Archive for: trade mark invalidation

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1346/10

December 13th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for the trade mark BIO-ACTIVE R-169823, in part for goods in Class 3, i.e. body care cosmetics. The owner BIO-ACTIVE DYSTRYBUCJA Sp. z o.o. filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 19 April 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 109/10 upheld the questioned decision and ruled that a trade mark consisting exclusively of informational signs that are normally used to designate the type of goods or services, even if those signs are in a language other than Polish, is not registrable. The Court also noted that the disputed trade mark is the so-called “internationalism”, that is a sign, which is present in other languages in almost identical form. In different languages it has the same meaning, construction reading and tone. As a result of the granting of the right of protection to the trade mark in question, all cosmetics producers except the owner were deprived of the opportunity to introduce to the market of all products bearing the term containing given information, and consumers could not be adequately informed about the characteristics of these products.

BIO-ACTIVE DYSTRYBUCJA Sp. z o.o. filed a cassation complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 9 December 2011 case file II GSK 1346/10 dismissed it. The SAC ruled that widespread availability of descriptive signs and indications is in the public interest.

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 II GSK 615/10

September 7th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Mr Roman Oraczewski Oficyna Wydawnicza PRESS-MEDIA requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for the trade mark “Sto Panoramicznych” R-102530 owned by TECHNOPOL Agencja Wydawnicza Spółka z o. o. and registered for goods in Class 16 such as magazines. The PPO invalidated this trade mark and ruled that this designation is descriptive and informative, because it is carrying explicit message on the number and type of crosswords included in each copy of the magazine. TECHNOPOL filed a complaint against this decision, but it was dismissed by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 16 February 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1862/09. TECHNOPOL decided to file a cassation complaint. The Comapny argued inter alia that its trade mark has acquired secondary meaning because TECHNOPOL also used similar signs, for instance “100 panoramicznych” R-102531, which is a modification of the trade mark “Sto Panoramicznych”.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 25 May 2011 case file II GSK 615/10 dismissed the complaint and ruled that the use of a sign in order to prove its secondary meaning, can not be documented by the use of other similar designation that is also a separate, registered trade mark.

Trade mark law, case case Sp. 181/09

August 24th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 15 September 2010 case Sp. 181/09 invalidated the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark LEXUS R-194634 registered for the Polish company Astin sp. z o.o. This trade mark was registered for goods and services in Classes 06, 19, 20 and 37. The request for invalidation was filed by Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha (Toyota Motor Corporation). Toyota owns renown trade marks LEXUS that were registered with the earlier priority in Poland and in the European Union.

R-194634

The PPO acknowledged the rule that the starting point for finding an infringement of reputation is to determine the similarity of the signs. In the case of combined trade marks (word-figurative), it is always necessary to consider the similarity of all the elements of trade marks being compared, but the verbal elements are crucial. The PPO decided that the dominant and distinctive elements of questioned trade mark and the opposing signs are original and similar words LEXUS. These trade marks are verbally identical. In the opinion of the PPO, the figurative element of the questioned trade mark only exposed and additionally strengthen in the mind of the potential consumer the word element of this trade mark. The PPO also ruled that in the conceptual aspect the sign LEXUS is fanciful one.

Astin claimed that the reputation of LEXUS trade marks has not been sufficiently proved because Toyota did not present evidence on the use in time and territorial use its trade marks, the quality of the goods, market share, and the size of investment in promotions. Toyota presented rich evidence material. These included copies of newspaper articles and advertisements from the years 1992-1999. According to Toyota, these publications indicated that the reputation of LEXUS trade marks has been shaped by long-standing and consistent creation of a positive brand image in the minds of Polish consumers. The PPO noted that there is no legal definition of a reputation. It was the Polish legal doctrine and the courts that have defined the essential criteria for determining what trademark reputation is. Accordingly, the reputation of a trademark is associated with the established opinion among customers about the characteristics of the goods bearing the mark. The reputation is not a simple consequence of the use and circulation of a trademark, but it’s also a well-established and deeply rooted image in the consciousness of buyers of the relevant goods. The reputation of a trademark is a result of the care for the high quality of products, the consistent preservation of a sign on the market by long and intensive advertising. An established reputation of a trademark occurs when the quality of the goods bearing the sign satisfy customers who can easily recognize it and connect with the goods marked by the proprietor, even if it means that the goods are placed on the market for the first time. The reputation of a trademark means its attractive value of advertising, the positive perceptions of the goods bearing the sign. In assessing whether the sign is reputed, one cannot take into the account only the degree of knowledge of a sign among the customers and the extent and intensity of advertising of goods bearing the sign, but also the quality of these goods. Prizes and certificates awarded for the goods bearing the sign, expert opinions and presentation of the goods at trade fairs in order to promote products also show the reputation of the trademark. It was confirmed that the protection of reputed trademarks extends beyond the scope of registration and the selected classes, as reputed trademarks enjoy stronger distinctiveness. However, the burden of proof lies with the holder of the reputed trademark.

