Trade mark law, case II GSK 1096/13

December 8th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

Dansk Supermarked A/S, the owner of word trade marks NETTO and word-figurate trade mark NETTO R-114747 filed to the Polish Patenet Office a notice of opposition to the final decision on the grant of a right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark NETO R-227788 that was registered for the goods in Classes 7, 11, 19, 20, 21 and services in Classes 35 and 42. The opponent pointed out that the services in Class 35 are identical to these that NETTO trade marks were registered for, and are directed to similar consumers through similar channels. Furthermore, the services in Class 35 are complementary to the goods and services from other classes. Dansk Supermarked A/S also argued that the compared trade marks are very similar. The dominant element of the sign in question is the word “NETO”, which is crucial for the perception of the character, and the figurative element is of secondary importance. The word “NETO” is entirely contained in the opposing signs, therefore the compared trade marks are “substantially similar” and that the average consumer may mistakenly associate the signs, and there is a real risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods and services.

The owner, Polish company Galicja Tomaszek sp. z o.o., argued that the chain stores NETTO offer both food and industrial goods, and in this case, the opposing sign is used for the determination of the store itself or chain of stores. In contrast, the disputed mark is used to designate the goods.

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection. The PPO found that trade marks at issue are similar, and pointed out that all the goods in Classes 7, 11, 19, 20 and 21, are covered by the services included in class 35, and relate to the sale of these goods. Galicja Tomaszek sp. z o.o. filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 19 December 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1808/12 dismissed it. The Court ruled that the term “providing a service” or “service” itself have no material content in the sense that the sign may be placed only on the elements used to provide a particular service, while a trade mark can be assigned to the goods, due to their material nature, and the consumer may directly related to the goods to which a sign is assigned. The similarity of the goods/services happens when the goods (services) covered by the earlier mark and the goods (services) covered by the later mark have the same purpose and method of use. Galicja Tomaszek sp. z o.o. filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 September 2014 case file II GSK 1096/13 dismissed it.

Personal interest, case I CSK 542/13

September 17th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

Leszek Czarnecki and his wife Jolanta Pieńkowska sued Grupa o2, the owner and publisher of pudelek.pl website. Mr Czarnecki claimed that articles posted on this website infringed his personal interests by publishing information about social status and a new home, which was built on a grand scale.

The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 24 October 2011 case file IV C 1639/10 found the publisher guilty. The court held that the content of articles undermined the prestige of the spouses as they are people commonly known, reputable and rich. The Court ruled that the amount of compensation is up to 200.000 PLN, because, as the judge assessed the higher the prestige of imputed persons is, the higher should be the economic sanction.

Grupa o2 appealed. The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment case file VI ACa 73/12 ordered owners of both sites to issue an apology but reduced the amount awarded, and ruled that the company has to pay 20.000 PLN for social purpose. Both parties filed cassation complaints.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 12 September 2014 case file I CSK 542/13 repealed the contested judgment and returned the case for further reconsideration. The reasons were based on procedural grounds. It turned out that the Appeallate court has assessed the evidence, but it did not find its own conclusions. The Court also did not rule on the relationship between comments posted by Internet users and the provisions of Polish Act on Providing Services by Electronic Means that exclude the liability of the ISPs.

Trade mark law, case VI Kp 84/14

September 1st, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Regional Court in Szczecin in its decision of 18 June 2014 case file VI Kp 84/14 ruled that the provisions of Article 305 of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text on 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, that provides that anyone marking goods with a counterfeit trade mark, registered trade mark for which one does not have the right to use, for the purpose of introducing them on the market or anyone who is making a turnover of goods bearing such trade mark, shall be liable to a fine, limitation of freedom or imprisonment for a period of up to two years, does not apply to services for which a trade mark was registered for. The Court noted that the definition of goods in the IPL also covers services, however, incriminated actions that are subject to the provisions of Article 305 of the IPL, were defined very narrowly and does not apply to trade mark use in advertising services. According to the Court, this view is shared by legal commentators who agreed that the protection provided in Article 305 of the IPL only covers the rights to mark the goods by the entitled person. Based on the principle of guarantee in the criminal law, the Court did not agreed for the analogy in order to extend the protection. The principle of the guarantee of law provides that those who do not violate the rules of law will not suffer negative consequences from the state. This function is of particular importance in the system of criminal law. By establishing sanctions for violation of, or for exposure of certain goods (criminalization) the legislator expresses its will to secure respect for such interests (the protective function of law), but also ensures (guarantee function of law) those who did not commit a criminal act, that they will not be held criminally responsible. The Court added that due to the nature of the service, it can not be introduced to the market, or be subject to market turnover.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 582/13

June 26th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 1 February 2007, SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS GmbH filed before the Polish Patent Office an opposition against the grant of the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark lody SMYK NORDiS R-174465 that was registered for the Polish company NORDIS Chłodnie Polskie Sp. z o.o.

R-174465

SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS, the owner of the word-figurative trade mark SMYK R-151707 registered inter alia for goods in Class 30 such as confectionery and sweets, argued that both signs are similar and may cause consumers’ confusion. The questioned registration was also an attempt to use the trade mark that was known on the market for more than twenty years, and which has won the recognition of customers thanks to significant financial and organizational expenditures. SMYK also alleged violation of the right to the company name.

R-151707

NORDIS argued that the compared signs and the goods are not similar and there is no chance for confusion of potential buyers. The Polish company had applied for this sign in May 2003, because it should serve as a continuation of the word-figurative trade marks SMYK NORDIS NORDIS R-93343 and SMYK R-93586 that both lapsed on July 2003. NORDIS had the right to use all signs with the word elements SMYK and NORDIS, because both lapsed trade marks became the bar for registrations of new similar or identical signs for other entities, for two years after the lapse.

R-93343

SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS replied that the provisions of the Polish Industrial Property Law do not afford the institution of “continuation” of trade marks, and the modified sign does not derive legal force from the earlier marks, and the owner cannot be entitled to rely on the law that no longer exists.

R-93586

In 2008, the PPO dismissed the opposition. SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS decided to file a complaint, and the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 May 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 2315/08 overturned the decision, and ruled that the PPO has made an invalid interpretation of the provisions of the Polish Industrial Property Law on the similarity of signs and the goods with regard to the likelihood of confusion. The Court found that the semantic analysis lead to the logical conclusion that the concept of the term “ice cream” falls within the term of “sweets”, and hence there exist homogeneity of goods bearing compared signs due to the fact that ice cream are goods of “the same kind” as sweets. The homogeneity of goods follows from the semantic analysis of the concepts and the nature of the goods such as “ice cream” (narrower term) and “sweets” (broader term). The VAC also noted that the word element SMYK that is present in both signs, is also endowed with a similar graphics. The case went back to the PPO for further reconsideration.

On 3 August 2009, NORDIS Chłodnie Polskie Sp. z o.o. requested the Polish Patent Office to decide on the lapse of the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark SMYK R-151707 in part for goods in Class 30, becuse SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS failed to put this sign in genuine use on the Polish territory. SMYK argued that its trade mark was present on the market among others on candies available in SMYK’s stores that are located in big malls.

On December 2009, the Polish Patent Office decided that the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark SMYK R-151707 lapsed as of 18 December 2008 in part for goods in Class 30 such as confectionery except chocolate and chocolate products, and candy except chocolate and chocolate products. The PPO also dismissed the opposition against the grant of the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark lody SMYK NORDiS R-174465. SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 November 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 397/12 dismissed it. The Court ruled that there was no violation of the company name, because at the time the disputed trade mark was applied, there was no conflict of interest between both parties, because the scope of activities of the two companies was different. SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS has not shown that the registration will disrupt the function of the name of its company, NORDIS manufactures ice cream, while SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS is a producer of items for children, including toys and clothes and was never engaged in the production or sale of ice cream, moreover, the proceedings revealed that NORDIS does not use the sign in a possible colliding area. The Court agreed with the PPO that the trade mark was not applied contrary to law, public order or morality, because this provision, as it was aptly pointed by the PPO, refers to the content or form of how the applied sign is represented. Such contradiction lies in the violation of moral norms, ethics and customs adopted in business. It occurs primarily in the signs of vulgar or offensive content or form. The VAC noted that SMYK might have confused this regulation it with another institution i.e. bad faith. Legal provisions relating to signs applied in bad faith and signs which are contrary to public policy or morality that are included in the Polish Industrial Property Law are separate premises examined in the trade mark application or invalidation proceedings. The Court emphasized that the first condition is associated with the behavior of the applicant, and the second with the sign. SMYK GLOBAL ASSETS filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 13 May 2014 case file II GSK 582/13 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1885/12

June 10th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

Polskie Towarzystwo Tatrzańskie (Polish Tatra Society) requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for the the word-figurative trade mark POL.TOW.TATRZAŃSKIE 1873 R-101381 owned by Zarząd Główny Polskiego Towarzystwa Turystyczno-Krajoznawczego (Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society). PTT argued that in 1994, the PTTK unlawfully applied for the trade mark in question. It was plagiarized traditional organizational badge of the PTT and at the same time a membership badge and a badge of honor of that Society. This organizational badge with the inscription “Pol. Tow. Tatra of 1873″ and the image of chamois, was established in 1922. After the II World War, the Society ceased to function, but it has been reactivated in 1981 in times of Polish People’s Republic. The badge was re-established by the decision of the Chairman of the Committee on Youth and Sports of October 1990 issued according to the provisions of the Polish Act of 21 December 1978 on badges and uniforms, as a PTT’s badge. PTTK argued that the decision was challenged before the administrative bodies and courts.

R-101381

The PPO adjourned the proceedings until the Supreme Administrative Court in its final judgment of 2008 dismissed the cassation complaint against the decision of the Minister of Economy that refused to annull the decision of the Chairman of the Committee for Youth and Physical Culture of October 1990. The PPO invalidated the right of protection. PTTK filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 5 July 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 515/12 annulled the contested decision, and ruled it unenforceable. The Court held that the legal basis for invalidation of the trade mark were the provisions of the Article 8 point 5 of the old Polish Act of 31 January 1985 on Trade Marks – TMA – (in Polish: Ustawa o znakach towarowych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 5, item 15, with subsequent amendments. Under this regulation, the registration of a sign which contains the name or crest of the Polish voivodeship, city or town, a reproduction of a Polish order, badge of honor and a military badge or sign, is unacceptable. Where justified, such a sign may be registered following approval by the competent authority state or the relevant organizational unit. In the filing date for registration of the invalidated trade mark, the Polish Act of 21 December 1978 on badges and uniforms was in force. Article 2 of that Act established three types of badges: a badge of honor, an organizational badge and an occasional badge. There was no doubt for the Court that the PTT has established an organizational badge. Clearly, it was not a badge of honor, because the PTT has not preserved the procedures required for its establishment. In turn, Article 8 point 5 of the TMA introduces inadmissible registration of a sign containing a badge of honor, not organizational badges. The VAC ruled that the PPO has violated the substantive law while deciding this case. PTT filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 May 2014 case file II GSK 1885/12 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 244/13

May 22nd, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

On March 2008, the Polish Patent Office has granted to the Politechnika Wrocławska (Wrocław University of Technology) the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark e e-Informatica R-204692, for goods and services in Classes 9, 16, 18, 25, 35, 41 and 42.

