Archive for: copyright misuse

Copyright law, case K 15/13

March 27th, 2015, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Constitutional Tribunal in its judgment of 17 February 2015 case file K 15/13 held that the contested by the Ombudsman provisions of Article 115 section 3 of the Polish Act of 4 February 1994 on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 24, item 83, consolidated text of 16 May 2006, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 90, item 631, with subsequent amendments, is in conformity with Article 42 paragraph 1 of the Polish Constitution.

Art. 115. 1. Any person who usurps the authorship or misleads as to the authorship of all or part of the work or performance of another shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of up to 3 years, restriction of freedom or a fine.
2. Any person who, without mentioning the creator’s name or pseudonym, discloses the work of another either in its original or in a derived form, or a performance, or who publicly distorts a work, a performance, a phonogram or videogram or a broadcast, shall be liable to the same penalty.
3. Any person who, with a view to making a material profit in a manner other than that specified in paragraph 1 or 2, infringes the rights of the author or neighboring rights within the meaning of Articles 16, 17, 18, 19 paragraph 1, art. 191, 86, 94 paragraph 4 or article 97 or without performing his duties as mentioned in article 193 paragraph 2, 20 paragraphs 1-4, 40 paragraph 1 or paragraph 2, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of up to one year, restriction of freedom or a fine.

The Ombudsman argued that the scope of criminal penalties set by provision of article 115(3) of the ARNR are too broad and unduly limits the rights and freedoms. The fundamental principle of criminal law – nullum crimen sine lege, is included in the article 42(1) of the Polish Constitution. The definition of a crime shall be strictly construed and shall not be extended by analogy.

Article 42
1. Only a person who has committed an act prohibited by a statute in force at the moment of commission thereof, and which is subject to a penalty, shall be held criminally responsible. This principle shall not prevent punishment of any act which, at the moment of its commission, constituted an offence within the meaning of international law
2. Anyone against whom criminal proceedings have been brought shall have the right to defence at all stages of such proceedings. He may, in particular, choose counsel or avail himself – in accordance with principles specified by statute – of counsel appointed by the court.
3. Everyone shall be presumed innocent of a charge until his guilt is determined by the final judgment of a court.

The Constitutional Tribunal held that the standard of definiteness of legal regulations, that is also included in the provisions of Article 42, does not preclude a margin of regulatory discretion by the state, within the criminal law. Therefore, this standard in the field of criminal regulation, although imposing higher requirements for the legislature, does not require clarity and communication to express prohibition or a legal order, to the absolute extent (judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal of 28 January 2003 case file K 2/02). The principle of definiteness (specificity) of the criminal law does not preclude the legislature to use unspecified or evaluative terms if their referents can be determined (judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal of 23 January 2003 case file K 2/02). In the case of the challenged provision of copyright law, the reference by the legislator to undefined concepts should be regarded as justified by the nature of copyright regulations, which are applied in dynamic and changing conditions in the era of new technologies. Thus, the legislator used the construction of the so-called substantive offence, i.e. an offense, which consists of the action of the offender and the result of the offense that is specified in the criminal law. In simple terms, it’s such a crime, which is determined the occurrence of a specific effect, and not the manner in which the offender caused that effect.

See also “Polish regulations on copyright” and “Polish case law on copyright“.

Copyright law, case I ACa 134/13

June 25th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

ZAiKS, the Polish Collecting Society, sued an organizer of New Year’s Eve party for copyright infringement, and demanded 3177 PLN compensation – a triple of the amount corresponding to the remuneration calculated by the Society for public performance of works of authors who are associated with ZAiKS. The Society provided an advertisement of the party, an official memo of the police on parties and events that took place in this period of time, and a memo of the inspector who works for ZAIKS of a conversation with the organizer of the ball, as evidence. The District Court in Siedlce and the Appeallate Court in Lublin in its judgment case file I ACa 134/13 dismissed the case. The Court ruled that information about the event itself is not enough to claim damages for copyright infringement.

See also “Polish regulations on copyright” and “Polish case law on copyright“.

Copyright law, case I A Cz 114/13

June 21st, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The District Court in Białystok in its order of 27 December 2012 case file VII GCo 71/12 dismissed the request of a copyright owner to secure evidence and to order a Polish ISP to disclose information on the personal data (name and address) that was associated with IP addresses of computers that were identified by a requesting party, and from which, via online peer-to-peer applications, unknown persons have made available different audiovisual works.