The PPO agreed with the judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw of 13 March 2006, case file VI SA/Wa 1626/05 that LEXUS trade marks owned by Toyota are renown and reputed signs. See “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1626/05“. The PPO found that the questioned trade mark LEXUS R-194634 was filed for the registration on the date where Toyota’s trade mark enjoyed high recognition on the Polish market and were associated with the luxury brand of cars and the prestigious image of the brand was the subject of intense marketing efforts of the producer. However, the fact that the trade mark is renown is not a sufficient circumstance to invalidate the right of protection, other conditions must be met, namely if the latter registered trade mark on behalf of another party for any kind of goods, would without due cause bring unfair advantage to the applicant or be detrimental to the distinctive character or the repute of the earlier trademark.

The PPO held that the existence of the questioned trade mark on the Polish market may negatively affect the distinctive ability of Toyota’s trade marks because consumers may start to associate luxury brand with household tools. In addition, the detrimental nature of the registration in question may be manifested in other ways. For instance, it may cause the renown trade mark to become an ordinary sign that has lost the ability to attract the consumer and the strength with which it interacts to the mass public. This decision is not final yet.

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 1970/09

July 20th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark Veraderm żel silikonowy R-167213 registered for goods in Class 5 and owned by P.A.D. Technologies Ltd. Spółka z o.o. The request was filed by the producer of Zerader gel, who claimed that the trade mark in question is similar to the name of its product and that the Polish company acted in bad faith.

R-167213

The Voivodeship Adminsitrative Court in its judgment of 15 January 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1970/09 repealed the contested decision and held it unenforceable. The Court ruled that similarity of signs cannot serve as a basis in recognition of bad faith. The Court also noted that the oppositon was brought after the prescribed term has expired and there was no adequate justification for it. Such formal errors lead to the outcome of the judgment.

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.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 611/10

July 12th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Tiffany & Broadway Inc. Div. of Texpol Corporation from Huston filed a cassation complaint against the judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw of 19 October 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 643/09. The VAC dismissed the complaint against the decision of the Polish Patent Office in which the PPO invalidated the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark TIFFANY R-153644. The request for invalidation was filed by Tiffany & Co. from New York. The New York’s company claimed the similarity of signs and a breach of its over 150-years reputation applied to jewellery products.

R-153644

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 31 May 2011 case file II GSK 611/10 overturned the questioned judgment and sent the case back for reconsideration. The SAC ruled that the reputation of a trade mark is associated with its high distinctive ability, and such ability is weakened if more entrepreneurs are using the same or similar trade marks to designate their goods. The Court noted that the reputation is a matter of facts and the evidence suggesting that this sign could be well-known and considered to be attractive also in Poland, due to the popularity of Truman Capote’s book and the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, was not sufficient. What was also important is the fact that the SAC noted that cases between the same parties relating to trade marks with the word “Tiffany” were already the subject of recognition by this Court. See “Trade mark law, case II GSK 1110/08“, “Trade mark law, case II GSK 1111/08” and “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 214/08“. Although there were similar arguments presented by the parties, each case brought before the SAC was related to the legality of separate and non-identical decisions. The VAC has to consider these differences, but the SAC also ruled that it would be advisable to take into account the views expressed in earlier judgments of the Supreme Administrative Court based on the background of similar cases between the same parties.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 112/11

July 7th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Sfinks Polska S.A. from Łódź requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the rights of protection for word-figurative trade mark R-179260 owned by Restauracja CLEOPATRA Bachar Aziz from Lublin. Sfinks Polska is the owner of the earlier registered word-figurative trade mark SPHINX R-105162.

