Archive for: similarity of goods

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 1096/13

December 8th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

Dansk Supermarked A/S, the owner of word trade marks NETTO and word-figurate trade mark NETTO R-114747 filed to the Polish Patenet Office a notice of opposition to the final decision on the grant of a right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark NETO R-227788 that was registered for the goods in Classes 7, 11, 19, 20, 21 and services in Classes 35 and 42. The opponent pointed out that the services in Class 35 are identical to these that NETTO trade marks were registered for, and are directed to similar consumers through similar channels. Furthermore, the services in Class 35 are complementary to the goods and services from other classes. Dansk Supermarked A/S also argued that the compared trade marks are very similar. The dominant element of the sign in question is the word “NETO”, which is crucial for the perception of the character, and the figurative element is of secondary importance. The word “NETO” is entirely contained in the opposing signs, therefore the compared trade marks are “substantially similar” and that the average consumer may mistakenly associate the signs, and there is a real risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods and services.

The owner, Polish company Galicja Tomaszek sp. z o.o., argued that the chain stores NETTO offer both food and industrial goods, and in this case, the opposing sign is used for the determination of the store itself or chain of stores. In contrast, the disputed mark is used to designate the goods.

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection. The PPO found that trade marks at issue are similar, and pointed out that all the goods in Classes 7, 11, 19, 20 and 21, are covered by the services included in class 35, and relate to the sale of these goods. Galicja Tomaszek sp. z o.o. filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 19 December 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1808/12 dismissed it. The Court ruled that the term “providing a service” or “service” itself have no material content in the sense that the sign may be placed only on the elements used to provide a particular service, while a trade mark can be assigned to the goods, due to their material nature, and the consumer may directly related to the goods to which a sign is assigned. The similarity of the goods/services happens when the goods (services) covered by the earlier mark and the goods (services) covered by the later mark have the same purpose and method of use. Galicja Tomaszek sp. z o.o. filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 September 2014 case file II GSK 1096/13 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 244/13

May 22nd, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

On March 2008, the Polish Patent Office has granted to the Politechnika Wrocławska (Wrocław University of Technology) the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark e e-Informatica R-204692, for goods and services in Classes 9, 16, 18, 25, 35, 41 and 42.

R-204692

Mr Piotr Chlebowski filed the opposition against the decision of the PPO, and argued that he works on the market (in business) under the business pseudonym Informatica, and has been using that term as a company name that was entered in the register of business activity in 2003. He also uses that name within “a website for his Internet domain”. The term Informatica is also used by Mr Chlebowski on business cards, in advertising, invoices and stamps. He argued that the questioned trade mark also violates his personal rights, because he has started the company under the name Informatica. In addition, he also enjoys the copyright to the term “Informatica”, and the use of that name by the Politechnika Wrocławska is also contrary to regulations provided in the Polish Act on Combating Unfair Competition.

Politechnika Wrocławska requested the PPO to dismiss the opposition and argued that the term Informatica cannot be deemed as personal or economic right or interest. There is no unfair competition because the name Informatica does not lead to consumers’ confusion as to the producer of goods or services.

The Polish Patent Office dismissed the opposition. The PPO ruled the Mr Chlebowski is entitled to his full company name, not only to the term Informatica, and the provisions of the Polish Civil Code raised by the opponent relate to the violation of personal interests, and therefore not personal rights. However, the the mere fact that someone applied for a trade mark consisting of a part of the name of another company is not yet an obstacle to the registration. It is required that the registration and use of the trade mark constitutes a violation of the right to the company name. The average consumer will considers the designation as descriptive for the goods and services related to information technology. However, the figurative element – the first letter “e” – plays the dominant role in the perception of the whole trade mark. The registration of a domain name informatica.pl does not create exclusive property rights that are effective against all (erga omnes – absolute rights). The right to use an Internet domain name is the “relative right” based on the contractual obligation that is effective only with respect to the domain registrar. Mr Chlebowski filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 September 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 917/12 dismissed it, and Mr Chlebowski decided to file a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 April 2014 case file II GSK 244/13 repealed the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for further reconsideration. The SAC held that a name of enterprise (business or company) belongs to the category of personal and property rights, which are subject to legal protection, and that these rights may be infringed by the use of the trade mark, because the two signs (the company’s name and a trademark) both identify the company. The SAC noted that the VAC relied on provision of the Polish Commercial Code that for many years were no longer in force, and incorrectly stated that Mr Chlebowski, as a natural person conducting his business activities, is not entitled to the company name. While the the Polish legislature has regulated in the Civil Code in Section III titled “Entrepreneurs and their designation” the right to the company name, which is also entitled to an entrepreneur who is a natural person. Thus, in this case occurred primarily a conflict of a right to the company name and the right of protection for a trade mark. The Supreme Administrative Court stated in its previous case-law, that the name of a company (the firm) is used to identify and differentiate entities in legal and economic transactions. It also serves a carrier of certain information about the characteristics and qualities of their activities. Unauthorized interference with the functions of the company name infringes the right to the name. This infringement is not prejudiced by registration of a trade mark that is identical or similar to the name of another company. Exclusive rights to the company name (firm) are not absolute. Their limits are territorial and objective and are based on actual activity of an entity that uses a given name. Only within these limits a collisions between identical or similar company name and trademark may occur. If different fields of business activities of a person (legal or natural) that is entitled to the company name and the proprietor of a trade mark, do not lead to consumers’ confusion with regard to the identity of companies, or such proprietor of the later trade mark is not using the reputation associated with earlier (identical or similar) company name, it is difficult to talk about the collision of these two rights, and consequently an infringement of an earlier right to the company name by the later mark (see: “Trade mark law, case II GSK 31/06” and “Trade mark law, case II GSK 406/08“). Applying these considerations to the present case, the SAC ruled that the VAC should reconsider and establish such facts as from which time Mr Chlebowski had acted in the course of trade under the company, using in addition to his surname a designation Informatica, what was the scope and of that activity and whether there is a risk of consumers’ confusion as to the identity of his company and the owner of a disputed trade mark. As it was already established in the case-law of Polish administrative courts, while finding an infringement of personal or property rights of third parties by a trade mark registration, it does not matter whether there are specific facts of confusion in trade, i.e. consumers’ confusion as to the identity of the company and the sign. It is enough to determine the potential possibility (likelihood) of such confusion, that in case of companies carrying identical or convergent activities, seems inevitable (see the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 30 March 2006 case file II GSK 3/06, published in electronic database LEX, under the no. 197239). While considering this case, the VAC should also pay attention to the unified position of both the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court expressed in the case law that in case of a collision between a company name and an applied and/or registered trade mark, the priority is given to the earlier right.

