Archive for: Polish Supreme Court

Press law, case I CSK 664/09

November 25th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2001, the Polish magazine “Polityka” published the article entitled “Po pierwsze Sandauer”. The author quoted a surgeon, who operated Adam Sandauer, the president of Primum Non Nocere association, in which he had said that instead of more surgery Mr Sandaur needed a psychiatrist. The author quoted other doctors, who spoke about Sandauer being in conflict with the medical community and suggested that he is in bad mental condition. He quoted passages of Sandauer’s private mail to confirm this statement. Mr Sandauer sued and the case went through all instances. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 17 listopada 2010 case file I CSK 664/09 held that publication of private correspondence without the permission of the author, and especially when it concerns the sphere of his or her private life, such as health, is unlawful.

Trade mark law, case IV CSK 231/10

October 27th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 21 October 2010 case file IV CSK 231/10 held that the combination of colors may serve as a trademark. However, the entrepreneur entitled to the right of protection cannot prohibit the use of one of such colors that is used by another entrepreneur in its trade mark. Judge Wojciech Katner stated that the single color cannot be a trademark.

R-115856

In this case, the object of protection was a combinations of two colors. The right or protection to the figurative trade mark R-115856 was granted to the BP P.L.C. by the Polish Patent Office based on the provisions of Article 120(2) of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej) of 30 June 2000, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text on 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments.

Article 120
1. Any sign capable of being represented graphically may be considered as trademark, provided that such signs are capable of distinguishing the goods of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.
2. The following, in particular, may be considered as trademarks within the meaning of paragraph (1): words, designs, ornaments, combinations of colours, the three-dimensional shape of goods or of their packaging, as well as melodies or other acoustic signals.

The trade mark infringement occurs when the proportions and the use of a given color by another entrepreneur will not allow for distinguishing of trade marks. Sending the case back for reconsideration the Court stated that the judgment of the court of the second instance should be clarified so that the dominance of the green color, would not suggest that this was British Petroleum fuel station. The Court agreed with the defendant that one cannot monopolize the colors, and only some are valuable on the fuels market. The Court held that although different entrepreneurs use the same color to designate their stations, it will not lead to consumers confusion because of the layout, and even a shade of these color. The Court noted that a reputable sign serves not only as the carrier of information about the origin of goods (services). It also provides some important information that may relate to the quality of goods (services), as well as the reputation of the owner of that trade mark or to its activities. Reputed Mark is a sign known, recognizable to a greater extent than usual signs, which does not mean that it must be known widely. Such recognition is provided precisely by these values that the character embodies, so for example, prestige, reputation, uniqueness, high quality. The reputation is not a simple consequence of the distribution of the mark, but it a notion settled in the minds of buyers (customers) about the qualities of goods (services), the prestige of the trade mark or other values.

See also “Trade mark law, case IV CSK 61/09“.

Unfair competition, case V CSK 192/09

September 28th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

AFLOFARM Fabryka Leków sp. z o.o. from Ksawerów sued two Polish companies for trade mark infringement and unfair competition delict/tort with regard to selling similar pharmaceutical products. This case went through all instances.

Z-307527

The Supreme Court in its judgement of 22 January 2010 case file V CSK 192/09 published in the electronic database LEX, under the no 564857, dismissed the complaint filed by Hasco Lek S.A. and Hasco Lek Dystrybucja. The Court held that the specificity of the market’s segment in which the magnesium preparations are sold, and which boils down to the fact that the same or very similar products gains the advantage of customers, through its specific name and advertising of such product and its packaging, requires greater care when introducing a new product of a very similar name and packaging, because it cannot mislead consumers, and it cannot take away consumers from another producer.

Copyright law, case IV CR 127/7613

September 19th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 5 October 1976 case file IV CR 127/7613 ruled that the photography is not protected by copyright, when it only serves as a registration of situation or occurrence. Such photo is taken by the author in clearly defined manner, by using well-defined standards, etc., and it lacks the threshold of creativity.

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

Copyright law, case IV CSK 359/09

September 17th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company KREA sp. z o.o. prepared a label design for yoghurt packaging that was commissioned by Wojciech Jurkiewicz. The Company contacted a freelance graphic deisgner to create word-figurative trade mark, which was to be placed on this packaging. KREA acquired all copyrights. Wojciech Jurkiewicz filed for trade mark registration but the PPO refused to grant the right of protection. Mr Jurkiewicz was also sued by KREA and the District Court ordered the defendant to cease the copyright infringement of economic rights owned by KREA to the word-figurative trade mark JOGI by deisisting from using of the sign in any form in the course of economic activity and ordered Mr Jurkiewicz to pay 51.000 PLN. The Appelate Court changed the judgment only by reducing the amount awarded to 15.000 PLN.

Z-252222

KREA also filed a suit against OBORY sp. z o.o., claiming copyright infringement of its word trade mark JOGI. The Company argued that the binding force of the judgment against Mr Jurkiewicz extends to a conclusion that JOGI word is deemed as a copyrightable work.

R-217384

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 22 June 2010 case file IV CSK 359/09 held that only the dictum is the binding element of a judgment, not its motives, therefore, the previous judgment has no expanded legitimacy. It was not a reasonable argument that the earlier cited judgment in case against Wojciech Jurczyński would always be the official confirmation of the plaintiff’s copyright to a word sign. The idea for the word “JOGI” (which existed previously in the public domain) as a designation for drinking yoghurt, is nothing creative or original. The Court noted that the opinion that copyright law does not use the novelty condition in the objective sense, but in subjective terms, is dominating. The condition of work’s “originality” is satisfied if there subjectively exists a new product of the intellect. One may say about the self-creativity only if the created work was not previously known in the same form, and thus it manifests itself in an objectively tangible result of creativity. The approach presented by KREA, which lies almost on the presumption of fact that every product of human intellectual is a protected copyrightable work, without demonstrating of its creative elements, has no support in the ARNR and is too far reaching. In a wider perspective, such conclusion would be the risk of depreciation of the concept of creativity in general. In principle, a single word, not only these taken from everyday language, but also the unknown words or neologisms, do not have the characteristics of creativity. Only one-word titles, or slogans, may be exemption to the aforemtnioned rule when applied to specific situations, when they are characterized by a startling clarity and brilliance, make poetic of the whole work, are the “key” to understanding of such work. The Polish legal doctrine and case law have long since stopped using the term “pure art” and promoting the traditional cultural role, which the right had to serve. The concept of “copyright work” is recognized widely, with persistent tendency to mitigate the criteria governing the granting of copyright protection, such as creativity, originality and individuality. The evidence of such actions is presented in the protection of the products of which contain a small contribution to creative work, and characterized by even a small degree of originality and individuality. In this context, the concept of “boundary categories of works” is used and also – in principle – the possibility of granting copyright protection to small products of human activity that are designed for purely utilitarian and practical use, is not denied. The ARNR protects works created not only for artistic purposes and does not refuse the protection for works created solely for commercial (industrial, merchandising) purposes, but only in so far as the work has such characteristics that are required for any other copyrightable work. The utilitarian purpose of copyrightable works, created solely for the intended use in a certain way, is typical for the objects that are subject to industrial property rights, in particular industrial designs and trade marks In the case of the latter it most often applies to word-figurative trade marks. In Polish law it is permissible to accumulate of certain intangible property/econimic rights, including trademarks being also copyrightable works and industrial designs/copyrightable works.

In the opinion of the Supreme Court, the mere use of a word as a trade mark should not affect the possibility of its recognition as a copyrightable work, since the existence of such work cannot depend on its specific purpose. The way of using a given work does not decide on the statusu of its copyrightability. The word “JOGI” does not show originality, which could allow for an exception to the generally accepted principle that single words do not have creative characteristics. It has no autonomous characteristics of the copyrightable work, and it isn’t a copyrightable work because of someone “invented” a particular way of its use as a trade mark, or designation of a particular type of goods originating from a particular undertaking.