R-105162

Sfinks claimed that the trade mark CLEOPATRA R-179260 is similar to its trade mark and argued that it has legal interest in this proceedings as there is a possibility of misleading customers based on the similarity of trade marks. This may be particularly applicable considering the fact that SPHINX trade mark is already known on the market and, therefore, it has a stronger distinctive ability. Sfinks also argued that Bachar Aziz filed its trade mark in bad faith with an intent to use the reputation of Sfinks’ trade marks by suggesting a common origin from a single entity.

R-179260

Bachar Aziz requested the PPO to dismiss the case. He argued the Sfinks lacks legal interest in the invalidation proceedings. Moreover, he noted that the signs, in this case, are different conceptually and phonetically. The characters are not visually similar, the earlier trade mark has the form of a sphinx (face of a man resembling an ancient sculpture) and the sign in question shows a woman’s face (Cleopatra). Mr Aziz also noted that designation of the same services by these trade marks is not sufficient to determine the risk of common origin. In this regard, he relied on the collision-free existence of the two signs on the markets in Płock and Łódź. He pointed that other businesses use the representation of the Sphinx to designate their restaurants.

The Polish Patent Office in its decision case Sp. 396/08 dismissed the request. The PPO held that the trade marks, in this case, are different in all aspects. While assessing the risk of confusion of the recipients of the services offered by the parties to the proceedings, the PPO ruled that customers of restaurants do not act on impulse as shoppers do. When choosing the restaurant they base their actions on good knowledge of the place, recommendation or advertising, so, first of all, they choose a place based on the name, thus, it is the verbal layer of a trade mark (the name of restaurant), not the graphic element, that will be critical to their selection. Sfinks filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 16 June 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 112/11 overturned the decision of the Polish Patent Office and held it unenforceable based on entirely different circumstances that one could expect. At the hearing before the Court on 3 June 2011, Sfinks’s trade mark attorney argued that she was not present at the hearing on 16 June 2010 in the Polish Patent Office on the ground that the notice of the hearing was set at 11:00 a.m. and a hearing was held on at 10:00 a.m. Therefore, Sfinks could not be represented properly, as its representative was not able to submit evidence. The Court held that Sfinks did not participate in proceedings through no fault of its own and such situation was a violation of the provisions of the Polish Administrative Proceedings Code. The judgement is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2154/10

June 23rd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

R-152214.jpg

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

Trade mark law, case II GSK 368/10

June 10th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated in part the right of protection for 100 R-156995 trade mark that was registered for Agencja Wydawnicza TECHNOPOL Spółka z o.o. for goods in class 16 such as posters, albums, almanacs, stationery, blocks, drawing blocks, brochures, magazines, charade journals, prints, forms, newspapers, calendars, calendars with tear loose, filing cards, cards, card-notices, postcards, comics, books, crossword puzzles, stickers, notepads, covers, stationery, bookmarks, drawing kits, notebooks. Technopol filed a complaint against this decision but it was dismissed by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 7 December 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 1677/09. Technopol decided to file a cassation complaint.

R-156995

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 15 March 2011 case file II GSK 368/10 dismissed the complaint in part. The SAC held that the designation, which in fact is the number 100, is a highly informative sign for magazines and journals containing charades, and, as such may not be the monopolized by one entity that would like to use it for marking crosswords magazines. The Court noted also that adding to a trade mark any image does not yet give the sign a concrete distinctive character.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 522/10

May 31st, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 31 May 2011 case file II GSK 522/10 held that the reputation of trade mark is a matter of fact and it is not enough to show that there is evidence that suggests that the sign could be known and recognized as attractive in Poland. It was necessary to examine and assess whether according to the methods developed by the doctrine and jurisprudence, the sign on the date it was applied for in Poland, was known and recognized as a reputed trade mark in this country.