Internet domains, case IV CSK 191/13

April 10th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company PASTA i BASTA Sp. z o.o. from Warszawa, the owner of the word-figurative trade mark pasta i basta 100 sposobów na makaron cafè R-212390 sued Restaurators Podlaszewscy Spółka Jawna from Toruń. PASTA i BASTA requested the court to prohibit Restaurators Podlaszewscy the use of restaurant name Pasta & Basta and to refrain from the use of Internet domain name pastaandbasta.com and to oblige the defendant to withdraw from the Polish Patent Office an application for the word-figurative trade mark pasta&basta Z-368187 and the withdrawal of the application for a Community trade mark and the award of 60.000 PLN.

R-212390.jpeg

The District Court dismissed the complaint and PASTA i BASTA decided to appeal. The Appeallate Court ordered Restaurators Podlaszewscy to cease the use of the name of the restaurant and refrain from using the website and ordered the defendant to pay 10.000 PLN. Restaurators Podlaszewscy filed a cassation complaint.

Z-368187

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 11 December 2013 case file IV CSK 191/13 held that if the competitor uses Internet domain name identical or similar to a registered trade mark, there may be trade mark infringement if such domain use may cause the likelihood of confusion as to the origin of the goods or services, or result in violation of the advertising function of the trade mark.

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 2005/12

April 8th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office dismissed the opposition filed by E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company against the decision on the grant of the right of protection for the word trade mark TEFAPAK R-199130 that was applied for the Polish company SINOGRAF S.A.

E.I. du Pont argued that the sign TEFAPAK is similar to its trade mark TEFLON R-49573 that was registered in Poland in 1968, and to its CTM TEFLON that was registered in 1996. According to the US company, the compared goods are identical or similar, and the signs share the same prefix TEF, which could lead to consumers’ confusion.

SINOGRAF S.A. requested the PPO to dismiss the opposition, and argued that the goods are directed to competent consumers of the proper level of technical knowledge, who have knowledge and experience in the field of materials, and thus much greater possibility of distinguishing different trade marks than the average recipient.

The PPO dismissed the opposition and found that the trade marks at issue are not similar, since they have significantly different overall impression both in the the visual and aural aspects. The PPO noted that there is no likelihood of confusion and it could not include the likelihood of association, because the goods are targeted to specialized recipients. E.I. du Pont filed a compliant against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 July 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 301/12 dismissed it. The Court held that the Polish Patent Office correctly established all circumstances of the case. The VAC agreed that the goods are identical or similar, however, the Court did not agree with the argument that the compared signs are similar to the extent that could lead to likelihood of confusion. In the opinion of the Court, the trade mark are not similar, so arguments about the use of someone else’s reputation and the reputation of the trade mark can not be justified. Dissimilar signs can not induce associations of customers, so there can be no conscious imitation and benefit from someone else’s reputation. E.I. du Pont filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Adminitrative Court in its judgment of 20 March 2014 case file II GSK 2005/12 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 270/12

September 24th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company INTERKOBO sp. z o.o., the owner of word trade mark MYBABY R-148924 registered for goods in Class 28 such as games, toys, sporting goods, requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate in part the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark MY SWEET BABY R-187751 registered for goods in Classes 12, 20, 25 and 28, and owned by PEXIM Artur Kamiński. INTERKOBO claimed high recognition of the MYBABY reputed trade mark among buyers of children’s toys and a high degree of similarity between the goods. The company noted that since 15 years it is one of the largest importers of toys in Poland. PEXIM argued that its trade mark is registered in class 28 for goods such as children’s toys – dolls, doll beds, cradles for dolls, doll furniture, doll clothing. PEXIM operates since 15 June 2001, and its activity is the manufacture of wicker and wood, which are exported. Wickerworks are made for young children. These are strollers, cribs and miniatures of these products as toys for children. The products are bearing a trade mark and a company name, therefore, the risk of confusion is excluded.

