Archive for: Polish Appeallate Court

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.

Unfair competition law, case VI ACa 1478/13

March 26th, 2015, Tomasz Rychlicki

Two Polish companies were involved in dispute regarding invalidation of a patent right. During the proceedings before the Polish Patent Office, one of the parties provided evidence that included internal documents and secret materials of the other party. The company filed a civil court action claiming unfair competition delict/tort.

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 13 May 2014 case file VI ACa 1478/13 ruled that patent invalidation proceedings, like any other litigation between entrepreneurs – even if it is connected with the economic activity of such entities, cannot be regarded as performing or conducting economic/business activities. This results in a lack of responsibility of the party of the proceedings before the Patent Office in respect of an act of unfair competition, even if in the course of that proceedings such party conducted activities that would normally be deemed as acts of unfair competition.

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 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 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 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.


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 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.

Copyright law, case VI ACz 856/13

July 8th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 13 June 2013 case file VI ACz 856/13 dismissed the complaint against the order to submit technologically advanced equipment and software that supports electronic transactions, into the case file. The case was initiated by a Company that suspected its former licensee of using computer software despite the expiry of the license. Copyright infringement has to be properly proved by a plaintiff. In many cases, it does not require any excessive effort, especially when infringing products are already placed on the market by the defendant. Difficulties arise, however, when infringing goods are under the exclusive possession of the alleged infringer. The claim to secure evidence is provided for in Article 80(1)(i) of the Polish Act of 4 February 1994 on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 24, item 83, consolidated text of 16 May 2006, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 90, item 631 with subsequent amendments.

Article 80. 1.
The court competent to hear the cases of infringement of the author’s economic rights in the locality where the offender conducts its activity or where his economic is located, also prior to filing suit, shall consider, within no more than 3 days of filing, an application of a party with legal interest therein:
1) for securing evidence and securing claims related thereto;

See “Trade mark law, case XXII GWo 68/12” for more on informational claims in Polish industrial property law proceedings.

Trade mark law, case I ACa 1268/12

July 4th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

Wytwórcza Spółdzielnia Pracy SPOŁEM (WSP SPOŁEM) from Kielce (the capital city of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship) sued ROLESKI Sp. J. for the infringement of word and figurative trade marks R-197616, R-170401, R-123588 and R-193780 and unfair competition torts/delicts. Both Polish companies produce different mayonnaise products that are sold in jars of a similar capacity. WSM Społem is a manufacturer of “Majonez KIELECKI”. In 2008, ROLESKI produced mayonnaise in a package bearing the designation “Świętokrzyski”. The label of this package was modified twice, by removing the word “Świętokrzyski” and by replacing it, during courts’ proceedings, by the word “Regionalny”. WSP SPOŁEM asked the District Court in Kraków to secure the claims and to issue preliminary injunction in order to prohibit ROLESKI, until the final decision is rendered, the sale of mayonnaise in a jar with a label containing a yellow background, a centered white box in the shape of an ellipse with a green border, and a green jar lid, and a round yellow sticker connected with jar’s side, and to seize and retain, until the final decision is issued, of all products held by the defendant in the form of mayonnaise packages with labels containing centered yellow background, a centered white or yellow field in a shape similar to an ellipse, framed or underlined by a green or red line, with a green round jar lids and a yellow label (band) connected to jar’s side, and also containing any of the elements described above.


ROLESKI requested the Court to dismiss the suit. The Company argued that it does not counterfeit products of WSP SPOŁEM as it manufactures own products bearing reputable trade mark, which in consequence, eliminates not only identity, but also the similarity of products. ROLESKI noted that if the two parties compete under their own brands, there is no harm to the reputation and distinctive character of their trade marks. According to ROLESKI, WSM Społem mistaken reputation of the registered trade mark with the concept of the reputation of a product. As a result, it does not prove the reputation of the figurative mark R-197616, but generally a particular product “Majonez KIELECKI”. WSM by designating its product with a word “Majonez KIELECKI” indicates only its generic name and determine the place of origin, and therefore such trade mark is devoid of any distinctive character, as opposed to the trade mark used by ROLESKI, that is a distinctive sign.


The District Court in Kraków in its judgment of 23 May 2012 case file IX GC 86/10 found that graphics of mayonnaise packages produced and marketed by ROLESKI were modeled on the graphics of mayonnaise package produced and marketed by WSP SPOŁEM. The Court noted that similarities outweighed the differences. The Court made findings of facts on the basis of documents submitted by the parties, as well as the testimony of witnesses and the opinion of an expert witness, except for the part where the expert speaks about the intentions of the designer’s of ROLESKI’s trade marks. The Court asked the expert on the likeness of packages containing the elements of trade marks and the impact of possible similarity on the likelihood of consumer confusion. ROLESKI filed an appeal complaint. The Court also found that ROLESKI used the word “Świętokrzyski”, but the office of the company was located in another voivodeship (Małopolska Voivodeship, in the Tarnów community), which was deemed as an act of unfair competition.