Trade mark law, case Sp. 207/10

May 21st, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 27 May 2008, the Polish Patent Office registered the word-figurative trade mark FORTUNA WARZYWNA KAROTKA STANOWCZA Z TABASCO I KOLENDRĄ R-209338. This sign was applied for by the Polish company Agros Nova sp. z o.o. from Warsaw for goods in class 32 such as juices, nectars and vegetable beverages, multi-vegetable nectars and vegetable beverages with the addition of micro and/or macroelements and/or vitamins and/or substance supporting the metabolic processes and/or flavorings, spices and herbs, sports and energy drinks, products for production of beverages: extracts, essences and concentrates, seasonings, and syrups, instant drinks.

Mc Ilhenny Company filed a request for invalidation of Agros’ trade mark. Mc Ilhenny is the owner of the word trade mark TABASCO R-51500 registered with the earlier priority of 24 March 1973, in class 30 for pepper sauce.

The Adjudicative Board of the PPO in its decision of 11 May 2011 case no. Sp. 207/10 dismissed the request. The PPO ruled that there is no likelihood of confusion between both trade marks because Agros’ trade mark is a label with rich graphics, where the words “karotka” and “fortuna” are located in a central position, and the word “Tabasco” is placed below and it’s not a dominant element of the whole sign. It only appears at the bottom of the label, and is written in a small font. This decision is not final yet. A complaint can be brought to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw.

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

May 10th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

Trade mark law, case Sp. 352/08

April 29th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Prywatne Biuro Podróży Sindbad Ryszard Wójcik from Opole, requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the word-figurative trade mark SINDBAD HOTELE R-172657 registered in Class 40 and 43 for services such as photographic film development and printing and accommodation and reservations, and owned by Przedsiębiorstwa Handlowo-Usługowego Sindbad s.c. Michał Ząbroń, Roman Mandyna from Kraków. Ryszard Wojcik is the holder of the word-figurative trade mark SINDBAD R-77988 registered with the earlier priority in Class 35 and 39 for services such as transporting of passengers and goods by car, organization of tourist trips, travel agencies and advertising agencies.

R-172657

The Adjudicative Board of the PPO in its decision of 18 April 2010 case no. Sp. 352/08 invalidated the right of protection. The PPO held that there exists similarity of the signs and services. As for services, the PPO said that accommodation and travel agency services are related. This decision is not final yet. A complaint can be brought to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw.

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

April 21st, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

R-65340

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

R-151141

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

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

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

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2180/10

April 19th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 11 March 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 2180/10 ruled that the word-figurative trade mark 60 R-156991 is not sufficiently distinctive in standard business transactions because it does not individualize the goods of the trade mark owner among the goods of the same type that originate from different companies.

R-156991

The Polish Patent Office properly assessed the consumers of goods such as crosswords publications, and considered this groups as very diverse. Its members are people of different ages and different levels of education. There was no reason to believe that such a broadly defined consumer will identify a specific numerical designation with a given publisher, not the number of crosswords included in the publication. This judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 67/10

April 14th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark 1001 R-157046 registered for goods in Class 16 such as posters, albums, almanacs, stationery, blocks, drawing blocks, brochures, magazines, charade magazines, prints, forms, newspapers, calendars, calendars with loose pages, filing cards, cards, card-notices, postcards, comics, books, crossword puzzles, stationery, stickers, notepads, covers, bookmarks, drawing kits, notebooks, and owned by Agencja Wydawnicza TECHNOPOL Spółka z o.o. The PPO ruled that this trade mark lacks distinctiveness. TECHNOPOL filed a complaint against this decision but it was dismissed by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 September 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 1164/09. Technopol filed a cassation complaint.