The Appeallate Court in Białystok in its order of 7 February 2013 case file I A Cz 114/13 dismissed an appeal in this case. The Court noted that under Polish law there is no uniform procedure governing disclosure of personal data for the purposes of civil proceedings. The processing of personal data are governed primarily by 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, 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 and 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. These regulations guarantee the protection of personal data where their processing (including their disclosure) is always an exception to the rules for their protection. The provisions of Article 80 of the Polish Act of 4 February 1994 on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 24, item 83, consolidated text of 16 May 2006, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 90, item 631 with subsequent amendments that were introduced to the system of protection of intellectual property rights as a result of the implementation of Directive 2004/48/EC, are solutions distinct and relatively independent of regulation included in the PPD, TLA and PSEM.

The Court ruled that pursuant to Article 80 of the ARNR, an entity with a legitimate interest may request the competent court, among others, to secure evidence (Article 80(1) of the ARNR) and to oblige other person than the one that is infringing copyrights, to provide information that is relevant to future claims, if such a third party provides services used in infringing activities and such actions lead directly or indirectly to profit or other economic benefits (Article 80(1)(iii)(c) of the ARNR).

Article 80. 1.
The court competent to hear the cases of infringement of the author’s economic rights in the locality where the offender conducts its activity or where his economic is located, also prior to filing suit, shall consider, within no more than 3 days of filing, an application of a party with legal interest therein:
1) for securing evidence and securing claims related thereto;
2) for obliging the person who infringed the author’s economic rights to provide information and any documentation specified by the court and being material to the claims referred to in Article 79(1);
3) for obliging a person other than the infringing party to provide information material to the claim defined in Article 79(1) on the origin, distribution networks, volume and price of goods or services which infringe the author’s economic rights, provided that:
a) such person has been confirmed to have goods which breach the author’s economic rights; or
b) such person has been confirmed to benefit from services which breach the author’s economic
rights; or
c) such person has been confirmed to render services used in any acts which the breach author’s
economic rights; or
d) the person specified in letters (a), (b) or (c) indicated a person who participated in production, manufacturing or distribution of goods or rendering of services in breach of the author’s economic rights and the purpose of any of the above actions is to generate, directly or indirectly, profit or any other economic benefit, although it does not include any actions by consumers acting in good faith.
2. If it admits any evidence or considers any applications referred to in paragraph 1, the court ensures that the operator’s business secrets as well as all other secrets protected by law are kept confidential.

In this case, the request of the copyright owner included both legal instruments. In terms of the preservation of evidence, however, was it was worded incorrectly, because as noted previously, the applicant exclusively requested personal data that would allow him for identifying potential defendants in cases of copyright infringement. The Court ruled that these data do not constitute evidence for the purposes of the process. As a result, the Court decided on the obligation to provide relevant information as provided in the Article 80(1)(iii)(c) of the ARNR. The Court agreed with the opinion that the condition for the application of this provisions, as in the each case of temporary measures, is to authenticate the claim i.e. provide prima facie evidence that there is/was copyright infringement, and to describe its legal interest in obtaining the information. First, it is necessary to demonstrate a prima facie evidence of the claim that the applicant holds the copyright to the work. In this regard, “in favor” of the entity seeking legal protection speaks presumption provided in Article 15 of the ARNR according to which it shall be presumed that the producer or publisher is the person whose surname or the name is provided in the goods on which the work is embodied, or made public in any way in connection with the dissemination of the work. This provision implements the rule of presumption of authorship or ownership, as set out in Article 5 of the Directive 2004/48/EC. The applicant, who is a film producer, presented a printout from its website containing information about audiovisual works concerned. The Court assumed that the annotation “rights reserved”, justify the inclusion of the applicant presumption.

The dispute in this case focused on the probable circumstances of unauthorized use (dissemination) of copyrighted works, and about the legal consequences, escalating in electronic communication, the phenomenon of exchange and distribution of files (mostly music or video), using peer 2 peer software. As a rule, it is assumed in the legal doctrine and the Appellate Court agreed with this opinion that, due to the fact that when the file is downloaded from the Internet by a user of a peer-to-peer program it is also simultaneously made available for downloading for others, such action is not part of an allowed personal use referred to in Article 23 of the ARNR.

However, the Court noted that the very presence of files (copyrighted works) in resources of a user of a peer to peer file sharing network cannot automatically lead to a conclusion as to its distribution (making available) for the purposes of copyright law. The Court was aware that there is a technical possibility to block other users’ access to resources on a hard disk, which results in the fact that at the time the file is downloaded via peer-to-peer, it only provides packages – pieces of work, to download for others, which does not allow for its replication. Secondly, in order to provide its resources in peer to peer networks, a user is required the run a proper computer program.

