Archive for: personal rights or interests

Copyright law, case I C 471/16

April 22nd, 2016, Tomasz Rychlicki

Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy “SOLIDARNOŚĆ” (Independent Self-governing Trade Union “Solidarity”), the owner of the figurative European Union trade mark EUTM no. 014026454, sued Czesław Mozil, a Polish singer known also as Czesław Śpiewa (Czesław sings), for the infringement of copyrights and personal interests. Mr. Mozil has recorded and published a song and a TV clip entitled “Nienawidze Cię Polsko” (I hate you Poland) in which the well-known and iconic “SOLIDARNOŚĆ” logotype was also presented. NSZZ “SOLIDARNOŚĆ” demanded 500.000 PLN of compensation.

The District Court in Kraków in its judgment of 8 April 2016 case file I C 471/16 dismissed the case. The Court held that the logo was used in the video as a symbol of Poland and as a Polish identity, and not as a logotype that identifies a trade union, so there was no infringement of personal rights. Any attempts to limit forms of artistic expression would violate the constitutional principle of freedom of artistic expression. The judgment is not final.

Personal interest, case I ACa 544/15

March 17th, 2016, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 12 January 2016 case file I ACa 544/15 decided a case of a person who offers legal assistance to entities who have received the payment order, and also writes articles and tips describing among other things, business debt collection companies and their activities. These articles were published online. The plaintiff in this case, one of such companies, felt that content of defendant’s posts infringed its personal interest – the company name. The defendant was found liable in first instance, however, the judgment was overturned on an appeal. The Court held that the District Court did not perform comprehensive assessment of the evidence.

The Appeallate Court did not agree that printouts from a website could serves as a private document according to the provisions of Article 245 of 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. A private document is proof that the person who signed it, made a statement contained in the document. This means that inherent feature of this type of evidence is the signature. The evidence provided by the plaintiff did not contain a signature. The CPC does not provide an exhaustive list of what can be deemed as evidence in civil proceedings. As evidence can serve documents (official and private), testimonies of witnesses, expert opinions, inspection, hearing the parties. Moreover, based on the provisions of Article 308 § 1 of the CPCP, the Court may also admit movies, television series, photocopies, photographs, plans, drawings and CDs or audio tapes and other devices that store images or sounds, as evidence. The Court ruled that prints from websites are not a private document within the meaning of Article 244 and 245 of the CPC. However, such prints may be considered as “another type of evidence” within the meaning of Article 309 of the CPC, as the CPC does not provide an exhaustive list of evidence, and it is acceptable to use any source of information about the facts relevant to the outcome of the case, and as evidence may serve any legally obtained media or information of the facts. See “Procedural law, case I CSK 138/08“. Plaintiff’s claims and submitted evidence suggested that the claimant saw defendant’s posts on a web site and later saved it in its own web browser. In this way the Company has presented to the court only copies of files that were posted on a website, and not, as erroneously the District Court stated, printouts from the website maintained by the defendant. The Court pointed out that there are plenty of ways to modify the content of a website. The Appeallate Court decided that the plaintiff has submitted evidence of low credibility, since they did not provide information that their content was corresponding to was actually visible on the screen while a website with defamatory content was accessed. The Court found that it was also not known when the plaintiff has saved the content of a website, as the date of saving process was not indicated, and as the date the violation of personal rights was also not mentioned.

Personal interest, case I ACa 142/15

February 17th, 2016, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 16 December 2015 case file I ACa 142/15 decided a case of a Polish rockman who sued a tabloid newspaper for publishing online article that infringed his personal interests. The Court found the journalist and author of the article liable and ordered him to publish apology and to pay proper compensation. However, the Court dismissed the claim that would order the publisher to remove the article from newspaper’s website. The Court ruled that the role of the judicial authorities is not to participate in the falsification of history by ordering the removal from the public sphere of all traces of publications recognized in the past by the final judicial decisions as unjustifiable attack on the good name of individuals. Accordingly, a proportional and adequate form of protection for the plaintiff would by be amending online defamatory publications with a relevant footnote, comment or link to information about the outcome of the proceedings.

Personal interest, case XXIV C 607/13

March 30th, 2015, Tomasz Rychlicki

Maciej Strzembosz is a Polish film producer, screenwriter, director and the President of the Polish Audiovisual Producers Chamber of Commerce. In his statements regarding Polish copyright law ammendments, free culture, market regulatory Mr. Strzembosz used very personal arguments against Igor Ostrowski, who is a renown lawyer and the co-founder of The Projekt: Polska Association and Centrum Cyfrowe, and Alek Tarkowski, a sociologist and the coordinator of the Polish branch of Creative Commons. Mr. Ostrowski and Tarkowski both being tired of arguments such as “Ostrowski’ Google’s agent” or “Tarkowski ideologist of thievery on the Net” decided to file a civil suit against Mr Strzembosz claiming infringement of personal interest.

The District Court in Warsaw logged this proceedings under case file XXIV C 607/13, however it has never reached a judgment since the parties decided not to continue their legal dispute before the Court.

Personal interests, case I C 988/13

September 26th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

The District Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 27 March 2014 case file I C 988/13 ruled that the provisions Article 15 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, exempts ISPs from the preventive moderation (approval) of comments posted by website and forum users.

The entity, which provides services specified in art. 12 – 14, shall not be obliged to monitor the data referred to in art. 12 – 14, which are transmitted, stored or made available by that entity.

The Court ruled that the lack of implementation of a control and content filtering system for profanity comments cannot prejudge the responsibility of the defendant, because preventive censorship would lead to infringement of the right to freedom of expression. The decision on the scope and priority of protected and conflicting rights, while accepting the obligation to adopt preventive control of information posted on a website and bonding the liability of the provider with the lack of such system, would constitute an excessive interference in the need of protection for different rights and interests, while simultaneously threatening freedom of expression.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 II GSK 484/12

July 14th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for word trade mark Orlen R-192731 owned by the company ORLEN Spółka z o.o. that was registered for goods in Class 9 and services in Class 42 with the priority of 2002. The request was filed by the big Polish oil company PKN ORLEN S.A. which argued that the questioned sign is similar to its reputed trade mark ORLEN R-125559 that was registered with the priority of 1999. Orlen sp. z o.o. claimed that its company had been registered and has been operating since 1992 under the name “Orlen”, and Orlen S.A. adopted and appropriated that name in 2000. Orlen S.A. called Orlen sp. z o.o. to discontinue use of that name due to getting the right of protection for the earlier trade mark ORLEN. After an exchange of correspondence between the parties, there was no consensus due to divergent expectations, in particular with regard to financial issues. Orlen S.A. proved that there were contacts and negotiations between the parties, subject to the cease of use of the mark ORLEN and argued that the trade mark application was mercantile in nature, becasue the applicant seek only commercial interest and wanted to sell this trade mark. Orlen S.A. submitted copies of correspondence between the parties and photocopies of sale offers. ORLEN Spółka z o.o. filed a complaint against this decision and pointed out that it has offered to sell the company as a whole rather than the trade mark itself.