R-204692

Mr Piotr Chlebowski filed the opposition against the decision of the PPO, and argued that he works on the market (in business) under the business pseudonym Informatica, and has been using that term as a company name that was entered in the register of business activity in 2003. He also uses that name within “a website for his Internet domain”. The term Informatica is also used by Mr Chlebowski on business cards, in advertising, invoices and stamps. He argued that the questioned trade mark also violates his personal rights, because he has started the company under the name Informatica. In addition, he also enjoys the copyright to the term “Informatica”, and the use of that name by the Politechnika Wrocławska is also contrary to regulations provided in the Polish Act on Combating Unfair Competition.

Politechnika Wrocławska requested the PPO to dismiss the opposition and argued that the term Informatica cannot be deemed as personal or economic right or interest. There is no unfair competition because the name Informatica does not lead to consumers’ confusion as to the producer of goods or services.

The Polish Patent Office dismissed the opposition. The PPO ruled the Mr Chlebowski is entitled to his full company name, not only to the term Informatica, and the provisions of the Polish Civil Code raised by the opponent relate to the violation of personal interests, and therefore not personal rights. However, the the mere fact that someone applied for a trade mark consisting of a part of the name of another company is not yet an obstacle to the registration. It is required that the registration and use of the trade mark constitutes a violation of the right to the company name. The average consumer will considers the designation as descriptive for the goods and services related to information technology. However, the figurative element – the first letter “e” – plays the dominant role in the perception of the whole trade mark. The registration of a domain name informatica.pl does not create exclusive property rights that are effective against all (erga omnes – absolute rights). The right to use an Internet domain name is the “relative right” based on the contractual obligation that is effective only with respect to the domain registrar. Mr Chlebowski filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 September 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 917/12 dismissed it, and Mr Chlebowski decided to file a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 April 2014 case file II GSK 244/13 repealed the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for further reconsideration. The SAC held that a name of enterprise (business or company) belongs to the category of personal and property rights, which are subject to legal protection, and that these rights may be infringed by the use of the trade mark, because the two signs (the company’s name and a trademark) both identify the company. The SAC noted that the VAC relied on provision of the Polish Commercial Code that for many years were no longer in force, and incorrectly stated that Mr Chlebowski, as a natural person conducting his business activities, is not entitled to the company name. While the the Polish legislature has regulated in the Civil Code in Section III titled “Entrepreneurs and their designation” the right to the company name, which is also entitled to an entrepreneur who is a natural person. Thus, in this case occurred primarily a conflict of a right to the company name and the right of protection for a trade mark. The Supreme Administrative Court stated in its previous case-law, that the name of a company (the firm) is used to identify and differentiate entities in legal and economic transactions. It also serves a carrier of certain information about the characteristics and qualities of their activities. Unauthorized interference with the functions of the company name infringes the right to the name. This infringement is not prejudiced by registration of a trade mark that is identical or similar to the name of another company. Exclusive rights to the company name (firm) are not absolute. Their limits are territorial and objective and are based on actual activity of an entity that uses a given name. Only within these limits a collisions between identical or similar company name and trademark may occur. If different fields of business activities of a person (legal or natural) that is entitled to the company name and the proprietor of a trade mark, do not lead to consumers’ confusion with regard to the identity of companies, or such proprietor of the later trade mark is not using the reputation associated with earlier (identical or similar) company name, it is difficult to talk about the collision of these two rights, and consequently an infringement of an earlier right to the company name by the later mark (see: “Trade mark law, case II GSK 31/06” and “Trade mark law, case II GSK 406/08“). Applying these considerations to the present case, the SAC ruled that the VAC should reconsider and establish such facts as from which time Mr Chlebowski had acted in the course of trade under the company, using in addition to his surname a designation Informatica, what was the scope and of that activity and whether there is a risk of consumers’ confusion as to the identity of his company and the owner of a disputed trade mark. As it was already established in the case-law of Polish administrative courts, while finding an infringement of personal or property rights of third parties by a trade mark registration, it does not matter whether there are specific facts of confusion in trade, i.e. consumers’ confusion as to the identity of the company and the sign. It is enough to determine the potential possibility (likelihood) of such confusion, that in case of companies carrying identical or convergent activities, seems inevitable (see the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 30 March 2006 case file II GSK 3/06, published in electronic database LEX, under the no. 197239). While considering this case, the VAC should also pay attention to the unified position of both the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court expressed in the case law that in case of a collision between a company name and an applied and/or registered trade mark, the priority is given to the earlier right.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 146/13

May 7th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

On September 2007, Mr Jarosław Spychała applied to the Polish Patent Office for the right of protection for the word trade mark LEGO-LOGOS Z-330692 for services in Classes 35, 36 and 41. The PPO informed the applicant that his trade mark is similar to series of signs registered and owned by LEGO Juris A/S. Mr Spychała argued that the applied sign is the neologism derived from the ancient Greek language, and the term LEGO simply means “to read, think or speak”, and the term LOGOS means “learning” in a broad sense. In academic and education circles the term LEGO-LOGOS is associated with a particular form of education in philosophy and in building moral attitudes. The mark is directed at people who wish to explore philosophy and knowledge.

The Polish Patent Office refused to grant the right of protection because the applied trade mark was similar to the word trade mark LEGO R-72961 that was registered with an earlier priority for almost similar services. Mr Spychała filed a complaint against this decision and argued that the fact that compared signs share the same identical word element is not sufficient to refuse the protection for the later trade mark. The most important was the subject of the applied trade mark – a philosophical concept developed by the applicant and its popularization.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 July 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1201/11 dismissed the complaint. The Court noted that the PPO properly made the comparison of goods and services and did not erred in comparison of both signs. The VAC agreed with the PPO that the word element LEGO can also mean to fold or to assemble, and thus relate to specific products – blocks that are marked by registered trademarks of LEGO Juris A/S. The Court pointed out that the applicant while describing the project of philosophical education under the name LEGO-LOGOS has also showed that he drew the expression of LEGO from Danish language. Regardless of what language (Ancient Greek or Danish) the dominant element LEGO was taken, it is a word that does not exist in the Polish language. Its importance in ancient Greek or Danish is not understandable for the average Polish recipient of goods or services. It may be related to the characteristics of goods – just blocks marked with this sign. Mr Spychała filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 March 2014 case file II GSK 146/13 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 2005/12

April 8th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office dismissed the opposition filed by E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company against the decision on the grant of the right of protection for the word trade mark TEFAPAK R-199130 that was applied for the Polish company SINOGRAF S.A.

E.I. du Pont argued that the sign TEFAPAK is similar to its trade mark TEFLON R-49573 that was registered in Poland in 1968, and to its CTM TEFLON that was registered in 1996. According to the US company, the compared goods are identical or similar, and the signs share the same prefix TEF, which could lead to consumers’ confusion.

SINOGRAF S.A. requested the PPO to dismiss the opposition, and argued that the goods are directed to competent consumers of the proper level of technical knowledge, who have knowledge and experience in the field of materials, and thus much greater possibility of distinguishing different trade marks than the average recipient.

The PPO dismissed the opposition and found that the trade marks at issue are not similar, since they have significantly different overall impression both in the the visual and aural aspects. The PPO noted that there is no likelihood of confusion and it could not include the likelihood of association, because the goods are targeted to specialized recipients. E.I. du Pont filed a compliant against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 July 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 301/12 dismissed it. The Court held that the Polish Patent Office correctly established all circumstances of the case. The VAC agreed that the goods are identical or similar, however, the Court did not agree with the argument that the compared signs are similar to the extent that could lead to likelihood of confusion. In the opinion of the Court, the trade mark are not similar, so arguments about the use of someone else’s reputation and the reputation of the trade mark can not be justified. Dissimilar signs can not induce associations of customers, so there can be no conscious imitation and benefit from someone else’s reputation. E.I. du Pont filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Adminitrative Court in its judgment of 20 March 2014 case file II GSK 2005/12 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case C-98/13

March 22nd, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justice of the EU in its judgment of 6 February 2014 in Case C‑98/13 ruled that the Council Regulation (EC) No 1383/2003 of 22 July 2003 concerning customs action against goods suspected of infringing certain intellectual property rights and the measures to be taken against goods found to have infringed such rights must be interpreted as meaning that the holder of an intellectual property right over goods sold to a person residing in the territory of a Member State through an online sales website in a non-member country enjoys the protection afforded to that holder by that regulation at the time when those goods enter the territory of that Member State merely by virtue of the acquisition of those goods. It is not necessary, in addition, for the goods at issue to have been the subject, prior to the sale, of an offer for sale or advertising targeting consumers of that State.

Procedural law, case II GSK 248/14

February 26th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

On August 2011, the Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for a trade mark owned by a Polish entity. On 12 September 2012, the Austrian company and the Polish business filed a complaint against the decision of the PPO. The Austrian entrepreneur claimed that it is a legal successor in the case of the invalidated trade mark. As evidence, the company provided an agreement of transfer of trade mark rights.

In a letter of 6 November 2012, the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw called on the applicant, represented by the patent attorney, to submit a document setting out the authority to represent the applicant, i.e. the original or certified copy of an extract from the official register of companies, which would prove that a person who signed the PoA was a persons properly authorized to represent the applicant on the day of granting the power of attorney that has been attached to the complaint, together with a sworn translation into Polish, within thirty days under pain of dismissal of the action. The letter was delivered to the patent attorney on 12 November 2012. On 12 December 2012, the Court received a request for an extension of the deadline for filing the requested documents. The applicant argued that the person responsible in the applicant’s company for providing such documents was on leave in November 2012, and later, the document was sent by mail, however, it has not been delivered on time.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its order of 31 January 2013 case file VI SA/Wa 1810/12 rejected the complaint due to the failure to comply with the Court’s request of 6 November 2012. The Court noted that the deadline to correct formal deficiencies of a complaint is a statutory deadline. Statutory deadlines that are set for parties and participants in the proceedings cannot be extended or shortened. In addition, the VAC cited the order of the Supreme Administrative Court of 20 December 2006 case file I FSK 29/06, and noted that the applicant, while deciding to start its business in Poland, should properly protect its interests, by preparing documents that would authenticate PoAs granted to persons who represent the company, among others, in administrative proceedings. The Court also noted that 80 days have passed from the date of delivery of the letter to the attorney of the Austrian company, but the requested documents were not received by the Court.

