After the years 2016 and 2017, which were abundant in national trademark applications filed in the Polish Patent Office, a significant decrease in the number of applications occurred in the year 2018. This can be seen in the annual report of the Polish Patent Office available at https://www.uprp.pl/uprp/_gAllery/98/68/98681/raport_roczny_2018.pdf
The data corresponding to the year 2018 clearly demonstrate that the total number of applications filed directly in the Polish Patent Office for obtaining protection in Poland decreased by approximately 7% in comparison to the years 2017 and 2016.
The question is why fewer trademarks were filed in the year 2018.
The decrease in the number of trademark applications filed in 2018 is caused by several factors, including among others the current economic situation in Poland and worldwide.
It is also essential to note that in 2016 an important amendment to the IP Law was implemented, as a result of which the system of examining trademark applications was changed, which subsequently shortened the time necessary for obtaining registration to 6 up to 8 months. However, in practice it turned out that although the new procedure was indeed faster, obtaining registration was not at all easier.
The above mentioned report of the Patent Office also demonstrates that in 2018 the number of granted registrations decreased seriously by 23% in comparison to the year 2017.
Such numbers were very much influenced by the fact that the requirements, which had to be fulfilled by a trademark in order to obtain registration, remained to be the same. What also remained was the previous practice of the Patent Office consisting in examining the absolute grounds for registration of marks (such as, for example, distinctiveness or descriptiveness). Moreover, the owners of earlier trademarks monitor all new applications which are filed in Poland, and if necessary ? they take the relevant steps to prevent registration, by for example filing oppositions.
By whom were trademark applicants filed most frequently in Poland?
The applicants filing the majority of trademarks in Poland in 2018 were among others the companies from the food branch, the spirits and pharmaceutical branch, as well as IT branch and new technology industries. A high number of applications was also noted from the cosmetic branch and clothing industry, and also for the services relating to retail stores, teaching, entertainment, sports and cultural activities, as well as designing.
The most commonly filed kinds of trademarks
The companies filing trademark applications in 2018 decided most frequently to file figurative, word-figurative or word trademarks. As regards less common marks, 2 sound trademarks and over 50 three-dimensional marks were respectively filed, while the latter were predominantly filed by the companies from the food and spirits branch.
The growing number of marks filed in the European Union
The above referenced annual report of the Polish Patent Office also demonstrates that the number of the European Union Trademarks filed in 2018 reflects the upward trend which has been observed in the recent years in the growing number of EUTM applications filed by the Polish companies.
The total number of EUTM applications filed by Polish companies reached 3879 in 2018. Also the number of EUTM registrations granted to Polish companies remains at a high level and in 2018 reached 3215.
Poland is ranked 10th among the countries with the highest number of the European Union Trademark applications and registrations in 2018. Although Poland is still far from the top three: Germany (over 22000 applications), USA (17400 applications) and China (over 13000 applications), which can boast of the highest number of EUTM applications and registrations, it is good to see Poland in the top ten, and that the number of applications and registrations of the Polish companies through EUIPO is continuously growing.
The above data also prove that the Polish companies are more and more often thinking globally, and do not limit their activity to the domestic market, but from the beginning are seeking the chances for exploring foreign markets. Therefore, the growing number of EUTM applications and registrations is a good tendency, as they guarantee protection across the whole European Union, including Poland.
What are the forecasts for the future?
In the light of the most recent amendments to the IP Law of March 2019, broadening the list of signs, for which one can obtain protection, the attractiveness of trademark protection system has been enhanced. As a result, one may expect that the number of applications filed in Poland in the coming years may be growing. Apart from conventional marks, such as word or figurative marks, entrepreneurs can now apply for granting protection for a number of new varieties of marks, such as pattern, motion or multimedia marks. In consequence of having waived the so far requirement for the mark to be capable of being represented graphically, the process of obtaining protection for unconventional marks will undoubtedly be simplified. This should encourage entrepreneurs to file such unconventional marks and trigger an overall rise in the number of trademark applications.
Joanna Piłka is a patent attorney in the department of trademarks and industrial designs. She deals with issues related to the protection of trademarks, industrial designs and internet domains. Also develops a strategy and provides advice on brand protection and industrial designs, prepares legal opinions. She is a member of INTA and ECTA (member of the Design Committee of ECTA). Contact with the author