Unfair competition, case I ACa 900/99

September 11th, 2005, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appellate Court in Katowice in its judgment of 29 March 2000 case file I ACa 900/99, interpreted provisions of article 13 of the Polish Act of 16 April 1993 on Combating Unfair Competition – CUC – (in Polish: ustawa o zwalczaniu nieuczciwej konkurencji), Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 47, item 211, with subsequent amendments.

Article 13.
1. Imitating a finished product by way of technical means of reproduction, to copy an external image of such product where it may mislead customers as to the identity of the producer or product, shall be the act of unfair competition.
2. Imitating functional features of a product, in particular its make, structure and form ensuring its usefulness shall not be deemed the act of unfair competition. Where the imitation of functional features of a finished product requires including its characteristic form, which may mislead customers as to the producer or product identity, the imitator is under obligation to adequately mark the product.

The Court held that according to the intention of the legislator, the delicts/torts defined in article 13 of the CUC concern not imitation, in general, but only the so-called “slavish imitation” (also referred to as look-alikes, knock-offs or parasitic copying), which is based on copying the external appearance of a product by technical means of reproduction and it creates the likelihood of customer confusion as to the identity of the manufacturer or a product.