R-167806

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 24 October 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1376/11 dismissed the complaint and ruled that an entrepreneur performing its business activities must be guided by the degree of care that is expected from more than the average person in order to predict the consequences of his or her actions and omissions. The content of the right to the company name within the meaning of the Polish Civil Code is not in fact an absolute and unrestricted right that allows to apply on its behalf for a trade mark that is convergent with this company name, regardless of the rights of third parties. Therefore, the person who uses a given sign and does not register it on his or her own behalf as a trade mark, acts at own risk. An entrepreneur who does not seek to acquire protection for its trade mark cannot rely on the earlier right to its company name, when the other party has obtained a right to a sign identical to the name of the business with an earlier priority and through significant investments earned its reputation. In such a situation, an identical trade mark application made by the entrepreneur who has the right to the company after many years from the commencement of his business, when the other party has made a substantial investment and broad actions leading to the reputation of its trade mark, should be regarded as taking unfair advantage of the reputation of the earlier sign.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 26 June 2013 case file II GSK 484/12 dismissed the cassation complaint.

Personal interests, case IV CSK 270/12

April 19th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

A Polish lawyer who felt insulted by the comments that appeared on znanyprawnik.eu website, sued its owner. The case went through all instances. The Polish Supreme Court in its judgment of 18 January 2013 case file IV CSK 270/12 dismissed the cassation complaint filed by the offended lawyer. The Court held that all comments were not about facts that could be verified, only described the experience of cooperation with a lawyer and did not contain offensive or vulgar expressions. The plaintiff is an attorney, a public person performing certain services in the field of law and his services should be subject to assessment, which is not always favorable. Due to the nature of the activities carried out by the plaintiff, the limits of acceptable criticism are wider, because the person undertaking public activities does it voluntary, yet inevitable, undergo evaluation and public reaction.

Trade mark law, case Sp. 472/05

December 17th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Michael Ovadenko requested the Polish Patent Office to invalidate the right of protection for the word trade mark COFFEE HEAVEN R-147034 owned by Coffeeheaven International Plc. Mr Ovadenko argued that this registration infringed his copyrights.

The PPO decided to stay proceedings and ordered the applicant to come up with a petition to the civil court to determine the existence of his rights. Mr Ovadenko filed a suit before the District Court in Warsaw but it was dismissed. The Court held that the designation COFFEE HEAVEN cannot be deemed as a copyrighted work under the Polish Act on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights, according to which the object of copyright should be any manifestation of creative activity of individual nature, established in any form, irrespective of its value, purpose or form of expression (work). The appeal complaint was also dismissed.

The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 29 November 2012 case no. Sp. 472/05 dismissed the request. The decision is not final yet. The complaint may be filed before the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw.

Trade mark law, case no. Sp. 30/11

October 23rd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 27 February 2009, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark PARADA R-215899 applied for the goods in Class 18 such as leather and imitations of leather, and goods made of these materials and goods in Class 25 such as clothing made of natural and synthetic materials, leather garments, footwear, headgear, by the Polish company HenMar sp. z o. o. from Dębica.

IR-650695

PRADA S.A. from Luxembourg filed a notice of opposition. The company argued that the trade mark PARADA is confusingly similar to its word-figurative trade mark PRADA IR-650695 registered in Poland with the earlier priority of 1995, for goods in Class 18 and Class 25.

The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 12 October 2012 case no. Sp. 30/11 ruled that PARADA and PRADA are not similar. In the opinion of the PPO, although compared signs are composed of similar letters, however, the deciding factor was the conceptual aspect of both trade marks. In Polish, the word “parada” has a specific meaning and means, among others, spectacular show with the participation of many people (parade). The PPO decided that the semantic aspect proves that both signs will be perceived differently and there is no risk of misleading the public as to the origin of goods. Further allegations, based on the reputation of PRADA trade mark, have become, therefore, irrelevant. The decision is not final yet. The complaint may be filed before the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 1156/11

September 25th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The European Commission filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Polish Patent Office on the grant of the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark euro SKLEP R-180808 that was applied for by the Polish company Euro Sklep S.A. from Bielsko Biała. The EC said that the trade mark contains an imitation of the European Union flag because it has five distinctive yellow stars (mullets) arranged in an arc (part of a circle) on a blue background – which obviously violates the official symbol of the European Union. Euro Sklep argued that the opposition is unfounded, because the argument that the trade mark is an imitation symbol is an obvious abuse of the law by the EC, since the examination of signs is to be assessed as a whole, and not by attributing the illusory similarities. The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection. According to the PPO, the average consumer who sees the mark with prominent yellow sign EURO accompanied by five-pointed stars in a semi-circle, will associate it with the flag of the European Union. The PPO pointed out that the use of the EURO caption, as well as graphic elements in the form of a bird or incomplete number of stars, does not rule out the conceptual similarity, since use of the word euro as the dominant element of the mark may exacerbate the association of the recipient that he has to deal with an institution agenda of the European Union. Euro Sklep filed a complaint against this decision and noted that in this case the PPO was not dealing with registration of the flag of the European Communities/European Union as a trade mark, but at most, it would be its imitation from a heraldic point of view. However, the PPO did not properly explain this issue. The Company noted that the imitation prohibited under Article 6ter of the Paris Convention is narrower in scope than an imitation, which normally is considered to be unacceptable between the trade marks. According to Euro Sklep, this view is particularly justified because very often the National flags and emblems contain items commonly used, in particular those relating to flora and fauna, such as lions, bears, flowers, etc., which must remain in public domain for free use.

