CLOSING OF THE BREWERY IN LEŻAJSK – WHAT EFFECT DOES THIS HAVE ON THE TRADEMARK?
As a legal counsel and patent attorney with many years of experience in intellectual property law, I enjoy following and commenting on the latest developments in the world of big brands making changes in their businesses, which sometimes turn out to have a huge impact on their trademark protection rights or other intellectual property rights.
CLOSING OF THE LEŻAJSK BREWERY – IMPACT ON THE TRADEMARK OF THE ŻYWIEC GROUP
One of the most recently commented events from the Polish market, is the closure of the brewery in Lezajsk by Heineken, owner of the Zywiec group.
Some, unhappy about the closure of the brewery and the impact this will have on the local labor market, have tried to argue that as a result of the change of seating, HEINEKEN will lose the right to the trademark because the mark will be confusing, which is an absolute bar to trademark registration.
This is because according to Article 129(1)(1)(12) of the Industrial Property Law, no protective right shall be granted for a sign that by its nature is likely to mislead the public, particularly as to the nature, quality or geographic origin of the goods. Paragraph 2 of this provision, on the other hand, specifies that with regard to alcoholic products, a trademark containing a geographical element inconsistent with the origin of the product shall be deemed to mislead the public.
Thus, while it is indeed impossible to register a misleading trademark, in particular a trademark for alcoholic beverages, if the mark contains a geographical element inconsistent with the actual origin of the product, a registered trademark can no longer be deprived of protection on the same basis.
You can read more about this in a recent article published in Rzeczpospolita, in which legal counsel and patent attorney Wojciech Gierszewski, had the opportunity to explain the legal aspects of this situation.
TRADEMARK – ENTREPRENEUR’S RIGHT VS. NATIONAL INTERESTS
Somewhat in the context of this case, I think to myself that increasingly national interests – other than intellectual property rights – are beginning to take precedence over them. The Italians have introduced a regulation that grants “quasi-copyright” rights to museums for images in their public domain. The Swiss have introduced a regulation to protect “Swissness” – so that, for example, the American owner of the Toblerone brand moving production to Slovakia had to make changes, removing the famous Matterhorn mountain from the packaging. So maybe protecting “polishness” (however understood) would not be such a completely cosmic idea?
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