Archive for: Polish Act on Access to Public Information

E-access to public information, case I OSK 1727/09

September 4th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

A Polish law firm requested the Office of the Attorney General of the State Treasury to disclose public information in the form of all unfavorable for the State Treasury decisions of common courts and the Supreme Court along with their written justifications, issued in 2008, in cases of reprivatization, in which the State Treasury was represented by the Attorney General of the State Treasury. The President of the Office of the Attorney General of the State Treasury refused and argued that the requested information has the nature of information processed, therefore, the applicant must also show particularly important public interest. The law firm filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 23 September 2009 case file II SA/Wa 978/09 reversed the contested decision and held that legal commentators and the case-law formed the view that information deemed as simple is information that its substance does not change prior to its disclosure. However, the processed information is qualitatively new information that did not exist in the final content and form, although its source is in the materials held by the entity obliged to disclose such information. Thus, a fundamental feature that distinguishes processed public information from simple public information is that the authority does not posses processed public information, and for its production, it is necessary to carry out certain operations and activities on simple public information held by the entity, which results in the creation of the new quality of information. This new quality information is not only technically another compilation of existing information – another way of ranking previously held information, but different, qualitatively new information, usually leading to a specific assessment of the phenomenon, whether a particular interpretation, finding differences or similarities. In order to produce the processed information it is necessary to submit information under analysis, synthesis and produce in this way a new quality of information that does not result from the wording of any unit of information that was subject to processing, in general, it results from the sum of (a set of) individual pieces of information that has been processed. Therefore, the processed information does not results from a different order of possessed information, but from the new immanent quality that was obtained from the processing of new information. Only ranking and listing of judgments according to a specific criterion does not bear characteristic of processed information, but it has the nature of labor-intensive information, and creations of such information can only decide on the cost of production. Time-consuming, costly and organizational difficulties – technical or office that are associated with the creation and development of a public information cannot be treated as the exempt from the obligation to disclose of such information. Actions devoted to the necessary anonymization of the selected judgments do not constitute the production of processed information, because the anonymization process is a technical operation, as a result of which new information is not created.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 August 2010 case file I OSK 1727/09 dismissed the cassation complaint filed by the President of the Office of the Attorney General of the State Treasury.

See also “Polish case law on e-access to public information“.

Internet domains, case I ACa 1334/07

June 17th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 29 August 2007, case file XVI GC 756/06 dismissed the complaint filed by “Euro–net” sp. z o.o. against the judgment of the Court of Conciliation for Internet Domains at the Polish Chamber of Information Technology and Telecommunications of 23 March 2006 case file 22/05/PA in which the Court of Conciliation dismissed the “Euro-net” complaint against Rafał Falęcki in case of infringement of trade mark rights and unfair competition delict/tort concerning eurortv.com.pl domain name.

The Appellate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 16 April 2008 case file I ACa 1334/07 dismissed the appeal, although it also found that some of the allegations included in the complaint proved to be accurate. The Court of Conciliation violated the adversarial rule because it has conducted an investigation of evidence ex officio, by looking on web pages and performing a search for disputed words “euro” and “rtv” in Google. The Court has not made any survey protocol or notes. This was made personally by the arbitrator without a request of both parties, however, the parties have not raised any comment to that evidence. The Court of Conciliation should issue the provision of evidence, indicating the date and place to carry out, so the parties could participate in this investigation. However, the appeal did not contain any allegations as to the veracity of the abovementioned evidence. The court may conduct investigation of evidence ex officio and on its own initiative but it should do it only in situations of an exceptional nature.

