Archive for: Art. 16 CUC

Trade mark law, case XVI GCo 204/13

September 30th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

On Augut 2013, Polish telecom Polkomtel sp. z o.o. started an advertising campaign of its mobile Internet access services. In a short movie, a girl named Basia is starting new life by dumping her boyfriend and moving to a new flat with an Internet access based on LTE technology. She mentions that her boyfriend had Internet access provided by Telekomunikacja Polska S.A. under the brand name Neostrada. She is very happy about the changes. The ad ends with the statement that Internet provided by Plus (brand name of Polkomtel) is faster from Neostrada. This comparison is based on the ranking provided by of July 2013.

On 9 September 2013, Telekomunikacja Polska requested the District Court in Warsaw to issue a preliminary injuntion against Polkomtel, in order to prohibit acts of unfair competition and trade mark infringement of the word trade mark NEOSTRADA R-182762. Telekomunikacja noted that Polkomtel is one its major competitors on the Polish telecommunication market. The Company argued that Polkomtel infringed its trade mark rights by taking unfair advantage of reputation and distinctive character of the NEOSTRADA brand, and the advertising movie was comparative advertising contrary to good practices, and as such, should be deemed as unfair competition.

The District Court in Warsaw in its order of 23 September 2013 case file XVI GCo 204/13 dismissed the request. The Court held that premises to secure the claims are based on substantiation of claims, i.e. on providing prima facie evidence of the infringement and legitimate interest in granting the order. According to the Court, Telekomunikacja did not provide evidence on reputation of its trade mark and Polkomtel did not infringe the right of protection for NEOSTRADA, because this sign was only used to specify the service to which it relates. The word was used as a name for a given service, not as a trade mark. The Court noted that advertising that allows to identify, directly or indirectly, the competitor or products or services offered by the competitor, described as “comparative advertising”, should be deemed the act of unfair competition if it is contrary to good practices. However, the short movie clip published by Polkomtel is not in any way contrary to such practices, because it is not misleading and it does not affect market decisions as to the purchase of goods or services. The Court agreed with the decision of the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection of 6 August 2009 case no. DDK 4/2009, according to which, advertising is deemed as misleading when a consumer gets false idea of ​​the goods or services, and misleading information influence the decision to purchase these products.

See also “Trade mark law, case XXII GWo 68/12“.

Advertising of pharmaceuticals, case II CSK 289/07

January 24th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

According to one of the older judgments of the of the Supreme Court – Civil Chamber of 2 October 2007, case file II CSK 289/07, published in the Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, the Civil Chamber (in Polish: Orzecznictwo Sądu Najwyższego Izba Cywilna) of 2008, No 12, item 140, p. 54, a public advertisement of promotional prices (price cuts) of drugs that is made by comparing these reduced prices with the higher prices, suggesting periodic drug sales at a lower price, is a prohibited public advertising of medicines as referred to in article 57(1)(i) and (iii) of the Polish Act on Pharmaceutical Law – PHL – (in Polish: ustawa prawo farmaceutyczne) of 6 September 2001, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2008, No 45, item 271, with subsequent amendments.

1. Advertising of the following medicinal products, addressed to the general public, shall be prohibited:
i) dispensed exclusively on doctor’s prescription
iii) included, according to separate regulations, on the lists of the reimbursable medicines and authorized for issuing without prescription, with the proper name identical with the name mentioned on these lists.

It is also the act of unfair competition as provided in article 16(1)(i) of the 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.

In the field of advertising the act of unfair competition shall be, in particular, the following:
1) advertising contrary to provisions of the law, good practices or offending human dignity,

The Court ruled that assessment whether advertising can be deemed as misleading should refer to the model of the average recipient of this kind of advertising – the consumer of advertised products or services.

In this case, it was the average consumer of pharmaceuticals, to which advertising newspapers and leaflets were directed. As the Supreme Court noted in its judgment of 3 December 2003, case file I CK 358/02, the model of the average consumer, who is reasonably well informed and reasonably observant and circumspect, is now used widely adopted in the Republic of Poland as it is in the European Union.

However, the model of an average consumer could not be defined and considered in isolation from the conditions of this specific case and the realities concerning recipients of specific products to which the advertising is directed. Therefore, one could not ignore the fact that such consumers are often very ill persons, often with reduced capacity of perception and limited ability of reasonable and critical evaluation, as well as they are often elderly, which is also a significant group of consumers of medicines. These are typically the person more susceptible to suggestion and less critical. These people are targeted by pharmaceutical advertising and, while assessing the possibility of confusion, the characteristics of this kind of audience should be taken into account as a model of the average consumer.

See also “Polish regulations on pharmaceutical trade marks” and “Polish case law on advertising of pharmaceuticals“.