In January this year, the District Court in Warsaw banned Zakład Mięsne Łmeat Łuków from infringing the rights of Mars Incorporated. The dispute was over the name Chapss. Mars Incorporated protested the dog food trademark introduced by Łmeat Łuków. The meat plants produced the Chapss brand, while the Chappi brand was legally protected.
The names of the products must be so different that customers (in this case, buyers of dog food) are not misled. The similarity of the two words is very clear. It does not matter whether the operation of the meat plants from Łuków was conscious and whether they deliberately wanted the name of the dog food similar to the well-known brand of an international concern. The point is not whether the name is identical to an existing name and previously registered as a word trademark, but whether the company’s interests are not infringed. The interests are secured by the legal protection of the brand. The similarity may lead to confusion of customers who wanted to buy a product known to them before, but who buy the product of the competition. Such impersonation of other brands is an act of unfair competition.
The membership of Poland in the European Union results in increased competitiveness. Large, internationally operating concerns also run their businesses in our country. It should therefore be taken into account that the incomplete legal protection of the brand may result in protests and prohibitions of using a name similar to previously registered names as trademarks.
Even more often, companies are exposed to problems with exports. Local courts of European Union countries operate very efficiently, taking care of the interests of local taxpayers. Judgments are issued quickly and are much more restrictive against companies that violate the rights resulting from the protection of trademarks. About 20 million characters are protected in the world. Brand legal protection is becoming more and more common.
Legal protection for a new product
brand The Qoros brand, which started operating on the automotive market, was forced to change the product brand name for the newly introduced model. The GQ3 will enter the market under a new product name – the 3 Sedan. Qoros Auto is a Chinese company based in Shanghai. The company is a joint venture between Chery Automobile and Israel Corporation. The company was established in 2007. A new product of the new company appeared at the motor show. This is the first model of a company with international aspirations. The premiere, however, was not successful. Audi’s lawyers have filed a lawsuit claiming that there is too much similarity between the name of the new Chinese car brand and the name of the Audi Q model. The court in Hamburg in a very short and swift proceeding decided that the Chinese brand cannot use such a product name and must change the designation . So the GQ3 will not be a new brand name for a product – the brand’s legal protection has failed.
Chinese companies are known to copy popular designs and it has been difficult to fight them. The country’s growing exports, however, face legal barriers, including those related to the legal protection of the brand. Polish entrepreneurs also face similar problems. When the legal protection of the brand as a word trademark does not apply, it is difficult to operate on the competitive market of the European Union. Having a patent monopoly related to the product name, you get a guarantee that the company does not infringe the interests and rights of other companies. Unlike in our country, the effectiveness of property rights enforcement is very fast and very effective in Western Europe. The legal protection of the brand is more effective because the courts programmatically defend the interests of local companies. With each new brand name of a product, the trademark should be checked not only because it is identical, but as the example of the Qoros brand shows, for its similarity to existing brands. Courts assess not only whether the name is identical to the protected brand, but whether it may mislead consumers. When the legal protection of a brand is violated, it is treated as an act of unfair competition. By saving on name design, you can be forced to make changes to your product name, often costing millions of euros. For many Polish companies that sold on the local market, expanding the area of operation may be more expensive than it seems. Brand protection is not only a law, it is a business obligation. It’s not profitable to expose brands to product name-related problems. In practice, the management board is responsible for the company’s legal security.
Legal protection of a brand as a trademark
Legal protection of a brand is in many cases an unknown and distant topic in business. The arguments cited regarding the need for protection turn out to be not entirely convincing. For some time, however, we have seen that this is changing. Perhaps the reasons can be found in belonging to the European Union, where this aspect of brand management is very developed and guarded. Most brands are registered and legally protected as a trademark. In any case, Polish companies are increasingly expressing concerns about whether their brands will be sufficiently protected against the flood of Western competition. Brand legal protection is a form of protecting business against unfair competition, including internal competition.
In Poland, brand protection rights can be pursued on the basis of two legal acts – the Act on Combating Unfair Competition and the Industrial Property Law. Obviously, it is easier to rely on the latter, so the safest way to protect your brand is to register your name as a trademark in the Patent Office. Most often, companies try to protect their brand name (company or product). This can be done in two ways through the so-called word registration (as a word trademark), which gives the right to protect the name as a word, and word-figurative registration (as a word-figurative trademark), which protects a specific recording method. Due to the fact that obtaining legal protection of a word is subject to a number of provisions specifying when it is possible and when it is not and is often very difficult (you cannot reserve, for example, an existing word or a word describing the purpose or features characteristic for a given category of products or services). ), the second way is more common. Apart from names, logos are also eagerly submitted to the Office, of course in this case as figurative and word-figurative marks. The legal protection of the brand name and logo as a trademark is very important, but it is not the only available form of brand protection. As a trademark, it is also possible to submit to the Office such elements forming the identification system as a company slogan and advertising slogan. Some companies report even longer descriptions, e.g. the content of an advertisement. This is already a way to protect not only the name or logo itself, but also the brand idea and identity. A trademark gives the exclusive right to use the brand and creates a patent monopoly. Such legal protection of the brand affects the financial value of the brand, and thus the company’s valuation.