R-187751

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection in part of goods in Class 28. The PPO ruled that both trade marks are used to designate similar goods. The dominant element in both signs is the word baby, because it is a base or core to the other words, and in particular, their meanings so it shows that the these trade marks have a similar range of meaning, therefore there is a high risk of association by the public between the marks, and the likelihood that the consumer may be confused as to the origin of goods. PEXIM filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 29 September 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1407/11 dismissed it. The Court ruled that the PPO properly carried out the proceedings and correctly interpreted the law. According to the Court there was homogenity of goods in Class 28, and even the identity of the goods, because the Nice Classification was subject to change over the years, but the changes did not have any historically impact on the signs and the goods offered. The difference of one word that occured in the compared signs was so unimportant that it did not make them different enough to rule out the risk of confusion in the ordinary course of trade. PEXIM filed a cassation complaint, and additionally, a motion to stay the execution of the decision. The Company argued that the contested decision involves very high cost and its implementation would include a very serious consequences for its economic activity, and thus would cause irreparable consequences and expose the company to serious losses.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 27 July 2013 case file II GSK 270/12 dismissed the motion. The SAC ruled that PEXIM, despite its obligation to submit such evidence, has not shown the existence of statutory grounds that would allow to stay the execution of the contested decision. According to the Court, PEXIM only claimed very serious and irreparable consequences and big losses. Meanwhile, while citing in support of the motion specified circumstances, the Company should be able to substantiate their occurrence, thus going beyond the vague and unsubstantiated claims. By pointing to difficulties to reverse the effects of the contested decision, PEXIM did not substantiate the existence of conditions justifying the stay of execution. Therefore, the Court had no chances for the objective assessment. The arguments that the stay of execution of the decision does not endanger the health or human life, and it is not associated with exposure to the national economy from heavy losses, as well as it does not affect the party’s interest, were during the assessment of the motion irrelevant, since it is not a ground for staying the execution that is provided for in the Polish Law on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts. The SAC held that a reference to likely allegations that were raised in the cassation complaint cannot determine the stay, since at this stage it would be pointless and premature. The Court also noted that the order to stay the execution can be amended or repealed at any time if circumstances of the case change. The party seeking for the amendment or repeal of a decision or action, should demonstrate such a change of circumstances that would make its request justifiable and well-founded.

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 623/12

August 25th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

On February 2009, the Polish company MIS S.A. applied to the Polish Patent Office for the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark mis Polecany Lider Innowacyjności Z-351511 for goods in Class 9. The PPO refused, becuase it found similarity with the CTM MIS no. 002167674, registered with the earlier priority for goods in Class 9 and 42 and owned by MIS GmbH. MIS S.A. requested for the re-examination of the matter. The Company argued that the abbreviation MIS stands for management information systems and it lacks distinctiveness, because this term is functioning for many years in the textbooks of economics, management and information technology. The company indicated also that the proprietor of the earlier Community trade mark does not use it in business and is not interested in renewal of the protection of its trade mark, because, for several years, the successor of the German company did not file a formal request to transfer the exclusive rights to the new owner. The PPO refused to grant the right of protection, and MIS S.A. filed a complaint against this decision.

Z-351511

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 29 september 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1257/11 dismissed it. The Court agreed that there exists similarity of signs and goods and services. Moreover, the Court stated that along with granting the right of protection for a trade mark, the exclusive subjective right is also created, this right is effective erga omnes – against all. So it’s important to separate ranges indicated in exclusive spheres of rights, and strive to avoid a situation where this could lead to overlapping powers. The property right to the trade mark is a transferable right, therefore, the sphere of exclusivity incorporated in the sign cannot be related to the business profile of the entrepreneur, because it involves the variability of the indicated areas of exclusivity and it is impossible to determine it in the course of trade, as well as in the examination proceedings conducted before the Polish Patent Office.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 13 August 2013 case file II GSK 623/12 dismissed the cassation complaint filed by MIS S.A.

Trade mark law, case no. Sp. 30/11

October 23rd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 27 February 2009, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark PARADA R-215899 applied for the goods in Class 18 such as leather and imitations of leather, and goods made of these materials and goods in Class 25 such as clothing made of natural and synthetic materials, leather garments, footwear, headgear, by the Polish company HenMar sp. z o. o. from Dębica.

IR-650695

PRADA S.A. from Luxembourg filed a notice of opposition. The company argued that the trade mark PARADA is confusingly similar to its word-figurative trade mark PRADA IR-650695 registered in Poland with the earlier priority of 1995, for goods in Class 18 and Class 25.

The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 12 October 2012 case no. Sp. 30/11 ruled that PARADA and PRADA are not similar. In the opinion of the PPO, although compared signs are composed of similar letters, however, the deciding factor was the conceptual aspect of both trade marks. In Polish, the word “parada” has a specific meaning and means, among others, spectacular show with the participation of many people (parade). The PPO decided that the semantic aspect proves that both signs will be perceived differently and there is no risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods. Further allegations, based on the reputation of PRADA trade mark, have become, therefore, irrelevant. The decision is not final yet. The complaint may be filed before the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw.

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 Sp. 202/12

September 11th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Apple, Inc. filed the request for invalidation of the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark A.PL registered for goods and services in Class 9, 35 and 42 and owned by the Polish company Internet S.A. from Warszawa. The Polish company also provides an online grocery store under the domain name a.pl. The main arguments presented by the U.S. company were based on confusing similarity between the sign A.PL and national and Community trade marks that are owned by Apple. Arguments based on the unfair use of the reputation were also raised.

R-222253

The Adjudicative Board held the first hearing on 29 august 2012 case no. Sp. 202/12. However, due to the large volume of evidence supplied by Apple, the hearing was adjourned.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 557/11

September 10th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 2 January 2007, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark GLOBAL R-192958 for the Polish entrepreneur Marek Stefaniak from Gdańsk, for goods and services in Classes 9, 16, 35, 37, 38, 39, 41, 42 and 43. On 30 July 2008, the Swedish company Global Refund Holdings AB filed the request for invalidation for goods in Classes 9 and 16 and for services in Class 35. Global Refund argued that the sign in question is similar to its trade mark G GLOBAL REFUND IR-688582.

R-192958

The Polish Patent Office in its decision of 1 June 2010 case no. Sp. 148/09 found similarity of goods and services and decided that both trade marks share the same word element which may cause consumers’ confusion. Therefore, the PPO invalidated the right of protection. Marek Stefaniak filed a complaint against this decision.

