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11 Aug

Illegal use of the R in a circle sign

R in a circleThose of you who follow my blog know certainly, what do basic intellectual property designations mean. Today I’d like to tell you something about the R in a circle sign and what is the punishment for illegal using of it.

It is said that not knowing the law is harmful. Here we have a great example of it.

I’ve seen many times when entrepreneurs proudly use the ® sign having completely no idea, what does it really mean. Some of them are convinced that it has something in common with the copyright law.

Others say, that it composes nicely with their mark and ennobles it.

As a reminder, the R in a circle sign may be used only by people, who have registered a trademark in the Patent Office. Such registration may be done on the national territory (e.g. in Poland), in the whole European Union or in selected countries.

But please, note:

You can use the R in a circle sign only if you register your trademark, which does not equal with filing an application in the Patent Office! There is plenty of reasons, why Patent Office may refuse to grant a protection for your trademark. In order to avoid a confusion I highly recommend to wait until the process of assigning the protection would be over.

What is the punishment for illegal use of the R in a circle sign?

It is regulated by the Industrial Property Law Act:

Article 308

Anyone putting on the market goods bearing a trademark accompanied by a discriminant which is intended to make the false impression that the goods enjoy such protection, shall be liable to a fine.

Even an unaware action would be punished with the appropriate penalties. I’ve faced with the situation of an intentional use of the R in a circle sign while the entrepeneur was fully aware, that he is violating the law. I still belive, that this kind of promotion of the brand is a complete mistake. Competitors may at any time accuse you with the plea of misleading your consumers.

What can you do, if it’s your competitor who breaks the law?

Report it to the Police, anonymously or in person. I’ve spoken about it with a nice policewoman. According to what she said, if there exists any obvious evidence (e.g. the R in a circle sign used on the internet, official signs or in official leaflet of the company) the police is able to start the direct action.

Such issues are regulated by the Unfair Competition Act:

Article 14. 1.

It is an unfair trading practice to disseminate untrue or misleading information about one’s own enterprise or about another entrepreneur or another enterprise to gain benefits or cause disadvantage.

The R in a circle sign is well perceived by consumers and therefore using it is a form of prestige.

2. Information as referred to in paragraph 1 is false or misleading information, in particular concerning:

[…]
4)   the economic or legal situation.

As you can see, the R in a circle sign is a designation protected by law and there are some real sanctions envisaged for illegal using of it. Competitors would provide evidences and designate a company, which infringes the law  – rembember about it, in orfer to avoid any troubles.

Mikołaj Lech

Do you need legal help? Contact with me.
+48 607 416 240
office@lech.bydgoszcz.pl

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