R-180808

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 7 September 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1036/10 dismissed the complaint and ruled that the fact of using only half of the symbol did not matter from a heraldic point of view, because the PPO was still dealing with the emblem (flag) of the European Union. Euro Sklep S.A. filed a cassation complaint. The Company argued that the presence of the words on the flag is the negation of the principles of heraldry, and itself refutes allegation of heraldic imitation. Euro Sklep pointed out to couple of CTMs registered by the OHIM that share the same symbols of of yellow stars on blue background.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 September 2012 case file II GSK 1156/11 dismissed the cassation and ruled that the provisions of Paris Convention and Polish Industrial Property Law were introduced to protect National emblems and symbols against dilution.

Personal data protection, case I OSK 1827/11

August 29th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO) in its decision of 24 September 2010, no. DIS/DEC-1134/38146/10 ordered the Polish company Info Veriti Polska Sp. z o.o. Obsługa Serwisu Internetowego Sp.J., the publisher of online database of Polish entrepreneurs, to inform the individuals whose data that were publicly available in sources such as Court’s Monitor and Economic Monitor and which have been collected and preserved by the Company, according to the information requirement referred to in Article 25(1) 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, within 3 months from the date on which this decision becomes final.

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.

Furthermore, the GIODO ordered the Company to register the collection of personal data of customers (owners of e-mail addresses) within 30 days from the date on which the decision becomes final, to allow users of infoveriti.pl website to freely consent to the processing of their personal data for marketing purposes within 30 days from the date on which this decision becomes final, to create documentation establishing security policy and the intruction for management of IT system that used to process personal data, within 30 days from the date on which this decision becomes final, to grant the authorization to the processing of personal data to persons who are allowed to process personal data within 14 days from the date on which this decision becomes final, and to create a record of persons authorized to process personal data within 14 days from the date on which this decision becomes final. Info Veriti argued that the provisions of Article 25(1) of the PPO should not apply in its case because the provision of other law provides and allows for personal data collection without the need to notify the data subject. Such allowance happens in the case of laws that introduced a formal disclosure of public registers, that include records containing personal information. The formal disclosure of a registry means the right of everyone to access data in the register, without the need to show the legal or factual interest. Due to the widespread legitimacy in terms of access to recorded data, a person obtaining information from the register is not in any way identified during data acquisition. The Laws relating to public records and registers, also do not require explicit registration of the collected data, and there is no knowledge of the registration body of when and to whom the data were disclosed. Moreover, some registration authorities, on the basis of generally formulated principles of transparency, put the data from public records for public networks such as the Internet, which makes impossible to control access of who accessed such register. The GIODO noted that the PPD does not prohibit the creation of separate collections based on data from sources generally available, however, it does not mean that such collections are not subject to the provisions of the PPD. The Company receives data from the National Court Register in order to create a separate database, which uses for its own commercial purposes. In this way, Info Veriti Polska becomes the administrator of the collected data, therefore, as the controller, it is obliged to information requirements. The right of individuals to keep information regarding their situation and status in private, is constitutionally guaranteed, and may be restricted exclusively by laws that have the statutory rank (only Acts). The Act on the National Court Register (KRS) is just such an act. In this case, the record of a natural person entered to the KRS is publicly available, because such Register was created to ensure the transparency of the economic market in Poland. The persons referred to in the Act on the National Court Register, are therefore required to provide their data for inclusion in the register and they must also reckon with the disclosure. This does not mean, however, that they must agree to the use of their data for purposes other than the generally speaking, transparency of economic activity. However, the data controller that processes personal data should provide due care in order to protect the interests of the persons whose data were collected and in particular to ensure that the data were collected for specified and legitimate purposes and are not further processed in a way incompatible with those purposes. The GIODO also noted that the list of situations that allow for waive the requirement to provide information, referred to in 25(1) of the PPD has changed as a result of amendments to the Act that were made in 2004. The provision of Article 25(2) pt 2 that allowed to waive the abovementioned obligation in a situation where the data provided for collection are generally available, was repealed. For these reasons, it was obvious that the intention of the legislature was to require data controllers who collect data “generally available” to completing the duties arising out of the provision of Article 25(1) of the PPD.

The company filed a complaint to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw against the decisions issued by the GIODO. Info Veriti requested the Court to decide on the invalidity, or their repeal, in addition, the Company has applied for stay of the execution of the contested decisions and the order to return the costs of proceedings. Infor Veirit claimed that the processed data is very limited, restricted to surname, the national identification number (PESEL), date of birth and functions performed in the entities disclosed in the KRS. Therefore, it is impossible to provide information to persons whose data are processed, because some of them have historical character. These are people who in the past served specific functions. The data administrator is not able to provide such individuals with the required information. The data controller does not process data allowing for direct contact with a person (e.g. home address), and sending information to the address of the entity (e.g. companies created according to the provisions of the Polish Code of Commercial Companies), which in the past served a given function, can not be considered for the execution of the decision. In order to comply with the decision, Info Veriti would need to gather additional categories of data to make contact and send the required information. However, such an obligation should clearly expressed in the decision, which has not happened. The Company has no legal basis for the acquisition of new categories of personal data. The deadline of three months that was ordered by the GIODO is unrealistic in order to collect the required contact data in relation to all of the data are included in the database. The Company noted that its database contains all the data entered in the National Court Register. The purpose of data entered in the National Court Register is closely related to business transactions, and the widespread availability of the registry should not be regarded as interference in the private sphere of the individual whose data is disclosed in the registry. There isn’t therefore a need to notify such persons regarding the process of collecting their personal data, as instruments of public-law on protection of personal data are treated as protection of the right to privacy. The person who serves or served in the bodies of commercial companies must accept that the data will be in an open public record to which access will have anyone interested in business. The purpose of transparency and certainty of economic activity, according to the legislator, prevails over the protection of the name, surname, date of birth and the PESEL number of the persons who performed specific functions in the bodies that were entered into the KRS. Info Veriti also disagreed with the opinion of the GIODO, which opposes the existence and goals of the KRS and data collection of the Company, the latter being also created in order to provide the transparency of economic activity. Services provided by the Company are based on data from public records and explicitly relate to economic activity of specific individuals. Such commercial processing of data previously collected by public entities is allowed by EU law, such as Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the re-use of public sector information. Information on such entities contributes to the establishment of the internal market and creates a system ensuring undisturbed competition in that market. It is also emphasized that public sector information is an important starting material for products and services related to digital content, and more opportunities to re-use this information should allow European companies to use their potential and contribute to economic growth and job creation. As “information services” of Info Veriti are based on data obtained from public records, they fit into the goals provided in the recitals of the Directive 2003/98/EC. According to Infor Veirit, the consequences of the position taken in the decisions of the GIODO, which implies obligation to provide information to any person that collects data from the National Court Register, if there are situations referred to in Article 2 (1-2) of the PPD, are also unacceptable.

