Archive for: double color

Trade mark law, case Sp. 566/09

December 6th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 11 January 2008, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark SEYDAK R-199882 for goods in Class 4 such as fuel, lubricants, engine and gear oils and hydraulic oils, and services in Class 39 such as parking services, and in Class 43 such as hotel services: motels and restaurants. This sign was applied for by the Polish entrepreneur Przedsiębiorstwo Usługowo Handlowe Marian Seydak.


BP p.l.c. filed a request for the invalidation of the SEYDAK trade mark. The British company argued that the questioned sign uses a composition of colors (green and yellow) that are presented in the reputed trade marks owned by BP. The Company referred to the judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU of 3 September 2009 case C-498/07 and the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 20 February 2007 case file II GSK 247/06, judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 12 October 2010 case file II GSK 849/09, and the judgment of the Supreme Court of 23 October 2008 case file V CK 109/08. See “Trade mark law, case II GSK 247/06“, “Trade mark law, case II GSK 849/09” and “Trade mark law, case V CSK 109/08“. BP claimed that it is not possible to assume that in the case of word-figurative trade mark, the verbal elements always dominate. The above cited judgments have changed this principle, and provided that sometimes colors or images are the dominant elements that may raise associations between compared trade marks. A patent attorney who was representing Marian Seydak, pointed to the discrepancy of the case-law, and stressed that the mere similarity of background is not significant enough when compared to the visual aspect of both signs. Marian Seydak argued that the trade mark at issue is different in terms of visual aspect, colors, and the layout of letters. He also provided that he is a local entrepreneur, who has just five gas stations distant from the main routes.


The Adjudicative Board of the PPO in its decision of 12 November 2012 case no. Sp. 566/09 dismissed the request. The decision is not final yet. The complaint may be filed before the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 137/12

August 3rd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

BP p.l.c filed before the Polish Patent Office a request for the invalidation of the figurative trade mark R-218916 registered for goods and services in Class 4, 31 and 39 and owned by Albert Korman. BP claimed similarity to its figurative CTM no. 1916550, word-figurative CTM BP no. 4100335 and figurative CTM no. 4236279, that were registered with the earlier priority for goods and services in the same classes. BP noted that it uses a combination of green and yellow colors, especially green and yellow figurative element of the trending-like sun rays on a circular or semicircular shape, for the identification of its services. The Company argued that the goods and services of the trade mark at issue are the same or similar. BP also relied on the judgment of the Polish Court for the Community Trade Marks and Community Designs case file XII GWzt 15/08 in which the court found that the BP’s trade mark is highly distinctive, which may result from both the lack of descriptive elements in the sign as well as with the reputation and goodwill, which the mark has among the buyers.


The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment 11 April 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 137/12 ruled that due to the fact that the Polish Patent Office correctly decided that there were no indications that the applied trade mark was identical or similar to a trademark for which a right of protection was already granted , therefore, it was pointless to assess the reputation of the previous sign. Since the PPO properly determined that the marks are not similar, any considerations about the use of another’s reputation were not justified. The Court repeated that dissimilar signs cannot produce associations, so there can be no conscious imitation and profiting from someone else’s reputation. The correct view is that the lack of similarity between the signs eliminates the need to examine the use of another’s reputation, as the “precondition” of accepting the argument that the use of reputation has happened, is to determine the similarity between the signs, and the second condition is to establish the applicant’s trade mark has the reputation. This judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2519/10

June 6th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 10 March 2006, Red Bull GmbH applied for the color trade mark Z-307435. The trade mark application included the following description “a mark consists of the color blue (2/4/C) and silver (877 C) that fill half of a sign”. However, the company did not specify how both colors fill the applied trade mark, i.e. whether horizontally or vertically. In the decision on the grant of the right of protection that was issued of 2008, the PPO indicated only two categories of the Vienna Classification: 29.01.2004 and 29.01.2006. In its resolution of 2009, the PPO decided to correct the decision as the so-called obvious clerical mistake. The Polish Patent Office justified its resolution based on reproductions of the trade mark that were attached to the trade mark application Z-307435. The PPO decided that the applied trade mark was a figurative one and noted that the trade mark was vertically divided into two parts. The PPO ruled that the category 25.05.2001 (backgrounds divided vertically into two parts) should be also added, because even the applicant stated that the colors fill in half, and presented relevant reproductions of the sign, where one can clearly see two rectangles placed side by side. The PPO added also the category 04.26.2002 (rectangles).