IR-688582

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 August 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 557/11 ruled that according to the provisions of Article 255(4) of the IPL, the PPO decided and settles cases in litigation procedure within the scope of the request and should be bound by the legal ground invoked by the requesting party. Thus, the request for invalidation of the right of protection for a trade mark define the scope of the administrative case by defining its borders, both as to the facts and the legal basis for the request. This rule in this proceeding was even more important because it was contradictory procedure, and thus characterized by adversarial nature. A party that initiates the dispute also determines to what extent the statutory requirements were not met in order to obtain a trade mark registration and submits evidence in support of its position. The settlement of case within the scope of the request means that these limits can not be exceeded. In the opinion of the Court, going beyond the scope of the request for invalidation of the registration violates the interests of the holder of the registration. The judgment is final.

Procedural law, case VI SA/Wa 1239/11

August 7th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 1 March 1994, the company France-Euro Agro applied to the Polish Patent Office for the registration of the word trade mark SOBIESKI Z-130304 for goods in Class 33 such as alcoholic beverages except beer. In its decision of March 1997, the PPO refused to register the applied trade mark because of the similarity with the word-figurative trade mark A SOBIESKI POLISH VODKA R-85456 that was registered with the earlier priority for the same goods in Class 33. This trade mark is currently owned by BELVEDERE S.A. France-Euro Agro withdrew its request for re-examination of the case. However, on December 2005, BELVEDERE requested the PPO to repeal the refusal based on the provisions of Article 154 § 1 of the Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments.

A final decision, on the basis of which none of the parties acquired any rights, may be at any time repealed or amended by the public administration authority which issued the decision or by the authority of higher level if it is justified by the public interest or fair interest of the party.

The Company noted that the risk of misleading potential consumers has been eliminated as the owner of both trade marks is now the same entity. BELVEDERE argued also that the PPO does not respect the constitutional rule of law and equal treatment of entities in the application of law, because it has registered three word-figurative trade marks Jan III Sobieski SJ for BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO POLSKA TRADING Sp. z o.o., despite the existence of the earlier right of protection for the trade mark A SOBIESKI POLISH VODKA R-85456. The PPO refused to repeal the decision of 1997. The PPO emphasized that decisions taken in such proceedings are discretionary, which means that the PPO examines, whether in the particular situation, the public interest or the fair interests of a party is in favor of the repeal of the final decision. The requirements of public interest or the interests of the parties must be assessed on an individual case and must receive individualized content, resulting from the factual and legal issues. The interest of the party should be “fair” within the objective meaning i.e. it has to be justified by circumstances of the case and accepted under applicable law, also from the standpoint of public interest. According to Polish legal doctrine, the term “public interest” is not defined by the law, and the content of this concept is given by the adjudicating body. The scope of the discretion of the administrative body during the recognition of such issues is limited, for instance by the existence of general principles of administrative proceedings, such as the public interest and fair interest of citizens. The fair interests of citizens is not only deemed as the interest of parties involved in this particular case, but also the interests of other parties to the proceedings before the Patent Office, in this case those who have applied for trade marks after the refusal of March 1997. By withdrawing the request for re-examination of the matter, France-Euro Agro waived its right to appeal, which led to the ultimate end of the proceedings and allowed other entities to apply for trade mark protection. BELVEDERE filed a complaint against this decision.

R-85456

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 7 December 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1239/11 dismissed it and held that the proceedings to repeal the final decision should not be regarded as a retrial of the case. The Court held that both the institution of proceedings de novo, as well as the repeal of the final decision, are procedures used to verify the faulty decisions, that allows for setting the decision aside, in the situations specified by law, despite its finality. Given the exceptional nature of these procedures, they cannot be abused by a broad interpretation of the conditions of admissibility of their application. The overriding principle is to guarantee the sustainability of the final administrative decision. The Court agreed with the PPO that BELVEDERE could file requests for the invalidation of the rights of protection for trade marks JAN III SOBIESKI JS.

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.

R-218916

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 II GSK 413/11

August 3rd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of a story described in “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1124/10“. GRAAL S.A decided to file a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 9 May 2012 case file II GSK 413/11 dismissed it and ruled that both the views established in Polish case-law and legal doctrine emphasize the fact that not the differences between the signs, but the similarities are assessed, and ultimately, the strength of this similarity determines whether there is likelihood of confusion or association between the trade marks, at least, at the part of the public.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 301/12

July 23rd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 21 December 2007, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark TEFAPAK R-199130 for goods in Class 1 such as graphite for industrial purposes, in class 6 for base metal alloys, and in Class 17 for sealants.

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company filed a notice of oppostion, arguing that TEFAPAK is similar to its reputed trade mark TEFLON R-49573, that was registered with the earlier priority of 27 September 1968 for goods in Classes 1, 2, 17, 21 and 22.

The Adjudicative Board of the PPO in its decision 17 November 2010 case no. Sp. 388/09 dismissed the opposition. The PPO did not find any similarities between both trade marks. E.I. du Pont filed a complaint against this decsion.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 July 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 301/12 dismissed it. The Court confirmed that, since the signs are not similar the reputation of an opposing trade mark is irrelevant. This judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1222/11

June 12th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On January 2000, the Polish Patent Office registered the trade mark DACH-BUD PERDKOWIE R-116968 for goods in Class 19 and services in Class 37. This sign was applied for by Polish entrepreneurs Krzysztof Perdek and Zbigniew Perdek Zakład Ogólnobudowlany DACH-BUD in 1996. Przedsiębiorstwo Budownictwa Ogólnego DACH BUD Spółka z o.o. from Wrocław filed a request for invalidation. DACH BUD argued that at the time of trade mark application, it was the only business that has used the sign DACH BUD as its company name. In 2002, one of the shareholders of the present company DACH BUD Spółka z o.o., has filed a request for invalidation, but it was dismissed by the PPO and the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 22 December 2005 case file VI SA/Wa 337/05.