The Appeallate Court in Kraków in its judgment of 15 January 2013 case file I ACa 1268/12 dismissed it and ruled that the District Court has made ​​the appropriate findings. The Court noted that the evidence and testimony of expert witness allowed for a clear and comprehensive answer to the question of similarity of the goods, understood as a whole, including packaging, manufactured and marketed by the parties, taking into account changes made by ROLESKI in the appearance of mayonnaise packaging produced by the Company from Tarnów. The Court confirmed that by the use of the word “Świętokrzyski” together other elements similar to those attributed to WSM Społem, ROLESKI has exploited a set of associations created by WSM Społem for the product, which is mayonnaise with a specific package. The use of the additional word “Świętokrzyski” perpetuated these associations and allowed the Court to treat ROLESKI’s action as an act of unfair competition. ROLESKI appealed directly to the reputation of the product of WSM Społem by invoking the name of the capital of Świętokrzyskie region. The Court acknowledged similarity of the vast of words and figurative elements of packaging. All the elements visible on the packaging of both parties, although they include other wordings by the use of the same color and compositional arrangement lead to customer confusion as to the origin of the goods, and it also constitutes an act of unfair competition.

Trade mark law, case I ACa 1402/12

June 28th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company SOBIK, a producer of butter, sued Okręgowa Spółdzielnia Mleczarska in Radomsk (OSM) for trade mark infringement of the word-figurative trade mark NATURALNY PRODUKT POLSKI, MASŁO EXSTRA OSEŁKA GÓRSKA z ekologicznie czystych terenów R-165550 and the word-figurative trade mark Naturalny polski produkt z ekologicznie czystych terenów MASŁO EKSTRA OSEŁKA GÓRSKA Naturalny polski produkt z ekologicznie czystych terenów SOBIK DOBRE BO POLSKIE Wyróżnione nagrodą konsumenta LAUR KONSUMENTA 2005 Wyróżnione Srebrnym Laurem Konsumenta R-203677 and three other trade marks.


SOBIK argued that OSM in Radoms used similar product packages for butter, in particular these with words “Masło Extra” (extra butter) and “Osełka” (butter pat) written in red font on white or creamy background, and with a layout of words and figurative elements that were similar to these used in the registered trade marks.


The District Court in Łódź in its judgment of 30 August 2012 case file X GC 391/10 held that SOBIK failed to show the existence of three products on the market and the competitive behavior of the defendant in respect of infringements of trade marks R-200466, R-200467 and R-195683. However, the Court found the infringement of other two signs and ruled that consumers examine packaging of products, such as butter, from a distance. The Court noted that everyday-use products (FMCG) are displayed in stores next to each other, which may lead to likelihood of confusion, because consumers do not attach so much attention in their selection. The Court also found that OSM was involved in acts of unfair competition by imitating products of SOBIK. OSM filed an appeal complaint.

The Appeallate Court in Łódź in its judgment of 29 April 2013 case file I ACa 1402/12 dismissed it and ruled that OSM was not prohibited from the use of words such as “Masło Extra” or “Osełka”, but the company cannot use similar graphic design for these words on its products that could lead to consumers’ confusion.

Copyright law, case I ACa 134/13

June 25th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

Copyright law, case I A Cz 114/13

June 21st, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

The Appeallate Court in Białystok in its order of 7 February 2013 case file I A Cz 114/13 dismissed an appeal in this case. The Court noted that under Polish law there is no uniform procedure governing disclosure of personal data for the purposes of civil proceedings. The processing of personal data are governed primarily by the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments, the Polish Act of 16 July 2000 on Telecommunications Law – TLA – (in Polish: Prawo telekomunikacyjne), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 171, item 1800 with subsequent amendments and the Polish Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means – PSEM – (in Polish: ustwa o świadczeniu usług droga elektroniczną), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 144, item. 1204 with subsequent amendments. These regulations guarantee the protection of personal data where their processing (including their disclosure) is always an exception to the rules for their protection. The provisions of Article 80 of the Polish Act of 4 February 1994 on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 24, item 83, consolidated text of 16 May 2006, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 90, item 631 with subsequent amendments that were introduced to the system of protection of intellectual property rights as a result of the implementation of Directive 2004/48/EC, are solutions distinct and relatively independent of regulation included in the PPD, TLA and PSEM.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consumer protection, case VI ACa 1069/12

March 9th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The concept of “average consumer” is present in intellectual property law and the law of unfair competition from a long time. Since the Dassonville case (C-8/74), the concept of the average consumer has been developed in the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, and appeared in the preamble to Directive 2005/29 on unfair commercial practices. According to the Polish Act of 23 August 2007 on combating unfair commercial practices, the average consumer is understood as a consumer who is adequately informed, attentive and careful. The assessment should be made with account taken of social, cultural, linguistic factors and the belonging of the particular consumer to a specific consumer group, which should be understood as a consumer group that can be unambiguously identified and is particularly receptive to the influence of a commercial practice or the product to which the commercial practice applies, due to its specific characteristics, such as age, physical or mental disability. However, it looks like some Polish courts do not think that an average Polish consumer fits the established rules and standards.

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 13 January 2013 case file VI ACa 1069/12 held that the average Pole, which is also the average consumer, mainly due to social and cultural backgrounds, has a low legal awareness. This is the view shared by the Polish legal community. The standard of an average Polish consumer cannot in any way related to the standard of the average consumer in Western Europe, which for many decades is subjected to intensive consumer education.

