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Industrial Property Protection

1. Legal grounds

Issues concerning industrial property in Poland are regulated under the Industrial Property Law Act of 30 June 2000 (unified text in Journal of Laws of 2003, No. 119, item 1117 as amended) (the “IPL”).

The IPL in its scope covers almost all areas of industrial property including regulations covering inventions, utility models, industrial designs, rationalization proposals, trademarks, geographical indications and topographies of integrated circuits as well as their protection. The only provisions that remain outside of its scope are those related to unfair competition, regulated under Unfair Competition Act of 16 April 1993 (unified text in Journal of Laws of 2003. No 153, item 1503 as amended) as well as provisions regulating professional activities related to the protection of industrial property enclosed in Act on Patent Agents of 11 April 2001 (unified text in Journal of Laws No 155, item 925 as amended).

One of the fundamental functions of IPL is to stimulate economic development and to protect the rights and interests of author's rights. The first of these functions is met by IPL by granting certain entities temporary exclusive rights to use protected property, thus giving them the possibility to use such for commercial purposes and, in turn, encouraging work on innovations as well as their financing. The second function is fulfilled by regulating the rights of authors of intellectual property as well as the rights and obligations of business entities organising creative work and ensuring material resources, in particular financial resources, for the performance of such tasks.


2. IPL regulations pertaining to trademarks

Pursuant to the provisions of Article 120 of IPL, any sign capable of being represented graphically may be considered as trademark, provided that such signs are capable of distinguishing the goods of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. A trademark may consist of, in particular:

  • words,
  • designs,
  • ornaments,
  • combinations of colours,
  • the three-dimensional shape of goods or of their packaging,
  • melodies or other acoustic signals.

It should be noted that the list contained in IPL serves solely as a sample. Therefore a trademark may be each designation, including designations not listed in Article 120 IPL, provided that such designation enables distinction from other goods or services. IPL determines enumeratively designations for which legal protection cannot apply despite having distinctive capabilities.

Trademarks, pursuant to the provisions of IPL, have to be registered in the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland in Warsaw. In case of a lack of residence or registered office in Poland, such a party may only act through a patent agent. Obtainment of a protection right gives the exclusive right to use the trademark for commercial or professional purposes throughout Poland. The term of the protection right for a trademark is 10 years from the date of trademark registration with the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland and may be extended for all, or only certain goods, for subsequent 10-year periods.


3. Trademark protection

Pursuant to the regulations of IPL, a breach of a trademark protection right consists of the illegal use in business trade of:

  • a mark identical to a registered trademark in the case of identical goods,
  • a mark identical or similar to a registered trademark in the case of identical or similar goods if there exists the risk of misleading customers, including in particular the risk of associating the mark with a registered trademark,
  • a mark identical or similar to a renowned trademark registered for any goods if such usage may yield undue benefit to the entity using such or if such usage may effect the distinctive nature or reputation of the registered trademark.

Therefore, the grounds for liability arising from infringement of the protection rights of a trademark are illicit actions. Despite a lack of a unified definition of such illicit acts, it may be deemed that, on the basis of IPL, a breach of the legal order may be understood in the broad definition and including - outside of restrictions arising from binding law - good customs or principles of social behaviour. The burden of proof of such prerequisite lies with the holder of the right.

The person (entity) whose trademark protection right has been breached may demand:

  • the cessation of the breach and the remedying of its consequences,
  • the handing over of groundlessly achieved benefits,

    and in case of culpable breach of protective law of the trademark may furthermore demand
  • the remedying of damages pursuant to general principles; or
  • the payment of a pecuniary amount in an amount equal to a licence fee or other appropriate compensation that would have been due in conjunction with the holder of the right giving approval for the use of the invention at the time such amount is being pursued,
  • the publishing of the entire, or part thereof, of the ruling as well as information regarding such a ruling in a manner and scope defined by the court,
  • the payment of compensation for use of the invention.

Claims for the breach of a trademark protection right - if the culprit acted in good faith - may be pursued for the period commencing after the day on which the Patent Office published news of the trademark’s registration. If the person (entity) breaching the right has been notified earlier of such registration, then claims may be pursued from the date of such notification.


4. Community and international trademark

In the European Union, along with domestic trademarks, since 1994 a community trademark regulated under Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2009 of 26 February 2009 on the Community trademark (Dz.U. L 78, 24.3.2009). A community trademark is subject to registration with the Office of Harmonisation in The Internal Market (OHIM) in Alicante in Spain. Protection is granted for a period of 10 years with the possibility of its extension. Registration of a community trademark ensures trademark protection on identical principles across all Member European Union States and is independent of the national systems.

Apart from community (European Union) and local (Polish) protection, one can also obtain international trademark protection under the Madrid’s Agreement of 1891 and Madrid’s Protokol of 1989. In virtue of Madrit’s Agreement international registration can be carried on only after foregoing local registration of the trademark in favour of applicant in the country of origin, although in virtue of the Madrit’s Agreement Protocol one may apply for international registration on the basis of local trademark notification or a registration in the country of origin. Registration is made at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) located in Geneva, Switzerland by hand of Patent Office of the Republic of Poland acting as the authority of the (trademark’s) country of origin and, in principal, this guarantees the status of a domestic trademark in all the signatory countries - parties of Madrid’s Agreement or Madrid’s Agreement Protocol designated by applicant which will not refuse to grant it in their respective territories within 12 months time.


(Last update: April 2015)

Prepared for the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency by:

Stopczyk & Mikulski Counselors at Law

Authors: Robert Mikulski, partner, Katarzyna Grzywacka, Associate

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