In this case, the Court agreed that all copyright works were made available beyond the allowed personal use (the concept similar to fair use). It has been proven that subscribers of the ISP have acquired copyrighted works (movies) via peer-to-peer networks (using programs such as µTorrent and BitComet), which were produced by the applicant. These movies were actually made available to other users, as it was testified by a witness. As a result, the Court has found the argument of a probable copyright infringement of audiovisual works owned by the applicant, as justified. There was no doubt also for the Court that the ISP is an entity referred to in the provisions of Article 80(1)(iii)(c) of the ARNR. The company provides commercial services that are used for public sharing of unauthorized copyrighted works – the ISP provides access to Internet for a fee, which is a forum of exchange and distribution of audiovisual files within the peer to peer networks. The Court agreed that the applicant had legitimate interest (locus standi) in obtaining relevant information. Such information would allow for identification/personalization of Internet users infringing copyrights, in order to properly initiate civil proceedings against them, and the proper preparation of a lawsuit. The Court noted that the information on the distribution networks, referred to in Article 80(1)(iii) of the ARNR, include, in principle, the data on entities (names and addresses) who unauthorized distribute works protected by copyright law and therefore infringe the copyrights of their owners. Consequently, pursuant to provisions of Article 80(1)(iii) of the ARNR the copyright owner of audiovisual works may require the ISP, to disclose personal data (name and address of residence) of entities who share and distribute audiovisual works protected by copyright in peer to peer networks.

On the basis of Article 8 of Directive 2004/48/EC, providing information that would be used for the protection of intellectual property rights is conditional, and it’s based on the proportionality of the request. The principle of proportionality expresses the idea of making only those activities that are essential and necessary to achieve a particular purpose and those that are appropriate in the circumstances of a case, i.e. they restrict the rights of others as little as it is possible. In this situation, it was necessary for the Court to consider whether in the circumstances of this case, the objective of protecting intellectual property rights justified the abandonment of the protection of personal data of entities who allegedly infringed copyrights. The guidance on the interpretation of these rules are provided in the Directive itself, and more specifically in the provisions its preamble. Namely, in section 14, the Community lawmakers have clearly indicated that the measures include in Article 8 section 1 of Directive need to be applied only in respect of acts carried out on a commercial scale.. The reason for this is certainly the fact that commercial activities are carried out for direct or indirect economic benefit on a large scale and thus significantly affect the property rights of the creators of works. The principle of proportionality provided in Article 8 of Directive 2004/48/EC is also incorporated in Article 80(1)(iii) of the ARNR, which means that the disclosure of information, and the subject of the data, in particular personal data, the Court should decide, taking into account the weight and the scale of the infringement of copyrights, especially from the perspective of the actions of persons violating the law, for profit.

According to the Appeallate Court, the applicant has failed to demonstrate that the request for access to personal data of individuals is in line with the principle discussed. First of all, on the basis of the evidence materials, it could not be assumed that different users have made available audiovisual works for commercial purposes. Secondly, the attached evidence showed that the case was dealing with eight different users who with the help of peer-to-peer networks have shared with only one movie, so the scope of the alleged infringements of copyright applicant, was not significant.

See also “Polish regulations on copyright” and “Polish case law on copyright“.

Copyright law, case I ACa 129/12

December 21st, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Collecting Society representing authors and composers sued an owner of a road restaurant that for nearly five years he played without a proper license agreement music from the television ads that were aired in news channels. The defendant claimed that he only uses the television as any citizen who pays subscription. The District Court in Częstochowa in its judgment of 27 October 2011 case file I C 179/11 decided that that playing music in a restaurant room for an unlimited number of people is deemed as communication to the public under the copyright law.

The Appeallate Court in Katowice in its judgment of 13 April 2012 case file I ACa 129/12 found that the TV set at the restaurant aired mostly news programs and almost all TV programs are interrupted by advertising breaks in which background music is often broadcasted. It was obvious for the Court that the author was properly remunerated for the use of his work in advertising. However, in this case the court bent over considering that the author of the text or the music should have additional consideration for the publication of his work in the advertising. The Court concluded that, although the TV broadcast of interesting programs can affect customers and lead to the financial gain, however, viewing ads is not something attractive for them. As it was further noted, when it comes to public perception of advertising, one may even venture to say that they are pesky and daunting thing to watch the program. The Court held that broadcasting music that was aired in TV ads, does not lead to obtaining material benefits by the owner of the restaurant, thus charging penalty only on such grounds had to be considered as ineligible.