Trade mark law, case I ACz 1156/12

December 31st, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish entrepreneur Przedszkola Pomarańczowa Ciuchcia A. Sławek sp. jawna from Warszawa, the owner of the word-figurative trade mark pomarańczowa ciuchcia przedszkola R-247390 (orange choo-choo kindergartens), sued another entrepreneur seated in Mińsk Mazowiecki who runs kindergarten as its business activity under the name “Wesoła ciuchacia” (Jolly choo-choo).


The District Court in Siedlce did not grant a preliminary injunction. The Court ruled that the plaintiff owns trade marks that only include the word “ciuchcia”, and the ban would block the use of such word for any other business, which would hamper the proper functioning of the market and could lead to the monopolization of this word by one company.

The Appeallate Court in Lublin in its judgment case file I ACz 1156/12 dismissed the complaint filed by A. Sławek. The Court held that the company cannot extend the right of protection for the word mark “orange choo-choo” on the mere word “choo-choo” in order to prevent others to use it in their company names. The right of protection include a sufficiently distinguishable words “orange choo-choo” and the word “choo-choo” itself, according to the Court, is not distinctive. Although these rights are in force throughout the whole territory of the Republic of Poland, but the risk of misleading recipients of kindergarten services is limited because both entrepreneurs are operating in very different areas – Warsaw and Mińsk Mazowiecki. The risk of confusion between the name “orange choo-choo” and “jolly choo-choo” is also minimized by establishing the entity that is responsible for running kindergartens, the scope of education and educational services, human resources services and the method of financing.

Copyright law, case I ACa 129/12

December 21st, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

Personal interests, case I ACa 689/13

August 1st, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

Trade mark law, case V ACa 77/11

April 18th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appeallate Court in Katowice in its judgment of 5 April 2011 case file V ACa 77/11 ruled that there is no reason to claim that a reputable trade mark must have a greater recognition than well-known signs. Decisive are the quality criteria, and not the quantity. A reputed trade mark does not have to be well-known, and a well-known sign does not have to be reputed one.

Unfair commercial practices, case VI ACa 1179/11

February 20th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

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

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

Procedural law, case I CSK 138/08

January 17th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 5 November 2008 case file I CSK 138/08 dismissed a cassation complaint in case related to tangible property, however the Court also decided on issues related to digital evidence. The Supreme Court found that the Appeallate Court erred in law by not admitting and refusing to assess evidence of computer printouts submitted to the case by the defendant. The Court did not agree with the opinion that prints do not meet the requirements of documents and thus can not be considered as evidence in the process. Even if unsigned computer printouts are not considered as a document within the meaning of provisions of Article 244 and 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, it should be considered that the CPC does not contain 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, if it is not contrary to law. Therefore, the Appeallate Court should allow to submit such evidence based on the provisions of Article 308 of the CPC. This provision refers to evidence other than as expressly set out in the CPC, and the same may also apply to computer printouts.

Trade mark law, case I ACa 149/08

November 10th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appeallate Court in Kraków in its judgment of 18 March 2008 case file I ACa 149/08 ruled that the inclusion of the ® symbol can be done in order to inform that the trade mark is protected. There are no other rights associated with this sign that could strengthen the market position of the product bearing the trade mark. This symbol does not contain any information about the product itself, but is a clear signal for those entities wishing to undermine the right of protection for a trademark that in the event of such a breach, the holder shall have specific claims in relation to the infringer.

Personal interest, case IV CSK 665/10

November 7th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Writing under a pseudonym, Dariusz B. posted a comment on the website “Gazeta online Elbląg 24”. In his post Dariusz B. wrote to the Mayor of the Elbląg town, that he has photographs of people who sit in the city council, and he described the content of these pictures as a “sex scandal”. He noted that the Mayor’s spokesman ignored this case, so he wanted to know what should he do next with such photographs. Other anonymous Internet users posted comments under the post that has been written by Dariusz B. One of them has disclosed who is the author of the post, and also expressed a negative opinion about the post, by calling it a blackmail. This person also suggested that Dariusz B. has used the media for his own purposes in order to manipulate press journalists. The intentions of Dariusz B. and his honesty, were also undermined. The post of Dariusz B. was described as a blatant violation of the law for which he should bear criminal responsibility. “Gazeta online Elbląg 24” is a service available for free. It is operated by the Municipality of the Elblag town. The comment in which personal data of Dariusz B. was disclosed was written from a computer that had the IP address belonging to the organizational unit of the Elblag town. The unit operates wireless Wi-Fi, whose range includes several publicly accessible areas of the building and parking lot adjacent to it. It was not possible to identify the person who posted this comment. The Police, at the request of Dariusz B. commenced an investigation and failed to establish who was the author of the comment, even when the Municipality of Elblag has disclosed all data, including IP addresses. Dariusz B. sued the Municipality of Elbląg for the infringement of his personal interests. The District Court and the Appellate Court dismissed the suit. Dariusz B. filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 8 July 2011 case file IV CSK 665/10, published in electronic database LEX, under the no. 898708, held that critical comments of the content of post and the very fact of its posting, or disclosure of the name and surname of Dariusz B., was not a violation of his personal interest. However, it was a violation of personal interests (dignity and reputation) when such action has been called illegal activity, fraudulent and manipulative, a blackmail and provocation, which undoubtedly discredited Dariusz B. in public opinion, especially as a social activist, who was active at another online forum. Such statement, not supported by the facts, was unlawful. In the case of an infringement of one’s personal interests, the court may award pecuniary compensation to a person whose personal interests have been infringed, an approriate amount as pecuniary compensation for the wrong suffered or may, on his demand, adjudge an appropriate amount of money to be paid for a social purpose chosen by him, irrespective of other means necessary to remedy the effects of the infringement. Not only the person who directly caused the damage shall be liable, but also any person who has induced or helped another person to cause the damage, including those who consciously took benefit from a damage caused to another person. However, the Court ruled that there was no normal causal link between the actions of the Municipality of Elblag, and the damage suffered by Dariusz B., and such a link occurs only when the action is directed to accomplish the tortious activity.

