Archive for: similarity of goods

Trade mark law, case Sp. 421/07

February 14th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 18 April 2002 Polish entrepreneur Zaklady Chemiczne EMICHEM Michal Mierzwa from Poznan applied to register the word-figurative trade mark JAX in class 3 for goods such as washing preparations, body and hair care preparations, windshield preparations and washers, car-care preparations, stain removers, softening and bleaching preparations. The Polish Patent Office registered this trade mark R-171570 in its decision of 16 March 2006.

R-171570

Colgate-Palmolive Company, a Delaware corporation, New York (US), filed a request to invalidate the right of protection based on article 132(2)(ii) of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej) of 30 June 2000, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments.

2. A right of protection for a trade mark shall not be granted, if the trade mark:
(ii) is identical or similar to a trade mark for which a right of protection was granted or which has been applied for protection with an earlier priority date (provided that the latter is subsequently granted a right of protection) on behalf of another party for identical or similar goods, if a risk of misleading the public exists, in particular by evoking associations with the earlier mark.

The US company claimed earlier word-figurative trade mark registration AJAX Floral Bouquet R-135207. Colgate-Palmolive argued that there exist a high a risk of misleading the public because the disputed trade marks shared visual, aural and conceptual similarities.

R-135207

The PPO accepted Colgate-Palmolive’s arguments and invalidated JAX trade mark in its decision of 20 February 2009, act signature Sp. 421/07.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1601/08

January 28th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

On July 4, 2002 Polish company Aldo sp. z o.o. applied for the right of protection for word-figurative mark ALDO S Z-252456 in classes 6, 19, 35, 37. The services indicated to operating a store and wholesalers with building materials. In 2005, The Polish Patent Office has issued a favourable decision and registered the submitted mark R-169096.

R-169096

German company Aldi Einkauf GmbH has opposed the registration. The opponent based its claims on two registrations. However, only the second of the presented trade marks ALDI R-173352 covered the contested class. This sign was also registered later in 2006 (the trade mark application was filled on June 11, 2002). After finding the opposition justified the The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office transformed it into the motion to cancel trade mark rights.

However, after parties submitted additional observations and after hearing oral arguments, The Board found that Aldi just started its business on the Polish market and does not offer or sell building materials so far. Aldo’s representative argued that the contested sign differs because of its figurative elements and due to small amount of letters and its ending there is no verbal similarity. Another argument presented that Aldo was using its sign since 1995 and there was no Aldi’s presence on the Polish market at this time. It was also noted that goods and services are aimed at the careful consumer so there is no risk in the association of the origin of such goods. Therefore, the PPO rejected the ALDI’s request in its decision of 26 February 2008 case act signature Sp.148/07. The PPO noted that contested wholesales services are alike but goods sold by Aldo are being offered in special shops where Aldi’s products are available in hipermarkets. The Board also held that both marks are not similar because they differ visually and they sound differently.

The German company filed a complain before the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw. In its complaint Aldi Einkauf still claimed that the disputed trade mark may lead to association with its brand. The German company alleged that the PPO wrongly assessed similarities. Aldi’s representative argued that the verbal aspect has greater importance in word-figurative trade marks. The letter “S” is separated from the word Aldo. Therefore, this expression will be perceived by the public as a dominant. However, the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 11 December 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 1601/08 dismissed Aldi’s complaint. The VAC held that PPO provided a proper and complete assessment of the disputed signs. The Adjudicative Board compared them globally, and also referred to the verbal elements. The difference of even a single letter is a sufficient factor to distinguish these signs, in visual, phonetic and aural perspective — said judge Ewa Marcinkowska, (the rapporteur). The judgment is not final yet. The cassation complaint may be filed before the Supreme Administrative Court.

Trade mark law, case Sp. 451/07

January 22nd, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 1 April 2003, the Polish company Scooter sp. z o.o. from Bytom applied to the Polish Patent Office for the word-figurative trade mark CITY ROCK Z-262984 for goods and services in classes 9, 12, 21, 24, 25, 35, 36, 40, 41, 42, 43. After almost three years, the PPO granted the right for protection R-173752 in its decision of 6 March 2006.