The Appellate Court did not agree with the “Euro-net” that the circumstances in which the investigation of evidence was conducted required special knowledge, and therefore should be subject to expert opinion. The Court of Conciliation made only a visual overview of the web pages of the plaintiff and the defendant, to which it was not necessary to posses special knowledge in the field of IT. The Appellate Court held that since the issue of the case was the infringement of “Euro-net” rights of protection for trade marks that was allegedly made by Rafał Falęcki in the Internet, therefore the inspection of his websites was sufficient way to determine whether and how the defendant used plaintiff’s trademarks. The expertise is not needed for such action, because a regular Internet user usually does not have such knowledge. It was a regular Internet user who could be mislead, in particular by a risk of associating the domain name with a registered trade marks, as defined in Article 296(2)(ii) of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments.

2. Infringement of the right of protection for a trademark consists of unlawful use in the course of trade of:
(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;

However, there were no doubts for the Court that provisions of article 153 of the IPL mean that one cannot infringe the protection rights for a trade mark in the Internet.

Article 153
1. The right of protection shall confer the exclusive right to use the trademark for profit or for professional purposes throughout the territory of the Republic of Poland.
2. The term of the right of protection shall be 10 years counted from the date of filing of a trademark application with the Patent Office.
3. The term of protection may, at the request of the right holder, be extended for subsequent ten-year periods in respect of all or of a part of the goods.
4. The request referred to in paragraph (3) shall be submitted before the expiration of a running protection period, however not earlier than one year before the expiration thereof. The request shall be submitted together with the payment of a due protection fee.
5. The request referred to in paragraph (3) may also be submitted, against payment of an additional fee, within six months after the expiration of a protection period. The said time limit shall be non-restorable.
6. The Patent Office shall make a decision on refusal to extend the term of protection for a trademark, where the request has been submitted after the expiration of the time limit referred to in paragraph (5) or the due fees referred to in paragraphs (4) and (5) have not been paid.

According to the Court, one cannot use signs (or its elements) or similar trade marks, in its Internet domain names, if its business deals with selling the same group of products. There was no question that the mentioned above rule belongs to the fundamental socio-economic principles of the legal order of the Republic of Poland. However, in this case, such conditions were not met, bacuse all signs constituting “Euro-net” trade marks and used by Rafał Falęcki lack distinctive character, there was no risk of confusion, and there existed the exclusion of protection of signs as set out in article 156(1)(ii) of the IPL.

1. The right of protection shall not entitle the right holder to prohibit third parties from using, in the course of trade:
(ii) indications concerning, in particular, the features and characteristics of goods, the kind, quantity, quality, intended purpose, origin, the time of production or of expiration of usability period,

There is one thing I wanted to add. I asked the Appellate Court in Warsaw to send me the judgment via e-mail. My request was based on the Polish Act on access to public information. On 14 June 2010 I received an e-mail from the Court.

W związku z wnioskiem z dnia 11 czerwca 2010 r. o udostępnienie informacji publicznej uprzejmie informuję, że opłata za udostępnienie treści wyroku Sądu Apelacyjnego w Warszawie z dnia 16 kwietnia 2008 r. w sprawie o sygn. akt I ACa 1334/07 wraz z uzasadnieniem – zgodnie z Zarządzeniem Nr 130/09 Prezesa Sądu Apelacyjnego w Warszawie z dnia 31 lipca 2009 r. – wynosi 8 zł (1 zł za stronę) – w wersji elektronicznej. Opłatę można uiścić w kasie Sądu, znakami sądowymi lub przelewem bankowym na konto Sądu Apelacyjnego w Warszawie nr 93 1010 1010 0404 1322 3100 0000 z dopiskiem ” informacja publiczna Adm. 0137-119/10″.

I was informed that according to the Decree No 130/09 of the President of the Appellate Court in Warsaw of 31 July 2009, the fee for access to the judgment – is 8 PLN (1 PLN per page) – in the electronic version. I had no time to argue so I decided to pay. However, as you may remember from my post entitled “E-access to public information, case I C 19/10“, price-lists and flat-rate charges for making the public information available, may violate the provisions of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on access to public information.