See also “Polish regulations on copyright” and “Polish case law on copyright“.

Personal interests, case I ACa 689/13

August 1st, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

FS File Solutions Ltd. is the owner of a popular hosting website that allows for hosting different files by using a simple web interface. The Polish Chamber of Books (PCB) is Poland’s publishing industry trade body that found many of its titles available on without the permission of copyright holders. The PCB issued negative press and TV statements regarding policy and business model. The Company sued the PCB for the infringement of its personal interests. FS claimed that by calling it “pirate service” the PCB infringed on its the company name (firm).

The District Court in Warszawa I Civil Chamber in its judgment of 20 February 2013 case file I C 407/12 ruled that PCB did not infringed personal interests of FS. File Solutions filed an appeal.

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 10 October 2013 case file I ACa 689/13 returned the case to the District Court.

Copyright law, case C-406/10

May 5th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justice of the EU in its judgment of 2 May 2012 Case C-406/10 ruled that Article 1(2) of Council Directive 91/250/EEC of 14 May 1991 on the legal protection of computer programs must be interpreted as meaning that neither the functionality of a computer program nor the programming language and the format of data files used in a computer program in order to exploit certain of its functions constitute a form of expression of that program and, as such, are not protected by copyright in computer programs for the purposes of that directive.

The CoJ noted that Article 5(3) of Directive 91/250/EEC must be interpreted as meaning that a person who has obtained a copy of a computer program under a licence is entitled, without the authorisation of the owner of the copyright, to observe, study or test the functioning of that program so as to determine the ideas and principles which underlie any element of the program, in the case where that person carries out acts covered by that licence and acts of loading and running necessary for the use of the computer program, and on condition that that person does not infringe the exclusive rights of the owner of the copyright in that program.

The Court also ruled that Article 2(a) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as meaning that the reproduction, in a computer program or a user manual for that program, of certain elements described in the user manual for another computer program protected by copyright is capable of constituting an infringement of the copyright in the latter manual if – this being a matter for the national court to ascertain – that reproduction constitutes the expression of the intellectual creation of the author of the user manual for the computer program protected by copyright.

Unfair commercial practices, case VI ACa 1179/11

February 20th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection in its decision of 29 August 2008 case DOK – 6/2008 ruled that two Polish collecting societies, the Association of Writers and Composers (Stowarzyszenie Autorów – ZAiKS) and the Polish Filmmakers Association (Stowarzyszenie Filmowców Polskich – SFP), were involved in actions deemed as infringement of competition on the relevant market. This decision concerned the agreement on uniform rates of copyright remuneration that were collected from commercial users for the sale of audiovisual works on media intended for private use. The request to initiate antimonopoly proceedings was filed by the Polish Press Publishers Association (Izba Wydawców Prasy – IWP) based on the provisions of the Polish Act of 16 February 2007 on Protection of Competition and Consumers – APCC – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie konkurencji i konsumentów), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 50, item 331, with subsequent amendments.

IWP claimed that ZAiKS and SFP are competing entities because they are active on management and collecting in the same fields of exploitation of copyrighted works, and authors, creators and copyright owners can freely choose the collecting society they want to be represented by.

The President of the OCCP found that ZAiKS and SFP decided that the minimum remuneration rates for one copy of the media will be for a movie on DVD – 2 PLN, for a movie on VCD and VHS- 1,1 PLN, for a cartoon movie on DVD – 1.6 PLN, and for a cartoon movie on VCDs and VHS – 0,8 PLN. Minimum rates for a copy of audiovisual work on the media that are sold together with other products, including, in particular newspapers and magazines were set on an even lower level. For instance for a DVD that was put on the market before 1 July 2004 – 1 PLN, and from 1 July 2004, 0.60 PLN, There were also introduced discounts from 5% to 40% depending on the number of copies (from 100.000 to above 700.000 copies).

Members of IWP, who are press publishers, are also contractors of ZAiKS and SFP. The Press publishers add copies of DVD movies to their newspapers and magazines, as the so-called inserts. They are required under the provisions of Polish copyright law to pay appropriate remuneration for the reproduction of the audiovisual work on the copy for individual use. The remuneration fee is paid by the press publishers only through the collecting society. IWP argued that the remuneration of the authors for use of audiovisual works should be individualized, and the conditions of agreement to use the work should be negotiated. The collecting societies should negotiate different rates for different movies. Such actions would prove the real concern for the interests of every member of each collecting society, because the authors of a better movie should earn more. The rates covered by the agreement between ZAiKS and SFP did not include possible revenues from the use of audiovisual works, nor the specifics of this use. Thus, according to the IWP, the agreement of ZAiKS and SFP on the application of uniform rates, deprived commercial users the possibility to negotiatie the rates, and significantly restricted competition.