Article 2
1. The Act shall determine the principles of personal data processing and the rights of natural persons whose personal data is or can be processed as a part of a data filing system.
2. The Act shall apply to the processing of personal data in:
1) files, indexes, books, lists and other registers,
2) computer systems, also in case where data are processed outside from a data filing system.

Such requirement would have to be commonly executed in the course of trade in relation to a number of activities related to the acquisition of data from the National Court Register. Given the widespread use of copies of the KRS, that are used for instance to identify the persons authorized to represent the company at the conclusion of the contract, such an interpretation would lead to economic paralysis, and certainly also to the irrational (excessive) financial costs, in the name of privacy protection, which in the present case does not occur.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 2 June 2011 case file II SA/Wa 720/11 dismissed the complaint. The Court held that the Polish legislator afforded the citizen’s right to privacy in Articles 47, 49 and 51 of the Constitution. This also includes the protection of personal data and privacy against excessive interference by others. The provision of Article 47 of the Constitution sets out the principle of the protection of private life, Article 49 provides for the protection of the correspondence, while the provision of Article 51 states that no one shall be obliged, except under the Act to disclose information concerning his person, a public authority may not acquire, collect and share information on citizens other than those necessary in a democratic state ruled by law, everyone has the right of access to official documents and it datasets. Limitation of this right may be established by statute (act), and to anyone has the right to request the correction or deletion of information incorrect, incomplete, or collected in a manner inconsistent with the Act. These regulations are expanded in 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, which in turn refers to the solutions contained in 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. These instruments created a basic framework for data protection in the Republic of Poland. The PPD created statutory principle of the protection of personal data. In accordance with Article 1 of the PPD, any person has a right to have his/her personal data protected. The processing of personal data can be carried out in the public interest, the interest of the data subject, or the interest of any third party, within the scope and subject to the procedure provided for by the Act. The protection of personal data is a fundamental right of citizens in a democratic state of law. Protection of personal data is closely connected with the protection of private life and, therefore, it determines the freedom of the citizen. The right to protection of personal data, however, is not absolute and it is limited in the interests of the public or justified interests of others. However, since it is a citizen’s right, that determines a person’s sense of freedom, the exceptions allowing for the collection and use of personal data should be subject to strict interpretation. The legislature guided by the values of protection of constitutional rights cannot allow for a situation in which the law by the wider interpretation of the provisions relating to the processing of personal data, is violated. The provisions of the Act on the National Court Register lay down the rules of registration and the rules of disclosure of data. Such data are available electronically by the Central Information of the KRS or by viewing the register files in the appropriate departments of the Polish courts. These data are made available to any interested person, for the purposes of certainty of economic activity. The persons who undertakes an activity that is to be entered into the KRS, knows that the data is maintained by the State in the registry and data will be used only on the basis of the provisions relating to the functioning of the registry. Meanwhile, Info Veriti collects personal data and information disclosed in the register, such as surname, the PESEL number into its own database, in which data are processed. Data and information from the KRS are not intended for this purpose, and the people who share their personal information do not accept the fact that their personal data had been placed in another private database. When entrepreneurs decide to place their data into the KRS, they also have confidence that such data will be disclosed and used only in a manner permitted by the Act on the National Court Register. The legislature cannot allow for the situation that the protection of personal data contained in the KRS will not be limited to entities that wish to use the data for other purposes, and in a different way than permitted by the Act on the National Court Register. At this time, it would lead to a situation in which data from KRS could be used in an unrestricted way, against the will of the people entered into the register, for instance, in order to create a database for the marketing campaign. The court did not agree with the argument that the contested decision is contrary to the provisions of Directive 2003/98/EC. According to the court, the Directive does not apply directly to the Polish law, as EU directives are implemented into the law of a Member State and only then enter into force in the legal system. This Directive is not implemented to the Polish law, and Poland still works on the implementation. The court held that the contested decision is enforceable. Info Veriti builds its own database and has data that allow the Company to perform the information requirement to those who are in the database. It is possible because there are surnames and PESEL numbers of individuals, and businesses headquarters, where they perform given functions. Moreover, Info Veriti may use the services of the Central Bureau of Domiciliary. The fact that it is a big organizational task and it involves a large number of people does not mean that it is not feasible. By building a large database the Company had to be aware that in relation to the number of people it will have specific obligations according to the provisions of the PPD. Info Veriti filed a requested to stay the execution of the decisions.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 30 September 2011 case file I OSK 1827/11 decided to stay the execution of both decisions.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1616/11

August 28th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On May 2008, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark V V V.V. MOTOR R-205440 for goods in Class 12. This sign was applied for by FUSAN HANDICRAFT Co. from Taiwan. On April 2009, Volkswagen AG filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Patent Office. VW argued that the trade mark in question is similar to its well-known and reputed CTM, and the reputation is obvious and does not require any evidence. After careful examination of the case, the PPO invalidated the right of protection. FUSAN HANDICRAFT Co. filed a complaint against this decision.

R-205440

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 November 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1616/11 dismissed the complaint. The Court ruled that despite the editorial differences in the lists of goods of compared trade marks, the PPO correctly decided that some of the goods are to be regarded as identical. The Court agreed that the dominant element of the trade mark at issue was a composition of graphics and letters placed in the circle. That was another argument in favour of finding the similarity of signs. So the phonetic differences resulting from the different pronunciation of the letters “VV” and “VW” did not neutralize the visual similarity between the marks. The Court did not agree with the argument that the PPO failed to properly assess the similarity of the goods. The PPO did not examine too broadly the comparable lists of goods, becasue there was no doubt that VW using the priority, had the chance to seek for the broader protection for its trade mark.

