Trade mark is one of the categories of industrial property objects, which can be protected in the Polish Patent Office. Trade mark can also be protected on the area of Poland in the Office for Harmonisation of Internal Market (OHIM) in Alicante, Spain, as a Community Trade Mark CTM, or as an international registration under the Madrid Agreement and Protocol in the WIPO International Office in Geneva. These are the three sources of protection rights for trade marks in Poland.
The role of a trade mark.
The main role of a trade mark is to allow the consumer to differentiate between the goods of the same type manufactured by different producers. Thus a trade mark is to secure the customer against the risk of being confused. The notion of a good in this case can also denotes a service. The main role of the trade mark we have mentioned serves the interest of the customer, who has come to like a given product or service (hereinafter called ‘products’) ‘X’ provided by a given producer or service provider and now should have possibility to differentiate the product ‘X’ he likes from the same type of products provided by other producer. This is also in the best interest of the producer. Thus he is able to keep the customers he has gained for the product ‘X’, and by investing in research and development, improving the product ‘X’ he can maintain the group of customers and expand it. Large amounts are often invested in advertising, too. The more purchasers of the product ‘X’, the lower can its price be as it is usually conditioned by the economy of scale. An entrance of other producer with the same or similar type of product under the ‘X’ trade mark or a similar mark would result in the loss of customers for the first producer of the ‘X’ product. It may also cause a total loss of customers if the quality of the ‘pirate’ X product is bad. This will face both producers of the ‘X’ product with a hard situation related with low sales.
The contents of the trade mark protection law
Having obtained the right of protection for a trade mark, an Owner also obtains a patent monopoly to use the trade mark for professional and commercial purposes in the whole state. The protection period lasts 10 years and the protection can be renewed for further periods of 10 years. For example the protection of the following trade marks:
CAMEL has been valid in Poland since 4 May 1920 (number 4993),
COCA-COLA has been valid in Poland since 1 April 1926 (number 13871),
NIVEA has been valid in Poland since 13 May 1933 (number 23977).
In the above examples the NIVEA, CAMEL and COCA-COLA trademarks are the identifications of goods, whereas COCA-COLA is also a name of the company – the manufacturer of the drink. We may also add for your information that COCA-COLA has more than 160 registrations and applications of different trademarks in Poland, although the record here belongs to the Polish National TV – TVP with more than 400 registrations and applications. The files of the Polish Patent Office have no separate records for trademarks and company names. Both these categories are in the same group of trademarks.
The procedure before the Polish Patent Office
The procedure to obtain the protection right for a trademark in the Polish Patent Office commences with the filing of properly prepared application documents, and is concluded after the Polish Patent Office has verified whether there are any obstacles, in the form of earlier registrations or applications for the protection of identical of similar trademarks (which could cause a risk of confusion on the public), for the protection right to be granted. If no such obstacles exist the Patent Office grants the protection, however if they do exist – it refuses to grant it. At all stages of the procedure (trade mark application, granting the protection, renewal) the Patent Office collects charges. Cases referring to the protection of trade marks in Poland are regulated under the law of 30.06.2000 The Industrial Property Right (see ‘Legal Acts’).
Trade mark protection in Poland.
Since 1.05.2004, three sources of trade mark rights have been available in Poland:
- national registrations in the Polish Patent Office, Warsaw,
- international registrations at WIPO, Geneva (see ‘The Madrid Agreement’),
- community trademark at OHIM, Alicante (see ‘The Community Trademark’).
TRASET Patent Office conducts cases of trade mark protection before the Polish Patent Office, before International Bureau WIPO Geneva, before OHIM in Alicante, and also before foreign national Patent Offices.