R-173752

Hard Rock Holdings Limited from the UK filed a request for invalidation of the right of protection based on provisions included in article 131(2)(i) of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej) of 30 June 2000, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments.

2. A right of protection shall not be granted for a sign, if:
(i) it has been applied for protection with the Patent Office in bad faith,
and article 132(2)(ii):
2. A right of protection for a trade mark shall not be granted, if the trade mark:
(ii) is identical or similar to a trade mark for which a right of protection was granted or which has been applied for protection with an earlier priority date (provided that the latter is subsequently granted a right of protection) on behalf of another party for identical or similar goods, if a risk of misleading the public exists, in particular by evoking associations with the earlier mark,

The request for invalidation was limited by the UK company to goods in classes 9, 25, 41 and 43. Hard Rock Holdings provided earlier trade mark registrations HARD ROCK CAFE R-97170, Hard Rock CAFE R-126149, Hard Rock CAFE R-140353. The company claimed that there existed visual, aural and conceptual similarity between the disputed signs which might lead to consumers to confusion. Hard Rock Holdings argued that HARD ROCK CAFE trade marks had a reputation and were used as a cult brand for restaurants in many countries. The president of the Polish company, acting without a professional representative, claimed that the signs were not similar.

The Polish Patent Office dismissed the request in its decision of 6 November 2008 act signature Sp. 451/07. According to the PPO, there was no risk of confusion between the trade marks. The PPO also stressed the fact that the word “rock” cannot be proprietarized by one entrepreneur because it indicates the genre of music. As regards the reputation, the PPO said that it is difficult to talk about HARD ROCK CAFE’s reputation because it has been present in Poland since 2007 an,d for the time being, only in Warsaw, while the contested trade mark was applied for much earlier, in 2003.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 251/08

January 18th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative court in its judgment of 24 June 2008 case file II GSK 251/08 ruled that due to the fact that the trade mark MILKA that was invoked against the trade mark MIKLA R-148766 registered for goods in Classes 12 and 30, is a word trade mark, its use can manifest itself in a way that was chosen by the owner, which means that the holder may impose it on goods but not in any contradiction of the conditions afforded by the right of protection. The trade mark holder may, therefore, by marking the goods for which the sign received protection, to use a word trade mark by incorporating it in other registered trade mark, or to join it with the elements known and belonging to other sign.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2113/08

December 23rd, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

Skandinaviska Farginstitutet AB the owner of NCS Natural Color System R-129085 trade mark filed opposition against the decision of the Polish Patent Office on the grant of the right of protection for COLOR SYSTEM R-171995 trade mark for AGENCJA PROMOCYJNA “COLOR SYSTEM” Iwona Emilia Hachlica. The PPO dismissed the opposition.

R-129085

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 12 December 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 2113/08 affirmed this decision. The VAc held that the overall assessment of the likelihood of confusion, in relation to the visual, aural or conceptual similarity of the trade marks at issue must be based on the overall impression, taking account in particular, their distinctive and dominant components/elements. The Court ruled also that the registration of the trade mark in a given form does not afford the exclusivity in relation to particular elements of this trade mar, apart from situations where a part of the sign is a reputed/renown trade mark.

Trade mark law, case Sp. 538/07

December 20th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 3 March 2005, the Polish company “KILARGO” Spólka z o.o. from Chechlo I applied for the word-figurative trade mark Sweetlips for goods in class 30 such as ice creams. The Polish Patent Office has granted the right for protection on 18 September 2006. The registration was opposed by Lidl Stiftung & Co.KG. The company claimed that Kilargo’s registration was granted in violation of article 132(2)(ii) of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej) of 30 June 2000, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with later amendments.

A right of protection for a trademark shall not be granted, if the trademark:
… is identical or similar to a trademark for which a right of protection was granted or which has been applied for protection with an earlier priority date (provided that the latter is subsequently granted a right of protection) on behalf of another party for identical or similar goods, if a risk of misleading the public exists, in particular by evoking associations with the earlier mark

Lidl Stiftung has provided evidences of an earlier trade mark – SWEETKIDS – which was applied for on 7 May 2004, in class 30 for goods such as chocolate and confectionery products, in particular chocolate bars, chocolate candies, candies. On 22 December 2006, the PPO has issued a decision on granting the right or protection to SWEETKIDS R-185112 trade mark.