R-157046

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 10 February 2011 case file II GSK 67/10 dismissed it and ruled that a trade mark which lacks primary distinctiveness will acquire distinctiveness or secondary meaning through advertising, if it is used for so long that it will be associated not with the original descriptive content, but the source of its origin – a specific goods produced by a particular manufacturer. The practice of different publishers who used different numbers and numerals in tiles of magazines did not allow for 1001 to acquire secondary meaning.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 259/10

April 7th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Mariusz Lech Przedsiebiorstwo Produkcyjno-Handlowo-Uslugowe LECH-POL from Lask requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for the word trade mark “lech wódka” R-145285 registered for Fabryka Wódek POLMOS ŁAŃCUT S.A. for goods in class 33 such as alcoholic beverages: vodka. Mariusz Lech argued that the questioned trade mark is confusingly similar to his word-figurative trade mark LECH-POL R-132854 and the word trade mark “mariusz lech” R-113305, both registered for good in class 33 such as alcoholic beverages.

The PPO dismissed the request and noted that Mr Lech’s trade mark were not genuinely used for all goods. In 2007 the PPO decided on the lapse of the protection rights for both trade marks in all goods except wines, this cases went through all instances. See “Trade mark law, case II GSK 708/08“. Therefore, the compared goods are different due to existing specialization in the alcohol industry and the awareness of that specialization among potential customers is also important, because the average buyer is aware that the vodka manufacturer does not produce wine, and vice versa. These trade marks may exist on the market without collision. Mariusz Lech filed a complaint against this decision but it was dismissed by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 16 October 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 1050/09. LECH-POL decided to file a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 10 February 2011 case file II GSK 259/10 dismissed it. The SAC ruled that the conditions of production of wines and vodka are different. The packagings and sealing of such goods differs and there are different conditions of sale of such products. Vodka in not sold in the wineries, and in case when both types of goods are in a shop, (usually displayed on different shelves in malls), their location is clearly separable. The development of shopping centers and various self-service shops of retail chains, makes the criterion of sales conditions less important when it is used for assessing the similarity of the goods. The Court noted that vodka and wine, because of varying alcohol content, must be treated as different types of alcoholic beverages, which is also reflected in the provisions the Polish Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism of 26 October 1982 and the permits that are granted under this Act for trade and service of alcoholic beverages are issued separately for each kind of beverage from a separate pool of permissions. The Court also ruled that the incidental possibility that the producer of wines and spirits is the same entity does not lead to the conclusion that these beverages are of one type.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 91/10

April 5th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

R-152218

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

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 650/10

March 1st, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 20 Demceber 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 650/10 acknowledged the rule that the infringement of the company name as a condition to invalidate the registration of a trade mark under the old Polish Trade Mark law is not forejudged by registration of an identical or similar mark by another company. The VAC repeated that the exclusive rights to the company name are not an absolute. The limits have the territorial and objective nature and they concern the actual actvity of an entity that is using the name in question. Only within these limits the collision between identical or similar company name and trademark may occur. So if the scope of business activities of an entitled to the company name and the holder of the registration of the trade mark differs, there is no risk of consumers confusion as to the identity of companies or for example, a proprietor of the later trade mark is not using the reputation associated with an earlier identical or similar company name, it’s hard to say that there is the collision of these two rights, and consequently an infringement of an earlier right to the company name. This judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1088/09

February 19th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Polish company Śnieżka Invest sp. z o. o. from Świebodzice requested the Polish Patent Office to decided on the lapse of the right of protection for the trademark GOPLANA MICHAŁKI R-139668 owned by Jutrzenka S.A. Śnieżka claimed that the questioned trade was not genuinely used in the period of five successive years after a decision on the grant of a right of protection has been taken. Śnieżka also owns michałki R-72668 trade mark and the company from Świebodzice argued that the market existence of GOPLANA MICHAŁKI sign would interfere its business.

Jutrzenka argued that there existed very serious reasons of non-use – the pending administrative proceedings for invalidation of its trade mark. Jutrzenka claimed that the use of the mark in the course of those proceedings would be irrational and it would expose the company to any future claims of Śnieżka. The PPO in its decision of 1 July 2008 no. Sp. 398/07 held that GOPLANA MICHAŁKI trade mark has lapsed. Jutrzenka filed a complaint. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 26 June 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 81/09 dismissed it. Jutrzenka filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 14 December 2010 case file II GSK 1088/09 dismissed the complaint and ruled that the case for invalidation of the trade mark registration does not qualify as an important reason for non-use thereof. The serious reasons should be factual and/or legal obstacles. These may be external events of force majeure nature that are impossible to predict and prevent. All circumstances relating to ordinary business risks, which concerns the current operations of each business cannot be deemes as such obstacles. A legal obstacle,preventing the use of a trade mark may be, for example, an individual administrative act prohibiting the use of the mark.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1936/10

