The Polish Constitutional Tribunal in its judgment of 23 June 2015 case file SK 32/14 ruled on the unconstitutionality of Article 79(1)(3)(b) of the ARNR that provided treble licence fee for culpable infringement. The Tribunal held that this provision violated the right of ownership and the principle of equality under the law, by disproportionately burdening copyright infringer in relation to infringers of other rights.
Archive for: Art. 79 ARNR
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.
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.
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.
Hasbro company filed copyright infringement suit against INTERKOBO Sp. z o.o., a Polish company that imports and distributes games, toys and sports articles, mainly from China, Hong-Kong and Taiwan. Hasbro claimed that Interkobo by acts of importation, advertising and selling of games such as “Colour Twist”, “Who is it?”, “Worldbusiness” infringes on Hasbro’s copyrights.
The District Court in Łódź in its judgment of 8 December 2009 case file X GC 74/08 based its findings on expert witness with regard to formal analysis of works in question as to whether games imported by Interkobo infringes on Hasbro’s rights. The Court agreed with the expert that the abstractly conceived rules of the game are ideas that cannot be copyrighted. The authorship of a game understood as a set of abstract rules by which the game is to take place cannot be granted. The court did not excluded the protection of such abstract rules of the game based on the general principles of the civil law, but acknowledged that it remains outside the subject matter of the case and did not provide further arguments in this regard.
The Court also took into account that Hasbro is a foreign company and according to provisions of Article 2(6) and Article 5(2) of the Berne Convention, the protection of its rights should be governed exclusively by the laws of the country where protection is claimed, i.e. 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.
Passa Company sued its competitor – Informator Handlowy Publishing House for the copyright infringement of personal and economic rights to a few ads that were published by Passa. Passa argued that Informator Handlowy copied, altered and distributed these advertising in its magazine, including photographs that were used by Passa.
Informator Handlowy argued that it has received all the published materials from its advertisers and they should be the defendants in this case. IH also argued that the advertisements at issue are not protected by copyright law, since they do not have the characteristics of the copyrightable work. They rely solely on the computer alteration, without the creative factor, and photographs (walls, roofs and chimneys) do not have the nature of the copyrightable work because they do not contain any creative element.
The District Court in Lublin ruled that photographs that were used in ads cannot be protected by provisions of the Polish Act of 4 February 1994 on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 24, item 83, consolidated text of 16 May 2006, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 90, item 631. However, the Court also held that these advertisements are subject to copyright protections as provided in article 1 of the ARNR because they meet the criterion of individuality (creativity of the plaintiff) and originality (they presented a visible margin of creative freedom, own personal choice of treatment of the subject). The Court held that the publication of advertisements without consent of Passa infringed its copyright. The Court also ruled that there were no conditions for the adoption of the liability of the defendant under the provisions of article 17 and 79 of the ARNR.
The Appellate Court in Lublin in its judgment case file I ACa 206/10 confirmed the findings of the court of first instance as to the copyright infringement of advertisings, but also pointed out that the District Court misinterpreted the law. The Court held that in a situation where the use of the work is illegal (there is no agreement to use copyrighted work or the provisions of fair use/allowed use cannot be applied), i.e. such use is made without the consent of the creator, his claims are set out in article 79 of the ARNR, including the right to equitable remuneration. A defendant in such case can be anyone who infringes on creator’s right. The Court emphasized that copyright protection vest in the owner against anyone who violates those rights. It did not matter that the advertisements were published on behalf of Informator Handlowy’s clients and that the infringer was in good faith or it has exercised due care. See also “Copyright law, case I ACa 2/96“. The Appellate Court found that the Court of First instance was wrong to rely on Article 42(2) of the Polish Act of 26 January 1984 on Press law – APL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo prasowe), published Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 5, item 24, with subsequent amendmets.
The publisher and the editor is not responsible for the content of announcements and advertisings published in accordance with article 36.
That provision concerns the responsibility for the content and form of advertising, or infringement of the rights associated with breaking the rules of social coexistence, or any legal prohibition of advertising, such as alcohol, cigarettes, or the Act on Combating Unfair Competition. This provision does not cover the issue of infringement of copyright. See also “Press law, case V CK 675/03“. The Appellate Court referred the case back for retrial because of the scope of procedural and material errors, including rejection of a motion for admission of an expert as to the estimate of the amount of compensation, the lack of assessment of all material.