ZAikS and SFP filed complaints against the decision of the President of the OCCP. The Polish Court of Competition and Consumer Protection in its judgment of 8 July 2011 case file XVII AmA 23/09 dismissed them. The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment case file VI ACa 1179/11 dismissed the appeal.

Consumer protection, case XVII Amc 113/11

December 29th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The provision of the Rules of the Municipal Public Library in Słupsk stated that the Library may allow for reproductions or digital reproductions of one publishing volume sheet, which is approx. 22 pages of A4 format, of any documents protected by copyright law that are in the collection of the Library. However, such rules are contrary to the provisions of Article 23 of the Polish Act of 4 February 1994 on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 24, item 83, consolidated text of 16 May 2006, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 90, item 631, with subsequent amendments.

Section 3
Lawful Use of Protected Works
Art. 23.-1. It shall be permissible, without the consent of the creator, to make use free of charge, of a work that has already been disclosed. However, this provision shall not authorize the construction of a building based on an architectural work or a work of urban architecture made by another person.
2. Personal use shall extend to use within a circle of persons who are personally related, in particular by blood or marriage, or who entertain social relations.

The Polish Court of Competition and Consumer Protection in its judgment of 9 December 2011 case file XVII AmC 113/11 held that such rule is prohibited and deemed as a wrongful contractual provision, as defined in the Article 3851 § 1 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 3851. § 1. Provisions of a contract concluded with a consumer, which have not been individually agreed with him, shall not be binding thereupon, if his rights and duties have been stipulated in conflict with public decency and in flagrant violation of his interest (wrongful contractual provisions). This shall not relate to the provisions which specify basic performances of the parties, including the price and remuneration if determined explicitly.
§ 2. Where the provision referred to in paragraph 1 is not binding upon the consumer, the parties shall be bound by the remaining provisions of the contract.
§ 3. The provisions not agreed individually shall be such provisions of the contract over which the consumer had no actual influence. It shall concern, in particular, the provisions of the contract taken over from the model form of contract offered to a consumer by a contracting party.
§ 4. The burden of evidence to prove that the provision has been agreed individually shall be borne by the party who claims so.

The Court held that the Library cannot decide on limits of copying of any of the library collections. Copying books without limitation of the maximum number of pages is legally permissible. The provisions of the ARNR do not indicate any limits. Such a judgment come as no surprise, because every person who is in possession of any reprographic devices and conducts economic activities within the scope of reproduction of works for the personal use of third parties, is according to the provisons of article 201 of the ARNR obliged to pay, through a Collection Society, fees at up to 3% of proceeds generated from such activities, to authors and publishers, unless the reproduction is done on the basis of a contract signed with a rightholder. Such fees are paid to authors and publishers in equal parts.

Access to public information, case V Ca 2388/10

November 9th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Professor Janusz S. Bień requested the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences to disclose public information on the license agreement, concerning the online version of the Dictionary of the Polish language of the sixteenth century. The request was filed under 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. Mr Bień did not receive the requested information, but also was not denied this information in the form of an administrative decision. As a result, prof. Bień brought an action for failure to act. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw, in its judgment of 18 June, 2009 case file II SAB/Wa 14/09 ordered the Director of the Institute of Literary Research to examine the request.

On 13 August 2009, the Institute of Literary Research refused to provide requested public information because of the secret of the entrepreneur. The basis for refusal was Article 5(2) of the API.

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.

The entity, which was denied the access to the public information in respect to its exclusion of its openness when quoting the protection of personal data, the right to privacy and the secret other than state, official, treasury or statistical secret, is entitled to put an action to the court for making such information available. Professor decided to bring an action.

The Regional Court for Warszawa Śródmieście I Civil Division in its judgment of 12 March 2010 case file I C 1305/09, dismissed the action because the prof. Bien has not demonstrated that he is legally entitled to obtain a photocopy of the disputed agreement. The Court arbitrarily assumed that as a basis for disclose of a photocopy of the disputed agreement should be used Article 222 § 1 of the Civil Code governing the claim of the owner of a thing against the person who actually possess it (rei vindicatio).

