Poland: evidence of bad faith
"Sfinks Polska S.A. requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the rights of protection for word-figurative trade mark CLEOPATRA R-153234 owned by Restauracja CLEOPATRA Bachar Aziz from Lublin. Sfinks Polska owns earlier registered word-figurative trade mark SPHINX R-105162.
Sfinks claimed that the trade mark CLEOPATRA R-153234 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 could 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.
The Polish Patent Office dismissed the request and decided that the trade marks, in this case, are different in all aspects. Sfinks Polska S.A. filed a complaint against this decision.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 27 December 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 2041/11 dismissed it. The Court held that the PPO correctly decided that there are visible differences in both signs. The VAC also ruled that the application for a trade in bad faith may occur in a situation in which the applicant is linked with the owner of the earlier sign with a special relationship of trust resulting, for example, from cooperation contracts or agreements. The trade mark can be filed in bad faith in order to acquire a financial extortion from the owner of an earlier sign, or to gain control of that entity, or to force the conclusion of the license agreement, etc. The trade mark can be also filed in bad faith with the intention to block the use of the prior sign or in order to acquire of the market position of the holder of the earlier mark. However, the allegation of bad faith trade mark application has not been proven by Sfinks Polska S.A."