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

E-access to public information, case I C 19/10

April 29th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Grzegorz W. made a request for access to minutes of meetings of the audit committee of the city council. He asked that the information was sent to his home address. The Municipality and City Czerwionka – Leszczyny replied that it is possible to get acquaint with the requested documents in their virtual version that was published in the Bulletin of Public Information. There was also an option to obtain a photocopy or computer file upon application and payment of a fee based on the provisions of Article 1(1) of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments.

Each information on public matters constitutes public information in the understanding of the Act and is subject to being made available on the basis of principles and under the provisions defined in this Act.

Grzegorz W. informed the Municipality and City Czerwionka – Leszczyny that he expects to receive the documents in the form of photocopies. All documents were sent along with the request for payment based on the rules issued by the Mayor on charges for making the public information available. Grzegorz W. refused to pay and urged the Mayor to amend the ordinance in question, as it was incompatible with the provisions of Articles 7(2) and 15(2) of the API.

Article 7. 1. Making public information available takes place by means of:
1) announcing public information, including official documents, in the Public Information Bulletin, mentioned in Article 8,
2) making it available, mentioned in Articles 10 and 11,
3) entrance into the meetings of the bodies, defined in Article 3, it. 1, point 3, and making the materials available, including the audio-visual and tele-communicating, documenting these meetings.
2. Access to public information is free, with the stipulation of Article 15.

Article 15. 1. If as a result of making public information on the petition, defined in Article 10, it. 1, the entity obliged to do this, is to incur the additional costs connected with the method defined in the petition of a method of making it available or necessity to transform the information in the form pointed in the petition, this entity is entitled to the payment from the petitioner covering these costs.
2. The entity, defined in it. 1, within 14 days of submitting the petition, shall notify the petitioner of the amount of the payment. Making the information available in accordance with the petition takes place after the expiration of the period of 14 days of notifying the petitioner unless the petitioner makes within this period the change in the petition in the scope of method and form of making this information available or withdraw the petition.

After very active exchange of letters and calls between both parties, the case went to the court. On 7 October 2009, the Referee in the Regional Court Katowice Wschód in Katowice made the order in the admonition proceedings case file I Nc 1140/09/13 and adjudged Grzegorz W. to pay 14,58 PLN plus costs of the proceedings. Grzegorz W. filed an objection against the order and the Municipality and City Czerwionka – Leszczyny sustained their claims. The Regional Court Katowice Wchód in Katowice in its judgment of 27 April 2010 case file I C 19/10 rejected all claims filed by the Municipality and City Czerwionka – Leszczyny. The Court held that Article 7(2) of the API introduced the principle of free access to public information. All exceptions to this rule are provided in Article 15(2) of the API. There are only two exceptions to the principle of free access. The first concerns the method (form) of making the information available and the second concerns a situation in which additional costs are associated with the transformation of the requested information. According to the Court, the forms should be understood by both the particular shape of the information held, which requires additional effort (for instance digitization and processing of documents held by the entity) and as a special way of making such information available. The Court also noted that the entity making the information available is obliged to ensure the possibility of copying of public information or its printout or sending the public information or transferring it to the appropriate, commonly used information carrier. The Court held that the Municipality and City Czerwionka – Leszczyny should also demonstrate that it had incurred additional costs. Finally, the Court also held that making the price-lists and introducing flat-rate charges for making the public information available, violates the provisions of the API because each price-list/tariff is a form of lump sum and this does not correspond to the essence of the costs actually incurred. Article 15(1) of the API indicates the additional costs and therefore the costs that were actually incurred by a given entity.

See also “Polish case law on e-access to public information“.

Access to public information, case II SAB/Wa 155/09

March 3rd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 4 February 2010 case file II SAB/Wa 155/09 held that it should be noted that the status of public information is not only afforded to documents directly prepared/edited and technically produced by a public authority, but also to those whose the authority uses to carry out the tasks specified by the law, even when the copyrights belong to another entity. So therefore as documents being the subject of disclosure of public information as defined in the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on access to public information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej) Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments, should be deemed the expertises/opinions made for the authority that is required to make the public information available, if such documents are used to perform its task, even if the copyright on these opinions belong to other entities.

