In April 2016 there occurred a major change in the Polish trademark law, namely a shift from the examination system into the opposition system. The Polish Patent Office ceased to check whether there exist earlier marks identical or similar marks to the one applied for registration. Therefore, trademark monitoring became the indispensable activity that needs to be pursued by any trademark owner who intends to protect his marks.
Two years have already passed from the above date. Actually, it took time for some Polish companies to understand that they have to participate actively in the protection of their rights by watching their marks and filing oppositions. Nonetheless, the number of small, medium and large domestic businesses who monitor their marks grows gradually, but steadily.
Some establishments decided to monitor their trademarks with the assistance of professionals. It is often the case that the institution of trademark watching service calls for an overview of an entrepreneur’s brand protection strategy, as selecting trademarks for watching requires, among other things, judicious assessment of the marks from the point of view of their actual use and territorial range. After the new domestic trademark regulations had entered into force, many entrepreneurs decided to watch their marks beyond the territory of Poland. The shift from the examination into the opposition system was a good occasion for Polish owners of EU marks to start the watching service in the EU countries as well as in the territories outside the European Union. Frequently the Polish entrepreneurs choose to watch their marks beyond the jurisdictions where they have obtained protection, having in mind future territorial expansion of their activity, and the extension of the scope of protection relating to it.
One of the most frequently “watched” territories is China and some other Asian countries, but also the neighbouring countries, especially the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (in particular Russia) as well as Ukraine. The practice demonstrates that properly conducted watching service allows to detect potential infringers or acts of unfair competition, as well as to become familiar with the business strategy of market competitors.
It seems that some of the Polish rightholders appreciate the benefits of trademark watching, as this highly effective brand protection tool ensures the trademark owners are in the best position to safeguard and protect their brand. On the other hand, there are businesses (especially the smaller ones, but not only) who are not aware of the importance of trademark monitoring as well as the negative consequences that may result from the failure to watch their marks.