February 4th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office dismissed the opposition against the registration of the trademark TARGA R-189862 owned by the Polish company VALVEX S.A.. The request was filed by Aloys F. Dornbracht GmbH & Co. KG. The German company based the opposition proceedings on the CTM TARA no. 827659.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 January 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1936/10 ruled that the risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods or/and the manufacturer must be examined globally, taking into account all elements relevant. These elements include in particular: the degree of recognition of the earlier trade mark on the market, an association that may occur between that trade mark and the opposed trademark of another entrepreneur, the degree of similarity between the signs and goods and services. The Court agreed with the PPO that the goods covered by both trade marks were similar and of the same kind. These goods were directed mainly to professionals in the field of sanitary installations, construction or architectural design. The VAC found that these consumers were specialists with an above-average degree of product awareness, who purchased the products at issue in specialized points of retail or wholesale. With regard to the remaining consumers (i.e., non-professionals), the Court pointed out that the goods at issue were not likely to be bought impulsively. The Court found that TARGA and TARA were both simple, and easy to read, pronounce and remember. These signs are composed of four or five letters, and the first three letters ‘TAR’ and the last letter ‘A’ are identical. The trademark TARGA contains an additional letter ‘G’. Both marks are short, so the letter ‘G’ will be easily noticed and heard by consumers. The court found that the additional letter ‘G’ would have an impact on the perception of the marks. Where the trademarks concerned are short, one different letter is in general sufficient to exclude similarity.

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

January 31st, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

R-154752

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

R-104245

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

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1345/10

January 7th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Polska Agencja Fotograficzna Studio 69 filed a notice of opposition to a final decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection for STUDIO 69 R-182300 trade mark owned by Marcin Maculewicz from Kielce. PAF claimed that the phrase STUDIO 69 was widely known and used by PAF as its trade mark. PAF also argued that according to 15 years of its business practice one can successfully operate on the media market without reserving or registering a brand name, and STUDIO 69 is a common sign that is also used widely by many companies. At the same time PAF did not claim infringement of the company name and explained that different entrepreneurs use such a sign.

The Polish Patent Office ruled that it is the duty of the opposing party to prove that a given sign is well known and is associated with products coming from the opponent. This should be demonstrated at the filing date of an application for the registration of a trade mark. The PPO explained that the well known sign is characterized by two elements. The first one is related to the function of marking the origin of goods/services (the distinctive function). A sign must have this feature in order to be registered as a trade mark. The second element is the requirement that a trade mark has became commonly known as a result of the use. According to the Polish case law and legal doctrine, a well known sign should be recognized in most of the territory, by more than half of potential purchasers of the goods. The basic criteria for assessing the objective possibility to become a well known trade mark include: the period of time of trade mark use, the situation of goods on the market (quantity, availability, method and scope of distribution), advertising campaigns and the strength/distinctive character of a trade mark. The PPO examined the evidence presented and reminded that common knowledge is assessed in terms of knowledge among potential customers. The PPO ruled that PAF has not demonstrated that more than 50% of potential customers on the Polish territory is familiar with STUDIO 69 trade mark and decided to dismiss the opposition. PAF filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 14 October 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1345/10 dismissed the case. The Court ruled that the Administrative Court, as a rule, does not carry out hearing of evidence, because the examination of legality of an administrative decision is based on the evidence gathered in the proceeding before an administrative authority (in this case the PPO) issuing the contested decision. According to Polish legal commentators, in principle, there are three sources of trademark protection within the industrial property law: the grant of a right of protection for a trademark (in the form of an administrative decision issued by the PPO), the use of a trade mark and common knowledge of a sign. The Court cited W. Włodarczyk, The distinctive ability of a trade mark, Lublin 2001, p. 28. The VAC held that PAF did not prove that STUDIO 69 was a well known sign. The judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1072/10