The Court held that the overriding principle related to disclosure of public information, is to provide such information. The problem of subsequent use of the documents covered by copyright is not governed by the API, but may be subject to any claims as defined by copyright law and civil law. However, this issue cannot justify the refusal to disclose public information, because the only limits are rules on secrets protected by law. In this case, a natural person requested the expertise prepared for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration, in connection with the creation by this body of IT systems. Such documents in the light of the above-mentioned conclusions are deemed as public information, and therefore should be disclosed, if there is no data that are secrecy protected by law.

E-access to public information, case II SAB/Wa 86/07

February 20th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 10 December 2007 case file II SAB/Wa 86/07 held that the request filed in the electronic form (e-mail), that was not signed with the qualified electronic signature, is a legally sufficient request for disclosure of public information. Furthermore, the request for disclosure of public information does not initiate the administrative proceedings and it is not intended to finalize the proceedings with the refusal. It is logical and obvious that applicant’s intention is to obtain information and not to receive a negative decision. The request for public information can take any form, unless it is sufficiently clear what is requested.

See also “Polish case law on e-access to public information” and “E-signatures in Poland“.

E-access to public information, case II SAB/Sz 148/09

February 20th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Szczecin in its judgment of 16 December 2009 case file II SAB/Sz 148/09 held that the general principle set in article 61 of the Polish Constitution, is the access to information on the activities of public authorities. Any exceptions to this rule should be formulated explicitly, and all doubts should be resolved in favor of the access.

Article 61
1. A citizen shall have the right to obtain information on the activities of organs of public authority as well as persons discharging public functions. Such right shall also include receipt of information on the activities of self-governing economic or professional organs and other persons or organizational units relating to the field in which they perform the duties of public authorities and manage communal assets or property of the State Treasury.

2. The right to obtain information shall ensure access to documents and entry to sittings of collective organs of public authority formed by universal elections, with the opportunity to make sound and visual recordings.

3. Limitations upon the rights referred to in paras. 1 and 2 above, may be imposed by statute solely to protect freedoms and rights of other persons and economic subjects, public order, security or important economic interests of the State.

4. The procedure for the provision of information, referred to in paras. 1 and 2 above shall be specified by statute, and regarding the Sejm and the Senate by their rules of procedure.

Judgments of the Polish courts are information on public matters according to the provisions of Article 1(1) of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on access to public information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments.

Each information on public matters constitutes public information in the understanding of the Act and is subject to being made available on the basis of principles and under the provisions defined in this Act.

The Court held that according to article 6(1) point 4 letter (a) of the API, a judgment is an official document that should be made available according to the procedures and principles set in the API.

Article 6(1)
The following information is subject to being made available, in particular on:
(…)
4) public data, including:
a)contents and form of official documents, in particular:
– contents of administrative acts and other resolutions,
– documentation on the control and its effects as well as presentations, opinions, conclusions and statements of the entities having conducted the control,

The Court also noted that anyone is allowed to request the access to public information in electronic form or in the traditional way, on paper.

See also “Polish case law on e-access to public information“.

E-access to public information, case II SAB/ Wa 57/09

February 18th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2008, the Polish media reported a story on the Polish Post which allegedly tested a system that scans envelopes and parcels. There were rumours that information gathered by such scanning could be used by the Internal Security Agency (ABW). ABW denied, but the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection has decided to investigate how the collected data are processed during the scan. Roman P. has requested the GIODO to make available the results of the investigation. Since Roman P. filed his request by phone and then by e-mail, the GIODO informed that it will consider the request only after it receives personal data of Roman P.

The GIODO based its opinion on the provisions of Article 63 § 3 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.

