On 24 July the Polish parliament adopted an act amending the Polish Act on Industrial Property Law dated 30 June 2000.
The main objective of the amendment is to adjust the act to the European regulations and international agreements concluded by Poland, inter alia, the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement concerning the international registration of industrial designs adopted in Geneva on 2 July 1999, the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks adopted in Singapore on 27 March 2006 and European Parliament and Council Directive 98/44/EC of 6 July 1998 on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions. The proposed changes also take into account judgments of the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) issued in Monsanto Technology LLC vs Cefetra BV case (C-428/08), concerning the legal protection of biotechnological inventions, and judgments issued inFlos SpA vs Semeraro Casa e Famiglia SpA case (C-168/09) and Cassina SpA vs Alivar Srl and Galliani Host Arredamenti Srl case (C-198/10), relating to the protection of industrial designs being also the subject of copyright protection.
The main changes
The amendment to the Industrial Property Law includes changes in regulations concerning patents, industrial designs and trademarks. We set out below some of the key changes:
- Changes in patent law
There will be a new register of additional protection rights. Additional protection rights extend to medicinal products or plant protection products manufactured according to a protected invention. Additional protection rights differ from an exclusive patent right. Currently information about such rights is listed in the patent register. The creation of a separate register of additional protection rights means there will be no risk of confusion as to the nature of those rights.
As regards biotechnological inventions, applicants will be obliged to disclose the industrial application of a sequence or partial sequence of genes in the specification of invention. In turn, in the independent patent claim a function of such a sequence must be indicated. This change is necessary in order to implement into Polish regulations the rule formulated by the ECJ in its judgment in the Monsanto Technology case (C-428/08).
- Changes in industrial designs law
The amendment introduces to Poland the principle of the recognition of the international registration of industrial designs. This means that the owner of an industrial design will be able to obtain protection of the design in chosen countries, by making only one application directly to the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organisation. The international registration of the industrial design will have the same effect in each of the chosen countries.
In accordance with the ECJ’s rulings in the Cassina (C-198/10) and Flos (C-168/09) cases, the amendment also changes the current regulation for industrial designs that are protected by copyright. The amendment grants copyright protection to industrial designs even if the design rights have expired. Before the proposed amendments, the Industrial Property Law provided that the protection arising from the copyright laws did not apply to products manufactured according to the industrial design after the expiry of the right to such design. The amendment repeals this regulation.
- Changes in trademark law
The amendment extends the possibility of obtaining a joint right of protection for a trademark by introducing the possibility to grant such right to several people, even to individuals. Previously the possibility of obtaining a joint right of protection for a trademark was reserved for business entities.
The above amendments remove loopholes and doubts concerning the interpretation of particular regulations. Besides the above changes, the amendment simplifies the procedure before the Polish Patent Office. More precise and transparent rules will reduce the amount of correspondence between the Office and the applicant, which may lead to avoiding appeal proceedings and shortening the time for examining applications.
The act was passed to the President, who has 21 days to sign it and order its publication in the Journal of Laws. The new regulations will come into force 3 months after their publication.