R-196146

Also in this case, the PPO dismissed the request and decided that the proceedings were separate and independent in relation to proceedings that were held before on the request of the predecessor of DACH BUD. According to the PPO, the request based on the provisions of Article 8(2) 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, was unjustified, and there were no grounds to invalidate the right of protection. That provision states that the registration of a sign which infringes personal or property rights of third parties, has to be refused. All the personal interests that are protected under the provisions of the Polish Civil Code, are identified among the rights of a personal nature. The name (firm) of the limited liability company (spółka z ograniczoną odpowiedzialnością) is the name under which the company is established according to the provisions of the Polish Code of Commercial Companies. The name of business/entrepreneur is treated as its personal right and as such is protected as the right to company name. According to legal commentators, it is an absolute personal right of an entrepreneur, and it is effective, erga omnes, against all. Its content is defined as the ability to use the company name to identify business/entrepreneurs on the market. The company name of a private person or entrepreneurs acting as a commercial companies, is not transferable. The Polish legal doctrine and case law established the view that the registration of a sign that is corresponding to the designation of another entrepreneur, that was used before the registration of that trade mark, affects the personal interests of such entrepreneur. However, that interference in the sphere of personal property, and more specifically – in the right to the name of the entrepreneur, may also occur in case of use of the part of that name, if it is a part that is fulfilling the function that sufficiently individualize an entity, i.e. that allows to uniquely identify and distinguish the company from other private or legal (corporate) persons. The PPO ruled that a similar position should be adopted in case of registration of a figurative sign, which in the word element contains the company name (firm) of another entity, or a significant part of it. The PPO noted that the company did not exist at the filing date of the disputed trade mark, and it could not effectively rely on the infringement of its right to the company name by the disputed sign, Therefore, if the applicant’s right was not the right “with a better priority”, there were no grounds to consider the request. In the opinion of the PPO, in the exercise of its personal interests, the applicant could rely only on the right enjoyed by it exclusively, and not by others. In particular, the company could not claim and invoke any right that was enjoyed by its shareholder – a private person. DACH BUD Spółka z o.o. filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 18 January 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1222/11 agreed with the PPO and dismissed it. The Court noted that in case of conflict of rights, in this case, the protection right for a trade mark with a personal interest that includes the right to company name, the priority is to protect the personal interest. However, the registration of a trade mark that is identical or similar to a company name does not prejudge the infringement of the right to a company name. This exclusive right is not a total absolute. Its limits are defined by the coverage (territorial and goals) and the time of actual activities of the entity that is using the name. The collision between identical or similar company name and a trade mark may occur only within these limits. This judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 666/10

June 4th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark Columbia R-182641 that was applied for by the Polish entrepreneur “ORION” Jerzy Czernek from Łódź. The German company Imperial Tobacco (EFKA) GmbH & Co. KG filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection, claiming similarity to its trade mark COLUMBUS IR-0613016 registered for some identical goods in Class 34. Mr Czernek argued that there is no likelihood of confusion between both trade marks, as the recipients of goods and services covered by those signs accurately identify the brand of cigarettes and they do not confuse them. The PPO agreed and dismissed the opposition. Imperial Tobacco filed complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Adminsitrative Court in its judgment of 25 January 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1798/09 dismissed it. Imperial Tobacco filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 15 June 2011 case file II GSK 666/10 repealed the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for further reconsideration. The Court held that consumer’s attention focuses on the similarities and the first part of the sign. The SAC also noted that the VAC has not explained why it considered that eight-letter signs, that share the same 6 letters and the identical first two syllables, are completely different. In the case of identical goods, the analysis of similarity between trade marks should be particularly careful and thorough. The SAC noted that it should be always remembered that trade marks are to help customers to associate the product with the manufacturer, and not obscure the market and lead to confusion.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 28 September 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1541/11 reversed the contested decision, ruled it unenforceable, and returned the case to the PPO for reconsideration.

However, the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 4 April 2012 case no. Sp. 538/11 did not decide on the mertis of the case, becasue Mr Czernek waived his right of protection and Imperial Tobacco withdrew the opposition.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 611/11

April 30th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office partially refused to grant the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark moja historia Z-338905. This sign was applied for PHOENIX PRESS Sp. z o.o. Sp.k. from Wrocław for goods and services in Class 09, 16, 35, 39, 41 and 42. The PPO based its refusal in Class 09, 16 and 41 on the earlier registration of the word-figurative trade mark Moja historia R-187793 owned by WYDAWNICTWO ERA Sp. z o.o. from Straszyn. PHOENIX only agreed that both companies are publishers, but the signs are meant for other goods and are directed to another recipients. Phoenix is a press publisher whose clients are adult women and WYDAWNICTWO ERA is a publisher of school history textbooks (mainly the history of Poland), which customers are students in primary schools.

R-187793

The PPO decided that there exists similarity of signs and goods and services which may lead to consumers confiusion. PHOENIX filed a complaint against this decision. The Company argued inter alia that the PPO could grant the right of protection and it would not deprive WYDAWNICTWO ERA of protection provided for instance in the Polish Act on Combating of unfair competition, if PHOENIX’s trade mark would actually threaten the existence and functions of the trade mark owned by ERA.