§ 1. Applications (requests, explanations, appeals, complaints) may be filed in writing or by telegram, telex, fax, email or by using the form available on the website of the competent public administration, allowing data entry into the communications system of the body, as well as verbally to the protocol.

§ 2 The application shall include at least an indication of the person from whom it comes, its address and it shall satisfy other requirements stipulated in the special regulations.

§ 3 The application submitted in writing or orally to the protocol shall be signed by the applicant, and also by an employee who made the protocol. When the application is filed by a person who can not or do not know how to make a signature, the application or a protocol is signed by other person authorized, by making a reference next to the signature.

The GIODO decided that the application filed by Roman P. shall indicate the person from whom it derives, its address and the scope of the request, otherwise, the request will not be examined.

Roman P. brought a complaint against this decisopn. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment case file II SAB/ Wa 57/09 ruled that the GIODO failed to act and ordered the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection to examine Roman P. request within 14 days because information he demanded, is deemed as the public information as defined in Article 5(2) of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments. The Court also ruled that arguments and findings to leave the application without further examination, because it was sent by e-mail, have no support in the APC.

See also “Polish case law on e-access to public information“.

Polish case law on e-access to public information

January 21st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Below, you will find a list of judgments on e-access to public information. By “e-access to public information” I mean all issues related to obtaining public information through or with the help of IT technology. You can find a more detailed discussion on each judgment under the link provided with the case file. All judgments are given in chronological order.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court of 15 March 2013 case file II SAB/Wa 513/12.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court of 18 December 2012 case file II SAB/Wa 335/12.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Kraków of 26 November 2012 case file II SAB/KR 152/12.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw of 24 October 2012 case file II SAB/Wa 245/12.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Kraków of 18 September 2012 case file II SAB/Kr 105/12.

– The judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 14 September 2012 case file I OSK 1203/12.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court of 13 July 2012 case file II SAB/Wa 30/12.

– The judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 21 June 2012 case file I OSK 730/12.

– The judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 21 June 2012 case file I OSK 666/12.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Lublin of 20 March 2012 case file II SAB/Lu 10/12.

– The judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 3 February 2012 case file I OSK 2172/11.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gliwice of 19 September 2011 case file IV SA/Gl 1002/11.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gliwice of 2 August 2011 case file II SAB/Wa 86/07.

– The judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 3 August 2010 case file I OSK 1727/09.

– The judgment of the Regional Court Katowice Wchód in Katowice of 27 April 2010 case file I C 19/10.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Szczecin of 16 December 2009 case file II SAB/Sz 148/09.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw case file II SAB/Wa 57/09.

– The judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw of 10 December 2007 case file II SAB/Wa 86/07.

– The judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 14 March 2006 case file I OSK 190/06.

E-access to public information, case I OSK 190/06

September 4th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 6 June 2004, the editor in chief of one of the Polish magazines requested the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration for access and disclosure of the list of entrepreneurs who have been authorized to carry out business activity in the detectives and investigation services. The spokesman of the Minister replied that the registry of companies to whom such permits and licenses have been granted, as a whole, constitutes a database within the meaning of Article 2(1) point 1 of the Polish of 27 July 2001 on Protection of Databases – APD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie baz danych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 128, item 1402 with subsequent amendments. The whole structure of the registry is subject to legal protection and the its individual availability must be understood as the possibility to receive information about a specific item of the database. There are no procedural obstacles that the interested parties may receive information or data about a particular entrepreneur to whom the permit has been issued. So, as a general rule, the access to information contained in the registry is open, it does not mean, however, that the entire database should be disclosed – as a legal structure. The magazine filed a complaint on failure to act. The case went through all instances.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 14 March 2006 case file I OSK 190/06 dismissed it the cassation complaint filed by the editorial team of the magazine.

See also “Polish case law on e-access to public information“.