R-178936

The Polish Patent Office in its decision of 22 October 2008 case Sp. 538/07 did not find similarities between disputed trademarks, or goods they are intended to mark, since ice creams are specific products to sweets. In PPO’s view the “sweet” part is to be found in many trade marks that have been already registered and therefore it has hardly distinctive capabilities. The decision is final.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 406/08

October 28th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

The MIŚ company has operated on the Polish market since 1956 in the form of an “industrial plant”, but until 1978, it used the name “Wojewódzki Zwiazek Gminnych Spóldzielni Samopomoc Chlopska-Zaklad Wyrobów Cukierniczych Miś” in Oborniki Śląskie. The complex name was changed to “Spóldzielnia Pracy Produkcyjno Handlowa MIŚ” in 1978 and again to “Zaklady Wyrobów Cukierniczych MIŚ” in 1992.

R-90583

Włodzimierz Miś and Jerzy Miś – “Bracia Miś” (Bear’s brothers) have started their activity in 1989. They use a single word “Miś” (bear) as their company name and produce confectionery since 1993. “Bracia Miś” have applied for the word-figurative trade mark “Mis” in 1992. The Polish Patent Office has granted the protection right in 1995 under the no. R-83022. The Company from Oborniki Slaskie received trade mark protection right for the figurative sign consisting of bear’s head in 1996 under the no. R-90583.

R-83022

Zaklady Wyrobów Cukierniczych MIS filed a request for invalidation of the right of protection of “Bracia Miś” trade mark. The PPO agreed and invalidated the contested trade mark in 2001 for the first time. The case went for the appeal to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw which annuled the PPO’s decision. The Administrative court pointed that Polish Patent Office did not properly justified its decision and did not consider judgments of two civil courts that previously ruled in case of “Bracia Miś” and Zaklady Wyrobów Cukierniczych MIŚ as regards similarity of both signs and the use of “Bracia Miś” trade mark as a company name (a short explanation: Polish civil courts decide trade mark infringement cases while administrative courts decide appeals and cassation complaints related to administrative procedure and cases before PPO).

Once again, the PPO invalidated “Bracia Miś” trade mark in 2007. The Office ruled that the registration should not be allowed because it violated personal rights of Zaklady Wyrobów Cukierniczych MIŚ – the right to a company name – which enjoyed a long tradition and reputation. Again, the case went for an appeal to VAC. Trade mark attorney who was representing “Bracia Miś” presented arguments that their products are only sold in company’s owned shops and there is no risk of consumers confusion. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 22 October 2007 case file VI SA/Wa 921/07 did not follow such arguments so the case went to the Polish Supreme Administrative Court as cassation complaint. The SAC agreed with “Bracia Miś” and held that the PPO did not indicate on which evidences the annullement was based in its decision and that the PPO failed to comply with regulations provided in the Code of Administrative Procedure. The VAC by accepting PPO’s decision has failed to comply with administrative proceedings rules which which in consequence was the reason to invalidate VAC’s judgment.

The judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 6 October 2008 case file II GSK 406/08 is final and binding. It means that the Voivodeship Court has to annul the Polish Patent Office’s decision from 2007 and order the PPO to reconsider the invalidation of “Bracia Mis” trade mark. See also “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2258/08“.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1110/08

September 6th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 24 July 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 238/08 dismissed Tiffany & Broadway Inc. Div. of Texpol Corporation’s appeal against the Polish Patent Office decisions of 19 March 2007 cases files Sp. 68/04 and Sp. 69/04, regarding the invalidation of the right of protection for word-figurative trade marks TIFFANY R-128063 and “Tiffany & Broadway Inc.” R-128064 which were registered in Class 25 for shoes.