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

Trade mark law, case V CSK 293/09

September 2nd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Polish company Technopol sp. z o.o. succeeded to register in the Polish Patent Office over a hundred word and word-figurative trade marks in the form of Arabic numeral “100” and its multiples (200, 300, etc.) together with the word “Panoramicznych” or “Panoram”. Technopol was sued by another Polish entrepreneur, Roman Oraczewski who publishes crossword magazines under such titles as “222 Panoramiczne”, “333 Panoramiczne”, “500 Krzyżówek”, “300 Krzyżówek z Uśmiechem”, “300 Krzyżówek Panorama Rozrywki”. Mr Oraczewski claimed protection to its press titles and Technopol filed counter claims based on Article 10 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.

Article 10.1. Such indication of products or services or its lack, which may mislead customers in relation to the origin, quantity, quality, components, manufacturing process, usefulness, possible application, repair, maintenance and another significant features of products or services as well as concealing the risks connected with their use, shall be the act of unfair competition.
2. Releasing for free circulation products in the packing which may cause effects referred to in section 1 above shall be the act of unfair competition, unless the use of such packing is justified by technical reasons.

Technopol requested the court to issue preliminary injuction ordering Mr Oraczewski to cease the sale and introduction to the market of all his magazines bearing titles that are identical or similar to Technopol’s trade marks. The Court granted the injunctive relief. Mr. Oraczewski did not agree with such order and after couple of years this case ended in a final dismissal of the application for preliminary injunction. Mr. Oraczewski sued Technopol for the compensation for the loss incurred due to the enforcement of the injunction. He claimed over 67.000.000 PLN loss. According to Article 746 §1 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, when a preliminary injunction has been granted and the plaintiff fails to file the principal claim, withdraws it, the claim fails for procedural reasons, or is dismissed as unfounded, the defendant may demand compensation for the loss incurred due to the enforcement of the injunction. The claim expires if it is not pursued within one year from the moment the loss occured. This provision makes a plaintiff who obtained a preliminary injunction but ultimately failed with its principal claim liable towards the defendant for the loss caused by the injunction.

100_panoramicznych-cover

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 25 February 2010 case file V CSK 293/09 held that the liability provided under Article 746 § 1 of the CPC is independent of plaintiff’s fault. However, the Court dismissed Mr Oraczewski complaint because he did not follow the preliminary injunction order.

See also “Trade mark and Press law, VI SA/Wa 2135/08” and “Trade mark law, case V CSK 71/09“.

Patent law, case V CSK 301/07

August 1st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 19 December 2007 case file V CSK 301/07 held that is is not possible to change claims in the appeal proceedings in situation where the right that was a subject of the infringement, has expired, and the plaintiff wants to establish that until the expiry, the plaintiff had a right to prohibit placing the product on the market.

Criminal law, case III KK 234/7

July 26th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Barbara W. was charged by the Prosecutor for insulting Mieczysław W. by posting on 30 June 2005 comments regarding his peron such “erotomaniac” on a website ocen.pl that is used to evaluate academics by their students. The charges were based on the provisions of Article 212 of the Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with subsequent amendments.

Chapter XXVII
Offences against Honour and Personal Inviolability
Article 212
§ 1. Whoever imputes to another person, a group of persons, an institution or organisational unit not having the status of a legal person, such conduct, or characteristics that may discredit them in the face of public opinion or result in a loss of confidence necessary for a given position, occupation or type to
activity
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.
§ 2. If the perpetrator commits the act specified in § 1 through the mass media
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.

The case went through all instances. The Supreme Court in its order of 7 May 2008 case file III KK 234/7 dismissed the cassation filed by Mieczysław W. and ruled that the provisions of Article 216 of the CRC should be invoked in this case, instead of Article 212 of the CRC.

Article 216
§ 1. Whoever insults another person in his presence, or though in his absence but in public, or with the intention that the insult shall reach such a person,
shall be subject to a fine or the penalty of restriction of liberty .
§ 2. Whoever insults another person using the mass media,
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of
deprivation of liberty for up to one year.

The Court ruled that the Internet is a medium of communication, as provided for in Articles 212 § 2 and 216 § 2 of the CRC, by means of which the offender may commit both defamation and insult. However, it was impossible in the current state of the law to rule that the mere provision of a computer to a third party decides on the criminal responsibility of its owner, in case if turned out that a person using such computer would be guilty of the offense. The Court held also that freedom of the press and other mass media that is guaranteed in the Article 14 of the Constitution, should also include media, as referred to in Article 216 § 2 and 212 § 2 of the CRC.

Copyright law, case III CZP 1/10

July 24th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its order of 13 July 2010 case file III CZP 1/10 held that operators of cable networks may initiate court’s proceedings with regard agreements on remuneration scales/tables concluded or to be concluded with the competent organization for collective management of copyright, that concerns rebroadcasting of copyrighted works on radio and television programs, only after the exhaustion of the proceedings before the Copyright Commission. The issue of the inadmissibility of the courts’ proceedings was very unclear lately bacuse there was divergent case law of the Supreme Court and legal comentators presented different opinions and views. See “Copyright law, case IV CSK 303/06” and “Copyright law, case III CZP 107/07“.

The Copyright Commission, with a composition of three persons, two of them designated by the parties from among the arbitrators and the third co-opted as referee by the other two, shall settle disputes concerning the application of the scales referred to in article 211 of the Polish Act on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych) of 4 February 1994, 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.

Art. 211
1. Cable network operators may rebroadcast on cable, works that are broadcasted on radio and television organization solely on the basis of an agreement with the competent organization for collective management of copyright.

2. In case of any disputes regarding the conclusion of the agreement referred to in paragraph 1, the provisions of article 108(5) shall apply.

If one of the parties does not designate an arbitrator or if the arbitrators do not designate a referee, the arbitrator or referee in question shall be designated by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The party that is not satisfied with the decision of the Copyright Commission may, within a period of 14 days of the notification of the said decision, bring a judicial action before the competent district court.

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

Computer crimes, case I KZP 7/10

July 9th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its order of 29 June 2010 case file I KZP 7/10 held that, the prescription of defamation crime is counted from the date of publication of the offensive content. This crime is defined in the provisions of Article 212 of the Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with subsequent amendments.

Article 212. § 1. Whoever imputes to another person, a group of persons, an institution or organisational unit not having the status of a legal person, such conduct, or characteristics that may discredit them in the face of public opinion or result in a loss of confidence necessary for a given position, occupation or type to activity
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.
§ 2. If the perpetrator commits the act specified in § 1 through the mass media
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.
§ 3. When sentencing for an offence specified in §1 or 2, the court may adjudge a supplementary payment in favour of the injured person or of the Polish Red Cross, or of another social purpose designated by the injured person a supplementary payment (nawiązka).
§ 4. The prosecution of the offence specified in § 1 or 2 shall occur upon a private charge.

This issue was referred to the Supreme Court by the District Court, who had inquired whether the defamation is a crime of continuous nature, which means that in case of defamatory entry placed on the Internet, it is committed as long as entry is available on the website. Interestingly, the SC refused to answer this question but the Court deliberated very wide on this issue in the justification of the order. The Supreme Court ruled that on-line defamation is not a continuous crime, which would involve creating and maintaining the status recognized by law as unlawful. The Court was aware of the fact the interests of the victim are violated as long as the defamatory content is publicly available on a website. However, per analogy to the printed press, where the victim’s interests are harmed as long as there are archived copies of newspapers containing offensive words.