By opearating a website “Gazeta online Elbląg 24” and a discussion forum, the Municipality of Elbląg was deemed as the Internet services provider. However, such ISPs, are responsible for the violation of personal rights performed by others only when they knew that the post violates these interests and they did not immediately prevent the access to the post. Therefore, the ISP is not obliged to control the content of posts written by users on a free discussion forum website. Taking into account the nature and purpose of services based on making available free of charge of a discussion website, and considering also that there were no general rules for the management of such services and systems, the Court held that there were no grounds to impose a general obligation on the ISP to provide tools to identify users of such a website. The Court ruled that the anonymity of persons using the publicly available online news website, is a generally accepted principle and essence of this type of service. It provides freedom of expression, which is the goal of such websites. Consequently, the Court held that the ISP that created and provides free access to the website with a discussion forum, has no obligation to ensure the ability to identify the users who maded posts on this website.

Copyright law, case VI ACa 461/11

November 3rd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Maryla Rodowicz is a well-known singer in Poland. She composed and recorded a song entitled “Marusia” about a Russian soldier-girl that was one of heroines from the book “Czterej pancerni i pies” written by Janusz Przymanowski. Mrs Rodowicz also created a video clip for this song. You can easily search and find it on YouTube. She used 3 minutes of the TV series entitled “Czterej pancerni i pies” where Marusia is portrayed by Polish actress Pola Raksa. Mrs Rodowicz paid 9.000 PLN of licensee fee to the producer Telewizja Polska S.A. A widow of the writer filed a copyright infringement suit claiming that this ridiculous video violated his personal and economic copyrights.

The Appellate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 27 October 2011 case file VI ACa 461/11 had to answer the most important question, i.e. what was the nature of the video clip. Expert witnesses that were appointed by the agreement of both parties stated that the video is not an inspired work, because it directly incorporated some parts of the TV series. It wasn’t also a derivative work since it did not creatively transform the original work. Experts said that this was a work with borrowings, that copied fragments of someone else’s work where the right of quotation was exceeded. However, such use requires the consent of the copyright holder. The problem was that the producer was not able to provide the agreements from the time when the series was produced. The Court held, that in this case copyrights to the script are in the hands of creators, including Mr Przymanowski and his heirs. The Court ordered Maryla Rodowicz to pay 37.000 PLN of compensation.

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

Trade mark law, case I ACa 988/08

October 17th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appeallate Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 17 December 2008 case file I ACa 988/08 held that the wide scope of protection of reputed trade marks should be afforded only for well-known signs that are characterized by prestige, that is associated with the goods of exceptional – especially high-quality – and, most importantly, signs of such a strong and established position that they attract attention no matter for which of the goods they are used.

Personal interest, case I ACa 1273/11

October 3rd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Mr Andrzej Jezior is a councillor of the Town Council in Ryglice, and he also runs a personal website available at He often post comments regarding affairs of local life of the young Ryglice town. Some readers of his website posted negative comments on Bernard Karasiewicz, who was at this time the mayor of this small town. Despite the fact that Mr Jezior removed these comments, Mr Karasiewicz sued for violation of his personal interest. The suit was based on regulations included in the Polish Act on Elections to municipal councils, county councils and regional assemblies, in connection with regulations included in the Polish Act on the direct elections of village-mayor (prefect), town mayor, president of a city.

The District Court in Tarnów in its order of 15 November 2010 case file I Ns 162/10 agreed with the mayor and ordered Mr Jezior to publish an apology on his website, prohibited him from further distribution of these comments and ordered him to pay 5000 PLN for Caritas of the Tarnowska diocese and the case expenses in the amount of 240 PLN. The Court ruled, that Mr Jezior should be held liable for the comments that appeared on his website, because they came from people enjoying freedom of expression. Running a website that allows for posting such comments should be considered a wrongful action that is contrary to public policy and the principles of social coexistence. Mr Jezior appealed.

The Appeallate Court in Krakow in its order of 17 November 2010 case file Acz 1457/10 dismissed the complaint.

Mr Karasiewicz lost local elections in 2010. He sued Mr Jezior for violation of his personal interest again, alleging the comments caused that he was not re-elected to serve as a mayor of Ryglice. This time the suit was based on the regulations included in the Civil Code.

