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Polish law
Home > Polish law > Protection of entrepreneurs > Industrial Property Protection

Industrial Property Protection




1. Legal grounds

Issues concerning industrial property in Poland are regulated under the Industrial Property Law of 30 June, 2000 (unified text in Journal of Law of 2017 item 776)(“IPL”).

IPL covers almost all issues relating to industrial property including provisions regarding inventions, utility models, industrial designs, improvement projects, trademarks, geographical indications and topography of integrated circuits. Laws on the combating of unfair competition remain outside the direct influence of this law and are regulated by the Combating of Unfair Competition Law of 16 April, 1993 (unified text in Journal of Law  of 2018  item 419).

The fundamental functions of IPL include protection of the interests and rights of entrepreneurs and creators as well as stimulation of economic development.

This Law allows for the drawing of benefits from long-term investments in new and useful technical solutions (patents, utility models), protection of originality and ingenuity (industrial designs) and effective marking of goods and services in a manner that allows customers to make conscious choices as well as to identify such goods and services with a specific manufacturer (trademarks). By granting certain entities exclusive rights to use protected goods, IPL encourages work on innovations as well as their financing.

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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 an example. Therefore a trademark may every designation, including designations not listed in Article 120 IPL, provided that such designation enables distinction from other goods or services. IPL lists designations that may not obtain legal protection despite being distinctive. The most commonly met in trade are word, word-graphic and graphical trademarks.

Trademarks, pursuant to the provisions of IPL, are subject to registration with the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland in Warsaw, and the party’s attorney in proceedings for registration may be not only a patent attorney or person providing cross-border services within the meaning of the Patent Attorney Law, but also a barrister [adwokat] or attorney-at-law [radca prawny].

In accordance with Article 138 IPL, the trademark should be indicated in the filing of the trademark together with indication of goods for which the given mark is intended using the so-called Nice Classification resulting from the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks (Journal of Law of 2003, No. 63 item 583).

Obtainment of a protection right gives the exclusive right to use the trademark for commercial or professional purposes throughout the Republic of Poland. The term of protection for a trademark is 10 years from the date the trademark is applied for with the Polish Patent Office and may be extended for all, or only certain goods, for subsequent 10-year periods.

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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.

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4. EU and international trademark

In the European Union, European Union trademarks (EU trademarks) function in addition to national trademarks and are regulated by the Regulation of the European Parliament and Council (EU) 2017/1001 of 14 June, 2017 on the European Union Trademark (OJ L of 16 June, 2017).

A Community mark is subject to registration with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) located in Alicante, Spain. Protection is granted for a period of 10 years with the possibility of its extension for subsequent ten-year periods. Registration of a Community trademark ensures trademark protection on identical principles in all Member States.

Apart from EU and Polish protection, one can also obtain international trademark protection under the Madrid Agreement of 1891 as well as Protocol to the Madrid Agreement. Under the Madrid Agreement, international registration may only be carried out following prior registration of a national mark to the benefit of the applicant in the country of origin, whereas under the Protocol to the Madrid Agreement grounds for applying for international registration also include national filing of the mark or its registration in the country of origin. Registration is carried out at the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland through the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland acting as the office of the country of origin and—in principal – guarantees the status of a national trademark in all States-Parties to the Madrid Agreement or the Protocol to the Madrid Agreement designated by the applicant which do not within 12 months refuse to grant the applicant admission to their territory.

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(Last update: April 2018)

Prepared for the Polish Investment and Trade Agency by:

BRILLAW by Mikulski & Partners

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Polish Investment and Trade Agency

ul. Krucza 50

00-025 Warsaw

e-mail for investors: invest@paih.gov.pl
e-mail for exporters: eksport@paih.gov.pl

Taxpayer's Identification Number (NIP) PL 526-030-01-67

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