In the letter of 20 March 2013, both applicants filed a request to restore the deadline in order to supplement formal deficiencies of the complaint. The request was based on the fact that the person authorized to issue and deliver of the document was long absent, and finally in December 2012, a copy of this document in German, was sent by mail. The whole delay was caused by the Christmas holidays, abroad stay, and his illness in January 2013. The application had attached a copy of the scanned document in German that was received via e-mail.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its order of 25 July 2013 case file VI SA/Wa 1810/12 refused to restore the deadline and ruled that the action in the administrative proceedings that was taken by the party after the expired deadline is deemed as ineffective, while, in the case where a party has failed to act without its fault, the court decides on the request to restore the deadline. The request should be submitted to the court in which the action was to be made ​​within seven days from the time of cessation of the cause of failure to comply with the deadline. The requesting party must substantiate circumstances indicating a lack of its fault in complying with the established deadline. The criterion of lack of fault, which is a prerequisite for the validity of the request to restore the deadline is based on the party’s fulfillment of an obligation to act in special care when making a procedural step. Both legal comentators and the case law of the Supreme Administrative Court states, that in assessing the occurrence of this evidence, the court should adopt an “objective measure of care” which may be required of each party who duly cares about their interests. The lack of fault can only be proved when the party could not remove the obstacle even with the greatest effort. The Court decided that the circumstances indicated by the applicant did not exclude the possibility to meet the deadline in order to fulfill formal deficiencies of the complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 19 February 2014 case file II GSK 248/14 dismissed the cassation complaint filed by both companies.

Abusive clauses in B2C IT contracts, decision no. RKT-38/2013

February 24th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

According to the provisions of Article 7 of the Act on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Liability for Damage Caused by a Dangerous Product – PRCLL – (in Polish: o ochronie niektórych praw konsumentów oraz o odpowiedzialności za szkodę wyrządzoną przez produkt niebezpieczny) of 2 March 2000, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw), No 22, item 271 with subsequent amendments, the consumer who concluded the so-called “distance contract” may withdraw from it without giving reasons, by way of an appropriate written statement, within the period of ten days from the conclusion of the contract. The “distance contract” or contracts concluded at a distance are defined as contracts concluded without simultaneous presence of both parties, in which one party is deemed as a consumer (a natural person not performing any business activities), by way of a use of means of communication at a distance, in particular order form without the address or addressed, serial letter, press advertising with a printed order form, catalogue, telephone, radio, television, automatic calling machine, videophone, videotext, electronic mail, facsimile machine, provided that the party to the contract with the consumer is the entrepreneur who organised in such a way its business activity.

The Polish Company Decoratum, owner of endo.pl website that sells children clothes, provided the TOS according to which a consumer willing to withdraw from a purchase, has had to return the purchased goods in order to make the withdrawal legally effective. However, such provisions are inconsistent with the PRCLL. The Act does not require the consumer to perform any additional actions, except filing a written statement (declaration of will to withdraw from a contract). The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection initiated proceedings against Decorum and found that the company did not provided its consumers proper written information that they have the right to return purchased products. The President in its decision of 21 November 2013 no. RKT-38/2013 ordered the Company to pay a fine in the amount of 15.084 PLN. The entrepreneur abandoned the use of the challenged practices so it was possible to decrease the financial penalty. The decision is final.

See also “Polish regulations on prohibited contractual provisions” and “Polish case law on abusive clauses in B2C IT and IP contracts“.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1542/12

February 17th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

On August 2008, The Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark TEFLEX Q R-211213 for goods in Class 9 such as optical apparatus and instruments, spectacle frames, sunglasses, eyeglasses, articles for the manufacture of spectacles, spectacle cases, chains for spectacles, sports eyeglasses, optical lenses, optical glasses, optical products, and services in Class 44 such as optical services, medical assistance, medical clinics, for the Polish company Krasnodębski i S-ka OPTIBLOK Spółka Jawna.

R-211213

Eschenbach Optik GmbH filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection. The German company argued that the trade mark TEFLEX Q is similar to its CTM t-flex no. 001821651 that was registered for goods in Class 9 such as spectacles and spectacle frames. Moreover, it pointed out that the questioned trade mark has been applied for registration in bad faith, and its registration and use may lead to the infringement of the applicant’s property rights and the unfounded use of the reputation of the t-flex designation. The fact that the registered sign is confusingly similar and resembles t-flex brand for the same narrow class of products was an argument for the bad faith. Such action indicated the intention to use consumers’ knowledge of products bearing t-flex sign. The brand t-flex is a fanciful designation and it was extremely unlikely for the OPTIBLOK to apply for registration of the sign that was very similar. It was merely a coincidence. The German company noted that it conducts its business in more than 80 countries, including Poland. From the beginning, the Company manufactured and sold of glasses and optical devices, and TITANflex technology is one of the most important of its products. The Polish company is a competitor on the local market. The registration and use of the trade mark TEFLEX Q infringes the Community trade mark t-flex and violates the property rights of Eschenbach Optik GmbH. The existence of similar signs can result in negative consequences for clients and lead them to confusion with regard to the origin of goods. The infringement of the reputation of the t-flex sign was based on its dilution. While referring to the similarity of the goods, the German company noted that the services of class 44 are complementary to the goods in Class 9.

CTM no. 001821651

The Polish company argued that it did not act in bad faith, because before filing the trade mark application, it used services of a patent and trade mark attorney and therefore acted negligently. At the time of registration there was no identical or similar signs to TEFLEX Q mark. Additionally, the brand t-flex does not have distinctive character, because there are tens of thousands of products with the same name in the world.

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for the trade mark TEFLEX Q R- 211213 because, it found that the characters are very similar. However, PPO did not agree with the argument that the application was made ​in bad faith. According to settled case-law and legal commentators, the mere fact that one party applies for a trade mark similar to a sign used by the other party is not deemed as acting in bad faith. The bad faith must be proved based on other factors than knowledge of market presence of similar brands and signs, such factors include for instance dishonesty in relation to the interests of another entrepreneur. The reputation of the trade mark t-flex was also not proved. The mere statement that the German company had its Polish subsidiary was not sufficient to prove that Eschenbach Optik GmbH was present on the Polish market before the questioned trade mark was applied.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 February 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1885/11 dismissed it and ruled that the PPO referred precisely and in detail to all facts and evidence of the case. OPTIBLOK filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 8 January 2014 case file II GSK 1542/12 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1500/12

January 31st, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

The German company Aldi Einkauf GmbH & Co. oHG filed before the Polish Patent Office a request to decide on the lapse of the right of protection for the word trade mark ELDENA R-111776 registered for Piotr Maciejec and Robert Hrebowicz for goods in Class 3 such as cosmetics, soaps, perfumery, deodorants, bath lotions. Aldi Einkauf interpreted its legal interest from the provisions of the Polish Constitution and the Polish Act on Freedom of Economic Activity (in Polish: ustawa o swobodzie dzialalnosci gospodarczej), and argued that the owners did not genuinely used their trade mark for 5 years. As the owner of the word CTM ELDENA No. 003430188, Aldi also noted that the owners of the Polish registration opposed the use of Aldi’s sign in Poland. Mr Maciejewiec and Hrebowicz questioned the legal interest of the applicant claiming that the Aldi has not registered its business in Poland. The company Aldi sp. z o.o. from Chorzów was established and registered in the National Court Register (register of entrepreneurs) on January 2006, and the first stores were opened on 25 February 2008. Therefore, assuming that the company Aldi sp. z o.o. is kind of a representative of the applicant on the Polish territory, the beginning date to establish legal interest of Aldi Einkauf should be the start date of sale of the applicant’s products, as it happened on 25 February 2008. Mr Maciejewiec and Mr Hrebowicz deemed Aldi’s request as premature due to the fact that in the period from 14 January 2005 to 25 February 2008, the disputed right of protection did not restrict the applicant’s activities in Poland, and they decided not to discuss with the arguments on the lack of genuine use, nor to provide any evidence in this matter. Aldi Einkauf argued that it received a cease and desist letter from the owners of the questioned trade mark, and provided evidence that the Polish company Aldi sp. z o.o. is a licensee of the CTM ELDENA.

The Polish Patent Office decided on the lapse of the right of protection. The PPO ruled that Aldi Einkauf proved its legal interest to request for the lapse of the right of protection for the mark at issue, because this sign was a restriction on conduct of Aldis’s business, in which the Company intended to use the designation ELDENA. Aldi submitted the advertising prospect of Aldi’s stores in Poland from 2008, with the photos of a lotion and soaps marked with ELDENA sign, as the evidence of an intention to use the CTM No. 003430188 on the Polish market. The PPO ruled that Mr Maciejewiec and Mr Hrebowicz did not provide any evidence on genuine use of their trade mark. They decided to file a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 April 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 201/12 dismissed it. The Court ruled that the “collision” of two trade mark rights was sufficient to establish the existence of a legal interest to file a request for the lapse of the right of protection. In its essence, the legal interest (locus standi) lies in overlapping of legal spheres of two or more entities, in such a way that the right held by one entity interferes with the full enjoyment of the rights held by another entity.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 8 January 2014 case file II GSK 1500/12 dismissed the cassation complaint filed by Mr Maciejewiec and Mr Hrebowicz.

Abusive clauses in B2C IT contracts, case XVII AmA 76/12

January 9th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

Eller Service s.c., the owner of hosting service available at pobieraczek.pl, was sending to its customers misleading information in order to intimidate them and persuade to pay for serviced they did not directly order. The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection decided that the clients of the website pobieraczek.pl received messages suggesting a criminal offence. Meanwhile, only a court issuing the judgment, may determine whether a crime was committed. An entrepreneur can not intimidate its consumers. Even the hypothetical suggestion that there will be filed a complaint or a private suit, is against the law. Entrepreneurs cannot intimidate consumers in order to force them to make their payments, and cannot lead consumers into legal confusion. The President of the OCCP ordered the company to pay a penalty of more than 215 thousand PLN. Eller Service filed a complaint against this decision.

The Court of Competition and Consumer Protection in its judgment of 13 December 2013 case file XVII AmA 76/12 upheld that decision. The judgment is not final.

See also “Polish regulations on prohibited contractual provisions” and “Polish case law on abusive clauses in B2C IT and IP contracts“.

Personal interest, case I ACa 841/2013

January 9th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

The “Nigdy Więcej” (Never Again) Association and the “Zielone Światło” (Green Light) Foundation organized a social action entitled “Nazism never again on Allegro”. It was a protest against a Polish auction website Allegro.pl which allowed to buy and sell different Nazi gadgets and memorabilia. The Foundation together with a writer, artist and social activist Jerzy Masłowski prepared an illustration with Allegro.pl logotype in which in which two L letters were changed and shaped as the SS symbol. This illustration was used on postcards that were handed out to different people during the street-action that happened near Metro Świętokrzyska in Warsaw on 21 March 2010.

Stop Allegro

On 20 April 2010, the Foundation received a cease and desist letter from QXL Poland – the owner of Allegro. The Company requested the removal from all public places of all publications, photographs, posters and billboards, and other materials that included the altered trade mark. QXL demanded destruction of all the above mentioned materials and asked the Foundation to publish an apology on its website, as well as in the pages of Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. The Foundation refused to comply.

Z-342240

QXL Poland sued the “Zielone Światło” foundation and Jerzy Masłowski for the infringement of personal rights. During the trial, the Foundation argued that it has conducted correspondence with Allego with regard to products with fascist symbols or products referring to fascist ideology, that were offered at different auctions. However, it has not brought the intended effect, because Allegro.pl did not remove these items from its website. For this reason, the Foundation organized the street action. The Foundation argued that from 8 June 2010, the provisions of Article 256 of the Criminal Code were amended.