Access to public information, case II GSK 459/07

August 7th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 20 March 2008 case file II GSK 459/07 held at the begining of judgment’s justification that administrative decisions are public information within the meaning of article 1(1) of the API and may be disclosed, in accordance with 6(1) pt 4 letter a, first tiret of the API. According to the SAC, after completion of the application proceedings, including any inter partes proceedings, article 251 of the IPL will no longer be applicable, and access to case files will be based on the general provisions of the API. Pursuant to article2(2) of the API, the Authority cannot require to prove legitemate or factual interest from the person entitled to a right to public information.

The Court also held that not all documents from the case file should be considered public information. Such nature have only official documents. Pursuant to article 6(2) of the API, an official document within the meaning of the Act is the content of the declaration of will or knowledge, recorded and signed, in any form by a public official under the provisions of the Penal Code, within its competence, that is addressed to another entity or put to the file.

See also “Polish Patent Office, case II SAB/Wa 99/06“.

Access to public information, case V Ca 454/07

July 30th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

Sergiusz Pawłowicz who was also the leading programmer of Janosik project, went the same administrative proceedings as the ISOC Poland. See “Access to public information, case OSK 600/04“. At the final stage the Supreme Administrative Court dismissed Sergiusz’s complaint on the decision of the Voivodeship Administrative Court case file II SAB/Wr 72/02, recognizing that the proper course shall be a civil action.

Sergiusz filed a complaint requesting the civil court to order ZUS to disclose specification of KSI MAIL protocol being public information. The Regional Court in Warszawa in its judgment of 8 December 2006 case file XVI C942/04 ruled that publication of the protocol that is used by Płatnik software will not affect in any way the integrity of safety of data sent by this software. Therefore all arguments raised by ZUS with regard to data security were unfounded. The Court also held that ZUS did not prove that the protocol of KSI MAIL is protected by copyrights that belongs to Prokom Software S.A. or whether Prokom received any patent covering this protocol. As for the argument that ZUS’s obligations regarding confidentiality of information about technologies used in Płatnik and its source code, which resulted from the agreement between ZUS and Prokom, the court held that according to the obligation to disclose public information as provided in the Article 13 of the Polish Act of 17 February 2005 on the Informatization of Entities Performing Public Tasks – IEPPT – (in Polish: ustawa o informatyzacji działalności podmiotów realizujących zadania publiczne), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 64, item 565 as amended, the provision of the agreement as a ius dispositivum, may not impose negative consequences on Sergiusz. The court also held that the use of the requested public information and legal interest that Sergiusz and its legal representative derrived from the social interest was beyond the scope of the whole dispute. Simply, there is no need to prove legal interest when requesting the access to public information.

ZUS filed an appeal complaint. The Appellate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 23 April 2007 case file V Ca 454/07 dismissed it. The Court held that the court of first instance provided deep and proper analysis of binding legal norms and its judgment was correctly applied.

Polish Patent Office, case II SAB/Wa 99/06

November 25th, 2006, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in a judgment of 24 November 2006, case file II SAB/Wa 99/06, ruled that the public authorities or other bodies performing public functions, in particular the public offices and departments, are required to make public information available in accordance with provisions of article 4(1) point 1 of of the the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on access to public information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej) Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with later amendments.

Therefore, there was no doubt for the VAC that in the light of the aforementioned regulation, the Polish Patent Office is the entity obliged to follow the provisions of the API. However, it was also undisputed, that the rules and the procedure on the access to documents including trade mark applications are governed by 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 of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 119, item 1117, with later amendments, served as the basis for the decision to refuse to grant a right of protection.. The provisions of the IPL will constitute lex specialis in relation to the API.

Access to public information, case OSK 600/04

September 12th, 2006, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Internet Society Poland requested the President of the Social Insurance Institution – ZUS – (in Polish: Zakład Ubezpieczeń Społecznych) to disclose public information concerning technical specification of the KSI MAIL format, that is used in Płatnik software. Płatnik computer program is a free but not open source software that can be used to fill in and send a statement of payment declarations to the Social Insurance Institution. It works only with MS Windows operating systems.