The Supreme Court held that the offense involving the placement of a defamatory content in the Internet as referred to in article 212 § 2 of the CC is committed at the moment to making an entry and not while removing it. This means that the perpetrator cannot be prosecuted with the private charge after a year from the time when the victim learned about the offender, but no later than the expiry of three years from the time it was committed.

Telecommunications law, case C‑99/09

July 2nd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justice of the European Union in its judgment of 1 July 2010, Case C‑99/09, Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa sp. z o.o. v. Prezes Urzędu Komunikacji Elektronicznej, ruled that article 30(2) of Directive 2002/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services (Universal Service Directive) is to be interpreted as obliging the national regulatory authority to take account of the costs incurred by mobile telephone network operators in implementing the number portability service when it assesses whether the direct charge to subscribers for the use of that service is a disincentive. However, it retains the power to fix the maximum amount of that charge levied by operators at a level below the costs incurred by them, when a charge calculated only on the basis of those costs is liable to dissuade users from making use of the portability facility.

Polish patent attorneys, case I CSK 481/09

June 25th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 16 June 2010, case file I CSK 481/09 held, that a party to the proceedings may request from its legal representative to compensate for damages only if the representative did not act diligent and failed to meet the prevailing standard of competence in his or her work on client’s behalf. The court pointed out that the representative (advocate, patent attorney) is responsible for the due care, and not for the result of the case. The fact that a representative has been unsuccessful in conducting a case, even if the reasoning of a judgment indicates that this was the result of his or her mistake, it does not mean legal malpractice, and that the client can claim compensation for the loss suffered by the this injury.

The final ruling is binding not only for the parties and the court which issued it, but also to other courts and public bodies and authorities, and others in all cases provided for in the law. This is called “material validity of the judgment”, also known as “extended validity”.

Copyright law, case I CR 312/75

May 22nd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 19 September 1975 case file I CR 312/75 held that flower compositions (ikebana) were works of art within the meaning of the old Polish copyright law, and that the defendant by publishing of photographs of these compositions and their distribution infringed on authors’ rights (moral rights) of the creator of these compositions. In addition, the Court noted that the limitations of the rights to distribute works and to remuneration, governed by the old copyright law, in the name of social interest (use), meant that in the cases provided for in the cited provisions it was allowed to distribute copyrighted works, and use these works in principle, without paying remuneration, and thus deprive the holders of their rights.

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

Polish patent attorneys – substitution and delivery of documents

May 16th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

According to the provisions of Articles 240 and 241 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, a representative shall be authorised to appoint a substitute (substitution).

Article 240
1. Except for the persons referred to in Article 236(2), a representative shall be authorised to appoint a substitute (substitution).
2. Authorisation by another joint right holder shall not be required for performing conservatory action.

Article 241
1. Where two or more persons are parties to a proceeding and no representative has been appointed, the persons concerned shall be required to indicate one address for service. Failing to indicate such address, the address of the person named first in the application or in another document, on the basis of which the proceeding is instituted, shall be deemed to be that address.

2. At a party’s request, the Patent Office shall also send letters addressed according to paragraph (1) to the addresses additionally indicated by that party. This provision shall also apply accordingly, where only one person who has appointed a representative is a party to the proceeding.

As the effect of establishing a substitute, the same relationship, which was established between a party and a patent attorney is also created between a party and a substitute, while maintaining the existing powers of attorney. This means that the party has two equivalent proxies since the establishment of an effective substitution. See for instance opinions presented by the Supreme Court Civil Chamber in a judgment of 13 February 2004, case file IV CK 269/02, the Supreme Court Civil Chamber in a decision of 7 November 2006, case file I CZ 78/06, or judgment of the Voivodeship Administraive Court in Poznańof dnia 20 February 2007, case file I SA/Po 1432/06.

On the basis of provisions of Article 40 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, where a party has established a representative, all documents are delivered to the proxy and not a party.

Article 40.
§ 1. Documents shall be served on the party to proceedings, and if the party is acting by a representative – on that representative.
§ 2. If a party to proceedings has appointed an attorney then documents shall be served on the attorney.
§ 3. If a case has been commenced at the instigation of two or more parties the documents shall be served on all parties, unless the application indicates that one of them is authorised to receive service.

Due to the limitation established for granting the substitute power of attorney only to patent attorneys and provisions of article 237(1) of the IPL which provide that there can be only one proxy for one legal action, in case of existence of a substitute, all correspondence will be delivered to one person – the agent or a substitute.

Article 237
1. In the performance of one act a party may be represented by one natural person only.
2. A power of attorney shall be in writing and shall be included in the files on performance of first legal act.
3. Where the power of attorney covers two or more cases, it shall be included in the files of that of the cases, in respect of which the first act is performed by the representative. When acting in other cases covered by the power of attorneys, the representative shall be required to furnish a certified copy of the power of attorney.
4. A patent agent shall be allowed to certify himself a copy of the power of attorney granted to him.
5. Failing to pay a due stamp duty for the power of attorney, the Patent Office shall invite the representative to make relevant payment and in case it should not be made, it shall additionally invite the party to confirm, within the fixed time limit, the acts performed by the representative. Failing to observe the fixed time limit, the provision of Article 223(4) shall apply accordingly.

The decision in this regard will be taken following an assessment of attorney documents and attorney substitution. However, in the case of granting substitution of confluence with the scope of powers of attorney and without indicating an address for delivery of documents, the Polish Patent Office will continue to deliver documents only to a substitute.

Personal interests, case II CSK 580/09

May 1st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in a judgment of 6 May 2010 case file II CSK 580/09 ruled that if there is a high probability of irreversible impairment of the fetus, the mother can decide whether to remove the pregnancy. The Court has confirmed that the decision on the abortion is every mother’s personal right/interest, and in the case of an infringement of such right, a woman has the right to seek the redress for the harm and damages to compensate for both parents increased costs of raising a handicapped child.

Procedural law, case V CSK 269/09

April 11th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 10 February 2010 case file V CSK 269/09 held that publishing information on the Internet about a specific fact does not mean that it is deemed as “widely known fact”, as it was defined in Article 228 § 1 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.

Article 228
§ 1 Known facts do not require evidence.
§ 2 The same applies to the facts known to the court ex officio, however, the court should draw the attention of the parties to these facts during the hearings.

The Court did not agree with the opinion that data published on the official website of the Ministry of Agriculture is well known information or fact.

Personal interest, case I CSK 346/08

March 22nd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Roman Giertych issued critical opinions of the former Polish politician Jacek Kuroń, who died in 2004. Mr Giertych was sued by a son and a brother of Mr Kuroń. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 23 September 2009 case file I CSK 346/08 held that legal protection of personal interest in the form of the cult of the memory of the deceased person, is not dependent on the protection of personal rights and interests of that person, if such protection would have been afforded to this person when he or she was alive. Mr Giertych was found guilty. The Court ordered him to publish apology in the press, and to pay a compensation.

Trade mark law, case V CSK 71/09

March 11th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Technopol Publishing Agency filed a suit against Phoenix Press and Bauer Publishing House. Technopol requested the court to prohibit both defendants from putting on the market all magazines and periodicals bearing the number “100” or its multiples, and journals bearing the titles composed of three Arabic numerals together with the words “panorama” (in Polish: panorama) or “panoramic” (in Polish: panoramiczny), and to order the withdrawal of such publications from the market, to order the publication of an apology of specific content in the press, to order the defendants to pay the amount of 75000 PLN as compensation and the amount of 99000 PLN as unjustified benefits received by the defendants as a result of the unlawful use of Technopol’s trade marks, and to order defendants to withdraw particular trade mark applications from the Polish Patent Office. Technopol argued that it has introduced characteristic titles of crosswords magazines, presenting the number “100” or its multiples, with the words “panorama” or “panoramic” since 1994. Bauer Publishing House gave a licence to Phoenix Press to publish crosswords magazine entitled “Chwila na 100 panoramicznych”. Later on, Phoenix Press began to publish crosswords magazines with titles composed of the multiple of “100” and the “panoram” word. Technopol based its claims on articles 3, 10 and 18 of the Polish Act of 16 April 1993 on Combating Unfair Competition – CUC – (in Polish: ustawa o zwalczaniu nieuczciwej konkurencji), Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 47, item 211, with subsequent amendments.