Z-338905

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 8 June 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 611/11 dismissed the complaint. The Court ruled that regulations on combating unfair competition are provided in a separate act, and it is justified by both the construction of the Polish legal system and due to the method of regulation. The law on combating unfair competition does not create absolute rights, but only the system of legal claims that provides protection in the event of unwanted and objectionable market behavior and actions (unfair competition delicts or torts), which is a different approach than those adopted in the Polish Industrial Property Law, which are based on the granting of absolute rights (monopolies) by an administrative decision.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1378/10

March 12th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office had refused to grant the right of protection for the word trade mark PUCHATEK CHOCO Z-321348 filed by Lubella Sp. z o.o. sp. kom. ak., for goods in Class 30. Lubella provided a letter of consent, which had been granted by Maspex Sp. z o.o., the owner of the prior-registered trade marks that include word element PUCHATEK. The PPO decided that it cannot consider the letter of consent, inter alia, for the reason that commercial relationships between the entities are not permanent. The use of a letter of consent in such a case could potentially cause problems when dealing with its withdrawal when the cooperation between the entities has ceased to exist. The PPO also remind that the Polish Industrial Property law provides for the institution of the letter of consent, only to signs whose protection lapsed. Lubella filed a complaint against this decision but it was dismissed by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 July 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 600/10. Lubella filed a cassation complaint.

R-159163

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 16 December 2011 case file II GSK 1378/10 upheld the questioned judgment. The Court agreed with the PPO that Lubella was a different legal entity from the right holder of earlier trade marks that were considered as similar. The Court noted that it should be always borne in mind that the task of a trade mark is to distinguish the goods of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. The trade mark has to fulfill the function of determination of origin. This function is expressed objectively by commodity/goods, to which the sign is assigned, and it provides the consumer an idea about the qualities of a particular product, and subjectively i.e. the trade mark belongs to a given undertaking based on the right of protection that was granted to him or her, and it lets for the identification of the goods with the source that is indicated abstractly or by name. The protected trade mark should prevent from the risk of confusion on the part of consumers, because on the one hand it protects the economic interests of entitled entrepreneur, on the other hand it is aimed at consumers, in order to distinguish the origin of the goods. The SAC also reminded after the VAC that the Polish Patent Office does not examine the way in which the trademark is used on the market, except for its reputation, notoriety or secondary meaning i.e. acquired distinctiveness. The examination of a trade mark application is carried out in abstracto, that is, in isolation from market conditions.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 839/10

January 17th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Nufarm Australia Limited, the owner of the trade mark DUAL SALT TECHNOLOGY R-164428 registered for goods in Class 5, requested the Polish Patent Office to decide on the lapse of the right of protection for DUAL IR-0534713 owned by Syngenta Participations AG. Earlier before, Syngenta opposed the registratin of the trade mark DUAL SALT TECHNOLOGY R-164428.

Syngenta requested the PPO to dismiss the request. The Company provided evidence of use of the trade mark DUAL IR-0534713. There were six copies of VAT invoices from the period from 2002 to 2006, of sale of goods bearing the sign “DUAL GOLD 960 EC”, and two newspaper articles concerning this product and the material safety data sheets of “DUAL GOLD 960 EC of August 2005.

The Polish Patent Office decided on the lapse of the right of protection for DUAL IR-0534713 and dismissed the opposition against the registration of the trade mark DUAL SALT TECHNOLOGY R-164428. Syngenta filed a complaint against this decision. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 19 March 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1807/09 dismissed it. Syngenta filed a cassation compliant.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 October 2011 case file II GSK 839/10 repealed the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for further reconsideration. The SAC ruled that the cassation complaint can be based on the following grounds: a) the violation of substantive law by its erroneous interpretation or misuse, or the violation of proceedings rules, if it could affect the outcome of the case. The specific provisions of substantive law or procedural law, which were violated the court of first instance, should be indicated. Furthermore, it should be precisely explained What was the misapplication or misinterpretation – in relation to substantive law, or it should be demonstrated what was the significant impact of the violation of procedural law to decide the case by the court of first instance – in relation to the rules of proceedings. The Supreme Administrative Court cannot change or precise cassation complaints and their grounds, or otherwise correct them, due to limitations resulting from the mentioned rules. If the cassation complaint alleges violation of both substantive law and proceedings, as it was in the present case, the Supreme Administrative Court recognizes the allegation of violation of proceedings, in the first place.

The SAC decided the PPO has erred in its findings because it considered that the evidence submitted on, was from the years 2002-2006, while there was also an invoice from March 2007 on the case file, which was of the relevance to the case. It was a sales invoice of the preparation DUAL GOLD 960 EC 12 XI and DUAL GOLD 960 EC 4X 5 L. Surprisingly, the Supreme Administrative Court acknowledged, that the case facts showed that the trade mark DUAL GOLD lapsed on June 2006, so as a trade mark it ceased to exist on the market from that date (it was not registered). Since the trade mark DUAL GOLD ceased to exist in legal transactions after June 2006, the Polish Patent Office should examine whether this sign could be used in this situation, as indicated on the invoice of March 2007, or perhaps the invoice indicated the use of any other trade mark, for example, the trade mark DUAL, and therefore the Article 170 (1) of the IPL should be applied in this case.

Article 170
1. Subject to paragraph (2), the Patent Office shall dismiss a request for declaring the right of protection lapsed in the case referred to in Article 169(1)(i), if before the submission of the request genuine use of the mark has started or has been resumed.

2. Start or resumption of the use of the trademark after the expiration of an uninterrupted period of five successive years of non-use and within a period of three months preceding the submission of the request for declaring the right of protection lapsed, shall be disregarded, if preparations for the start or resumption of the use have been undertaken immediately after the right holder became aware of possible submission of such request.