Personal interests, case I C 116/12

August 9th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Eryk Schuman wrote an article regarding Klaudiusz Sevkovic who is an alderman of Chorzów city and also the president of the local handball club. This critical piece appeared at dlachorzowa.pl website. According Mr Schuman, the data given in the declaration of interests of the alderman, could indicate that Mr Sevkovic uses the communal property in his private economic activities. Sevkovic filed a suit for the protection of his personal interests. He argued that the article overstated the amount of cash taken from the club. Mr Schuman wrote that the alderman took 275 thousand PLN (Schuman used the abbreviation “tys.” which stands for thousand in Polish) for a contract work. The journalist referred to a statement of financial interests filed by Sevkovic. However, the amount disclosed in the statement was 275 PLN not 275 tys. PLN. Schuman argued that it was an unintentional mistake in the text, and it was corrected immediately after he noticed it. He noted that the goal of the article was to draw attention to irregularities of the activities of alderman. Meanwhile, Sevkovic argued that such false information was visible on at least for two weeks and it was removed only after sending a letter to the editor to request a correction, and to publish an apology, which, however, never appeared on the website.

The District Court in Katowice in its judgment of 6 August 2012 case file I C 116/12 ruled that Eryk Schuman infringed Mr Sevkovic’s personal interest. The Court noted that the article served to undermine the credibility and good name of Sevkovic in the public opinion. The Court did not consider the text in question as a “typographical error”.

Personal interests, case I ACa 689/13

August 1st, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

FS File Solutions Ltd. is the owner of a popular hosting website chomikuj.pl 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 chomikuj.pl without the permission of copyright holders. The PCB issued negative press and TV statements regarding chomiku.pl 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.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2458/11

July 27th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 6 September 2007, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark PRESTIGE OLIMPIC R-197858 for goods in Class 19 such as non-metallic construction materials, timber liners, bonded and not bonded floorboards, flooring lumber, sawn wood, planed and machined wood, construction wood, laminate flooring. This sign was applied for by the Polish company Barlinek S.A. The International Olympic Committee filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Patent Office. The IOC noted that the name INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMITEE is used since 1894, and the questioned trade mark causes the violation of its property rights and personal interests, in particular the right to the company name. In addition, the IOC claimed that the sign PRESTIGE OLIMPIC is similar to the CTM THE OLYMPICS no. 002827632, registered with the earlier priority, which may cause a risk of consumers confusion. Barlinek S.A. did not agree with such arguments and argued that both trade marks are completely different. The Company pointed out that the goods in Class 19 that are marked with the sign THE OLYMPICS have not been introduced on the Polish market.

The Polish Patent Office in its decision of 6 December 2010 no. Sp. 345/09 dismissed the request. According to the PPO, the words “Olympic” and “Olympics” are similar, but without prejudice to the similarity of signs. The PPO ruled that in this case, the recipients of goods are specialists in the construction industry, who are buying all the supplies at special stores and warehouses or directly from the manufacturers. Therefore, they are deemed as people paying bigger attention, as professionals, to the goods that they purchase. Such professional customers are well-versed in quality, product names and parameters as they are interested and will pay a special attention to who is the manufacturer of the goods.The IOC filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 27 February 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 2458/11 dismissed it. The Court held that the PPO ruled correctly that multiple signs and trade marks are used as the determination of the Olympic Games. However, no evidence was submitted that the sign THE OLYMPICS is being used in relation to the Olympics. The owner of the CTM did not show the connection between the CTM and any other goods. The sign THE OLYMPICS cannot be deemed as reputed trade mark only because its translation to Polish means Olympic games or Olympics. It is necessary to demonstrate the link between the mark and the goods and/or services. Therefore, the Court decided that the reputation has not been proven. Both signs are written in standard fonts, without any particular distinguishing features, so the same way they are written does not cause that any of the elements of these characters is predominant. The PPO correctly concluded that, despite the similarity of words in the second position in both characters, it cannot be said that the trade marks are confusingly similar. The judgment is not final. The IOC filed a cassation complaint.

Personal interest, case C-161/10

July 23rd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justice of the EU in its judgment of 25 October 2011 joined Cases C‑509/09 and C‑161/10 eDate Advertising GmbH v X and Olivier Martinez, Robert Martinez v MGN Limited ruled that Article 5(3) of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters must be interpreted as meaning that, in the event of an alleged infringement of personality rights by means of content placed online on an internet website, the person who considers that his rights have been infringed has the option of bringing an action for liability, in respect of all the damage caused, either before the courts of the Member State in which the publisher of that content is established or before the courts of the Member State in which the centre of his interests is based. That person may also, instead of an action for liability in respect of all the damage caused, bring his action before the courts of each Member State in the territory of which content placed online is or has been accessible. Those courts have jurisdiction only in respect of the damage caused in the territory of the Member State of the court seised.

The Court also ruled that Article 3 of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’), must be interpreted as not requiring transposition in the form of a specific conflict-of-laws rule. Nevertheless, in relation to the coordinated field, Member States must ensure that, subject to the derogations authorised in accordance with the conditions set out in Article 3(4) of Directive 2000/31, the provider of an electronic commerce service is not made subject to stricter requirements than those provided for by the substantive law applicable in the Member State in which that service provider is established.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1269/11

July 18th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On August 2008, the Polish law firm BSO PRAWO & PODATKI – Bramorski Szermach Okorowska Kancelaria Prawna Spółka komandytowa from Wrocław applied to the Polish Patent Office for the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark BSO RECHT & STEUERN Z-344756, for legal services in Class 45. The PPO refused because of the similarity with the CTM BSO no. 001463017 registered with the earlier priority for services in class 41 such as education and providing of training relating to intellectual property, patent, trademark, design and legal matters and relating to research and development for others, and in Class 42 for services such as Intellectual property consultancy, patent, design and trademark agency, including legal consultancy, engineering services, research and development for third parties and computer programming and services in relation to computer hardware, all relating to intellectual property, patent, trademark, design and legal matters and relating to research and development for others. This CTM is owned by the Danish IP law firm BUDDE SCHOU A/S. The PPO stated that the phrase “Recht & Stenern” (English: tax and law) is devoid of any distinctive character, as an expression, which determines only the scope of activities. This expression is not noticeable in the sign, because it is written in very small letters at the bottom, so there is no significant impact on public perception. Undoubtedly for the PPO, the acronym BSO was predominant, and the fact that the applied trade mark consists of three words and the earlier sign only one – BSO, was not important in this situation for the assessment of similarity. The PPO concluded that the same assesment applies to the figurative element. BSO PRAWO & PODATKI filed a complaint against this decision.