The District Court in Tarnów in its judgment of 3 October 2011 case file I C 319/11 ordered the defendant to publish an apology in the local press for “distributing” content that infringes upon the personal interests of the plaintiff and his family, to pay 1000 PLN compensation and reimbursement of the proceeding costs in the amount of 650 PLN. The Court dismissed the claim where the plaintiff demanded the payment of compensation in the amount of 10.000 PLN. The Court ruled that defendant is responsible and he should bear the consequences that he has made a forum that was available for the publication of any message. Mr Jezior appealed. The Appeallate Court in Kraków in its judgment of 19 January 2012 case file I ACa 1273/11 reversed the judgment of the District Court and dismissed the suit.

Internet domains, case I ACa 1087/10

August 2nd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Conciliation for Internet Domains at the Polish Chamber of Information Technology and Telecommunications (the CCID) in its award of 9 March 2010 case file 74/09/PA dismissed the complaint brought by Italian company Bisazza against Polish entrepreneur Rafał Kacprzak from Wrocław who registered the following domain names:, and Bisazza claimed that the registration of .pl domains infringed on its CTM BISAZZA no. 001494590 and word-figurative CTM “BISAZZA mosaico” no. 001500248. Surprisingly, the Court did not agree with arguments provided by the Italian company and held that there was no infringement because the regulations included in the Polish Industrial Property law that did not allow for such interpretation. According to the CCID, there was no delict/tort of unfair competition as activities of both companies should be deemed as complementary. The CCID noted that Bisazza could act more carefully and it should have registered both domain names much earlier. According to the Court, by advertising products of the Italian company, Mr. Kacprzak was not acting as a cyber squatter because he did not only intend to increase his financial benefits but he was doing it in order to maximise mutual benefits. The Court also said the Mr. Kacprzak did not infringe on the company name.

CTM no. 001500248

Bisazza S.p.A. filed a complaint against this controversial decision. The Company claimed the arbitration award is contrary to the public policy rules established in the Republic of Poland, including the protection of acquired rights, social justice, stable and secure law, comprehensive examination of the case, consistency of legal decisions and integrity of the legal system.

The Court for the Community Trade Marks and Community Designs (in Polish: Sąd Okręgowy w Warszawie Wydział XXII Sąd Wspólnotowych Znaków Towarowych i Wzorów Przemysłowych) in its judgment of 20 September 2010 case file XXII GWzt 17/10 annulled the questioned award. To begin with, the Court reminded that the Polish legislator sought to strengthen the arbitration proceedings by limiting the possibility of challenge of the awards issued by courts of arbitration. The competence of common courts in controlling the correctness of awards issued by arbitration courts are very limited and strictly defined. The petition for the reversal of the arbitration award belongs to the category of special appeals. It has a cassatory character (annulment of a judicial decision is allowed only in certain cases under strict conditions). In such proceedings the Court will not examine the merits of the dispute (if the facts warrant issued ruling) or verify the correctness of the findings that were made and accepted. All the grounds justifying of the petition for the reversal of the arbitration award are included in the Article 1206 §1-2 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.

§ 1 By way of an application a party may apply for the award to be set aside if:
1) there was no arbitration agreement, the agreement is not valid, ineffective or has expired under the law applicable to it;
2) the party was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator, of the arbitration proceedings or was otherwise unable to present its case before the arbitration tribunal;
3) the award deals with a dispute not contemplated by or beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement, provided that, if the decisions on matters submitted arbitration can be separated from those not so submitted or falling beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement, then only that part of the award which relates to the matters not submitted or falling beyond the submission may be set aside; the fact that a matter is beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement cannot constitute a ground for setting aside the award if a party who participated in the proceedings did not object to those claims being heard;
4) the composition of the arbitration tribunal or the fundamental rules of arbitral procedure were not in accordance with the agreement of the parties or with a provision of law;
5) the award was obtained by way of a crime or on the basis of a forged or falsified document,
6) a final judgment has already been made in the same case between the same parties.

§ 2. The arbitration award shall also be set aside if the court finds that:
1) the dispute was not capable of settlement by arbitration under the law;
2) the award is contrary to the public policy rules in the Republic of Poland (public order clause).

The Court noted that when assessing whether an arbitration award is contrary to the fundamental principles of law, the Court should take into account its content and not the correctness of the proceedings that were held before the arbitration body. The basic principles of the law underlying the assessment of the award should be understood not only as the constitutional rules but also as the general norms and rules in particular areas of law. The breach by an arbitration body of the proper substantive law justifies the reversal of the arbitration award only if the award is contrary to legal order. The arbitration body shall decide on the dispute according to the law of the legal relationship and when the parties explicitly mandated it – by the general principles of law or equity/fairness. The Court for the Community Trade Marks and Community Designs concluded that the interpretation of basic principles of trademark law both national and Community, that was provided by the CCID in its award, shows lack of understanding of the merits of law and lack of the ability to apply existing rules to the facts of this case. The arbitration court committed various irregularities: by qualifying the rights to Bisazza trade marks as national property rights, in examining the infringement based on only one character – probably a word trade mark – without considering the reputation, by dismissing the infringement claims on the basis of facts that do not have any meaning in trademark law while failing to examine identity/similarity of the marks and signs included in Internet domains and the goods and services of each party. The court reminded the arbitrator that the rules and regulations under the First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks, the CTMR and the case law of the Court of Justice of the UE apply directly in disputes over infringement of the Community trade mark. These rules and regulations must be applied also by national courts including arbitration bodies. Incorrect choice of legal norms and wrongful interpretation led to an unjustified deprivation of protection which is afforded to Bisazza in relation to its trademarks. Mr Kacprzak appealed.