The invalidation proceedings were started by Tiffany & Co. from New York. The New York’s company alleged not only the similarity of signs but also a breach of its over-150-year reputation applied to jewellery products. During one of the hearings before the Polish Patent Office, Tiffany & Co. provided evidence of a witness as regards the reputation and universal knowledge of Tiffany & Co. brand. The witness stressed that, although in post-war Poland the Tiffany brand was not present on the Polish market, the press (women’s magazines and other publications) wrote about the Tiffany & Co. as the provider of luxurious jewellery. The court has affirmed the PPO’s findings that the TIFFANY trade mark has the reputation even if it was not registered in Poland. Judge Olga Żurawska-Matusiak decided that renowned signs or snobbish signs (sic!) do not need to be widely known to the public. It is a sufficient factor if they are known to the relevant public, to whom such signs are addressed, those are consumers who are interested in buying luxury goods. If there exists an international reputation of a sign – it also includes Poland.

Tiffany & Broadway Inc. Div. of Texpol Corporation filed a cassation complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 8 July 2009, case file II GSK 1110/08 ruled that the reputation of a trade mark is associated with its highly distinctive character. One could say that a reputed trade mark is the one that has a high ability to automatically trigger associations with the product for which it was registered. It is quite obvious that this ability will be weaker, adequately to the number of cases of using the same or similar trade mark as a designation of other goods that are originating from other entrepreneurs. With regard to the plea of weakening (the dilution) of the reputation of the Tiffany trade mark, i.e. weakening its individuality, based on the ability to cause the automatic association with the goods marked by this sign, such effects are also caused by unquestioned by the Court numerous registrations of identical or similar trade marks for other entrepreneurs for various other goods, as well as the use of this sign the name of very different businesses. The SAC annulled the questioned judgment and remitted the case to the VAC for reconsideration in accordance with the conclusions reached and ordered the Polish Patent Office to pay Tiffany & Broadway Inc. Div. of Texpol Corporation 1200 PLN as reimbursement of costs of the cassation compliant.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 113/07

October 6th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 September 2007 case file II GSK 113/07 held that the administration body can change its opinion on the content of the proper conclusion, which should be issued in a specific type of cases, but it must carefully justify such a change, especially when changing the view of decisions taken in relation to the same applicant.

R-146742

The Court ruled that the case-law of the administration may therefore be subject to change, if the authority demonstrates in detail that there are reasonable grounds. This case concerned BROWN DD KING R-146742 trade mark owned by INTER SOUND Spółka z o.o. from Warszawa.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 115/06

October 29th, 2006, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 September 2006 case file II GSK 115/06 held that the surname or family name could serve as a trade mark that distinguishes the goods or services of a particular undertaking from goods or services of the same kind that originate from other entrepreneurs. However, in the present case, the owner of the trade mark KOZŁOWSKI R-115647, before he applied for registration of this sign, had the knowledge that for many years before registration of his trade mark, the Kozłowskis family have used their surname to designate products such as brushes and brooms. Pursuant to Article 7(1) of the TMA, as a trade mark may be registered only such a sign, that possess sufficient distinctiveness in normal economic activity. Therefore, the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 7 December 2005 case file VI SA/Wa 905/05 properly found that, in the case described above, the purchaser of the goods would have considerable difficulty in identifying the source of origin of goods and reasonably assumed that the trade mark subject of this preceedings does not have a concrete distinctive character.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 377/05

October 6th, 2006, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for word-figurative trade mark OCETIX R-135047 based on 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. The request was filed by the competitior of Szczęsna Ewa DELTA L.T.D, who claimed its prior rights to the company name (firm).

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

Ewa Szczęsna filed a complaint against this decision. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 20 July 2005 case file VI SA/Wa 67/05 dissmissed the case. The VAC agreed with the PPO that the registration of the word-figurative trade mark OCETIX constituted the infringement of the firm of the competitor of Ewa Szczęsna, who established its undertaking in 1991. The Court ruled that the dominant element is the word OCETIX, it attracts the attention and has the distinctive character, while other elements are informative and are indicating the scope of the activities of Szczęsna Ewa DELTA L.T.D.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 5 April 2006 case file II GSK 377/05 upheld the contested judgment and ruled that in accordance with Article 164 of the IPL, the right of protection for a trade mark may be invalidated at the request of any person who has legitimate interest. Article 315(3) of the IPL provides the principle according to which the registrability of signs registered or applied for the registration before 22 August 2001, is assessed on the basis of existing regulations. Thus, the law underlying the assessment of trade mark protection for OCETIX that was applied for the registration on 14 October 1998 are the provisions of the TMA.