Z-344756

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 October 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1269/11 dismissed it. The Court ruled that a stylized symbol of section sign (paragraph) is generally accepted as an indication of the persons and entities providing legal services. Such a figurative element, no matter in what color or in any styling, recognizable as a double S symbol, is perceived to be connected with the law. It was difficult to accept that such an element, in a graphic that indicates the applicant’s company, would distinguish it from other law firms or companies providing legal services. The difference in the territorial operation of both companies was irrelevant for the PPO and the Court, because the CTM covers the entire territory of the European Union, and both companies are located there, in different Member States. This judgment is final.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1222/11

June 12th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On January 2000, the Polish Patent Office registered the trade mark DACH-BUD PERDKOWIE R-116968 for goods in Class 19 and services in Class 37. This sign was applied for by Polish entrepreneurs Krzysztof Perdek and Zbigniew Perdek Zakład Ogólnobudowlany DACH-BUD in 1996. Przedsiębiorstwo Budownictwa Ogólnego DACH BUD Spółka z o.o. from Wrocław filed a request for invalidation. DACH BUD argued that at the time of trade mark application, it was the only business that has used the sign DACH BUD as its company name. In 2002, one of the shareholders of the present company DACH BUD Spółka z o.o., has filed a request for invalidation, but it was dismissed by the PPO and the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 22 December 2005 case file VI SA/Wa 337/05.

R-196146

Also in this case, the PPO dismissed the request and decided that the proceedings were separate and independent in relation to proceedings that were held before on the request of the predecessor of DACH BUD. According to the PPO, the request based on the provisions of Article 8(2) 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, was unjustified, and there were no grounds to invalidate the right of protection. That provision states that the registration of a sign which infringes personal or property rights of third parties, has to be refused. All the personal interests that are protected under the provisions of the Polish Civil Code, are identified among the rights of a personal nature. The name (firm) of the limited liability company (spółka z ograniczoną odpowiedzialnością) is the name under which the company is established according to the provisions of the Polish Code of Commercial Companies. The name of business/entrepreneur is treated as its personal right and as such is protected as the right to company name. According to legal commentators, it is an absolute personal right of an entrepreneur, and it is effective, erga omnes, against all. Its content is defined as the ability to use the company name to identify business/entrepreneurs on the market. The company name of a private person or entrepreneurs acting as a commercial companies, is not transferable. The Polish legal doctrine and case law established the view that the registration of a sign that is corresponding to the designation of another entrepreneur, that was used before the registration of that trade mark, affects the personal interests of such entrepreneur. However, that interference in the sphere of personal property, and more specifically – in the right to the name of the entrepreneur, may also occur in case of use of the part of that name, if it is a part that is fulfilling the function that sufficiently individualize an entity, i.e. that allows to uniquely identify and distinguish the company from other private or legal (corporate) persons. The PPO ruled that a similar position should be adopted in case of registration of a figurative sign, which in the word element contains the company name (firm) of another entity, or a significant part of it. The PPO noted that the company did not exist at the filing date of the disputed trade mark, and it could not effectively rely on the infringement of its right to the company name by the disputed sign, Therefore, if the applicant’s right was not the right “with a better priority”, there were no grounds to consider the request. In the opinion of the PPO, in the exercise of its personal interests, the applicant could rely only on the right enjoyed by it exclusively, and not by others. In particular, the company could not claim and invoke any right that was enjoyed by its shareholder – a private person. DACH BUD Spółka z o.o. filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 18 January 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1222/11 agreed with the PPO and dismissed it. The Court noted that in case of conflict of rights, in this case, the protection right for a trade mark with a personal interest that includes the right to company name, the priority is to protect the personal interest. However, the registration of a trade mark that is identical or similar to a company name does not prejudge the infringement of the right to a company name. This exclusive right is not a total absolute. Its limits are defined by the coverage (territorial and goals) and the time of actual activities of the entity that is using the name. The collision between identical or similar company name and a trade mark may occur only within these limits. This judgment is not final yet.

Constitutional law, case Pp 1/10

May 21st, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 18 December 2009, the National Rebirth of Poland (NOP), a nationalist political party, requested the District Court in Warsaw to enter changes in the Register of Political Parties (RPP) with regard to address and its members, and to register new additional figurative symbols associated with this party. The Court had doubts, whether applied symbols were consistent with the principles of the Polish Constitution which say that the existence of political parties and other organizations whose programmes are based upon totalitarian methods and the modes of activity of Nazism, fascism and communism, as well as those whose programmes or activities sanction racial or national hatred, the application of violence for the purpose of obtaining power or to influence the State policy, or provide for the secrecy of their own structure or membership, should be prohibited. The District Court requested the Polish Constitutional Tribunal to examine whether goals, rules and activities of the NOP that are resulting from the change of symbols, are in accordance with the Constitution.

The Constitutional Tribunal in its order of 6 April 2011 case file Pp 1/10 with fice dissenting opinions, decided to discontinue the proceedings, and ruled that it cannot decide on the merits of the case, because there was lack of evidence, and the District Court was required to examine if the applied signs contain fascist symbolism. However, the Tribunal emphasized that such circumstances cannot be presumed, because of the constitutional guarantees of freedom of association and freedom of expression and speech.

