'Fighting Poland' sign obtains protection as symbol of national value


The 'fighting Poland' sign, depicted below, has acquired a unique type of protection reserved solely for national treasures. In 2001, similar protection was awarded to the heritage of Fryderyk Chopin.


The 'fighting Poland' sign is also called 'Kotwica', meaning 'anchor'. The symbol owes this name to its shape. It consists of two letters, ‘P’ and ‘W’, connected in such a way that the letter ‘P’ is placed above the middle of the letter ‘W’.

The letters ‘P’ and ‘W’ are the initials of the phrase 'Pomścimy Wawer', which means 'we shall avenge Wawer'. The original idea behind it was to remind people of a massacre that took place near Warsaw in 1939. Later on, the sign started to be associated with the phrase 'Polska walcząca' ('fighting Poland') and then, during the uprising of 1944, with the phrase 'Powstanie Warszawskie' ('Warsaw uprising').

The symbol was designed in 1942 by Anna Smoleńska, who died in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in 1943.

The idea behind the symbol was to create a combination of the letters ‘P’ and ‘W’ which was easy and fast to paint, as this symbol was often painted on walls in Warsaw in protest against Nazi occupation.

The initiators of the legislative procedure aiming to grant protection to the 'fighting Poland' sign were soldiers of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa) and veterans of the Warsaw uprising. The reason for this initiative was the fact that the sign was not always used for patriotic reasons.

According to the act of June 10 2014 on the protection of the 'fighting Poland' sign, this sign is “the symbol of the fight of the Polish nation against the Nazi aggressor and occupant during the Second World War” and, as such, it “is of nationwide value and is subject to the protection due to the historical inheritance of the Republic of Poland”. The newly adopted law provides that every Polish citizen has the right and obligation to honour and respect the 'fighting Poland' sign, and anyone who publicly abuses the sign is liable to a fine on the basis of the Code of Procedures in Offence Cases of August 24 2001.

In contrast to the protection afforded to the heritage of Fryderyk Chopin, whereby the works of Fryderyk Chopin and objects connected to him are formally supervised by the minister competent for culture and the protection of national heritage - and, in practice, by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute created especially for that purpose, the regulations relating to the protection of the 'fighting Poland' sign do not explicitly indicate that a particular governmental authority is responsible for supervising its use. As a result, there is no official body, similar to the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, that is entitled to grant the right to use the sign. Consequently, the use of the sign is generally freely allowed, provided that it is used with respect.

As regards the possibility of obtaining protection for trademarks or designs containing the 'fighting Poland' sign, it should be borne in mind that the provisions of Poland’s Industrial Property Law provide for its protection as a patriotic symbol. According to these provisions, any sign or design that incorporates symbols, in particular symbols of a religious, patriotic or cultural nature, the use of which could hurt people's religious feelings, sense of patriotism or national tradition, are excluded from protection.

Joanna Piłka, Patpol - European and Polish Patent and Trademark Attorneys, Warsaw

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