The Appellate Court in Warsaw in its judgement of 1 April 2011 case file I ACa 1087/10 overturned the judgment of the Court for the Community Trade Marks and Community Designs. The Appellate Court found that since the CCID ruled that it has no jurisdiction to hear and decide upon some of the demands made by Bisazza, and rejected them in the suit, the decision was final and could not be controlled at all by the civil courts, including the proceedings caused by an action for annulment of an arbitration award. The findings stating that the CCID had no jurisdiction, that were based on the domain names regulations issued by the Scientific and Academic Computer Network (Naukowa i Akademicka Sieć Komputerowa), did not constitute a breach of the basic principles of the law (the public order clause), because Bisazza could take these demands to a civil court. In the opinion of the Appellate Court, the District Court failed to consider whether the erroneous application of the Polish law rather than the EU by the CCID was tantamount to violation of the basic principles of the law. It could have been so, only if it had a significant impact on the content of the decision rendered by the CCID. In the opinion of the Appellate Court, however, there was no such effect in this case. The Appellate Court ruled that the relevant regulations provided in the Polish law are the result of the implementation of the Directive 89/104/EEC and its relevant provisions required for this case to be then included in the CTMR. The Court decided that the solutions provided in the Polish law are similar to those of EU legislation, and the classification of infringement of trade mark rights is done by the same rules. The Appellate Court noted that the CCID found that Mr Kacprzak used, in the course of trade, a trademark identical to a protected mark not in relation to identical or similar goods but to goods protected by this trademark. The defendant is an installer of Bisazza mosaics but not identical or similar mosaics. The CCID examined also whether or not there is an infringement of reputed trademark, however, found no such breach. The Appellate Court also ruled that the award of the CCID did not violate the rules and principles of a stable and secure law because these rules should relate to the creation of law and not its application.

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

Personal interest, case I ACz 462/11

June 20th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

A Polish Internet user has started a Facebook account in which he accused a travel agency Alfa Star from Radom of dishonesty and presented bad reviews of its services. Other Facebook users also started to post negative comments. The travel agency filed a suit for protection of personal interest together with the injunction to delete the Facebook account along with all the comments until the final decision in the case is rendered. The District Court in Radom granted the injunctive relief. Bartosz C. filed a complaint against this decision. The Appellate Court in Lublin in its order of 30 May 2011 case file I ACz 462/11 reversed the injunction. The Court noted that although the company has shown its interest in granting the injunction, it also seek this way to satisfy all claims included in the suit. If, before the end of the proceeding, the company would obtain the injunction to remove an account, this would actually satisfy its claims. The Court noted that the injunction should be granted to the extent that the plaintiff is afforded the adequate legal protection, and the defendant it not burden more than it’s needed. Facebook allows for the deactivation of an account and such injunction should be considered by the District Court as adequate injunction.

Trade mark law, case I ACa 1010/09

March 27th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The plaintiff, a licensee of an international figurative trade mark containing the word DAVIDOFF, sued Super-Pharm Poland for trade mark infringement. The plaintiff argued that an item sold as DAVIDOFF Cool Water Woman that was bought in Poland bore the identification number B7 1431298685 and established that this item was sold to Coty Middle East FZCO in Dubai in June 2007. The Polish company also offered to sell genuine products bearing the mark DAVIDOFF, which had production numbers removed or tampered with in order to disguise the illicit importation of goods from outside the European Economic Area without the permission of the plaintiff. The defendant refused to provide information about the distributor who supplied the disputed goods and did not comply with the Court’s order of 18 May 2009 case file XXII GWo 6/09 to provide such information, claiming a need to protect its trade secrets.

The Court for the Community Trade Marks and Community Designs (in Polish: Sąd Okręgowy w Warszawie Wydział XXII Sąd Wspólnotowych Znaków Towarowych i Wzorów Przemysłowych) in its judgment of 27 July 2009 case file XXII GWzt 4/09 acknowledged that the removal or alteration of the production codes is not prohibited by Community law, except for Article 13(2) of the CTMR. In this case, however, it was closely related to fraudulent marketing of goods bearing the DAVIDOFF trade mark that took place in the EEA, which indisputably constituted trade mark infringement. The Court prohibited Super-Pharm Poland Sp. z o.o. from the unlawful use of the word and figurative mark Davidoff IR-876874, namely importing, offering, marketing or stocking. However, Coty Prestige Lancaster Group GmbH filed an appeal, because the Court dismissed the claim with regard to publishing the decision issued in the case.

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 1 April 2010 case file I ACa 1010/09 dismissed it and ruled that in order for the court to accept the claim for publishing a decision it is insufficient for the claimant only to invoke the contents of a provision stipulating such a form of remedy for infringement of trade mark rights. The claimant has to indicate the facts justifying the claim, prove for what specific purposes it is necessary to publish the decision, and what are the reasons for applying such additional sanction towards the respondent.