Article 3
(1) The act of unfair competition shall be the activity contrary to the law or good practices which threatens or infringes the interest of another entrepreneur or customer.
(2) The acts of unfair competition shall be in particular: misleading designation of the company, false or deceitful indication of the geographical origin of products or services, misleading indication of products or services, infringement of the business secrecy, inducing to dissolve or to not execute the agreement, imitating products, slandering or dishonest praise, impeding access to the market and unfair or prohibited advertising and organising a system of pyramid selling.
(…)
Article 10
(1) Such indication of products or services or its lack, which may mislead customers in relation to the origin, quantity, quality, components, manufacturing process, usefulness, possible application, repair, maintenance and another significant features of products or services as well as concealing the risks connected with their use, shall be the act of unfair competition.
(2) Releasing for free circulation products in the packing which may cause effects referred to in section 1 above shall be the act of unfair competition, unless the use of such packing is justified by technical reasons.
(…)
Article 18(1) Where the act of unfair competition is committed, the entrepreneur whose interest is threatened or infringed may request:
1) relinquishment of prohibited practices,
2) removing effects of prohibited practices,
3) making one or repeated statement of appropriate content and form,
4) repairing the damage, pursuant to general rules;
5) handing over unjustified benefits, pursuant to general rules,
6) adjudication of an adequate amount of money to the determined social goal connected with support for the Polish culture or related to the protection of national heritage – where the act of unfair competition has been deliberate.
2. The court, upon a motion of the entitled party, may also adjudge on products, their packing, advertising materials and another items directly connected with commitment of the act of unfair competition. In particular, the court may order their destruction or include them on account of the indemnity.

Technopol’s claims were also based on articles 120(2) and 296(1) and (2) of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej) of 30 June 2000, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No. 49, item 508, consolidated text on 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments.

Article 120
1. Any sign capable of being represented graphically may be considered as trademark, provided that such signs are capable of distinguishing the goods of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.
2. The following, in particular, may be considered as trademarks within the meaning of paragraph (1): words, designs, ornaments, combinations of colours, the three-dimensional shape of goods or of their packaging, as well as melodies or other acoustic signals.
(…)
Article 296
1. Any person whose right of protection for a trademark has been infringed or any person who is permitted by law to do so, may demand the infringing party to cease the infringement, to surrender the unlawfully obtained profits and in case of infringement caused by fault also to redress the damage:
i) in accordance with the general principles of law,
ii) by the payment of a sum of money at the amount corresponding to the license fee or of other reasonable compensation, which while being vindicated would have been due on account of consent given by the holder to exploit his trademark.
1a. To the claims referred to in paragraph (1) the provisions of Article 287(2) and (3) shall apply accordingly.

2. Infringement of the right of protection for a trademark consists of unlawful use in the course of trade of:
(i) a trademark identical to a trademark registered in respect of identical goods,
(ii) a trademark identical or similar to a trademark registered in respect of identical or similar goods, if a likelihood of misleading the public, including in particular a risk of associating the trademark with a registered trademark, exists;
(iii) a trademark identical or similar to a renown trademark registered for any kind of goods, if such use without due cause would bring unfair advantage to the user or be detrimental to the distinctive character or the repute of the earlier trademark.

Phoenix Press and Bauer Publishing House requested the court to dismiss the suit. They argued that all trade marks in question have only informational character, and they refer to the title of the magazine “Chwila dla Ciebie”, and substantially differ from plaintiff’s trade marks, which excludes the risk of confusion. The judgments of the District Court and the Court of Appeal did not satisfy any of the parties and as a consequence, both appealed.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 24 November 2009 case file V CSK 71/09 ruled that the admissibility of a cassation complaint in matters of property rights is dependent on the minimum value of the subject matter of litigation, which in economic cases, cannot be less than 75000 PLN. The legal doctrine and the case law of the Supreme Court has expressed the view that the claims under article 18(1) points 1, 3 and 4, of the CUC have non-financial nature. See judgment of the Supreme Court of 9 March 2006, case file l CZ 12/06, and a judgment of the SC of 9 January 2008, case file II CSK 363/07. But this view has no legal justification which was the most widely expressed by the Supreme Court in the opinion of 8 March 2007, case file III CZ 12/07, published in OSNC 2008/2/26. The Court held that the claims set out in the CUC, though – according to the prevailing view – are not based on the absolute rights (enforceable against anybody infringing that right, an erga omnes right can be distinguished from a right based on a contract, which is only enforceable against the contracting party), they are directly contingent upon economic interests of persons who have the absolute right, and thus have the financial character. This view is justified by the general objective of the unfair competition law as defined in article 1 of the CUC, which is to prevent and combat unfair competition, and by provisions of article 20 of the CUC which set the same term of terminations of actions as for claims ensuing from property rights. For this reason, the Supreme Court dismissed the cassation complaint brought by Phoenix Press.

Technopol based its cassation complaint inter alia on the reputation of its trade marks. The Supreme Court ruled that according to the legal doctrine and the case law established by the SC, the distinction made between well-known and reputed trade marks is based on a different criterion. The reputation of a trade mark means its attractiveness, the value of advertising it creates and the ability to stimulate sales of goods marked with it. It is therefore a criterion referring rather to the special quality of a sign than to the degree of its knowledge. Such opinion was issued by the Supreme Court in a judgment of 7 March 2007, case file II CSK 428/06. The Supreme Court in a judgment of 12 October 2005, case file III CK 160/05, published in OSNC 2006/7-8/132, ruled that, the reputed or renowned trade mark serves as a carrier of information and ideas/opinions about high quality and high prestige. The last word is synonymous with “reputation” in Polish. However, the concept of a reputed/renown trade mark does not indicate an association with the exclusive services or goods of significant value. A renowned trade mark is a carrier of information on a specific, expected and tested quality of a sign. It includes a settled belief about the expected values of the goods, in the minds of buyers. The Supreme Court pointed out that the reputed trade mark in relation to other signs is characterized by ever stronger distinctive characteristic. Numerical trade marks owned by Technopol and registered for crosswords periodicals do not have the distinctive character. Trade marks intended to use for such periodicals have informational nature and are descriptive. They demonstrate direct and specific relationship with goods at stake which could allow its buyers to see them as a description of quantity of goods or one of their essential characteristics. In any case, a numerical trade mark placed on the cover of the magazine informs about the amount of crosswords that are appearing in the magazine and it is seen by buyers as a description of the characteristics of the goods, in particular the number of crosswords appearing in the magazine. Similarly, the word signs “panorama” or “panoramas” are used to describe the features of crosswords printed in a journal. The weak distinctive characteristic of Technopol’s trade marks that were registered for crosswords periodicals proves that these are not reputed trade marks, and there is no risk of confusion as referred to in article 296(2)(ii) of the IPL.

There was no evidence for the Court, that Technopol’s trade marks acquired the secondary meaning. On the contrary, such arguments were denied by the Court because of the use of these trade marks in such a way that they became a carrier of information about the origin of the goods. The Court confirmed that, as a general rule, it is possible for a trade mark that also serves as a press title, to acquire secondary meaning and distinctive character while performing informational function, but only taking into account all the circumstances the of use of such sign for designation of the goods.