The District Court was bound by the interpretation, and therefore requested the additional materials, together with the expert opinions on whether applied signs contain clear symbolic that is racist, totalitarian, fascist or Nazi. The linguist and historian experts issued an opinion in which they declared that the symbol of the crowned eagle with a cross, with the lictors’ rods and ax, was first seen in the Ancient Rome, and this symbol does not involve a specific message. The party emphasizes a strong role of state and refers to the Imprerium Romanum. Fasces are only a small part of the whole symbol, so as such it has quite a different meaning. For instance, fasces are included in the modern coat of arms of France and USA. It would be difficult to accuse both states of promoting fascism. The Celtic cross symbolized the sun, but it was also accepted by the Church as one of the cross symbols, and by choosing this symbol, NOP refers to the Slavic, and even Catholic and Polish and National themes. The experts noted that the symbol stylized as a road sign indicates the prohibition of homosexual acts in public places, which is consistent with generally accepted morality. The Court repeated after the experts that it would be too social sensed to look for additional symbolic and meanings. Experts said that the sign is just tasteless and vulgar and violates the principles of etiquette, but it does not promote any prohibited content. The symbol of the Cross and Sword is the signs associated with the Knightly Order of the Cross and the Sword – Polish secret organization of Catholic and moral values, established at the end of the Second Polish Republic and active at the first years of German occupation. Experts decided that all the sign act as self-identification of members of a political party rather than promote illegal content.

The District Court in Warsaw in its order of 25 October 2011 case file VIII Ns Rej Ew Pzm 77/09 did not find any legal obstacles to register all the applied signs. Professor Irena Lipowicz, the Polish Ombudsman, and the District Prosecutor Office in Warsaw both appealed. The Ombudsman argued, inter alia, that the expert opinion was not clear, coherent and complete. The Prosecutor noted that there were procedural issues. Prof. Lipowicz argued that the Polish Act on Political Parties provides that a party is allowed to apply and register only one graphic/figurative element that would serve as the identification symbol for its voters, analogously as consumers of commercial products available on the market. Such a symbol will acquire protection similar to this afforded for personal interests. Granting of such legal protection, which does not serve as an identification of a political party, but is the manifestation of expression on other participants in social life, would lead to blockage of public debate. Such protection would also have a chilling effect on freedom of speech.

The Appellate Court in Warsaw decided that a political party cannot register more than one graphic symbol. The District Court in its order of 17 April 2012 ruled that it cannot enter additional symbols into the Register of Political Parties because NOP has already registered a number of other signs such as the so-called phalanx (the symbol of a hand with sword), and their excess would impede the statutory requirement of the recognition of the political party. Undoubtedly, these judgments met with strong criticism because of the lack of a clear opinion on hate speech. Basing the decision on the argument for the registration of only one symbol was somehow an “escape” by the Courts to decide on the most important principles of a democratic state.

Internet domains, case III CSK 120/11

May 15th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

MEDianus sp. z o.o. and Medianus Agencja Reklamowa sp. z o.o. are seated in the same city, at a location nearby. The first one uses medianus.net domain name and the second medianus.pl. The first company was entered in the Register of Business Entities in the National Court Register (KRS) as MEDianus in June 2003 r. The second one was entered in 2009. MEDianus sp. z o.o. filed a complaint, to prohibit the other company to use the name “medianus” in the company name and as a domain name, based on the provisions of Article 3 and 5 of the Polish Act of 16 April 1993 on Combating Unfair Competition – CUC – (in Polish: ustawa o zwalczaniu nieuczciwej konkurencji), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 47, item 211, with subsequent amendments. MEDianus sp. z o.o. argued the the use of the same company name caused many confusions with delivery of post or invoices.

R-200943

The District Court dismissed all claims. However, the Appellate Court in Kraków agreed with MEDianus sp. z o.o. appeal and ordered Medianus Agencja Reklamowa to change its company name and website and to publish an apology in two national newspapers.

Z-360648

The Polish Supreme Court in its judgment of 9 December 2011 case file III CSK 120/11 dismissed the complaint filed by Medianus Agencja Reklamowa. The Court held that in order to apply the provisions of Article 5 of the CUC, both companies have to be in competitive relationship. This situation happens when there is a risk of confusion with regard to the identity of entrepreneurs. The Court also confirmed that the so-called cybersquatting is an unnamed delict (tort) under the Polish law on combating unfair competition.

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 611/11

April 30th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office partially refused to grant the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark moja historia Z-338905. This sign was applied for PHOENIX PRESS Sp. z o.o. Sp.k. from Wrocław for goods and services in Class 09, 16, 35, 39, 41 and 42. The PPO based its refusal in Class 09, 16 and 41 on the earlier registration of the word-figurative trade mark Moja historia R-187793 owned by WYDAWNICTWO ERA Sp. z o.o. from Straszyn. PHOENIX only agreed that both companies are publishers, but the signs are meant for other goods and are directed to another recipients. Phoenix is a press publisher whose clients are adult women and WYDAWNICTWO ERA is a publisher of school history textbooks (mainly the history of Poland), which customers are students in primary schools.

R-187793

The PPO decided that there exists similarity of signs and goods and services which may lead to consumers confiusion. PHOENIX filed a complaint against this decision. The Company argued inter alia that the PPO could grant the right of protection and it would not deprive WYDAWNICTWO ERA of protection provided for instance in the Polish Act on Combating of unfair competition, if PHOENIX’s trade mark would actually threaten the existence and functions of the trade mark owned by ERA.

Z-338905

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 8 June 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 611/11 dismissed the complaint. The Court ruled that regulations on combating unfair competition are provided in a separate act, and it is justified by both the construction of the Polish legal system and due to the method of regulation. The law on combating unfair competition does not create absolute rights, but only the system of legal claims that provides protection in the event of unwanted and objectionable market behavior and actions (unfair competition delicts or torts), which is a different approach than those adopted in the Polish Industrial Property Law, which are based on the granting of absolute rights (monopolies) by an administrative decision.

Personal interest, case II C 626/11

April 27th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2007, for about 6 months, the Polish Central Anti-corruption Bureau collected telecommunications data, including billings and location data from Base Transceiver Stations, of a Polish journalist Bogdan Wróblewski. Mr Wróblewski sued the Polish State Treasury which according to the Polish law represents the Polish state in certain legal aspects..