Art. 256.
§ 1. Whoever publicly promotes a fascist or other totalitarian system of state or incites hatred based on national, ethnic, race or religious differences or for reason of lack of any religious denomination
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.

§ 22 The same punishment shall be imposed on anyone, who for the purpose of dissemination, produces, records or import, acquire, stores, possess, presents, transports or transfers a print, record or other item of the content specified in § 1 or being a carrier of the fascist, communist or other totalitarian symbolism..

§ 3 A crime is not committed by a perpetrator of a forbidden act specified in § 2, if he or she commits the said act in the course of artistic, educational, collectible or scientific activity.

The Foundation concluded that its action was a response to long-term omission of Allegro. The action was organized to draw the attention of relevant authorities and the public at auctions that poses a danger to others. It sought to protect an important public interest, and therefore was not unlawful. In addition, the Foundation argued that according to the legal doctrine the criticism aimed at improving the reality is not illegal, even if it is excessively expressive in description and in negative assessment, as well as it’s impolite way of expression and presentation of arguments, if it is justified by the importance of issues raised and the literary form that was used. Moreover, the scope of permissible criticism depends on the weight of social affairs, and in case of doubt, freedom of expression takes precedence, and in some cases even offensive criticism is acceptable. If the case requires so, the criticism might be very offensive, and it may even seek to destroy the enemy, for example, in the dispute against pedophilia or against the view that is glorifying Stalin. The Foundation argued also that a request for legal protection raised by Allegro cannot ban the Foundation and other individuals from expressing their critical opinions of the plaintiff’s conduct. Such behavior constitutes an abuse of the subjective right as decided by the Appeallate Court in Lódź in its judgment of 25 May 2006 case file I ACa 15/06, published in electronic database LEX, under the no. 512493.

On 9 November 20011, a lawyer representing the Foundation presented a legal opinion issued by Prof. Wojciech Sadurski. Prof. Sadurski wrote that there was no violation of personal interests. In the opinion of the author, the case brought by QXL Poland illustrates the conflict between two types of claims related to absolute rights protected by the law. The claims relating to freedom of expression, and intellectual property claims relating to the protection of trade marks owned by QXL Poland. Citing the case law of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, prof. Sadurski argued that freedom of speech is superior to other constitutional rights and freedoms. He noted that limiting the right to freedom of expression by issuing a ban on speech, would violate the essence of the constitutional right to freedom of speech. Prof. Sadurski cited Smith v Wal-Mart Stores, 537 F.Supp.2d 1302 (ND GA 2008), however he pointed out that the Foundation does not conduct any commercial activity, and the risk of consumers’ confusions is clearly excluded. Please bear in mind that such opinions are treated by the Courts as private documents, not as the expert witness evidence/testimony. The case is pending and the next hearing is scheduled on 6 February 2012.

QXL Poland filed also a request for preliminary injunction. The District Court in Warsaw in its order of 20 January 2011 case file XXIV C 1035/10 dismissed it during a closed-door court session (in camera). However, the Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its decision of 5 May 2011 case file I ACz 671/11 decided to secure the claim of QXL. The Court prohibited the Foundation and Jerzy Masłowski from transmitting and disseminating on their websites of any publications or materials containing the questioned trade mark.

The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 13 March 2013 case file XXIV C 1035/10 ruled that the “Zielone Światło” (Green Light) Foundation infringed personal rights of Allegro, such as reputation and fame. The Court decided that the demonstrations against the sale of Nazi memorabilia and interference with the logo of the portal were too excessive and bore the risk of linking the portal with Nazi organizations.

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 9 January 2014 case file I ACa 841/2013 dismissed Allegro’s claims. The Court noted that in this case there was a conflict of values, but also drew attention to the historical context of the sale of items referring to the Nazi ideology. The court held that undoubtedly there has been violation of the good name of the plaintiff – the name of the portal website, and in consequence, it could interfere with its business because some customers would not have positive opinions regarding the auction site. However, the rough means of expression that were undertaken by the Defendants, in order to remove the sale of a Nazi gadgets, excluded illegality. According to the Court this actions proved to be effective – have led to restrictions on the sale of Nazi’s memorabilia . What’s more important, the Court held that the Defendants acted to protect a legitimate public interest. The court ruled that artistic criticism of such business activities of an auction portal is not an unlawful action and deserves constitutional protection. The judgment is final.

Personal interests, case I CSK 128/13

January 4th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

Roman Giertych sued Ringer Axel Springer, the publisher of fakt.pl website, for the infringement of personal interests. Mr Giertych demanded that defamatory comments posted at fakt.pl should be removed by the publisher. He also seek for the compensation and the apology to be published on some websites.

Ringer Axel Springer argued that it is not responsible for the comments that appeared on its website based on the provisions afforded in the Polish Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means – PSEM – (in Polish: ustwa o świadczeniu usług droga elektroniczną), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 144, item. 1204 with subsequent amendments, and the TOS that excluded the liability of the publisher for vulgar or offensive comments.

The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 20 October 2011 case file III C 330/11 agreed that all these comments were defamatory, however, the Court ruled that there is a different legal status of the editorial part of the website that included newspaper articles, and another status has to be attributed to a part that included the users’ comments – i.e. an internet forum, even if these comments were posted under the article placed by the owner of a website/web hosting provider. Despite claiming the right to control the content of entries (comments) that were made ​​by website’s readers, in the light of the provisions of the PSEM, the publisher has no such obligation. The Court decided that the publisher can not be held responsible for offensive comments posted on its website, however it can be found responsible only in case it failed to remove such comments, after obtaining positive knowledge of the unlawful nature of such entries. It means that under the Polish law, the publisher is not liable for the infringement of personal rights, but only for a possible damage that is based on the general principles that are provided in the Polish Civil Code. Mr Giertych appealled.

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 11 October 2012 case file VI A Ca 2/12 made a clear distinction between the services provided by Ringer Axel Springer. The first one was a news service of a daily newspaper made available for free in the electronic form under the domain name fakt.pl, and the second was a free service of the internet forum. The provisions of the Polish Act of 26 January 1984 on Press law – APL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo prasowe), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 5, item 24, with subsequent amendments, should be applied to the first service, and the provisions of the PSEM to the second. The Court ruled that comments posted for free, by anonymous users of fakt.pl website under the article that was an online version of a paper edition, do not constitute press materials as defined in the Article 7(2)(i) of the APL. The lack of any influence from the editorial over anonymously published comments, not to mention any of their prior verification makes this kind of speech free of control and as such cannot be regarded as a press material. The Court disagreed with Mr Giertych that such comments should be treated as “letters sent to the editor” of a journal that is published electronically. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 28 September 2000 case file V KKN 171/98 ruled that letters to the editor are the press material if they were sent to the editor for publication, and the editor-in-chief is responsible for publication of press releases, however, the publication of the letter to the editor must be preceded by careful and accurate checking of the information contained in such a letter to the editor. The Court agreed that such comments could be deemed as letter to the editor according to the APL, but only, if they were published in the paper version of the magazine, therefore, the editor (editor-in-chief) or the publisher would have full control over the content of such comments/letters. Users of fakt.pl do not send their their opinions and comments to the editorial of fakt.pl for publication on a discussion forum that exists on that same website, but they decide themselves about such a publication. The editor-in-Chief cannot therefore be responsible for comments published by third parties, because he or she had no control over the content or the action. The Court also ruled that Mr Giertych drawn incorrect conclusions as to the Terms of Service of fakt.pl website, in which the editorial of fakt.pl allegedly reserved the right and at the same time undertook its control over the content posted on fakt.pl website, including comments, and the right to manage them, especially the right to decide which comment deserves publication and which does not. First, the Court found that Ringer Axel Springer has reserved only the right and not an obligation to manage of comments posted by users, secondly, this right was reserved in the TOS ​​not on behalf of the editorial of a journal that is published in electronic form under the domain name fakt.pl, but on behalf of the administrator of the IT system, thirdly, the reserved right applied not to decisions about publication of a particular comment on the website, but to decisions about its blocking, moderation or deletion. Therefore, the Court dismissed the appeal. Mr Giertych filed a cassation appeal.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 10 January 2014 case file I CSK 128/13 partially agreed with Mr Giertych and returned the case to the lower court for reconsideration. The SC held that if the comments were defamatory and included vulgar words, the IT system applied at fakt.pl should have automatically removed such comments, but it did not, therefore it must be presumed that the publisher of a website, could know about offensive comments. If there was such knowledge, then the publisher/editor is liable for the infringement of personal interests. The Supreme Court established the so-called presumption of facts based on the provisions of the Article 231 of the Civil Proceedings Code. The court may conclude and consider as established facts, that are relevant for the outcome of the case, if such a conclusion can be derived from other established facts (presumption of fact).

Regardless of the cassation complaint filed in this case, Mr Giertych filed a complaint before the Polish Constitutional Tribunal. Mr Giertych requested the Tribunal to decided whether Article 14 of the PSEM is consistent with the principle of the rule of law, the right to protect of private life, family, honor and good name.

Trade mark law, case XVI GCo 204/13

September 30th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

On Augut 2013, Polish telecom Polkomtel sp. z o.o. started an advertising campaign of its mobile Internet access services. In a short movie, a girl named Basia is starting new life by dumping her boyfriend and moving to a new flat with an Internet access based on LTE technology. She mentions that her boyfriend had Internet access provided by Telekomunikacja Polska S.A. under the brand name Neostrada. She is very happy about the changes. The ad ends with the statement that Internet provided by Plus (brand name of Polkomtel) is faster from Neostrada. This comparison is based on the ranking provided by SpeedTest.pl of July 2013.

On 9 September 2013, Telekomunikacja Polska requested the District Court in Warsaw to issue a preliminary injuntion against Polkomtel, in order to prohibit acts of unfair competition and trade mark infringement of the word trade mark NEOSTRADA R-182762. Telekomunikacja noted that Polkomtel is one its major competitors on the Polish telecommunication market. The Company argued that Polkomtel infringed its trade mark rights by taking unfair advantage of reputation and distinctive character of the NEOSTRADA brand, and the advertising movie was comparative advertising contrary to good practices, and as such, should be deemed as unfair competition.

The District Court in Warsaw in its order of 23 September 2013 case file XVI GCo 204/13 dismissed the request. The Court held that premises to secure the claims are based on substantiation of claims, i.e. on providing prima facie evidence of the infringement and legitimate interest in granting the order. According to the Court, Telekomunikacja did not provide evidence on reputation of its trade mark and Polkomtel did not infringe the right of protection for NEOSTRADA, because this sign was only used to specify the service to which it relates. The word was used as a name for a given service, not as a trade mark. The Court noted that advertising that allows to identify, directly or indirectly, the competitor or products or services offered by the competitor, described as “comparative advertising”, should be deemed the act of unfair competition if it is contrary to good practices. However, the short movie clip published by Polkomtel is not in any way contrary to such practices, because it is not misleading and it does not affect market decisions as to the purchase of goods or services. The Court agreed with the decision of the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection of 6 August 2009 case no. DDK 4/2009, according to which, advertising is deemed as misleading when a consumer gets false idea of ​​the goods or services, and misleading information influence the decision to purchase these products.