The Court also ruled that the risk of consumers confusion as to the origin of goods, which creates the infringement of the right of protection for a trade mark, has many factors that require a comprehensive examination. The degree of knowledge of the registered trade mark, the degree of similarity between trade marks and the goods, and the circumstances in which the marked goods are sold, but also its distinctiveness should be taken into account while determining the risk of consumers confusion. According to the Court, the risk of consumers confusion was excluded because of the weak distinctive characteristic of the descriptive numerical signs, and the allegations of violation of article 296(2)(ii) of the IPL were unfounded, irrespective of any similarity between Phoenix Press and Technopol’s trade marks. Article 296(2)(ii) of the IPL applies to the infringement performed in the form of imitation, which may involve the use of an identical or similar trade mark to a trade mark registered, for the same or similar goods to these listed in the registry. The premise of violation is not only the unlawful use of a sign, but also the risk of confusion as to the origin of goods. The common knowledge of Technopol’s trade marks has not been proved and such knowledge cannot be equated with the popularity, especially as these trade mark serve for the designation of crosswords magazines that are targeted to specific audiences.

The Supreme Court also ruled that there was no violations of the provisions of the CUC related to the likelihood of consumers confusion as to the origin of the goods. The condition for the application of article. 10(1) of the CUC is decided on the factual basis. As it was noted by the Supreme Court in a judgment of 23 April 2008, case file III CSK 377/07, published in OSNC 2009/6/88, the difficulties in establishing such datum stem from the situation that it’s a fact of a legal nature and which may arise, as well as the fact that the likelihood of confusion must relate to a specific model of the consumer. According to article 10(1) of the CUC, the indication of the goods or services must have such a distinctive character so it’s illegal use would cause the likelihood of consumers confusion as to the origin of the goods. Only the use of words and numbers in a specific composition could cause such a risk. A similar opinion was issued by the Supreme Court in a judgment of 21 February 2008, recognizing that the numerical designation placed on the cover of the crosswords magazine can make the average consumer confused as to the origin of the goods, only if it is put in the place usually reserved for the title of a periodical. There was also the need for an appropriate balance between the rights and interests of different market participants, so giving due protection would not allowed to abuse their position.

The Supreme Court also noted that Technopol wrongly raised the plea of faulty decision of a case where it argued that the lower court did not take into account its claim against the defendants to withdraw given trade mark applications from the Polish Patent Office and the claim to abandon of their trademarks rights. The Court ruled that these claims relate to the rights on the existence of which decides an independent body – the Polish Patent Office. It is the PPO’s jurisdiction to decide on the invalidation of the right of protection for a trade mark at the request of any person who has a legitimate interest if it’s shown that the statutory conditions for obtaining this right have not been met. For all these reasons, the Supreme Court dismissed the cassation complaint brought by Technopol.

Personal interest, case I CSK 217/09

February 26th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in a judgment of 28 January 2010, case file I CSK 217/09, held that the continuity and repetition of violations of reputation in a certain time interval justifies the possibility of drafting the press apology as provided for in Article 24 § 1 sentence II of the Civil Code in a suitably concise and more general way, that is sufficient for defining the legal contours of (substance/essense) the press tort, its perpetrator, the nature of the tort, statements about the harmed person that were affecting the reputation of his business.

Article 24
§ 1 The person whose personal interests 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 interests 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 Court ruled that the infringement of the plaintiff’s personal interest/rights (his commercial reputation and the firm) was the result of the unacceptable “opinions” and “suggestions” issued by the defendant.

Advertising law, case III ZS 4/09

January 15th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In a resolution of February 2008, the Polish National Notarial Council allowed its members for establishing Internet websites of their notarial offices. However, the Council of the Chamber of Notaries in Warsaw in the resolution of June 2009 decided that the establishment by notaries of their individual websites or posting data on webpages other than the council’s one is prohibited advertising. The Council ordered the shutdown of such websites and notaries who would not follow the resolution were subject to disciplinary proceedings.

In the article entitled “Notariusze mogą mieć strony internetowe“, the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita reports that the Polish Minister of Justice who exercises the supervision over the notaries’ self-government challenged the resolution to the Supreme Court. The PMJ argued that the Act of 14 February 1991 Law on Notaries, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2002 No 42 item 369, with later changes, does not allow the councils of chambers to take such restricting resolutions and although the government has the right to set the rules for its profession, but it is executed by the National Notarial Council, and not by the council of the chamber in Warsaw, Gdańsk or in Poznań. The resolution took by the the Council of the Chamber of Notaries in Warsaw divides Polish notaries on the better who are allowed to run their websites and and the worse, which may not do it. During the court’s hearings the representatives of the Warsaw provided very interesting arguments, for instance, that the opeartion of a website in Lublin has other meaning than opearating such website in Warsaw. The council of the chamber supervises the observance by notaries of the solemnity and dignity of their profession and the Internet website is a prohibited form of advertising, which is contrary with the principles of the exercise profession.

The Supreme Court in a judgment of 14 January 2010, case file III ZS 4/09, annulled the contested decision of June 2009. The SC firmly stressed that the Law on Notaries has created only one, not many local governments, which is formed by the local chambers and the National Council, and they are not independent to each other. The resolutions of the National Council are addressed to all notaries, including Warsaw’s. The council of the chamber cannot independently determine what is a disciplinary offense, because it is included in the Code of Ethics.

Copyright law, case I CSK 160/09

January 11th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Supreme Court in its judgment of 16 November 2009 case file I CSK 160/09 confirmed that no consent of the portrayed sportsmen is necessary for the athletics association to make such images available to the sponsors. The judgment came out as a result of a heated dispute between the Polish national football (soccer) team player Maciej Żurawski and TP S.A. (a telecommunication company) – the official sponsor of the team. The dispute regarded the unauthorized dissemination of Żurawski’ s image by TP S.A. in its various advertising and informational materials (such as fliers, posters, press and television). Żurawski desired that TP S.A. ceased to publish and disseminate his images and that it publicly apologized to him. The proceedings were joined by the Polish Football Association (PZPN) as a third party defendant. The bone of contention in this case were the pictures taken during the photo shoot of the national soccer team prior to the world championship in Germany in 2006. The story goes that in 2004, PZPN entered into a sponsorship agreement with TP S.A., pursuant to which PZPN obliged itself to:

1) allow TP S.A. to use the pictures of the national team in all of TP S.A. advertising and informational materials; and
2) to obtain the respective players’ consent to do so.

In 2006 the national football team participated voluntarily in a photo shoot. All players were duly informed as to what purposes the pictures would serve, and how they would be used. However, no formal consent forms were signed. The players did not sign any Representative’s Cards (which explicitly stated the player’s obligation to participate in events such as i.e. the photo session in question) either. Additionally, none of the players received any remuneration for the photo session. And that’s what’s most problematic in this case. Pursuant to article 81 of the Polish Act on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych) of 4 February 1994, 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, the right to disseminate the image of a person does not require the consent of that person (unless explicitly stated otherwise) if that person had received an agreed to remuneration.

The Court of first instance found for Zurawski, however the appeal court reversed and dismissed the case. The reason of that were differing interpretations of article 33(2) of the Act on Qualified Sports – AQS – (in Polish: Ustawa o sporcie kwalifikowanym) of 29 July 2005, Jurnal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 155, item 1298, with subsequent amendments, which was relied on by TP S.A. and PZPN in their argumentation.

each member of the national team, grants an exclusive right to his/her image in the national representation team outfit, to an appropriate athletics association, which is then entitled to use that image for economic purposes within the scope set forth in the Statute of that association or other international organization active in that field.