Red Bull filed a complaint against the resolution of the PPO before the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw. The Company claimed that its trade mark should not be defined in the PPO’s decision as a figurative, but as an abstract colorful trade mark, which accurately reflects its true nature. Red Bull argued that the Polish Patent Office erred in applying categories of the Vienna classification, since the application concerns an abstract colorful sign. Consequently, it was correct to include in a trade mark application Z-307435 only a category that was corresponding to the colors. Red Bull claimed that the Polish Industrial Property law and Article 15(1) of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) allow for the registration of combinations of colors in the Republic of Poland.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 21 April 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 2519/10 overturned the questioned resolution and held it unenforceable. The VAC ruled that both the doctrine of law and case-law stand on a restrictive view that the admissibility of correcting “clerical and accounting mistake/miscarriage” is determined by the premise of “obviousness” of the mistake. The “obviousness” of a clerical, accounting or another mistake should either result from the nature of the mistake or from the comparison of a decision with its justification or with the content of the request, or other circumstances. An obvious mistake is deemed as an apparent, contrary to the goal, deliberate misuse of the word, apparently erroneous spelling or an omittment. The Court held that the Vienna categories added by the PPO defined the shape of a sign, of which there was no mention in the trade mark application. So, the PPO “clarified” the content its decision of May 2008 by pointing to the shape of the trade mark applied for. By describing the form of a reproduction attached to the trade mark application, the PPO referred to a figure of rectangle and consequently attributed such a form to the trade mark at issue. Meanwhile, a reproductions has its own form, that is independent of the form of the trade mark itself. A form, shapes and dimensions of the reproductions (photographs or photo-copies of a trade mark) are defined in § 9 of the Regulation of the Prime Minister of 8 July 2002 on filing and processing of trademark applications. The Court found that there was no reason to draw conclusions about the shape of the trade mark only on the basis of the rectangular shapes of the reproduction included in the trade mark application Z-307435.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 305/06

March 28th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office in its decision of 15 March 2005 case Sp. 24/01 invalidated the trade mark R-116334 that was registered for Agencja Wydawnicza TECHNOPOL Spółka z o.o. for goods in Class 16 such as magazines and books with crosswords and charades, brochures, exercise books. TECHNOPOL filed a complaint against this decision, but it was dismissed by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 May 2006 case file VI SA/Wa 1684/05. TECHNOPOL decided to file a cassation complaint.


The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 29 March 2007 case file II GSK 305/06 held that even if the provisions of Article 4(2) of the old Polish Trade Mark Act – TMA – (in Polish: Ustawa o znakach towarowych) of 31 January 1985, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 5, item 15, with subsequent amendments, allow for the protection of trade mark consisting of the compositions or combinations of colors, it does not mean that each of such compositions is capable of being registered.

4(1) For the purposes of this Law, a trademark shall be any sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of a given enterprise from similar goods or services of another enterprise.
(2) The following, in particular, are considered as trademarks: words, designs, ornaments, combinations of colors, plastic forms, melodies or other acoustic signals, and a combination of such elements.

The Court ruled that this sign lacks abstract distinctiveness, because the average recipient is not able to remember both the composition of colors and each color of the edges of sheets i.e. a color scheme, or colored side, due to the commonly used by publishers of books and journals practice of coloring sheets of the books and other periodicals. The lack of abstract distinctiveness excluded the possibility to examine its concrete distinctiveness. The Court noted also that regulations protecting industrial property should be applied by the Polish Patent Office and courts in such a way that their interpretation is consistent with the goals and content of the Directive 89/104, and the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice. This follows from the principle of pro-European interpretation of national law. Its essence is the interpretation of national law, which will achieve an outcome that is consistent with the content or purpose of the provision of Community law. National courts must interpret national law in conformity with Community law “as far as possible”. It means that pro-European interpretation of national law is fully admissible if national legislation does not specify clearly an issue, or if the provisions of Community law are more detailed than these afforded in domestic law.

Trade mark law, case GSK 864/04

April 11th, 2005, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 23 November 2004 case file GSK 864/04 held that according to Article 4(1) and Article 7(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, an undefined trademark, i.e. a trade mark which is not represented in one form, does not possess any sufficient ability to distinguish goods. This judgment concerned a trade mark that was filled according to the Madrid system of international registration of marks.


The trade mark IR-667827 owned by FERRERO S.p.A. is represented in the double color composition (the lower part is in white and the top part is in orange). The Court ruled that there was no justification for the argument that the composition or combination of colors, that could serve as a trade mark, has to meet other and additional requirements, such as novelty and originality of form or compositions of colors, i.e. it has to be a manifestation of creativity. However, an undefined sign, that does not exist in one and the same form, is not able to create and capture the consumer associations as to the origin of goods from one and the same entrepreneur. So, such a sign is not sufficiently distinctive. A simple composition of two or more colors, without shape or contour, or the combination of these colors in every possible configuration, does not meet the accuracy and uniformity that is required to perform the function of the trade mark in order to be registered. Such inaccurate representation of the sign which is the combination of colors presented in an abstract (no contours) may lead to many different variations, which in turn, will not allow the consumer to perceive and remember this sign, and thus re-purchase the goods originating from the same company.