See also “Trade mark law, case XXII GWo 68/12“.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 270/12

September 24th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company INTERKOBO sp. z o.o., the owner of word trade mark MYBABY R-148924 registered for goods in Class 28 such as games, toys, sporting goods, requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate in part the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark MY SWEET BABY R-187751 registered for goods in Classes 12, 20, 25 and 28, and owned by PEXIM Artur Kamiński. INTERKOBO claimed high recognition of the MYBABY reputed trade mark among buyers of children’s toys and a high degree of similarity between the goods. The company noted that since 15 years it is one of the largest importers of toys in Poland. PEXIM argued that its trade mark is registered in class 28 for goods such as children’s toys – dolls, doll beds, cradles for dolls, doll furniture, doll clothing. PEXIM operates since 15 June 2001, and its activity is the manufacture of wicker and wood, which are exported. Wickerworks are made for young children. These are strollers, cribs and miniatures of these products as toys for children. The products are bearing a trade mark and a company name, therefore, the risk of confusion is excluded.

R-187751

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection in part of goods in Class 28. The PPO ruled that both trade marks are used to designate similar goods. The dominant element in both signs is the word baby, because it is a base or core to the other words, and in particular, their meanings so it shows that the these trade marks have a similar range of meaning, therefore there is a high risk of association by the public between the marks, and the likelihood that the consumer may be confused as to the origin of goods. PEXIM filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 29 September 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1407/11 dismissed it. The Court ruled that the PPO properly carried out the proceedings and correctly interpreted the law. According to the Court there was homogenity of goods in Class 28, and even the identity of the goods, because the Nice Classification was subject to change over the years, but the changes did not have any historically impact on the signs and the goods offered. The difference of one word that occured in the compared signs was so unimportant that it did not make them different enough to rule out the risk of confusion in the ordinary course of trade. PEXIM filed a cassation complaint, and additionally, a motion to stay the execution of the decision. The Company argued that the contested decision involves very high cost and its implementation would include a very serious consequences for its economic activity, and thus would cause irreparable consequences and expose the company to serious losses.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 27 July 2013 case file II GSK 270/12 dismissed the motion. The SAC ruled that PEXIM, despite its obligation to submit such evidence, has not shown the existence of statutory grounds that would allow to stay the execution of the contested decision. According to the Court, PEXIM only claimed very serious and irreparable consequences and big losses. Meanwhile, while citing in support of the motion specified circumstances, the Company should be able to substantiate their occurrence, thus going beyond the vague and unsubstantiated claims. By pointing to difficulties to reverse the effects of the contested decision, PEXIM did not substantiate the existence of conditions justifying the stay of execution. Therefore, the Court had no chances for the objective assessment. The arguments that the stay of execution of the decision does not endanger the health or human life, and it is not associated with exposure to the national economy from heavy losses, as well as it does not affect the party’s interest, were during the assessment of the motion irrelevant, since it is not a ground for staying the execution that is provided for in the Polish Law on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts. The SAC held that a reference to likely allegations that were raised in the cassation complaint cannot determine the stay, since at this stage it would be pointless and premature. The Court also noted that the order to stay the execution can be amended or repealed at any time if circumstances of the case change. The party seeking for the amendment or repeal of a decision or action, should demonstrate such a change of circumstances that would make its request justifiable and well-founded.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 730/12

September 17th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

On May 2008, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark COOL RIVER R-205208 in Class 3. This sign was applied for by the Polish company Firma Handlowa A & S PARFUME FACTORY Marek Asenkowicz from Katowice.

ZINO DAVIDOFF SA filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection. DAVIDOFF argued that COOL RIVER is similar to its trade marks such as DAVIDOFF COOL WATER R-71968, COOL DIVE IR-0850699, Cool Water IR-0615313. All these signs are intended to indicate the same goods as the questioned trade mark. DAVIDOFF also claimed that its trade mark COOL WATER IR-0812386 is reputed one. Moreover, the trade mark COOL RIVER has been applied for in bad faith, because A & S PARFUME FACTORY knew about the existence of earlier marks owned by DAVIDOFF. The sale by A & S of perfumes in almost identical packagings, as packagings used by DAVIDOFF was the irrefutable evidence of the use of reputation of DAVIDOFF’s trade marks and the application of COOL RIVER in bad faith.

IR-0615313

The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office dismissed the request in its decision of 7 March 2011 case Sp. 483/09. While considering the visual and aural similarity of trade marks Cool Water, Davidoff Cool Water and Davidoff Cool Water Wave in relation to the questioned trade mark COOL RIVER, the PPO noted that all the words used in these trade mark have the origin of the English language. However, regardless of whether they will be pronounced in accordance with the spellings of the Polish language or in English, they are different in the visual and aural aspects due to the different verbal elements – WATER and RIVER. Furthermore, the PPO ruled that the word COOL, being the same element in all signs, is a common and popular word associated with something cold. The word WATER differs from RIVER in the visual aspect, and their pronunciation is different. The PPO also found that there were no circumstances indicating that A & S applied for its trade mark in bad faith. The burden of proving bad faith was on DAVIDOFF. At the same time, the overall assessment of the circumstances surrounding the consciousness of A & S at the date of trade mark application will decide on its bad faith. In the opinion of the PPO, such circumstances did not occur. Evidence such as the flyer entitled “list of alternative scents”, similar perfume packagings used by A & S as well as printouts from the website showing COOL WATER and COOL RIVER perfumes, were not sufficent to prove bad faith. Davidoff filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 January 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 2051/11 dismissed it. The Court agreed with the PPO that the trade marks are not similar. The VAC also held that the understanding of bad faith should be based on the provisions of the Polish Industrial Property Law. Bad faith occurs if someone applies for the trade mark in order to block other application or in order to block the use of the sign by other entity who uses this trade mark in the market or to take over the company’s market position. Bad faith also exists when someone is filing for a trade mark for speculative purposes, and there was no intent to use the applied sign, and in order to get benefits from the entity that owns such trade mark. Bad faith trade mark application happens when the applicant without due care or being aware, applies for a sign in violation of the rights of another person, or when the applied trade mark is contrary to morality or fair trade practices.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 September 2013 case file II GSK 730/12 dismissed the cassation complaint filed by ZINO DAVIDOFF SA.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 912/12

September 13th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

Zino Davidoff SA filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Polish Patent Office on the grant of the right of protection for the word trade mark SILVER SHOW R-199238 applied for by Firma Handlowa A&S PARFUME FACTORY Marek Asenkowicz and registered for goods in Class 3 such as perfumery. Zino Davidoff SA argued that the trade mark in question is similar to its series of International registrations such as SILVER-SHADOW IR-0660174, SILVER SHADOW IR-0853401 and SILVER SHADOW IR-0879527. The compared signs are similar in verbal, aural and semantic aspects.

The PPO found that the compared signs are used to designate the goods of the same type, i.e. perfumes and various cosmetics, however the similarity of goods was not disputed by the parties. The PPO decided that there are no similarities between trade marks that would justify the risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods. The PPO ruled that a leaflet called “alternative scents” and the fact that perfume packaging produced by A&S PARFUME FACTORY were alike to the other well-known brands, were not sufficient evidence to decide on bad faith application. Zino Davidoff SA filed a complaint against this decision. The Company noted inter alia that the PPO wrongly justified its decision by citing a different trade mark owned by Firma Handlowa A&S PARFUME FACTORY Marek Asenkowicz.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 18 January 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1850/11 dismissed the complaint. The VAC fully agreed with the PPO’s findings. The Court acknowledged that the questioned decision included mistakes with regard to trade marks and their registration numbers which could point to automatic preparation of the decision’s text, however, such errors had no significant impact on the outcome of the case. Zino Davidoff SA filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 September 2013 case file II GSK 912/12 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case XXII GWwp 19/10

September 4th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

ZIMBO Fleisch- und Wurstwaren GmbH & Co. KG sued Wanda Szczupak for the infringement of Community Designs nos. 000729694-0001, 000729694-0002, 000729694-0008 and 000729694-0009, and the CTM ZIMBO no. 006462592. ZIMBO argued that Mrs. Szczupak distributes her products in packagings similar to ZIMBO’s. This similarity is reflected in the choice of colors, arrangement of individual elements of the package, with the dominant red color in the upper part in the white frame surrounding the window showing the product, with figurative floral patterns in green. ZIMBO argued that such packaging did not create a different overall impression on the informed user, and the identity of the goods and the similarity of Viando and ZIMBO trade marks create the likelihood of confusion as to the origin of the products offered by the parties. ZIMBO provided some evidence on consumer confusion. Mrs. Szczupak requested dismissal of the action and reimbursement of costs of legal representation. She alleged lack of standing, and explained that on 31 VII 2010, she sold the entire enterprise to the company Zakłady Mięsne “VIANDO”, all together with the right of protection for a trade mark Viando R-188683 that was granted with priority of 8 April 2004.

R-188683

The Court for the Community Trade Marks and Community Designs (in Polish: Sąd Okręgowy w Warszawie Wydział XXII Sąd Wspólnotowych Znaków Towarowych i Wzorów Przemysłowych) in its judgment of 4 April 2011 case file XXII GWwp 19/10 dismissed the complaint. The Court agreed with Mrs. Szczupak and ruled that the word-figurative trade marks are not identical or even similar in the visual, phonetic and conceptual aspects. Moreover, VIANDO’s packaging and CDRs nos. 000729694-0008 and 000729694-0009 fundamentally differ in number of elements, and they produce on the informed user (consumer of meats, employee of shops with meat products) different overall impression.

Personal interests, case I C 327/11

August 30th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The case concerned class’ photos of 32 children. Such photos were placed on a social networking site naszaklasa.pl. The black and white pictures were taken between the years 1972-1980, in a public space, i.e. a public education institution. Most of them were photos of the class as a whole, not each individual student. One person who was shown in this picture demanded its removal. The administrator of a website refused. The case went through all stages of administrative proceedings, and the person concerned decided to initiate a civil suit. The plaintiff demanded an apology in the media, 20.000 PLN compensation and the payment of 50.000 PLN for a social purpose, from the owner of naszaklasa.pl

The District Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 10 May 2013 case file I C 327/11 dismissed the suit. The Court ruled that the person seeking for the protection of his or her image has to prove that such image was published and is recognizable. It results from identification of information features of an image. Moreover, the image should be recognized not only by the person concerned, but also by third parties. The image of the plaintiff contained in the pictures was not fully recognized even his colleagues from the former primary school, as evidenced by comments on the website. Publishing of any informational or shooting materials on the website only provides the opportunity to look at such meterial by others, but this does not mean automatically that such information reached to an unlimited number of people, and consequently, that information was widespread. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 10 February 2010 case file V CSK 269/09 (published in: OSNC 2010/9/127) held data published on the web are not deemed as well-known/widespread data. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 27 February 2003 case file IV CKN 1819/00 (published in: OSP 2004/6/75) held that the infringement of the image of the individual occurs when it was published without the consent of the person in the photograph and while it allows for the identification of that person.