R-135047

The SAC repeated that the right of protection for a trade mark is deemed as an exclusive, absolute, transferable and heritable property right. It’s a sign intended to distinguish the goods of one undertaking from those of the same type from another entrepreneur. A trade mark performs a distinctive, warranty and advertising functions. The Court noted also that in the course of trade, the category of distinctive signs, in addition to trade marks, are also brands/signs that are distinguishing of companies. The firm is one of such signs. It is the name under a which the registered merchant (general partnership, limited partnership, limited liability company, joint stock company) operates its undertaking. The firm of an undertaking distinguishes a given undertaking from other undertakings, in the same and/or other object/way of business. See R. Skubisz, Prawo znaków towarowych. Komentarz (in English: Trade mark law. Commentary), Warszawa 1997, p. 13 and 17. The Court also ruled that the Paris Convention of 20 March 1883 on the Protection of Industrial Property, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 1975, No. 9, item. 51 and 52), introduced to the Polish law the term of the trade name, which previously was not used in the Polish legislation. The term collectively covers all the markings of companies enjoyed by the persons mentioned in Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention. The SAC agreed that Article 8 of the Convention does not constitute an independent basis to protect the trade name of the entrepreneur, because it does not specify conditions for such protection and does not indicate what claims should be used in the case of infringement of the rights to the company name. However, this affect the domestic law. See also “Trade mark law, case II SA 2914/01“. The Court ruled that the firm is protected under the Article 37 Code of Commerce (it was repealed by the Code of Commercial Companies later on) and Article 43 of the Civil Code. According to Article 37 of the Code of Commerce, the protection of the firm arises upon its entry into the commercial register, and will expire on the date a court order to withdraw its registration from the register comes into force. The infringement of the firm occurs if there is unlawful use by unauthorized person of a sign which does not distinguish definitively from the firm in a given locality (Article 37 in connection with Article. 35 of the Code of Commerce). Pursuant to Article 43 of the Civil Code, the firm is subject to the protection provided for personal rights/interests (Articles 23 and 24 of the CC). This protection arises from the date of the first use of a firm in business.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 49/05

June 29th, 2005, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office in its decision of 10 April 2003 No Sp. 218/01 refused to invalidate the registration of AMBER R-98839 trade mark registered for goods in Class 3 such as bleaching preparations and other substances for laundry use; cleaning, polishing, scouring and abrasive preparations; soaps; perfumery, essential oils, cosmetics, hair lotions; dentifrices and owned by Evyap Sabun,Yag,Gliserin Sanayi Ve Ticaret A.S. from Istambul, Turkey. The request for invalidation was filed by IZIS Kosmetyczno-Lekarska Spółdzielnia Pracy from Warsaw and IZIS decided also to file a complaint against this decision. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 14 October 2004 case file 6 II SA 3571/03 annulled the questioned decision and ruled that it was made in a breach with procedural law. Evyap Sabun,Yag,Gliserin Sanayi Ve Ticaret A.S. filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 May 2005 case file II GSK 49/05 ruled that there is no doubt that it’s necessary to refer to the inadmissibility of registration of a trade mark as provided Article 8(1) of the TMA with regard to the content of the trade mark itself. Initially, in legal doctrine and then in case-law, started to develop trends to classify to this provision also with the actions/behavior of a person who applied to register the trade mark, that were characterized by the contradiction with the principles of social coexistence, later replaced with the legislation naming such as “complying with the principles of good manners”, fair trading and good faith , so these are subjective elements. There were not, however, views, or judgments, combining this rule with the conduct of the administrative proceedings, because such understanding is simply unacceptable. The SAC repealed the questioned judgment.

Trade mark law, case II SA 2778/01

February 28th, 2005, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgement of 28 March 2002 case file II SA 2778/01 held that according to the established and settled case-law, all the issues with regard to the similarity of trade marks are resolved on the basis of the risk of confusion as to the origin of goods. And the risk of confusion as to the origin of goods consists of similarity of goods and similarity of signs. The Court ruled that the trade marks are compared and examined globally, with particular emphasis on its dominant and distinctive elements. This case concerned the trade mark “Królewska Para” R-115243.