However, the very same article in sec. 2 states that the representative does indeed give his/her consent to disseminate his/her image in the national representation team outfit, however he/she does that within the meaning of article 81(1) of the ARNR. And this led to two different interpretations by two different courts: court of I instance held that article 33(2) of the AQS creates a direct duty to obtain a separate consent from the sportsman, whereas the appeal court found that such consent is impliedly given the moment the athlete (here football player) joins the national team. The SC agreed with the latter interpretation, stating that by joining the national team the player does indeed agree to a significant limitation on his right to image, whenever the image consists of him in the national representation’s outfit. Other than that he retains full rights to his right to publicity (in particular image). Hence, Żurawski ultimately lost the case.

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

Industrial design case, II CSK 302/07

January 8th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

I have to write about another important judgment I forgot to report two years ago. This time it is the judgment of the Supreme Court – Civil Chamber of 23 October 2007, case file II CSK 302/07, published in the Jurisprudence of the Polish Courts (in Polish: Orzecznictwo Sądów Polskich) of 2009, No 6, p. 451, together with the gloss by Maria Poźniak-Niedzielska at p. 455.

Some readres may be confused with regard to different courts deciding the same subject matter – in this case – designs and I need to explain that the administrative proceedings in designs’ cases, in general, concerns all decisions made or orders issued by the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland (the PPO takes decisions on granting, refusal to grant of a right in registration for an industrial design etc.) which are liable to complaint lodged to the Voivodeship Administrative Court (VAC) in Warsaw. Judgments made by the VAC may be a subject of a cassation complaint filed before the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC). However, cases with regard to infringement of a right in registration granted for an industrial design are decided in civil law proceedings. That was the reason the aforementioned case was decided at the last stage by the Supreme Court. See “Administrative, civil and criminal proceedings in trade mark cases in Poland“.

The Supreme Court had to give the interpretion of provisions of Article 104 and 105 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 on 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments.

Article 104
1. An industrial design shall be considered to have individual character, if the overall impression it produces on the informed user differs from the overall impression produced on such a user by any design which has been made available before the date according to which priority is determined.

2. In assessing individual character, the degree of freedom of the designer in developing the design shall be taken into consideration.

Article 105
1. For an industrial design a right in registration may be granted.

2. The right in registration shall confer the exclusive right to exploit the industrial design for profit or for professional purposes throughout the territory of the Republic of Poland.

3. The holder shall enjoy the right to prevent any third party from making, offering, putting on the market, importing, exporting or using a product in which the design is incorporated or to which it is applied, or stocking such a product for those purposes.

4. The right conferred by the registration of an industrial design shall include any design which does not produce on the informed user a different overall impression. Article 104(2) shall apply accordingly.

5. The right conferred by the registration of an industrial design shall be limited to the kind of products, in respect of which the protection has been applied for.

6. Subject to Article 111, the term of a right in registration shall be 25 years counted from the date of filing of an industrial design application with the Patent Office, the said term being divided into 5-year periods.

Wzór Przemysłowy 6751

The SC held that the examination whether there was any infringement of the registered industrial design requires a comprehensive comparison of designs from the perspective of the person using (on a permanent basis) these items, which belong to specific group of goods, a person being oriented/informed in designs that originate from the creative freedom and to examine/assess whether the overall impression produced by the questioned design on such a person differs or not from the general impression caused by the registered design.

Legal commentators stressed the fact that the concept of “informed user” (oriented) was implemented in the IPL following the adjustment of Polish law to protection standards that exist within the EU law. The person being an informed user is a newcomer in the pantheon of fictional characters of industrial property rights, functioning as a certain pattern. In article 26(1) of the IPL already exists such character called “a person skilled in the art”.

1. An invention shall be considered as involving an inventive step if, having regard to the state of the art, it is not obvious to a person skilled in the art.

The Polish commentators also noted and commented on foregin judgments such as Procter & Gamble Company v Reckitt Benckiser (UK) Ltd., [2007] EWCA Civ 936 and Woodhouse UK Plc v Architectural Lighting. Systems t/a Aquila Design and Urbis Lighting Ltd. [2005] ECPCC (Designs) 25, [2006] RPC 1 and OHIM Invalidity Division’s decisions such as Eredu S Coop v Arrmet SRL, ICD 24, 27 April 2004 and Honda Motor Company Ltd v Kwang Yang Motor Company Ltd, ICD 1006, 30 August 2006.

See also “Polish regulations on industrial designs” and “Polish case law on industrial designs“.

Administrative, civil and criminal proceedings in trade mark cases in Poland

December 22nd, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

I. The Law
The main sources of binding laws in the Republic of Poland are the Constitution of 2 April 1997, acts passed by the Parliament, ratified international treaties and regulations issued, for example, by the Prime Minister or the Council of Ministers – Polish government. Regulations are issued for the purpose of implementation of acts. The main legal acts on trade mark protection in the Republic of Poland are the following.

I.A. Substantive law

  • The old Polish Trade Mark Act – TMA – (in Polish: Ustawa o znakach towarowych) of 31 January 1985, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 5, item 15, with subsequent amendments.
  • Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej) of 30 June 2000, 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.
  • Act of 16 April 1993 on Combating Unfair Competition – CUC – (in Polish: ustawa o zwalczaniu nieuczciwej konkurencji), Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 47, item 211, with subsequent amendments

I.B. Procedural law

  • Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, 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.
  • Act on proceedings before administrative courts – PBAC – (in Polish:Prawo o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi) of 30 August 2002, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 153, item 1270, with subsequent amendments.
  • Civil Proceedings Code – CPC (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Cywilnego) of 17 November 1964, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 43, item 296, with subsequent amendments
  • Criminal Proceedings Code – CRPC – (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Karnego) of 6 June 1997, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 89, item 555, with subsequent amendments.
  • Act on Patent Attorneys – APAT – (in Polish: ustawa o rzecznikach patentowych) of 11 April 2001, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 49, item 509, with subsequent amendments,

I.C. EU law
Since 1 May 2004 which was the accession day to the EU, the Republic of Poland has been bound by all aquis communitaire including the Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 of 26 February 2009 on the Community trade mark (CTMR). The CTMR is a part of the Polish Legal system and is directly aplicable by Polish Courts, especially by 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).

II. Different routes, different proceedings
The right of protection for a sign being capable to be registered as a trade mark is granted by the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland (PPO). Trade mark holders in the Republic of Poland may protect their rights in civil and criminal proceedings. Moreover, they may also use the procedures before customs authorities.

The Republic of Poland is not a common law country and the courts are not bound by decisions of other courts. However Polish judges tend to widely recognise the decisions and verdicts of the Polish Courts of Appeal and the Polish Supreme Court. Only resolutions of the Supreme Court that are decided as a legal principle are universally binding. The decisions of foreign bodies such as the General Court and Court of Justice of EU may be recognised only as so-called persuasive precedents.

II. A. Administrative proceedings in trade mark cases
The Patent Office of the Republic of Poland is a central government agency responsible inter alia for receiving and examination of applications seeking protection for trade marks and deciding in matters related to granting rights of protection trade marks (decisions with regard to processing of national and International trade mark applications, decisions on the invalidation and the lapse of the right of protection for a trade mark etc.). The provisions of the Code of Administrative Proceedings shall apply accordingly to litigation procedure before the Patent Office in cases not regulated by the IPL. Decisions made or orders issued by the PPO are liable to complaint lodged to the Voivodeship Administrative Court (VAC) in Warsaw. Judgments made by the VAC may be a subject of a cassation complaint filed before the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC).

II. B. Civil proceedings in trade mark cases
Trade mark infringement actions are brought before a District Court. There are no specific courts which have exclusive jurisdiction for resolving trade mark disputes, except the Court for Community Trade Marks and Community Designs which is strictly focused on the legal issues related to CTMs.

