same signs lack of similarities that may lead to a risk of confusion as to the origin of goods. This situation occurs in particular when the word trade marks compared in the visual and aural aspect show significant differences, so that mistakes are impossible for the consumer regardless of the way of purchasing terms and conditions of sale. The SAC noted that for unexplained reasons, it was adopted as the basis for comparisons of goods, by how they will be used, based only on arguments provided by Glaxo, where it was not disputed that when the decision was contested before the VAC, no commodity was marked with the questioned sign. It was also important to consider whether the observed similarity in the spelling of the two signs may lead to the risk of confusion. For these reasons, the SAC reversed the contested judgment and referred the case to the VAC for further re-examination.