Personal data protection, I CSK 190/12

August 29th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 8 November 2012 case file I CSK 190/12 held that without a doubt, the first name and surname constitute personal data of the individual, therefore, the important question arose, whether they belong to the scope of the individual’s privacy as understood in the provisions of Article 5(2) of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments.

Article 5. 1. The right to public information is subject to limitation to the extent and on the principles defined in the provisions on the protection of confidential information and on the protection of other secrets being statutorily protected.
2. The right to public information is subject to limitation in relation to privacy of a natural person or the secret of an entrepreneur. The limitation does not relate to the information on persons performing public functions, being connected with performing these functions, including the conditions of entrusting and performing these functions and in the event when a natural person or entrepreneur resigns from the right to which he was entitled to.

Previous opinions of the Supreme Court on the relationship between the right to protect of personal data and the right to privacy are not clear. They were formulated mainly from the point of view of the protection of personal interests as defined in Articles 23 and 24 of the Civil Code – CC – (in Polish: Kodeks Cywilny) of 23 April 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 16, item 93, with subsequent amendments.

Article 23
The personal interests of a human being, in particular to health, dignity, freedom, freedom of conscience, surname or pseudonym, image, secrecy of correspondence, inviolability of home, and scientific, artistic, inventor’s and rationalizing achievements, shall be protected by civil law independent of protection envisaged in other provisions.

Article 24
§ 1 The person whose personal rights are threatened by someone else’s action, may require the desist of that action, unless it is not illegal. In the event of the infringement one may also require, the person who committed the violation, to fulfill the actions necessary to remove its effects, in particular, to make a statement of the relevant content and appropriate format. According to the conditions laid down in the Code one may also require monetary compensation or payment of an appropriate amount of money for a social purpose indicated.
§ 2 If as the result of a breach of personal rights one has suffered pecuniary prejudice, the aggrieved person may claim compensation based on general principles.
§ 3 The above shall not prejudice the entitlements provided by other regulations, in particular in copyright law and the patent (invention) law.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 15 February 2008 case file I CSK 358/07 (published in OSNC 2009, no. 4, item 63) ruled that legal commentators and case law of the Constitutional Court agree that the right to protect of personal data is derived directly from personal rights such as human dignity and the right to privacy, citing judgments of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal of 19 February 2002 case file U 3/01 (published in OTK-A 2002, no. 1, item 3) and of 12 November 2002 case file SK 40/01 (published in OTK-A 2002, no. 6, item 81). Nowadays, the collection and processing of the personal data is technically relatively simple, therefore it is necessary to protect a person against uncontrolled collection and use of his or her personal data, often without the contribution or even awareness of the person concerned. For these reasons, the legislator specifically regulated the issues of data collection, processing, use and protection of personal data in the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 29 October 1997, No. 133, item 883, unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments. While interpreting its provisions, one cannot ignore the Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and its preamble that explicitly states that data-processing systems are designed to serve man, whereas they must, whatever the nationality or residence of natural persons, respect their fundamental rights and freedoms, notably the right to privacy. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 28 April 2004 III CK 442/02 (unpublished) stressed that when assessing whether there has been the breach of privacy protected by the law, this concept cannot be absolutized due to the degree of its generality, it requires interpretation, taking into account the specific circumstances of the situation. Events and circumstances that form the personal and family life can be classified as private sphere of life. The special nature of this area of man’s life justify the grant of its strong legal protection. However, this does not mean that any reference to a particular person was information in the field of his or her personal life. The regime of protection of privacy and personal data protection regime are therefore independent. Undoubtedly, when it comes to the relationships and the impact of these regimes, because in certain situations, the actual processing of personal data may result in a violation of personal interests in the form of the right to privacy, or protection of the right to privacy will required the objection to the use of personal data. It is difficult to unequivocally determine whether the disclosure of the first name and the surname of an individual by a local government violates his or her right to privacy. This problem can be resolved only while assessing particular circumstances of each case. In this case, the city was requested to disclose the names of individuals with whom it has entered into a contract of mandate and contract of work. One of these contracts concerned preparation and delivery of a lecture. It was difficult for the Court to accept that anonymization and hiding of the surname of a person giving such a lecture would have any meaning. Other agreements related to use of the electronic system of sociological analysis and organization of the conference. They were entered by specific individuals with a public body, which was the city. These people had to reckon with the fact that their personal data will not remain anonymous. For a person requesting access to public information related contracts entered by a local authority, names of parties to such agreements are often more important than the content, and it is understandable for obvious reasons. It would be difficult in this case to defend the view that the disclosure of names of people in the present context would be deemed as a limitation on the exercise of constitutional freedoms and rights of these persons. It had therefore to be assumed, that the disclosure of the names of persons entering civil contracts with a local authority does not affect the right to privacy of those persons referred to in Article 5(2) of the API.

Personal data protection, case I OSK 1666/12

August 26th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company Promedica Care Sp. z o.o requested the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO) to issue a decision that would order Agora S.A., the owner of gazeta.pl website, to disclose IP addresses of users who posted negative comments regarding Promedica24.pl website. The GIODO decided that Agora S.A. should disclose requested information, although, it also noticed that the provisions of Article 29 of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments, were repealed as of 7 March 2011.

1. The processing of data is permitted only if:
1) the data subject has given his/her consent, unless the processing consists in erasure of personal data,
2) processing is necessary for the purpose of exercise of rights and duties resulting from a legal provision,
3) processing is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is a party or in order to take steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into a contract,
4) processing is necessary for the performance of tasks provided for by law and carried out in the public interest,
5) processing is necessary for the purpose of the legitimate interests pursued by the controllers or data recipients, provided that the processing does not violate the rights and freedoms of the data subject.

However, these regulations should be still applied to proceedings initiated before the entry into force of the Act that repealed the above mentioned provisions, and there was no obstacle to justify the refusal to provide the requested data according to the provisions of Article 30 of the PPD.

Article 30
The controller shall refuse the access to the personal data of the filing system to subjects and persons other than those referred to in Article 29 paragraph 1, if it would:
1) result in the disclosure of the information constituting a state secrecy,
2) pose a threat to national defence or security of the state, human life and health, or security and public order,
3) pose a threat to fundamental economic or financial interests of the state,
4) result in a substantial breach of personal interests of the data subjects or other persons.

The General Inspector did not agree with Agora S.A. that providing the requested data would infringe personal interests of the users of gazeta.pl website and its fora. The violation was only hypothetical, and was not supported by proper evidence. Agora S.A. argued that there are no legal instruments that would allow for monitoring the use of disclosed data, and this may lead to their use not only inconsistent with the purpose for which they were disclosed, but even to such use that is contrary to law. The GIODO noted that the absence of such instruments is not synonymous with the use of disclosed data contrary to the purpose for which it was made available. At the moment such data was disclosed, the Company will become the controller (administrator) as defined in the Article 7(4) of the PPD.

Article 7
Whenever in this Act a reference is made to any of the following, it shall mean:
4) controller – shall mean a body, an organisational unit, an establishment or a person referred to in Article 3, who decides on the purposes and means of the processing of personal data.

According to the GIODO, the processing of these data will be subject to the regulations provided in the provisions of the PPD, in particular the obligation not to undergo further processing of the data collected that would not be in accordance with the objectives of the disclosure (so-called principle of expediency/purposefulness), and the control of data processing in compliance with the provisions on personal data protection will be still the competence of the Inspector General. Agora S.A. argued that the provisions of Article 18 of the Polish Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means – PSEM – (in Polish: ustwa o świadczeniu usług droga elektroniczną), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 144, item. 1204 with subsequent amendments, should be applied in its case, not the provisions of the PPD.

Article 18
1. The service provider may process the following personal data of the service recipient necessary for entering in, designing contents, amending or terminating legal relationship between them:
1) service recipient’s surname and names ,
2) his/her PESEL number (Personal Identification Number),
3) his/her permanent residence address,
4) his/her address for correspondence, if it is different than the address referred to in point 3,
5) data used for verifying the service recipient’s electronic signature ,
6) service recipient’s electronic addresses .
2. In order to effect contracts or other legal activity having been concluded with a service recipient, a service provider may process other data necessary due to nature (characteristics) of the service provided or way of its billing.
3. The service provider distinguishes and marks those data from among the data referred to in paragraph 2, as such being necessary for providing services by electronic means in accordance with art. 22 paragraph 1.
4. The service provider may process, upon consent of s service recipient and for the purposes set forth in art. 19 paragraph 2 point 2, other data concerning the service recipient, which are not necessary for providing service by electronic means.
5. The service provider may process the following data describing the way of using the service provided by electronic means by a service recipient (traffic data):
1) denotations identifying the service recipient assigned on the basis of the data referred to in paragraph 1,
2) denotations identifying the telecommunication network terminal or a teleinformation system, which have been used by a service recipient,
3) information about commencement, termination and a range of every usage of the service provided by electronic means,
4) information about using of the service provided by electronic means by a service recipient.
6. The service provider provides the information on data referred to in paragraphs 1 – 5 to the state authorities for the needs of legal proceedings carried on by them.

The provider is therefore obliged to provide information on all categories of data listed in Article 18(1-5) of the PSEM, to the State authorities for the purpose of the proceedings conducted by them. The Inspector General noted that the disclosed information should also be understood as such data. The GIODO said that the provision of Article 18(6) of the PSEM are constructed in general terms and do not indicate either the types of bodies that may request such information, or the types of proceedings: criminal, civil, administrative or enforcement. The Inspector General noted that the provision of Article 18(6) of the PSEM only requires the provider to disclose information to State bodies, and it should not be interpreted broadly as the legal norm that is prohibiting the disclosure of such information to other entities. The GIODO decided that if the legislature had the intention to limit the disclosure of the information referred to in Article 18(1-5) of the PSEM, only for the bodies referred to in Article18(6) of the Act, it would explicitly formulate this provision, for example, by using the phrase “only”, which is a legislative method of defining the closed circle of entities, as it was provided in other regulations, for instance in the Article 66g and Article 66j § 4 of the Polish Act of 17 June 1966 on Administrative Enforcement Proceedings, or in the Article 72(1) of the Polish Act 5 August 2010 on Protection of Classified Information and in Article 105(1) of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 Banking Law. The Inspector General noted that the legislature did not use the phrase “only” in the provisions of Article 218 of the Criminal Proceedings Code – CRPC – (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Karnego) of 6 June 1997, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 89, item 555, with subsequent amendments, in relation to an obligation to disclose, at the request contained in the order, to the court or the prosecutor any mail and packages and the data referred to in Article 180c and 180d of the Polish Act of 16 July 2000 on Telecommunications Law – TLA – (in Polish: Prawo telekomunikacyjne), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 171, item 1800 with subsequent amendments.