The Law on Industrial Property provides that a trademark owner’s rights will be deemed to have been infringed where there has been unlawful use of the mark in the course of trade, including unauthorized use of a trademark by a licensee and sublicensee. The remedies available to the trademark owner are as follows:

  • cessation of the infringement,
  • surrender of any unlawfully obtained profits,
  • compensatory damages in accordance with the relevant principles of the Civil Code or payment of a lump sum equivalent to a licence fee, or any other remuneration, which would have been due if the infringer had been authorized by the right holder to use the trademark. In this case, the trademark owner is obliged to prove that an intentional infringement of its rights has taken place,
  • announcement to the public of a verdict of the court (upon the request of a trade mark owner) as a whole or in part, or publication of information regarding the verdict,
  • a court order that the infringer (upon its own request, in case of unintentional infringement) to pay the relevant sum to the benefit of the trade mark owner if the cessation of infringement or forfeiture of the goods held by the infringer (means of manufacturing, materials) would be excessive, and the above-mentioned sum to be paid would fulfil the right holder’s interest.

The following cases, in particular, are also decided in civil law proceedings in accordance with the general principles of law:

  • for ascertainment of the authorship of an inventive project,
  • for ascertainment of the right to a patent, a right of protection or a right in registration,
  • for remuneration for the exploitation of an inventive project,
  • for remuneration for the exploitation of an invention, a utility model or a topography for state purposes,
  • for compensation for the transfer to the State Treasury of a right to a patent for a secret invention or to a right of protection for a secret utility model, a right of protection or a right in registration,
  • for infringement of a patent, a supplementary protection right, a right of protection or a right in registration,
  • for ascertainment of the right to exploit an invention, a utility model or an industrial design in the cases referred to in Articles 71 and 75 of the IPL,
  • for ascertainment of the right to use, in a local-scale activity, a mark registered on behalf of a third party as a trademark,
  • for ascertainment of the right to use a geographical indication,
  • for ascertainment of the loss of the right to use a geographical indication,
  • for the transfer of a patent, a right of protection for a utility model or a right in registration of an industrial design or a topography obtained by a person not entitled thereto,
  • for the transfer of a right of protection for a trad emark in the case referred to in Article 161 of the IPL.

II. C. Criminal proceedings in trade mark cases
The IPL defines counterfeit trademarks as identical trademarks illegally used or trade marks which in the course of trade can not be distinguished from the trade marks registered for the goods covered by the right of protection. The party aggrieved by the infringement has to commence a criminal action. Only after the filing of the motion can the proceedings be started and continued ex officio. The sole exception is when a person committing the crime in respect of a registered trade mark obtains permanent profits from its criminal activity or commits acts resulting in the turnover of counterfeit goods bearing the trade mark, which are of significant value. In such case the infringer is subject to more serious criminal penalties and proceedings will be started ex officio.

II. D. Custom seizures
Customs law, in addition to civil and criminal law, is the third administrative regime of protection for trade mark rights. Provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No 1383/2003 of 22 July 2003 concerning customs action against goods suspected of infringing certain intellectual property are directly aplicable on the territory of the Republic of Poland. The application for action shall be submitted to the Polish Customs Chamber seated at Modlińska 4 Street, 03-216 Warsaw.

II. E. ADR in trade mark cases
Where a domain name including a sign that has been registered as a trade mark by an unauthorized third party, the trade mark holder can use mediation, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceedings or civil court action to obtain the cancellation or transfer of such a domain. See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

Polish case law on copyright

December 9th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

A more detailed discussion about each judgment may be found under the link provided with the case file. All judgments are presented in the chronological order.

– The judgment of the Regional Court in Lublin of 27 March 2015 case file I Ns 700/12.

– The judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal of the Republic of Poland of 17 February 2015 case file K 15/13.

– The judgment of the Appeallate Court in Warsaw of 7 May 2014 case file I ACa 1663/13

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 27 June 2013 case file I CSK 617/12.

– The judgment of the Appeallate Court in Lublin case file I ACa 134/13.

– The order of the Appeallate Court in Białystok of 7 February 2013 case file I A Cz 114/13.

– The judgment of the Appellate Court in Warsaw of 27 October 2011 case file VI ACa 461/11.

– The order of the Polish Supreme Court of 26 October 2011 case file III CZP 61/11.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 21 October 2011 case file IV CSK 133/11.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 17 October 2011 case file III CSK 30/11.

– The judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal of the Republic of Poland of 11 October 2011 case file P 18/09.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 15 June 2011 case file V CSK 373/10.

– The judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 21 July 2011 case file I OSK 678/11.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 25 May 2011 case file II CSK 527/10.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gdańsk of 26 January 2011 case file II SA/Gd 529/10.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 26 January 2011 case file IV CSK 274/10.

– The order of the Supreme Administrative Court of 21 December 2010 case file I OSK 1975/10.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Łódź of 20 December 2010 case file II SAB/Łd 53/10.

– The judgment of the District Court in Warsaw of 14 September 2010 case file I C 626/06. Not final yet.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 13 July 2010 case file III CZP 1/10.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 22 June 2010 case file IV CSK 359/09.

– The judgment of the Appellate Court in Lublin case file I ACa 206/10.

– The judgment of the Polish Supreme Court of 16 November 2009, case file I CSK 160/09.

– The decision of the Constitutional Tribunal of 21 October 2009, case file P 31/07.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 27 February 2009, case file V CSK 337/08.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 19 June 2008, case file V CSK 22/08.

– The judgment of District Court in Tarnów of 20 December 2007 in re: Bochnia Independence Half-Marathon, case file I C 238/06.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 6 December 2007 case file III CZP 107/07.

– The judgment of the Appellate Court in Warsaw of 17 October 2007 case file VI ACa 1259/06.

– The judgment of the Appellate Court in Warsaw of 29 June 2007 case file VI ACa 210/07.

– The judgment of the Appeallate Court in Warszawa of 11 May 2007 case file I ACa 1145/06.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 3 January 2007 case file IV CSK 303/06.

– The judgment of the Appellate Court in Warsaw of 14 March 2006 case file VI ACa 1012/05, published in the Jurisprudence of Appellate Courts (in Polish: Orzecznictwo Sądów Apelacyjnych) of 2007, No 12, item 36, p. 56.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 25 January 2006 case file I CK 281/05, published in the Supreme Court’s Bulletin of 2006, No 5, the Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, the Civil Chamber (in Polish: Orzecznictwo Sądu Najwyższego Izba Cywilna) of 2006, No 11, item 186, p. 64, the “Wokanda” magazine of 2006, No 7-8, p. 17.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court – Civil Chamber of 13 January 2006 case file III CSK 40/05, published in the Supreme Court’s Bulletin of 2006, No 3, the “Wokanda” magazine of 2006, No 6, p. 6, the Review of Economic Legislation (in Polish: Przegląd Ustawodawstwa Gospodarczego) of 2006, No 7, p. 32.

– The judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 13 October 2005, case file FSK 2253/04.

– The judgment of the Polish Supreme Court of 23 November 2004, case file I CK 232/04.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 3 December 2003 case file I CK 312/02.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 7 November 2003 case file V CK 391/02, published in OSN 2004, No 12, item 203.

– The resolution of the Supreme Court – Criminal Chamber of 21 October 2003 case file I KZP 18/03.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court – Civil Chamber of 15 November 2002 case file II CKN 1289/00, published in the Supreme Court’s Bulletin of 2003, No 6, p. 7, the Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, the Civil Chamber (in Polish: Orzecznictwo Sądu Najwyższego Izba Cywilna) of 2004, No 3, item 44, p. 66.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court – Civil Chamber of 26 September 2001 case file IV CKN 458/00, published in the electronic database Legalis.