Personal interest, case I ACa 544/10

March 22nd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

A critical article was published in a paper magazine entitled “Forum Akademickie”. It concerned one of the scientist from the University of Opole. Some offensive comments appeared also at magazine’s online forum. These entries were removed after the administrator received a notice from the researcher. There was another offensive entry published on 30 November 2008, but on the same day it has been removed by a site administrator. The researcher sued the editor for allowing for the publication of inaccurate and defamatory comments which in consequence infringed on his personal interests. The District Court in Lublin dismissed the claim as unjustified. The Court held that according to regulations included in Article 14 and 15 of the PSEM the defendants cannot be held responsible because they prevented the access to questioned data/entries. The plaintiff appealed.

The Appellate Court in Lublin in its judgment case file I ACa 544/10 held that defendants should be held liable because they provided a website that was used for discussion and exchange of different views and they posted also a warning message about the moderation or deletion of entries that will not fit for certain rules, although according to the Court they were not obliged to do so, but they also employed for this purpose a person whose duty included monitoring the entries and the removal of those that were posed not in accordance with law and social norms. Therefore, The Court ruled that defendants had knowledge of illegal entries. As a result, they were responsible for failing to remove them without delay and to do so only after many months, at the request of the plaintiff.

The Court ordered the defendants (the editor of the magazine and its publisher) to publish under the article the statement of apology and to pay jointly 5.000 PLN to charity. The judgement is not final.

Copyright law, case I ACa 787/11

December 1st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Stan Borys is a Polish singer and author of the lyrics to the song “Chmurami zatańczy sen”, which was composed in 1974. A longer excerpt from the chorus “Ciemno juz zgasły wszstkie światła, ciemno już, noc nadchodzi głucha” has been used by Ryszard Andrzejwski, a Polish raper called PEJA as a sample in his song “Głucha noc” which was recorded in 2001 and released by his publisher T1-Teraz sp. z o.o. on two albums in 2001 and 2002. These albums were distributed by EMI Music Poland. The sampled part was transformed by changing the voice octave and by increasing the music tempo. The song became a hit that was aired in radio and television stations.

CT Creative Team S.A. sells multimedia content to mobile phones based on SMS and WAP technology using Premium Rate numbers. On 26 August 2003 the company entered a license agreement with T1-Teraz for distribiution of short fragments of songs recorded by PEJA. This also included 30 seconds of “Głucha noc”. These music pieces were uploaded to CT Creative MEdia server. CT was obliged to pay 0,15 PLN for each downloaded fragment, the payment followed within 14 days after the end of each calendar quarter. CT was also required to provide an additional statement containing the information on songs/fragments used together with the original titles, numbers of downloads and numbers of fees charged. A year later the two companies signed an similar agreement with a fee 0.,5 PLN per downloaded song. In the period from September 2003 to October 2005, this song has been downloaded 859 times as a phone ringtone and CT earned 3465 PLN.

Stan Borys found out about this song in 2004. To his surprise, he was informed at the press conference, held together with PEJA. Resentful of this situation, he explained that he did not consent to the use of his song by PEJA. His attorney requested the CT Creative to stop distribution of the song and the ring tone was withdrawn. Stan Borys sued CT, T1-Teraz, and Ryszard Andrzejewski.

The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 14 September 2010 case file I C 626/06 held most of the claims were justified. The Court ruled that the fragment used by PEJA by its transformation constitutes a derived work made from the work of Stan Borys. The manner of disposal of the derived work and the use thereof should be subject to the consent of the creator of the original work (the so-called dependent copyright), except where the economic rights in the original work have expired. Stan Borys is entitled to protection of his moral and economic rights. The court disagreed with the argument that the license agreement allows for the free dissemination of the work as specified in the agreement. The obligation to indicate the creator of the original song is saddled with both the creator of derived work (if one does not do that he or she risks the charges of plagiarism) and that one who distributes a derived work. The Court cited the judgment of the Appellate Court in Warsaw of 14 March 2006 case file VI ACa 1012/05. See “Copyright law, case VI ACa 1012/05“.

The court found that the lack of consent on the creation of a sample and dissemination of the work and the lack of designation of the author of the original work is the evidence of unlawful infringement of copyright and the rights to artistic performance by the CT Creative. In the assessment of the Court, the infringement was culpable in the form of at least negligence because it was associated with lack of diligence in examining whether distributed ringtones are not other people’s songs/works and such an obligation results from the professional nature of CT Creative’s business. However, intentional guilt can be attributed to CT Creative from 12 September 2005 when the company received a corresponding letter from Stan Bory’s attorney.

The court ruled that as a result of CT actions Stan Borys was deprived of possibility to exercise his rights of supervision over the use of the work, authorship rights and rights to cause the work to appear under his name and surname. The court also took into account the form in which the infringement has occurred. Stan Borys claimed that this violation was for him the more severe because the fragment of “Chmurami zatańczy sen” has been distorted in a caricature way and it was used in hip hop song, which included obscene words. Stan Borys did not and does not want to have nothing in common with this genre of music. The Court agreed with the argument that creating this sample in this given form depreciated previous works of Stan Borys. The court held that there is a causal link between the activities of CT Creative and the harm and damage caused to Stan Borys. This applied both to his personal rights (intangible) and economic rights to the copyrighted work because he did not receive any remuneration for the distribution of. The court ordered the cessation of the use and distribution of the work and ordered to pay 15000 PLN for the infringement of personal rights and 10000 PLN for the infringement of economic rights and rights in performance (three times of the equitable remuneration, which at the time of the enforcement would be payable to the entitled person for granting the permission for the use of the work), and to publish an apology.