3. Paragraphs (1) and (2) shall apply accordingly in the cases referred to in Article 169(7).

4. Loss of a right to use a sign or a symbol, referred to in Article 131(2) incorporated in a trademark shall not constitute a ground for non-making a decision declaring the right of protection for that trademark lapsed, if that sign or symbol ceased to be used in the trademark before a request for the declaration of the right of protection lapsed has been submitted.

In light of this evidence, which were the facts of this case, where a detailed analysis could affect the outcome of the case, it was premature by the court of first instance to rule and to say that, in this case that the genuine use of the mark has not started or has not been resumed, and PPO in this case did not erred in law, because it has analyzed all the evidence gathered. Considering other procedural allegations, the SAC held that administrative courts are not required in justification of its judgments to refer to each decision of Polish or European courts, that were cited by the author of a complaint. Such obligation can not be inferred from any provision of the Polish Act on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts. However, the administrative court should refer to these judgments, of which the applicant derives important arguments for the assessment of the case. In this case, the Court of first instance did not meet this requirement.

The SAC noted that the doctrine of law and case-law indicate that the trade mark proprietor may use its sign in an altered form in connection to the form of a sign that was registered. This alteration however, cannot apply to elements that decide on the distinctiveness of the sign, or may not lead to changes in represented form as a distinctive whole. See the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 24 May 2006 case file II GSK 70/06. The SAC confirmed the high degree of freedom to dispose of a trademark by its proprietor, and cited the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 24 June 2008 case file II GSK 251/08. See “Trade mark law, case II GSK 251/08“. The SAC found that the VAC has not sufficiently analyzed of all substantive rules in the context of this case. However, both situation where the violation of substantive law may happen, i.e., violation of substantive law by its incorrect interpretations or inappropriate use, refer only to cases where the facts of the case were established in no uncertain terms. Otherwise, the alleged breach of substantive law is at least premature. This situation took place in this case, because the author of the complainant cassation alleged in the first place the violation of the proceedings by the VAC. The violation of proceedings was based on the refusal by the court of first instance to repeal the decision issued by the Polish Patent Office, in a situation when that PPO did not adequately explain the facts of the case and did not examine in a comprehensive manner the whole of the evidence.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 723/11

December 28th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2007, the Polish Patent Office registered the word-figurative trademark citibank handlowy R-190720, for the American company Citibank, N.A., a National Banking Association. In 2008, Citigroup Inc. applied for the word trade mark CITI HANDLOWY Z-337716.

R-190720

The Polish Patent Office refused to grant the right of protection, despite the fact that Citibank N.A. is the sole shareholder of the Citigroup Inc., and Citigroup Inc. provided a letter of consent from its parent company. The PPO decided that both signs would mark very similar goods and services and are directed to the same audience. There is also visuall similarity, caused by common elements. The PPO noted that it is not obliged to take into account the letter of consent issued by Citibank, N.A. Citigroup Inc. filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 9 December 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 723/11 dismissed it. The Court held that the PPO correctly examined all evidence and properly decided on the similarity of signs. The VAC noted that that letters of consent may be evidence in proceedings, but they do not bind the PPO. The VAC pointed to the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 20 December 2007 case file II GSK 279/07. The SAC held that a letter of consent cannot be used as ground to register a trade mark since the Republic of Poland did not implement Article 4(5) of the First Council Directive 89/104.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1236/11

December 6th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

LEK, tovarna farmacevtskih in kemicnih izdelkov 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 trade mark KETOGEL R-190416 registered for Polpharma S.A. for goods such as pharmaceuticals. LEK argued that KETOGEL is similar to its word trade mark KETONAL. The PPO dismissed the opposition, and LEK filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 7 September 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1236/11 dismissed it. The court noted that in case of the assesment of similarities between trade marks, the number of syllables, their sound and touch have the importance in deciding on phonetic similarity. Visual similarity is assessed in terms of number of words or letters in general, the number of words or letters of the same type, their shape, layout and color. Consequently, a sign containing an altered distinctive element, even if there is some resemblance to other parts, will not be similar. The Court took into account the specificity of the pharmaceutical market, and excluded the likelihood of confusion in this case.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 875/11

October 27th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Juliusz Marek Nabiałek who owns the word-figurative trade mark Platan R-210901, filed a request for invalidation of the word-figurative trade mark PLATANUS OGRODY NATURALNE R-210602 registered for Przemysław Sochański. Mr. Nabiałek claimed that both signs are similar and cause the risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods and services, especially since most goods and services are identical.

R-210901

Mr. Sochański claimed that he cooperated with Mr. Nabiałek in years 2001-2005. He emphasized that Mr. Nabiałek, without his knowledge or consent registered the trade mark Platan in 1995, but it was the name of a company that was founded by Sochański. In March 2007, he learned about this registration when he was served with the cease and desist letter prohibiting the use of the name Platan. Therefore, Sochański applied on 15 March 2007, for the right of protection for PLATANUS OGRODY NATURALNE trade mark. Therefore, he thought that the request for invalidation is a malicious and solely personal action. Mr Nabiałek decided to narrow the request only for services in Class 42 such as services in architecture, biological research, advice on environment protection. The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection. Sochański filed a complaint against this decision.

R-210602

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 3 October 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 875/11 overturned the decision of the Polish Patent Office and held it unenforceable. The Court ruled that both trade marks are not similar and the similarity of goods and services is reduced only to their common numbering according to the Nice Classification. The VAC ruled that there was violation of the provisions of the administrative procedure, because the PPO did not consider all of the evidence required to decide the case, and has not indicated why certain facts were accepted as proven, and why others were denied the credibility and probative value.