– The judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 30 June 1999 case file I SA/Lu 408/98, unpublished.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 26 June 1998 case file I PKN 196/98, published in the Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, the Chamber of Administrative, Labour and Social Insurance (in Polish: Orzecznictwo Sądu Najwyższego Izba Administracyjna, Pracy i Ubezpieczeń Społecznych) of 1999, No 14, item 454.

– The judgment of the Appellate Court in Warsaw of 2 October 1996 case file I ACa 2/96.

– The judgment of the Appellate Court in Warsaw of 12 December 1995 case file I ACr 590/95, published in OSA 1997, No 3, item 16, at page 32.

– The judgment of the Appellate Court in Warsaw of 5 July 1995 case file I ACr 453/95, unpublished.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 5 October 1976 case file IV CR 127/7613.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 19 September 1975 case file I CR 312/75.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 25 April 1973 case file I CR 91/73.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 10 February 1970 case file I CR 666/69, published in OSP 1972, No. 2, item 30.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 8 November 1932 case file II. 1K. 1092/32, published in Zb. Orz. 1933/I item 7.

See also “Polish regulations on copyright“.

Personal interest, case III CZP 92/09

November 20th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its order of 17 October 2009 case file III CZP 92/09 held that the fixed fee for the suit for the protection of personal rights/interests is charged only for non-pecuniary claims. In cases where the plaintiff also requests pecuniary claims for damages, compensation or pay a specified amount of money for a given social purpose, it is necessary to pay the relative fee based on the general rules

Copyright law, case V CSK 22/08

November 16th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Society of Authors and Publishers Polish Book from Kraków (in Polish: Stowarzyszenie Autorów i Wydawców Polska Książka w Krakowie) is one of the Polish collecting societies. The Society sued Euroimpex company which is a distributor of reprographic equipment, mainly photocopiers and scanners. The suit was based on Article 20(1)(ii) of of Polish Act on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych) of 4 February 1994, 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.

1. The producers and importers of tape recorders, video recorders and other similar apparatus, or blank material for the recording of works with the aid of such apparatus for personal and private use, and also of reprographic apparatus shall be obliged to pay, for the benefit of the creators and performers of the said works and of the producers of phonograms and videograms, fees in an amount not exceeding 3% of the selling price of the said apparatus and material.
ii. The amount of the fees referred to in paragraph 1 shall accrue:
(1) to the creators for 50%,
(2) to the performers for 25%,

The District Court in Kraków ordered Euroimpex to pay the reprographic fee in the amount of 124,678 PLN. Euroimpex filed an appeal in which it argued that the provisions of ARNR are unconstitutional. However, the Appellate Court in Kraków shared the opinion issued by the District Court and ruled that there is a lack of grounds to question the compliance of article 20(1)(ii) and article 105(2) of the ARNR with the constitutional norms.

Article 105
1. The collective administration organization shall be presumed qualified to carry out the administration and protection of rights in the areas of exploitation in which its administration is conducted, and to engage in judicial proceedings associated therewith. This presumption may not be invoked where two or more collective administration organizations claim competence in respect of one and the same work or performance.
2. In the course of its activity the collective administration organization may demand that information be communicated to it and that documents that are essential for the calculation of the amount of remuneration and fees that it claims be delivered to it.

A similar view was also expressed in relation to provisions of the Regulation of the Minister of Culture of 2 June 2003 on designation of categories of devices and media used for recording of productions and payments levied on sales of these devices and carriers carried out by producers and importers, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 105, item 991. Euroimpex filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Court in a judgment of 19 June 2008, case file V CSK 22/08, ruled that according to the settled case law, any court, in principle, has the same power to assess whether the provisions of regulation that may be applicable in a given case are not inconsistent with the Constitution. Additionally, the SC ruled that the provisions related to the remuneration fees are justified and their introduction was an expression of global trends in intellectual property law that was also made in order to compensate authors and publishers for what they lose by copying or reproduction of works made by third persons for the personal use. These are the civil law claims, which the collecting societies have the right to collect and which they are allowed to claim before the court. As these fees are divided, is no longer a matter to be decided by the Court, but it is the inner matter of organization and artists who are members of this organization.

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

Unfair competition, case III CZP 58/09

October 19th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The court of first instance held that the basic relationship linking the parties was the agreement of sale of goods defined as to its kind/sort, and therefore, the ownership of the goods sold by the plaintiff to the defendant passed in the moment of their release. Therefore, the fees for marketing services and logistics were taken for actions which the defendant has taken in relation to his goods. The Court also ruled the breach of article 15(1) point 4 of the Polish Act of 16 April 1993 on Combating Unfair Competition – CUC – (in Polish: ustawa o zwalczaniu nieuczciwej konkurencji), Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 47, item 211, with subsequent amendments.

Article 15
1. An act of unfair competition is the introduction of difficulties for other entrepreneurs to access the market through:
1) the sale of goods or services below their purchase cost in order to eliminate other entrepreneurs,
2) the enticement of third parties to refuse to sell to other entrepreneurs or to purchase goods or services from other entrepreneurs,
3) materially justified differences in the treatment of some customers,
4) collection of charges other than commercial margins for accepting goods for sale,

According to the Court the fees charged to the plaintiff limited its access to the market. If it had not give his consent, the defendant wouldn’t establish a cooperation. The Court did not found any evidence to charge fees for marketing services and for the common commercial policy.

The defendant appealed and the court of second instance having some doubts decided to request the Supreme Court to answer the question whether article 18(1) point 5 of the CUC creates an independent basis to the claim by the buyer for an improperly obtained benefits.

Article 18
1. Where the act of unfair competition is committed, the entrepreneur whose interest is threatened or infringed may request:
1) relinquishment of prohibited practices,
2) removing effects of prohibited practices,
3) making one or repeated statement of appropriate content and form,
4) repairing the damage, pursuant to general rules;
5) handing over unjustified benefits, pursuant to general rules,

The Supreme Court in a resolution of 19 August 2009, case file III CZP 58/09, held that pursuant to article 18(1) point 5 of the CUC, the party may – regardless of other claims arising from the contract – to recover improperly obtained benefits from the collection of non-commercial premium charges for the acceptance of goods for sale.

Database protection, case V CSK 150/07

October 2nd, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 24 august 2007 case V CSK 150/07 held that an agreement on the use of the database is acceptable under the rule of contractual freedom, and it is similar to a typical license agreements. The contract for the work belongs to a group of contracts assigning ownership of the material components supplied by the contractor. If the work is deemed as the computer system then the contract transfers to the conctractor any copies of copyright works and databases that are not works and gives him the right to use them as intended, although copyright as a property right is not transferred to the contractor.

Unfair competition, case III CZP 58/09

September 20th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its order of 19 August 2009 case file III CZP 58/09 interpreted the provisions of Article 18(1) pt 5 of the Polish Act of 16 April 1993 on Combating Unfair Competition – CUC – (in Polish: ustawa o zwalczaniu nieuczciwej konkurencji), Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 47, item 211, with subsequent amendments. The Court ruled that a party who has suffered fees, other than commercial margin for acceptance of goods for sale (the so-called shelves’ charges) may require return improperly received benefits in this way.

Polish case law on abusive clauses in B2C IT and IP contracts

July 8th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

Below you will find a list of judgments and decisions on abusive clauses in B2C IT and IP contracts. You can find a more detailed discussion on each judgment or decision under the link provided with the case file. All judgments and decisions are given in chronological order.

– The decision of the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection of 21 November 2013 no. RKT-38/2013.

– The judgment of the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection of 13 December 2013 case file XVII AmA 76/12.

– The judgment of the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection of 27 February 2012 case file XVII AmA 192/10.

– The judgment of the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection of 26 December 2006 case file XVII AmC 170/05.

– The judgment of the Supreme Court of 13 July 2006 case file III SZP 3/06.

See also “Polish regulations on prohibited contractual provisions“.