January 5th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

NSE Products, Inc., the owner of the CTM CHOLESTIN no. 000447318 requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for CHOLESTERIN R-189581 trade mark owned by MEDICOFARMA Spółka z o.o. NSE claimed that both trade marks are similar which may cause the risk of consumers’ confusion, especially taking into account the fact that the goods are also confusingly similar (dietary supplements). These goods are purchased without a prescription, and often in places other than pharmacies. The PPO invalidated the right of protection and MEDICOFARMA filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 8 November 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1072/10 held that the provision the Polish Act on Industrial Property Law that prohibits the grant of the right of protection for a trademark that 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, is intended to protect business transactions/economic turnover against the confusion as to the origin of goods. The registration of trade marks, by which there would be created the right, the scope of which at least partially overlaps with the scope of the registration with an earlier priority was unacceptable for the Court. The judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 785/10

January 4th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Unilever N.V., the owner of the word trade mark SOLERO IR-0622723 and the word-figurative trade mark SOLERO IR-0628636, has requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for the trade mark SOLEY R-129356 owned by the Polish company Maria Ziębińska, Stanisław Ziębiński “ICE MASTRY” sp. j. from Czaniec. Unilever claimed that the questioned sign is similar to its earlier registered well-known trade marks and that the Polish company acted in bad faith while applying for the right of protection because in 1997-2001, Unilever and ICE MASTRY were involved in two civil suits (case files V GC 252/97 and V GC 217/98) that have ended in a settlement in which the Polish company commited to discontinue use of the signs SOLER, Soller and SOLLEI. The PPO invalidated the right of protection. ICE MASTRY filed a complaint against this decision.

IR-0628636

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 4 October 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 785/10 held that the date of application for registration under Article 11 of the old Polish Act of 31 January 1985 on Trade Marks – TMA – (in Polish: Ustawa o znakach towarowych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 5, item 15, with subsequent amendments, determines the priority of the right of protection associated with the applied sign (prior tempore potior jure). These provisions still apply in cases where the trade mark has been applied for registration when the old Act was in force. Thus, by this date all subjective and objective issues related to the right applied for protection must also be assessed, in particular,and whether the applicant has the right to the sign.

Article 11.
Subject to Article 12, priority for obtaining the right deriving from registration of a trademark shall be determined on the basis of its regular filing for registration with the Patent Office.

The Court also noted that the TMA, as well as the new Polish Act on Industrial Property Law, does not include a provision that would regulate differently the question of the trade mark application, in relation to its subjective and objective elements and that would take into account as authoritative another, later, point in time. Moreover,the adoption at of a later date to assess the qualifications of the applicant, not only would provide an option for revalidation of trade mark applications that were filed in contradiction with the law, or principles of social coexistence (in bad faith), but may also violate other laws. The filing date of an application for the registration of a trade mark should be taken into account when assessing whether the applicant has acted in bad faith, not the date of trade mark registration. The judgment is not final yet.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 601/10

December 21st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company Producent Okien i Drzwi z PVC “OKLAND” Joanna Wilk i Wojciech Wilk Spółka Jawna from Kostomłoty Pierwsze filed a request for invalidation of the right of protection for a word-figurative trade mark Okland R-154904 owned by OKLAND Spółka z o.o. from Rokitki, in regard to the goods in Class 19, wooden windows. The company from Kostomłoty Pierwsze claimed it operates since 1 June 1997. Its business activities include the production of windows and doors of PVC in the four southern voivodeships. The company argued that the simultaneous use of the OKLAND sign in its company name and as a trade mark registered for a different entrepreneur may increase the risk of misleading the public, which includes in particular the risk of association between signs. The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection. Okland from Rokitki filed a complaint against this decision.

R-154904

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 31 May 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 601/10 held that the registration of a trade mark that is identical or similar to a company name of another entrepreneur does not determine, however the infringement of the rights to the company name (the firm). The exclusive rights to the company name are not absolute. The limits of these rights are set by the coverage (territorial and objective) of the actual activity of a given company. The collision between identical or similar signs i.e. a company name and a trademark, may occur only within these limits. The judgment is not yet final.