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 VI SA/Wa 262/11

October 2nd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office refused to recognize the protection of the FERRERO OPERA IR-0891152 trade mark owned by SOREMARTEC S.A. The PPO decided that there are already registered similar or identical trade marks owned by Ferrero S.p.A.

SOREMARTEC argued that there is no real risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods bearing signs question, due to the fact that these trade marks are owned by closely related companies, and the goods are produced by all companies according to uniform quality standards. The Company presented documents confirming relationship between the companies, and submitted also a letter of consent.

The PPO agreed that there are regulations on letters of consent provided in the Polish Industrial Property Law. According to this provisions the owner of a lapsed trade mark may agree for a registration of a new trade mark, but the Polish legislator did not foresee similar rules relating to the signs remaining in force. However, and this is not a legal loophole. This rule is clear and there are no doubts. There’s an exception to that rule but it is very limited and it should not be interpreted broadly. As the PPO noted this is a classic example of a positive-negative regulation that is used in the legislation. As a contrario interpretation, Article 133 of the IPL sets two standards: a positive – that permits registration of the trade mark after obtaining the consent of the owner of an earlier mark that has lapsed, and negative – it does not allow for consent letters for the other collision (i.e. with signs of remaining in force, renown, reputed signs, etc.).

Article 132
1. A right of protection shall not be granted for a trade mark in respect of identical or similar goods, if the trade mark is identical or similar to:
(iii) a trade mark earlier registered in the Republic of Poland, whose registration has terminated, provided that an interval between the date of lapse of the right of protection for the trade mark and the date on which a similar trade mark has been applied for by another party, is, subject to Article 133, no longer than two years.

Article 133
The provision of Article 132(1)(iii) shall not apply where the protection has terminated under Article 169(1)(i) or the right holder of the earlier right has given his consent for the later trade mark being granted a right of protection.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 December 2007 case file II GSK 279/07 supported this interpretation. The SAC ruled that the provision of Article 4(5) of the First Council Directive 89/104 has not been implemented into Polish law, and it was futile to rely on the infringement of this provision, because such a consent has not the legal effect under Polish law. See “Trade mark law, case II GSK 279/07“. The examination system was adopted for the registration of trade marks in Poland. Letters of consent do not eliminate the risk of consumers’ confusion as to the origin of goods. This fact must therefore be taken into consideration during the examination of applied trade marks. The sign has to distinguish one entrepreneur from another entrepreneurs. The capital group is the association of many entrepreneurs linked to each other in different ways. If the goods are actually marketed by such a group and do not cause the confusion of consumers, the institution of a joint right of protection. The obligatory regulations governing use of trade marks adopted by the undertakings who have jointly applied for the trade mark protection, ensures that the signs will not be misleading at the time of filing the trade mark application, but also during their existance on the market. However, one can not assume in advance that the signs coming from companies that are linked organizationally and financially do not mislead consumers. There always will be a risk of consumers’ confusion. During the application proceedings, it is not possible for the PPO to examine the policy of big companies in order to identify the origin of each product offered. Therefore, if a number of separate legal entities want to use a similar trade mark, they must, in accordance with Polish law, to use the institution of a joint right of protection or simply trade mark licenses. There is no legal justification to treat the origin of signs from companies linked organizationally and financially as a guarantee of the absence of the risk of consumers confusions as to the origin of these goods.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 May 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 262/11 overturned the decision of the Polish Patent Office and held it unenforceable. The VAC agreed with the PPO that in principle, the mere letter of consent that was issued by a company that was unrelated organizationally and/or legally with entitled to the trade mark application, is not a basis for registration of a mark identical or similar. However, this document was not the only document on which SOREMARTEC relied to demonstrate the lack of the risk of conumers’ confusion. When examining the collected evidence material the PPO completely ignored the fact that the applicant has a number of trade marks with the word element “Ferrero” including signs from the earlier priority than the opposed trade marks. In addition, the VAC noted that SOREMARTEC owns trade marks containing the “Ferrero” element which were registered by the PPO on the basis of letters of consent.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 746/10

September 2nd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of the story described in “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1988/09“. Kraft Foods Polska filed a cassation complaint.

R-91506

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 12 July 2011 case file II GSK 746/10 dismissed the complaint and held that the reputation of the trade mark and homogenity goods bearing the signs at issue – even if they could be taken into account while assessing the likelihood of confusion – cannot challenge the established view that there is the lack of similarity between these trade marks. The Court decided that trade marks that were subject to the opposition proceedings do not contain a common element being the same surname, because the meaning of the POLO word in these trade marks is different.

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.

6.
(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 1901/10

July 15th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark VILLA PARK WESOŁA R-171029 owned by “VILLA PARK WESOŁA” Spółka z o.o. The request was filed by MPM PRODUCT Spółka z o.o. the owner of the word trade mark “villa park” R-139436 that was registered with an earlier priority. MPM filed also a civil suit against “VILLA PARK WESOŁA” Spółka z o.o. claiming the infringement of its trade mark rights. However, the court dismissed the injunction.

R-171029

“VILLA PARK WESOŁA” Spółka z o.o. decided to file a complaint against the decision of the PPO. The Company claimed inter alia that even a civil court shared the company’s argument stating that there is no risk of confusion in a group of relevant recipients of services bearing the trademarks at issue.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 24 March 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1901/10 dismissed the complaint and ruled that, undoubtedly, the Polish Patent Office, while considering the specific case at issue, acts under certain laws and regulations. In such situation one must understand that the PPO does not decide on the case based upon the judgments of the courts. This, of course, does not mean that if the specific circumstances of the case allow for taking into account the judgment, the Patent Office may not decide on a case in accordance with a convergent judicial decision issued in a similar case. This judgment is not final yet.