Article 180c
1. The obligation referred to in Article 180a (1) shall cover the data necessary to:
1) trace the network termination point, telecommunications terminal equipment, an end user:
a) originating the call,
b) called;
2) identify:
a) the date and time of a call and its duration,
b) the type of a call,
c) location of telecommunications terminal equipment.
2. The minister competent for communications in agreement with the minister competent for internal affairs, having regard to the type of telecommunications activities performed by operators of a public telecommunications network or providers of publicly available telecommunications services, data specified in paragraph 1, costs of data collection and retention as well as the need to avoid multiple retention and storage of the same data, shall specify, by means of an ordinance:
1) a detailed list of data referred to in paragraph 1;
2) types of public telecommunications network operators or providers of publicly available telecommunications services obliged to retain and store the data.

Article 180d
Telecommunications undertakings shall be obliged to provide conditions for access and retention as well as to make available at their own cost the data referred to in Article 159 (1) (1) and (3) to (5), in Article 161 and in Article 179 (9) related to the provided telecommunications service and processed by them to authorized entities, to the court and to the prosecutor, under the terms and observing the procedures specified in separate provisions.

The Inspector General stressed that the legislature has indicated that only the court or the prosecutor is allowed to open the correspondence, mail and data, or order for their opening.

Article 218
§ 1. Offices, institutions and entities operating in post and telecommunications fields, customs houses, and transportation institutions and companies, shall be obligated to surrender to the court or state prosecutor upon demand included in their order, any correspondence or transmissions significant to the pending proceedings. Only the court and a state prosecutor shall be entitled to inspect them or to order their inspection.

The Inspector General also stressed that the above-cited provisions of the CRPC should not be applied in this case, because Promedica Care Sp. z o.o is not the authority conducting the proceedings in a criminal case, and the disclosed personal data will be used by it to initiate civil, not criminal proceedings. The GIODO indicated that Promedica may follow the procedure provided for in Article 29 of the PPD, and civil proceedings under the Civil Proceedings Code – CPC (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Cywilnego) of 17 November 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 43, item 296, with subsequent amendments, regardless of actions taken under the criminal proceedings. Agora S.A. filed a complaint.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 8 March 2012 II SA/Wa 2821/11 repealed the contested decision, and held that according to the provisions of Article 18(6) of the PSEM, the only one empowered to obtain data collected by the service provider within the meaning of that Act, are the State bodies. The PSEM does not contain any other provision, which serve as the basis for disclosure of data to the entities other than state authorities. The court stated that if the legislature’s intention was to give permission to obtain operational data to entities other than state authorities, it would have included a clear regulation providing for such permission in the PSEM. Data protection is a general rule. The service provider may process personal and operational data only in the extent and on terms defined in the PSEM. Only in the absence of regulations provided in the PSEM such processing may be based on an appropriate application of the PPD. The disclosure of data to third parties – such as Promedica Care – is breaking of that protection and as an exception to the rule cannot be interpreted broadly. GIODO filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 21 August 2013 case file I OSK 1666/12 dismissed it. The SAC held that any company or individual has the right to request ISPs to disclose e-mail addresses and IP addresses that are associated with the offensive entries.

See also “Polish regulations on personal data protection“, “Polish case law on personal data protection

Trade mark law, case II GSK 623/12

August 25th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

On February 2009, the Polish company MIS S.A. applied to the Polish Patent Office for the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark mis Polecany Lider Innowacyjności Z-351511 for goods in Class 9. The PPO refused, becuase it found similarity with the CTM MIS no. 002167674, registered with the earlier priority for goods in Class 9 and 42 and owned by MIS GmbH. MIS S.A. requested for the re-examination of the matter. The Company argued that the abbreviation MIS stands for management information systems and it lacks distinctive characteristics, because this term is functioning for many years in the textbooks of economics, management and information technology. The company indicated also that the proprietor of the earlier Community trade mark does not use it in business and is not interested in renewal of the protection of its trade mark, because, for several years, the successor of the German company did not file a formal request to transfer the exclusive rights to the new owner. The PPO refused to grant the right of protection, and MIS S.A. filed a complaint against this decision.

Z-351511

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 29 september 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1257/11 dismissed it. The Court agreed that there exists similarity of signs and goods and services. Moreover, the Court stated that along with granting the right of protection for a trade mark, the exclusive subjective right is also created, this right is effective erga omnes – against all. So it’s important to separate ranges indicated in exclusive spheres of rights, and strive to avoid a situation where this could lead to overlapping powers. The property right to the trade mark is a transferable right, therefore, the sphere of exclusivity incorporated in the sign cannot be related to the business profile of the entrepreneur, because it involves the variability of the indicated areas of exclusivity and it is impossible to determine it in the course of trade, as well as in the examination proceedings conducted before the Polish Patent Office.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 13 August 2013 case file II GSK 623/12 dismissed the cassation complaint filed by MIS S.A.

Access to public information, case II SAB/Wa 10/13

August 8th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

A Polish company requested the Ministry of Interior to disclose public information in the form of source code of software that is used by the Ministry in performing public tasks related to Voivodeships’ databases of citizens residence. The source code of a computer application was written by employees of the Ministry as part of their employment contracts. The Ministry did not answer the request and the Company filed a complaint on failure to act.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 24 April 2013 case file II SAB/Wa 10/13 dismissed it. The Court ruled that according to the provisions of Article 1(1) of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments, each information on public matters constitutes public information in the understanding of the API and is subject to being made available on the basis of principles and under the provisions defined in this Act. The definition of “public information” is widely criticized for defining ignotum per ignotum. However, Article 6(1) of the API helps to clarify this problem.

Article 6. 1. The following information is subject to being made available, in particular on:
1) internal and foreign policy, including:
a) intentions of legislative and executive authorities,
b) drafts on normative acts,
c) programmes on realisation of public tasks, method of their realisation, performance and consequences of the realisation of these tasks,
2) entities, defined in Article 4, it. 1, including:
a) legal status or legal form,
b) organisation,
c) subject of activity and competencies,
d) bodies and persons performing functions therein and competencies,
e) property structure of entities, defined in Article 4, it. 1, points 3-5,
f) property they dispose of,
3) principles of functioning of entities, defined in Article 4, it. 1, including:
a) mode of conduct of public authorities and their organisational units,
b) mode of conduct of state legal persons and legal persons of local authorities in the area of performing public tasks and their activity within the frames of budget and non-budget economy,
c) methods of passing private-public acts,
d) methods of accepting and settling matters,
e) state of accepted cases, order of their settling or resolving,
f) conducted registers, books and archives and on methods and principles of making data there contained available,
4) public data, including:
a) contents and form of official documents, in particular:
– contents of administrative acts and other resolutions,
– documentation on the control and its effects as well as presentations, opinions, conclusions and statements of the entities having conducted the control,
b) opinion on public issues made by the bodies of public authority and by the public officers in the understanding of the provisions of the Penal Code,
c) contents of other presentations and assessments made by the bodies of public authority,
d) information on the condition of the state, local authorities and their organisational units,
5) public property, including:
a) property of the State Treasury and state legal persons,
b) other property rights to which the state and its debts are entitled to,
c) property of the units of local authority and professional and economic local authorities as well as property of legal persons of local authorities and the ill persons’ offices,
d) property of the entities, defined in Article 4, it. 1, point 5, coming from disposing of the property, defined in c. a) – c) as well as the profits from this property and its encumbrances,
e) incomes and losses of the commercial companies in which the entities, defined in c. a) – c) hold the dominant position in the understanding of the provisions of the Commercial Companies Code and disposal of this income and the method of covering losses,
f) public debt,
g) public assistance,
h) public burden.
2. The official document in the understanding of this Act is the text of declaration of will or knowledge, preserved and signed in any form by the public officer in the understanding of the provisions of the Penal Code within the frames of its competencies, directed to another entity or filed to the acts.

The Court ruled that with regard to the types of information listed in the above mentioned provision it should be emphasized, referring to definition of public information as any information about public affairs, that public information is such information that carries a message about public affairs. Bearing that in mind, the Court noted that the source code is a series of instructions and statements written in an understandable human programming language that describes the operations that should be performed by a computer, which is a result of the work of developers. The Court ruled that that the source code does not contain any message on public matters, and is only a tool used in computer programs. The fact that certain computer programs are used by public authorities to carry out public functions, does not prejudge that their source code is public information. According to established case law of administrative courts and legal commentators, disclosure of public information is made in the form of material and technical activities, and only the refusal to disclose public information and discontinuance of the proceedings is made according to the provisions of Article 16 (1) of the API, in the form of an administrative decision. However, in cases where the requested information is not deemed as public information, it is sufficient to inform the requesting party of this fact. And in any case such situation cannot be deemed as inactivity of the requested body. According to the Court, the requested information did not met the scope defined in the API.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 2323/11

July 30th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

CARTIER International AG requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for the word trade mark CHATIER ROSS R-190192 registered for Firma Handlowa A & S PARFUME FACTORY Marek Asenkowicz, for goods in Class 03 such as perfumes products, toilet water, lavender water, colognes, deodorants for personal use. CARTIER claimed that the contested registration infringes on its company name and the word-figurative trade mark CARTIER R-59579. CHATIER ROSS is detrimental to the reputation of CARTIER’s signs and leads to a weakening of their attractiveness and may cause the loss of trust among buyers of CARTIER’s products.

R-59579

A & S argued that trade marks in this case are not similar both visually and semantically, because the word “chatier” in French means “smooth/polished” and the word “Cartier” indicates the manufacturer. The Polish company cited the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 22 October 2004 case file GSK 811/04 concerning the similarity of the trade marks WELT and WEST IR-621660. A & S also noted that the documents submitted by CARTIER do not prove the reputation of the sign “Cartier”, and pointed to the differences in price of goods bearing both trade marks.

The Polish Patent Office found similarity both of goods and signs, and invalidated the contested registration. While analyzing the evidence on the reputation of the sign “Cartier”, the PPO took into account press articles on the position of the brand in the Polish market and the perception of the consumers. It was irrelevant that the parties use their trade marks to designate goods that differ significantly in price. The PPO ruled that the price of such goods may vary depending on the business strategy of the owner. A & S filed a complaint against such decision. It was dismissed by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 6 July 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 867/11. A & S filed a cassation complaint, but the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 7 March 2013 case file II GSK 2323/11 dismissed it.

CARTIER International AG requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for the word trade mark CHATIER COOL MEN R-199458, and the PPO followed the request. A & S complaint was dismissed by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 October 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 866/11, and the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 23 April 2013 case file II GSK 191/12 dismissed the cassation. The same outcome was in case of the invalidation of the right of protection of the word trade mark CHATIER PURL R-199457 that was owned by the A & S. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 6 September 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 865/11 dismissed the complaint against the decision of the PPO, and the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 23 April 2013 case file II GSK 97/12 dismissed the cassation.

Personal data protection, case II SA/Wa 152/13

July 29th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

Jerzy S. requested the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO) to issue a decision that would order Agora S.A., the owner of gazeta.pl website, to disclose IP addresses of a user, who under the nickname Marco wrote negative and defamatory comments regarding a sport article, that Jerzy S. published on gazeta.pl. This way Jerzy S. wanted to know real the name of Marco, in order to sue him or her for the infringement of personal rights based on the provisions of the Polish Civil Code. Jerze S. requested Agora to disclose such information, but the Company refused and cited provisions of Article 18(6) of the Polish Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means – PSEM – (in Polish: ustwa o świadczeniu usług droga elektroniczną), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 144, item. 1204 with subsequent amendments.