The President of ZUS ruled that the Polish Act of 13 October 1998 on the Social Insurance System, consolidated text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2007 No. 11, item 74 as amended, obliges payers of social insurance to prepare documents including inter alia protected data, for instance sensitive data concerning health, in the electronic format and to transmit of such documents from Płatnik to ZUS. These data are personal data protected by law. Making them available could result in significant disruption in the supply KSI MAIL system, exposing to a breach of professional secrecy of ZUS and undermine the statutory exclusivity of the software provided by ZUS. Regardless of the abovementioned arguments, ZUS stated that KSI MAIL module is subject to business confidentiality and trade secrets due to the greement conducted between ZUS and Prokom Software S.A. on the design and implementation of a comprehensive system for social security. The agreement obliged ZUS to keep confidential all information relating to the transferred technology and solutions contained in KSI MAIL. ZUS based its final decision on the provisions of Article 5 of the the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments.

Article 5. 1. The right to public information is subject to limitation to the extent and on the principles defined in the provisions on the protection of confidential information and on the protection of other secrets being statutorily protected.
2. The right to public information is subject to limitation in relation to privacy of a natural person or the secret of an entrepreneur. The limitation does not relate to the information on persons performing public functions, being connected with performing these functions, including the conditions of entrusting and performing these functions and in the event when a natural person or entrepreneur resigns from the right to which he was entitled to.
3. The access to public information on matters resolved before the state authorities, in particular in the administrative, criminal or civil proceedings cannot be limited, with the stipulation of it. 1 and 2, with respect to protection of the party’s interest, if the proceedings concern the public authorities or other entities performing public functions or persons performing public functions – in the scope of these functions or tasks.
4. The limitations of access to information on cases, defined in it. 3, do not breach the right to information on organisation and work of the bodies conducting proceedings, in particular on time, mode and place and the order of investigating cases.

ISOC filed a complaint before the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw. It emphasized that the technical specification of KSI MAIL is public information. Its publication broadens the possibility of fulfilling the duties of citizens who do not wish to invest in MS Windows. ISOC further argued that ZUS can not rely on contractual provisions, as it was contrary to the mandatory provisions of the API and that they are invalid. Also, ZUS made an erroneous interpretation of the law to rely on business secrets and trade secrets, because ISOC did not request the source code of the program, or other works protected by copyright or industrial property rights/patents.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its order of 30 January 2004 case file II SA 3732/03 held that this request concerns matters that are not subject to the administrative jurisdiction, but the civil courts which is in accordance with the provisions of Article 22(1) of the API.

Article 22.
1. 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.
2. The entity, to which the exclusion of public information is related, has a legal interest in commencing as an accidental intervener on the defendant’s side.
3. The competent court for resolving the cases, defined in it. 1, is the district court with respect to the seat of the entity, which refused to make the public information available.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 March 2004 case file OSK 600/04 stated that the cassation complaint is unfounded and declared that, the term “when quoting” as used in Article 22(1) of the API, has such meaning that it is sufficient for the entity who posses requested information to invoke the mentioned in this provision object of protection, to exclude the possibility of control by an administrative court. The administrative court cannot control in this case the legality of the decision and investigate if the indicated condition actually occurred.

Copyright law, case IV CKN 458/00

July 26th, 2005, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court – Civil Chamber in its judgment of 26 September 2001 case file IV CKN 458/00, published in the electronic database Legalis, held that questions included in the so-called “question bank” that is used in the test driving exams are deemed as public materials within the meaning of article 4(2) of the Polish Act on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights and, therefore, they are not afforded the copyright protection. The Court held that the official documentary material is what comes from the office or another state institution, or concerns an official matter or what was created as the result of the application of the official procedure.

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