Mikołaj Lech

patent attorney

A lawyer, who specializes in industrial property law, combating unfair competition and copyright. Thanks to work in Patent Agency he has a contact with the current problems of entrepreneurs.
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31 May

Patent Office: the first Polish registered trademark

After Poland regained its sovereignity in 1989, a lot of new companies have appeard on the market. There’s nothing to be suprised about. Eventually it was the time when we experienced “birthing pains” of capitalism. A lot of those new companies wanted to protect their names in the Patent Office. First Polish trademarks however, have already been registered years earlier. The story of trademarks begins together with a birth of the II Republic of Poland.


Let’s start with a little bit of history.

Development of the patent law was influenced by a strong industrial boost in XIX century.

Of course it doesn’t mean, that inventions hadn’t been protected before. The Middle Ages was a period of granting certain people with so called “privileges”. The oldest known privilege comes from 1234.

It happened rather sporadically and did not have a mass character.

Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, an economy based on agriculture switched to an economy based on mechanical production.

What happened to be a driving force, were inventions, thanks to which a number of new products and companies selling them have appeard on the market. It created a natural need of protecting such companies’ trade names.

Each country have implemented their own acts on the field of registration of trade marks, e.g. in US it happened in 1870.

It was the time, when Poland did not exist on the maps of the world and Poles had to relay on the laws of the partitioners. This situation lasted for years, till Poland finally regained its sovereignity.


Patent Office 1Times of the Free Poland

One of the first decisions made by a new government, was to create a new Patent Office on December 28, 1918.

Relatively quickly – on Februrary 4, 1919, the Chief of a State, Józef Piłdudski, signed the Decree on the protection of trademarks.

How were trade marks defined by almost 100 years old regulations?

Quite simply:

Art. 1

Trademarks are the drawings and the names of all kinds, which serve industrialists and merchants to distinguish their products from those of other industrialists and merchants.

Today’s Industrial Property Law Act defines it as:

Art. 120

1. Any sign capable of being represented graphically may be considered as trademark, provided that such signs are capable of distinguishing the goods of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.

After several decades this term have evolved visibly. Nowadays it is understood more broadly, for example it is possible to register a sound trademark.

It is an interesting example of how the law follows the technique.

In 1919 radio was a total innovation and we have to remember, that the first radio station in Poland was established in 1926.

Legislators back then couldn’t even imagine, that sound could be registered as a trademark.


How did the first registered trademark look like?

To find it out, I went to the Archive of the Patent Office in Warsaw.

I must admit, that it was an interesting experience.

Holding in my hands over 90 year old issue of The News of The Patent Office made me feel its historical load. Issues from the period of the II World War were especially impressive and I’m sure I’ll write about it someday.

The first registered trade mark in Poland looks as follows: (by clicking on the picture you can see it in high quality)

Patent Office 2What do we know about this trademark?

Its application was made on July 25, 1918, however it was registered a few yares later, on April 11, 1924.

The owner of the sign was The Pruszków Manufacture of the Ultramarine, Sommer and Nower, for the product of ultramarine.

And here it gets interesting.

How is it possible, that the application was made not only before the Patent Office was created, but also before Poland even regained its independence?

We can find the asnwer to this question by reading the above mentioned Decree.

According to this Act, protection certificates of trade marks applied on the basis of the earlier acts could be continue to be valid, on the condition that their owners would again apply them to the Patent Office within the time of 6 months.


It is therefore quite possible, that the first polish registered trademark was orginally applied in one of the partitioning country and then, on the basis of the Decree, its protection could also be valid in Poland.

The fact that the priority dates of the first hundred of registered trade marks are from 1918 seem to confirm this supposition.

Regulations on the field of trademarks were forced into power in 1919, however it took 5 another years for the first decision to grant legal protection to be made.

As I found out, on October 29, 1919, polish Minister for Industry and Trade issued an unpublished Ordinance, on the basis of which the President of the Patent Office had to stay the trademark and patent regstration proceeding.

Applications were received but weren’t examined.

Such action was probably caused becouse of a weakness of the polish economy, recovering after a recent war.


Below I present you two pages from the first issue of the “News of the Patent Office” (1924).

Patent Office 3

Patent Office 4

Mikołaj Lech

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