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Now in its twelfth year, Class 46 is dedicated to European trade mark law and practice. This weblog is written by a team of enthusiasts who want to spread the word and share their thoughts with others.

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Poland: Columbus and Columbia compared
The Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark Columbia R-182641 for which the Polish entrepreneur "ORION" Jerzy Czernek from Łódź had made an application. The German company Imperial Tobacco (EFKA) GmbH & Co. KG challenged this grant, claiming similarity to its trade mark COLUMBUS IR-0613016 registered for some identical goods in Class 34. Mr Czernek argued that there was no likelihood of confusion between the marks, as the consumers of goods and services covered by those signs accurately identify their brand of cigarettes and do not confuse them. The PPO agreed and dismissed the opposition.  Imperial Tobacco filed complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Adminsitrative Court (VAC) in its judgment of 25 January 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1798/09 dismissed Imperial Tobacco's complaint, whereupon the company filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) in its judgment of 15 June 2011 case file II GSK 666/10 vacated the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for reconsideration. The Court held that consumer's attention focuses on the similarities and on the first part of the sign. The SAC also noted that the VAC did not explain why it considered that eight-letter signs, which shared the same 6 letters and the identical first two syllables, were completely different. In the case of identical goods, the analysis of similarity between trade marks should be particularly careful and thorough. The SAC noted that it should be always remembered that trade marks are to help customers to associate the product with the manufacturer, and not obscure the market and lead to confusion.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 28 September 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1541/11 reversed the contested decision, ruled it unenforceable, and returned the case to the PPO for reconsideration.

However, the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 4 April 2012 case no. Sp. 538/11 did not rule on the mertis of the case, becasue Mr Czernek waived his right of protection and Imperial Tobacco company withdrew the opposition.
Posted by: Tomasz Rychlicki @ 10.10
Tags: Polish Patent Office, Polish Supreme Administrative Court, similarity of goods, similarity of signs, trade mark opposition, trademark law, Voivodeship Administrative Court,
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