CT Creative appealed. The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment case file I ACa 787/11 reversed the sum of compensation and send the case back for reconsideration.

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

Access to public information, case V Ca 2388/10

November 9th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Professor Janusz S. Bień requested the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences to disclose public information on the license agreement, concerning the online version of the Dictionary of the Polish language of the sixteenth century. The request was filed under the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments. Mr Bień did not receive the requested information, but also was not denied this information in the form of an administrative decision. As a result, prof. Bień brought an action for failure to act. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw, in its judgment of 18 June, 2009 case file II SAB/Wa 14/09 ordered the Director of the Institute of Literary Research to examine the request.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trade mark law, case I ACa 767/07

October 13th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appellate Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 3 October 2007 case file I ACa 767/07, published in Lex no. 519252, held that reputable characters in comparison with other signs are characterized by stronger distinguishing ability that results from good information and notions of quality and prestige, provided by a sign to potential customers, facilitating the sale of goods bearing that trade mark.At the same time, such trade mark has a measurably market value and represents a significant, or even dominant component of the company’s assets. A reputed trade mark is protected even outside of its class or classes. Because, in such cases, advertising and qualitative functions of a trade mark are protected, and not the function of designation of origin of the product or service. The term of reputation refers both to the registered trade marks as well as well-known signs that are not registered.

Personal interest, case I C 144/10

August 15th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

A Polish citizen filed a civil suit against Nasza Klasa company – the owner and operator of social networking website. He seek an apology and a payment for the infringement of his personal interest by the fact that Nasza Klasa refused to provide the plaintiff with personal data of the person who set up a fake profile, and allowed for the creation of such a profile, which was finally closed after several unsuccessful requests.

The Inspector General for Personal Data Protection in its decision of 5 March 2010 ordered Nasza Klasa to provide the plaintiff with information (full name, address, e-mail and IP address of a computer) of the person who set up the profile of the YYY number on website, ordering at the same time, to fulfill the obligation referred to in Article 33(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.

Article 33
1. At the request of the data subject, within the period of 30 days, the controller shall be obliged to notify the data subject about his/her rights, and provide him/her with the information referred to in Article 32 paragraph 1 point 1-5a as regards his/her personal data, and in particular specify in an intelligible form:
1) the category of personal data contained in the file,
2) the means of data collection,
3) the purpose and the scope of data processing,
4) the recipients of the data and the scope of access they have been granted.

While executing this decision Nasza Klasa informed the plaintiff that the fictional profile was set up on behalf of a person of a first name “s d.”, the second name “w. I’m gay”, having e-mail address At the same time the company informed the plaintiff that it has no data with regard to IP addresses from which the profiles are set on its website, these data are not collected, and kept or archived. However, as it was also clear from the order of the District Court in Poznań of 16 June 2010 on an ongoing parallel criminal proceedings that Nasza Klasa provided the Police with the IP number, host and e-mail address of the person who has registered this fictitious profile containing personal information of the plaintiff.

The District Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 23 July 2010 case file I C 144/10 ruled that the way that Nasza Klasa has executed the decision bears hallmarks of malignancy, where the repetition of the contents of the fake profile certainly violated the plaintiff’s dignity. The Court noted also that the activity of Nasza Klasa which allows its users for the opening of online accounts, including fictitious accounts does not have the characteristics of illegality. Therefore, the plaintiff was not allowed to infer the responsibility of Nasza Klasa, because during the use of legal mechanisms, there was an infringement of his personal interests. In other words, the illegal nature has only the act of the direct infringer – an unknown person who registered fictional profile on website, that was containing personal information of the plaintiff, including his image, in the context of information insulting him.

The mere creation of a registration/login mechanism within defendant’ hosting services, without any specific negligence in the performance of duties imposed by law cannot justify the defendant’s liability for the infringement of personal rights of the plaintiff. According to the Court such reasoning would justify shifting the liability of the direct offender of personal right to the hosting service provider.

The Court held that Nasza Klasa committed a violation of personal rights by refusing to grant the plaintiff an access to personal data of the person who set up a fake profile infringing on his personal interest and being opprobrious to his identity, despite the fact that the plaintiff was entitled to obtain it, which was confirmed by final decision of the GIODO. The Court ruled that Nasza Klasa company as a professional hosting provider, which created and maintains a social networking website – in accordance with its TOS – should be aware of how the decision of Inspector General for Personal Data Protection should be executed. Moreover, Nasza-Klasa was aware of the circumstances of the plaintiff’s case, which lasted almost a year. At that time, the plaintiff has shown a determination to assert his rights, despite the fact that without a personal data of the offender, has repeatedly been put in a kind of a hopeless situation, not only by law enforcement, but also by Nasza-Klasa company. Since Nasza-Klasa did not have the name of the person who registered the fictitious profile with the data of the plaintiff, it shall inform the plaintiff and explain the problem and execute the decision of the GIODO with regard to available data (IP, e-mail address of the perpetrator). Nasza Klasa decided to file an appeal complaint. The Appelatte Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 18 Nobember 2010 case file I ACa 1129/10 reversed the previous judgment and dismissed the suit.