Internet domains, case I ACz 364/08

October 1st, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appellate Court in Białystok in its order of 6 May 2008, case file I ACz 364/08 ruled that, the registration and use of the Internet domain name which is the same as someone else already existing domain, may be regarded as an act of unfair competition. The definition is provided in the Article 3(1) 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 3
1. The act of unfair competition shall be the activity contrary to the law or good practices which threatens or infringes the interest of another entrepreneur or customer.

The court also noted that although the act of unfair competition takes place only when the arguing entrepreneurs can be regarded as competitors. However, there are not excluded situations where a website under a disputed domain name will be providing goods or services different from those associated with a given name on the non-virtual market. Also in such situation a person may request for the protection against violations of the rights to the domain name, especially when it is registered in order to block a domain by a competitor, if it identifies an inactive website or a webpage or a website which is not updated nor offering any goods. Registration of such domains leads to a substantial impediment to market access for other entrepreneurs, which is in violation of Article 15 of the CUC. Such actions, however, have also an economic overtone, and therefore they concern the economic rights. The Court held that a claim filed in order to establish that someone is entitled to Internet domain names, and that actions of such a person will not infringe on the right of protection for a trade mark, and are not deemed as acts of unfair competition, are claims ensuing from property rights

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.