The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 26 April 2012 case file II C 626/11 has confirmed that the Central Anti-corruption Bureau violated personal interests of a journalist by collecting his telecommunications data. The Court pointed out that privacy is a fundamental human right and its breach must be justified and proportionate. The permission is limited “objectively” to offenses of corruption and “qualitatively” – its condition should be determined by the fact that there are not available less invasive means of control which could be useful. The process of receiving of telecommunications data must take into account these limitations each time it is initiated.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1530/11

April 16th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On May 2007, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark Vondutch R-190394, that was applied for by “SEREN TEKSTIL” Sp. z o.o. for goods in Class 25 and Class 35. The Irish company V D Europe from Dublin filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection. V D Europe argued that it is the owner of the CTM VON DUTCH no. 000336495, that was registered with the earlier priority of 8 August 1996 for good in Class 25. On 20 January 2010, the patent attorney representing V D Europe informed the PPO that the company Royer Brands International Sàrl is the new owner of the CTM VON DUTCH. The representative provided proper evidence of total transfer of ownership, and the POA from the new owner.

CTM 000336495

The Adjudicative Board of the Polish Patent Office in its decision of 3 February 2010 case no. Sp. 499/08 dismissed the opposition, and decided that Royer Brands International has no rights to conduct proceedings that were started by another company. The PPO ruled that Royer Brands International is not related structurally, financially, or linked in any legal way with V D EUrope. The PPO decided that the request was unfounded, because the owner sold its rights to a trade mark. Royer Brands International filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 23 November 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 1530/11 repealed the contested decision, ruled it unenforceable, and returned the case to the PPO for further reconsideration. The Court found that Royer Brands International has confirmed all the declarations of will and actions that were taken during the opposition proceedings by every person acting on the basis of previously submitted POA. In the opinion of the Court, the wording of Article 162 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, was deciding in the present case.

Article 162
1. The right of protection for a trade mark may be assigned or be subject to succession. The provisions of Article 67(2) and (3) shall apply accordingly.

11. The right of protection for a trade mark may be transferred to the organizations referred to in Articles 136 and 137 as a collective trade mark or collective guarantee trade mark respectively or to a number of entities as a collective right of protection.

12. Transfer of the right of protection, referred to in paragraph (11) may be effected only with the consent of the parties who enjoy that right.

13. Entry in the trade mark register of the transfer of the right of protection, referred to in paragraph (11) after the regulations governing use of the trade mark, referred to in Article 122 (2), Article 136(2) or Article 137(1) have been submitted.

14. A collective right of protection may be transferred to a single party as a right of protection for a trade mark.

2. (deleted)

3. The right of protection for a collective trade mark may be assigned as a joint right of protection to the undertakings grouped in the organisation referred to in Article 136. The contract of assignment shall determine the rules governing the use of such trade mark to the extent to which it is practised in respect of the regulations referred to in Article 122(2).

31. A collective right of protection may be transferred to the organizations referred to in Articles 136 and 137 as a collective trade mark or a collective guarantee mark. A contract for the transfer of the right should specify the rules governing use of that trade mark to the extent as it is provided for in respect of the regulations referred to in Article 136(2) and Article 137(1) respectively.

4. The right of protection for a trade mark may also be assigned in respect of certain goods for which the right of protection has been granted, if the goods for which the trade mark remains registered on behalf of the vendor are not of the same kind. Once assigned, the right in question shall be dealt with as independent of the right enjoyed by the vendor.

5. The contract of assignment of a share in the joint right of protection shall be valid subject to the consent given by all of the joint owners.

6. Paragraphs (1), (3) to (5) shall apply accordingly to the right deriving from an application filed with the Patent Office, for which no right of protection has yet been granted.

This provision introduces a general principle of transferability of the right of protection for a trade mark. The disposal of rights of protection may be primarily based on a contract of sale, exchange, or a contract of donation. However, it should be also stressed that the agreement transferring the right of protection shall be in writing, in order to be valid. Also, the relevant provisions of the Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments, were applicable in this case.

Article 30.
§ 1. Legal capacity and the capacity to enter into legal transactions shall be determined according to the provisions of civil law, unless specific provisions provide otherwise.

§ 2. Natural persons with no capacity to enter into legal transactions shall act through their legal representatives.

§ 3. Parties not being natural persons shall act through their legal or statutory representatives.

§ 4. In matters concerning transferable or hereditable rights, in case of a transfer of the right or death of the party during the pendency of the proceedings the legal successors of the party shall join the proceedings in lieu of the party.

In the opinion of the Court, Royer Brands International, under the law being in force in the Republic of Poland, has not only become the legal successor to the CTM VON DUTCH, which was the results of the valid contract of transfer of the Community trade mark, that was accepted and confirmed by OHIM in 2009, but is also the legal successors in the opposition proceedings. This means that the PPO has committed a violation of the provisions of substantive law (regulations included in Article 162 of the IPL) through their incorrect interpretation, and consequently its improper application in the case. Furthermore, the Court ordered the PPO a careful analysis of the substantive merits of the opposition, including the similarity of the signs.

Personal interest, case I CSK 111/11

March 25th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Cezary Pazura sued Grupa o2, the owner and publisher of pudelek.pl website. Mr Pazura claimed that the company infringed his dignity, the inviolability of the home, privacy and publicity, by publishing 17 articles that concerned his relationship with Edyta Zajac, then fiancee, and now his wife. He argued that comments like “his mistress was no longer pretending, what she meant?”, “oldish playboy” were clear examples of the infringement. The District Court agreed with Mr Pazura, but Grupa o2 appealled, and the Appellate Court reversed the contested judgment and dismissed the suit. Mr Pazura filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 14 December 2011 case file I CSK 111/11 repealed the contested decision and returned it to the Appellate Court for further reconsideration. The Court held that the public status of a person does not automatically mean that his or her private life becomes also a “public life”. The Court clarified the understanding of the provision of Article 14(6) 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 amendmets.

It is not allowed to publish information and data concerning the private sphere of life without the consent of the person concerned, unless it is connected directly with the public activity of such a person.

The Court ruled that in this case it was necessary to demonstrate the relationship between the public activity carried out by Mr Pazura, and published image, or private information that was published on pudelek.pl website. Therefore, it had to be a relationship between a person’s behavior in the public sphere. In addition, the disclosure of such information should serve to protect specific, socially legitimate interest. Therefore, the primary task of the courts was to determine whether in this case, Mr. Pazura’s consent was granted, or whether it was not needed at all.