Article 222. § 1. The owner may demand of a person who has actual control of a thing to release that thing to him unless that person has the right, effective with respect to the owner, to control the thing.
§ 2. The owner shall have the right to claim restitution of his lawful position and abstention from infringements of law, against a person who infringes his ownership otherwise than by depriving the owner of the actual control of a thing.

Professor Bień appealed. The District Court in Warsaw, V Civil Division, in its judgment of 9 November 2010 case file V Ca 2388/10, annulled the contested judgment and ordered Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences to provide photocopies of the agreement.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 746/09

August 10th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of a story decribed in “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2284/08” that concerned the trade mark HERITAGE FILMS. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 10 August 2010 case file II GSK 746/09 dismissed the cassation complaint brought by Zygmunt Piotrowski. The SAC held inter alia that the provisions of the TMA or the IPL do not provide in the course of the litigation proceedings lead by the Polish Patent Office, for the possibility to control the legality of the administrative proceedings that concerned the registration of a given trade mark. The legality of a decision granting the right of protection should be challenged in different proceedings.


The Court noted that Mr Piotrowski confused the concepts of “invalidation of the registration right” or “invalidation of right of protection for a trade mark” with the annulment of the decision on the granting of the right. There are different grounds for such decisions and other procedures on their issuance, but in case of the breach of the provisions listed in Article 29 of the Trade Marks Act, those conditions may overlap, and only in this case they might be raised in the opposition proceedings. Consequently, the invaliditon of the protection right, although identical in its consequences, cannot be identified with the institution of the annulment of the decision on the granting of the right of protection.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2284/08

April 20th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 1990, Zygmunt Piotrowski who is a well-known Polish graphic artist, created the logotype that depicted the porch with columns and attic finial of the Penderecki’s house in Lusłwice with “heritage” inscription underneath. It was created for the Heritage Promotion of Music and Art company, whose founders were Elżbieta Penderecka and Janusz Pietkiewicz, later the director of the Polish National Opera. The logotype was adopted by the Heritage Films company that was founded in 1991 by Janusz Pietkiewicz and Lech Rywin after the withdrawal of Elżbieta Penderecka from Heritage Promotion of Music and Art company.


At the request of Heritage Films, the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 27 June 2001, case no. Sp. 3/97 invalidated the word-figurative trade mark Heritage R-87806 belonging to the Piotrowski’s company. The Supreme Administrative Court in its decision of 14 December 2001 case file II SA 3446/01 confirmed the decision of the PPO, and dismissed the cassation complaint. The SAC clearly stated that the English word “heritage” is not a generic term for the services it was registered for, nor does it inform about its properties, quality or usefulness. Therefore “heritage” word can be used as a trade mark. It is not widely known or used in the market in order to identify such services as impresario and management consultancy services, the recruitment and placement of people for work for orchestra, soloists and artists of various disciplines of art. However, the court held the the company name could be an obstacle to grant the rights of protection for a trade mark. It was unclear for the SAC why the PPO’s decision lacks the explanation as to why the picture of the porch with the HERITAGE inscription makes the right to the company name (which was existing from 1991) impossible to be applicable as grounds for the invalidation. If the reason would be the recognition of the word HERITAGE to be protected by copyright law as the title, it should be better clarified. It was more necessary for the Court because the title could benefit from the copyright protection “only in very exceptional circumstances”.

The case went back to the PPO. On 17 April 2002, the Polish Patent Office invalidated of the right of protection of the trade mark HERITAGE R-87806. One more time Mr Piotrowski filed a complaint before the Supreme Administrative Court. The SAC in its judgment of 12 March 2003 case file II SA 1867/02 ruled that in accordance with the general rules, in the event of a collision between company name (the firm) and trade mark that has been registered with the “later precedence”, the priority shall be given to the right that existed earlier.

A year later, the Polish Patent Office registered the trade mark Heritage Films R-151966. Zygmunt Piotrowski has requested the invalidation proceedings argued that the trade mark Heritage Films infringes on his personal and economic rights afforded by the copyright law. The PPO rejected the request claiming the word “heritage” is a common expression and regardless of its importance for the artist it is not eligible for the copyright protection. Piotrowski filed a complaint against this decision. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 15 April 2009 case file VI SA/Wa 2284/08 ruled that the word “heritage” has no distinctive character and may be registered only in composition with some other description. And because it is not a subject of copyright protection the request had to be dismissed. Zygmunt Piotrowski has already announced he is going to file a cassation complaint.