Article 18
1. The service provider may process the following personal data of the service recipient necessary for entering in, designing contents, amending or terminating legal relationship between them:
1) service recipient’s surname and names ,
2) his/her PESEL number (Personal Identification Number),
3) his/her permanent residence address,
4) his/her address for correspondence, if it is different than the address referred to in point 3,
5) data used for verifying the service recipient’s electronic signature,
6) service recipient’s electronic addresses .
2. In order to effect contracts or other legal activity having been concluded with a service recipient, a service provider may process other data necessary due to nature (characteristics) of the service provided or way of its billing.
3. The service provider distinguishes and marks those data from among the data referred to in paragraph 2, as such being necessary for providing services by electronic means in accordance with art. 22 paragraph 1.
4. The service provider may process, upon consent of s service recipient and for the purposes set forth in art. 19 paragraph 2 point 2, other data concerning the service recipient, which are not necessary for providing service by electronic means.
5. The service provider may process the following data describing the way of using the service provided by electronic means by a service recipient (traffic data):
1) denotations identifying the service recipient assigned on the basis of the data referred to in paragraph 1,
2) denotations identifying the telecommunication network terminal or a teleinformation system, which have been used by a service recipient,
3) information about commencement, termination and a range of every usage of the service provided by electronic means,
4) information about using of the service provided by electronic means by a service recipient.
6. The service provider provides the information on data referred to in paragraphs 1 – 5 to the state authorities for the needs of legal proceedings carried on by them.

The Company argued that it is obliged to provide such information only to the state authorities. However, the GIODO ordered Agora to disclose requested IP addresses. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its order of 20 February 2013 case file II SA/Wa 153/13 suspended execution of the contested decision. The GIODO filed complaint against this order, but the Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 23 April 2013 I OZ 269/13 dismissed it.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 17 June 2013 case file II SA/Wa 153/13 dismissed the compliant filed by AGORA. The Court ruled that in this case the condition established in Article 25(1)(v) of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments, was met.

Article 25
1. In case where the data have not been obtained from the data subject, the controller is obliged to provide the data subject, immediately after the recording of his/her personal data, with the following information:
1) the address of its seat and its full name, and in case the controller is a natural person about the address of his/her residence and his/her full name,
2) the purpose and the scope of data collection, and in particular, about the data recipients or categories of recipients,
3) the source of data,
4) the existence of the data subject’s right of access to his/her data and the right to rectify these data,
5) the powers resulting from Article 32 paragraph 1 point 7 and 8.

Article 32
1. The data subject has a right to control the processing of his/her personal data contained in the filing systems, and in particular he/she has the right to:
1) obtain extensive information on whether such system exists and to establish the controller’s identity, the address of its seat and its full name, and in case the controller is a natural person to obtain his/her address and his/her full name,
2) obtain information as to the purpose, scope, and the means of processing of the data contained in the system,
3) obtain information since when his/her personal data are being processed and communication to him/her in an intelligible form of the content of the data,
4) obtain information as to the source of his/her personal data, unless the controller is obliged to keep it confidential as a state, trade or professional secrecy,
5) obtain information about the means in which the data are disclosed, and in particular about the recipients or categories of recipients of the data,
5a) obtain information about the prerequisites of taking the decision referred to in Article 26a paragraph 2,
6) demand the data to be completed, updated, rectified, temporally or permanently suspended or erased, in case they are not complete, outdated, untrue or collected with the violation of the act, or in case they are no longer required for the purpose for which they have been collected,
7) make a justified demand in writing, in cases referred to in Article 23 paragraph 1 point 4 and 5, for the blocking of the processing of his/her data, due to his/her particular situation,
8) object to the processing of his/her personal data in cases referred to in Article 23 paragraph 1 point 4 and 5, should the controller intend to process the data for marketing purposes or to object to the transfer of the data to another controller,

See also “Personal data protection, case II SA/Wa 2821/11“.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 544/12

July 29th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

On December 2010, the Polish Patent Office refused to grant the righ of protection for the word-figurative trade mark Geo Globe Polska Z-359999 applied for the Polish company GEO GLOBE POLSKA sp. z o.o. sp. k.a. The PPO decided that according to the provisions of Article 131(2)(ii) of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments, it is not allowed to grant the right of protection for signs which include the name or abbreviation of the Republic of Poland, if the applicant has not shown entitlement, in particular the permission of the competent authority of the State, to use the trade mark with such element.

2. A right of protection shall not be granted for a sign, if:
(ii) it incorporates the name or abbreviated name of the Republic of Poland, or its symbols (emblem, national colours or national anthem), the names or armorial bearings of Polish voivodships, towns or communities, the insignia of the armed forces, paramilitary organisations or police forces, reproductions of Polish decorations, honorary distinctions or medals, military medals or military insignia, or other official or generally used distinctions and medals, in particular those of government administration, local self-administration or social organisations performing activities in vital public interests, where these organisations’ activities extend to the entire territory of the State or to a substantial part thereof, unless the applicant is able to produce evidence of his right, in particular in a form of an authorisation issued by a competent State agency or a permission given by an organisation, to use the sign in the course of trade,

The company argued that the name “Polska” is not mentioned among the above conditions, and that Geo Globe Polska has an established position in international business. The company argued that it has tried to obtain permission from the competent authority, but it did not succeed, which in its opinion indicates that there is no legal basis to issue the relevant permit. The Chancellery of the Prime Minister and the Office of the President of the Republic of Poland issued statements that the prohibition on use of the name or abbreviation of the Republic of Poland is absolute. Geo Globe Polska filed a complaint against this decision. The company claimed that the PPO should make a literal rather than a broad interpretation of the provisions of IPL. Geo Globe Polska argued that many business entities in Poland are using the term “Polska”.

Z-359999

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 22 November 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1749/11 dismissed it. The VAC held that it is obvious that the official name “Rzeczpospolita Polska” (Republic of Poland) includs the element “Polska”. Thus, it can be regarded as an abbreviation of the name of the country. The abbreviation “Rzeczposoplita” has constitutional status, i.e. it is included in the Preamble of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, and its second element, whether in the Polish language or in translation into other languages, is the distinguishing element of the country’s name, and it’s commonly used at international meetings, competitions, including sports events. Moreover, even the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 9 March 2005 case file I GSK 1423/04 published in LEX No. 186863, held that the protection is also afforded for the abbreviations in the form of the ISO 3166 standard for country codes, such as ID or PL. In another judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw of 23 March 2007 case file VI SA/Wa 2184/06, the Court held that the name “Poland” is not sufficiently distinctive. The word “Poland” is the English name of the Republic of Poland, and the Polish Patent Office rightly pointed in this case, that even for people who do not know the Polish language, the term “Poland” will always be associated with the country, and not to a specific entrepreneur. The Court also noted that the provisions of Article 6 ter point 1a) of the Paris Convention and Article 7(1)(h) and (i) of the Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 of 26 February 2009 on the Community trade mark should be taken into account. The Court ruled that the protection of symbols under Article 6ter of the Paris Convention is absolute and applies to all goods and services. It concerns the symbols of particular public interest.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 23 July 2013 case file II GSK 544/12 dismissed the cassation complaint.

Trade mark law, case XXII GWo 68/12

July 26th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Greek company I. & K. Nikolaidis Anonymi Viomichaniki Kai Emporiki Etaireia Oikiakou Kai Epaggelmatikou Exoplismou – Geniko Emporio I.D. Sourcing A.E. requested the Polish Court for the Community Trade Marks and Community Designs to order Media Service Zawada to disclose information on producers, manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of quantities of produced and sold goods and products bearing the signs BEN 10. The Greek company is the owner of the CTM FAN BAG No. 8487911. The Polish company noted it does not use the sign in question as a trade mark but in the descriptive function, to indicate the type of goods – bags of toys related to the Ben 10 TV series, designed for fans of the series.

The Court for the Community Trade Marks and Community Designs (in Polish: Sąd Okręgowy w Warszawie Wydział XXII Sąd Wspólnotowych Znaków Towarowych i Wzorów Przemysłowych) in its judgment of in its order of 3 December 2012 case file XXII GWo 68/12 dismissed the request. The Court ruled that while alleging that the defendant infringed on its CTM, the Plaintiff should indicate what type of infringement, as defined in Article 9(1) of the CTMR, has occurred in its case, and should also prove all the conditions which must be met to justify opposition to the Defendant’s use of the CTM FAN BAG No. 8487911. Usually, the Plaintiff should also indicate how the allegedly infringing actions of the defendant affect the functions performed by the trade mark. In any event, it could not be considered as sufficient evidence to only refer to the certificate of registration and description of the defendant’s actions, as did the Greek company in this case. It was also necessary to present the claims of identity/similarity between the CTM and the questioned sign and the identity/similarity of the goods or services of either party, the strength of the trade mark, its reputation, and if there is a risk of consumer confusion, and also to provide proper evidence. The Court is allowed to apply provisional and protective measures based on the provisions of the CTMR and the Polish Industrial Property Law. The Court noted that the right to obtain information (informational claim), does not in fact secure the claim. It has its own nature, which is similar to the informational claim referred to in Polish copyright law. At this stage of the proceedings the owner/requesting party can not make claims which occur in the future, possibly before the courts. These may be claims defined in the CTMR and Polish Industrial Property Law. The order to grant access to such information is intended to determine the responsibilities of a particular entity for breaching industrial property rights. Such information will allow the owner to make a decision how to sue (how to develop a lawsuit and actions) the infringer with the use of relevant and proper claims. Filing a request with an informational claim, the owner/holder must, however, explain what is the infringing act or acts and highly substantiate them but most of all, it has to indicate the claims to which the necessary information is needed, and the person to whom such claims will be directed in a future suit. Quite different information may be used in constructing claims such as interdiction, removal the effects of the infringement, payment of damages, recovery of unlawfully obtained profits or publication of the judgment, that were used against the importer, exporter, manufacturer, the person placing the product on the market, or advertiser. The main condition in order to take account of the informational claim is to establish high probability of the infringement (prima facie evidence of the infringement). Such wording was used by the Polish legislator while implementing Directive 2004/48/EC. As the Court noted it is a very original and new wording. The legislator did not refer to concepts already existing in the Polish law based on proving and making probable of facts, but required a “high degree of probability”. The Court recognized such situation as something being between “the probable” and “the proved fact of the infringement”, however, its evaluation is always left in each case to the Court hearing a request for disclosure of information. In addition, deciding on such request, the Court must also ensure the protection of business/trade secrets. The Greek company while alleging infringement of its CTM, should, inter alia, to show that Media Service Zawada was using this sign for goods which were identical or similar to these protected. However, the Company included in the request a very general statement “goods infringing the Applicant’s right” which did not allow the Court for assessment of the validity of alleged infringement. The Court held that the request did not contain evidence, and even claims of the infringement of the CTM FAN BAG No. 8487911, that could be considered as a higly probable evidence that could establish a trade mark infringement case (prima facie evidence).