Archive for: Art. 23 CC

Personal interest, case I ACa 142/15

February 17th, 2016, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 16 December 2015 case file I ACa 142/15 decided a case of a Polish rockman who sued a tabloid newspaper for publishing online article that infringed his personal interests. The Court found the journalist and author of the article liable and ordered him to publish apology and to pay proper compensation. However, the Court dismissed the claim that would order the publisher to remove the article from newspaper’s website. The Court ruled that the role of the judicial authorities is not to participate in the falsification of history by ordering the removal from the public sphere of all traces of publications recognized in the past by the final judicial decisions as unjustifiable attack on the good name of individuals. Accordingly, a proportional and adequate form of protection for the plaintiff would by be amending online defamatory publications with a relevant footnote, comment or link to information about the outcome of the proceedings.

Personal interest, case XXIV C 607/13

March 30th, 2015, Tomasz Rychlicki

Maciej Strzembosz is a Polish film producer, screenwriter, director and the President of the Polish Audiovisual Producers Chamber of Commerce. In his statements regarding Polish copyright law ammendments, free culture, market regulatory Mr. Strzembosz used very personal arguments against Igor Ostrowski, who is a renown lawyer and the co-founder of The Projekt: Polska Association and Centrum Cyfrowe, and Alek Tarkowski, a sociologist and the coordinator of the Polish branch of Creative Commons. Mr. Ostrowski and Tarkowski both being tired of arguments such as “Ostrowski’ Google’s agent” or “Tarkowski ideologist of thievery on the Net” decided to file a civil suit against Mr Strzembosz claiming infringement of personal interest.

The District Court in Warsaw logged this proceedings under case file XXIV C 607/13, however it has never reached a judgment since the parties decided not to continue their legal dispute before the Court.

Personal interests, case I C 988/13

September 26th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

The District Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 27 March 2014 case file I C 988/13 ruled that the provisions Article 15 of the Polish Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means – PSEM – (in Polish: ustwa o świadczeniu usług droga elektroniczną), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 144, item. 1204 with subsequent amendments, exempts ISPs from the preventive moderation (approval) of comments posted by website and forum users.

The entity, which provides services specified in art. 12 – 14, shall not be obliged to monitor the data referred to in art. 12 – 14, which are transmitted, stored or made available by that entity.

The Court ruled that the lack of implementation of a control and content filtering system for profanity comments cannot prejudge the responsibility of the defendant, because preventive censorship would lead to infringement of the right to freedom of expression. The decision on the scope and priority of protected and conflicting rights, while accepting the obligation to adopt preventive control of information posted on a website and bonding the liability of the provider with the lack of such system, would constitute an excessive interference in the need of protection for different rights and interests, while simultaneously threatening freedom of expression.

Personal interest, case I CSK 542/13

September 17th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

Leszek Czarnecki and his wife Jolanta Pieńkowska sued Grupa o2, the owner and publisher of website. Mr Czarnecki claimed that articles posted on this website infringed his personal interests by publishing information about social status and a new home, which was built on a grand scale.

The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 24 October 2011 case file IV C 1639/10 found the publisher guilty. The court held that the content of articles undermined the prestige of the spouses as they are people commonly known, reputable and rich. The Court ruled that the amount of compensation is up to 200.000 PLN, because, as the judge assessed the higher the prestige of imputed persons is, the higher should be the economic sanction.

Grupa o2 appealed. The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment case file VI ACa 73/12 ordered owners of both sites to issue an apology but reduced the amount awarded, and ruled that the company has to pay 20.000 PLN for social purpose. Both parties filed cassation complaints.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 12 September 2014 case file I CSK 542/13 repealed the contested judgment and returned the case for further reconsideration. The reasons were based on procedural grounds. It turned out that the Appeallate court has assessed the evidence, but it did not find its own conclusions. The Court also did not rule on the relationship between comments posted by Internet users and the provisions of Polish Act on Providing Services by Electronic Means that exclude the liability of the ISPs.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 244/13

May 22nd, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

On March 2008, the Polish Patent Office has granted to the Politechnika Wrocławska (Wrocław University of Technology) the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark e e-Informatica R-204692, for goods and services in Classes 9, 16, 18, 25, 35, 41 and 42.


Mr Piotr Chlebowski filed the opposition against the decision of the PPO, and argued that he works on the market (in business) under the business pseudonym Informatica, and has been using that term as a company name that was entered in the register of business activity in 2003. He also uses that name within “a website for his Internet domain”. The term Informatica is also used by Mr Chlebowski on business cards, in advertising, invoices and stamps. He argued that the questioned trade mark also violates his personal rights, because he has started the company under the name Informatica. In addition, he also enjoys the copyright to the term “Informatica”, and the use of that name by the Politechnika Wrocławska is also contrary to regulations provided in the Polish Act on Combating Unfair Competition.

Politechnika Wrocławska requested the PPO to dismiss the opposition and argued that the term Informatica cannot be deemed as personal or economic right or interest. There is no unfair competition because the name Informatica does not lead to consumers’ confusion as to the producer of goods or services.

The Polish Patent Office dismissed the opposition. The PPO ruled the Mr Chlebowski is entitled to his full company name, not only to the term Informatica, and the provisions of the Polish Civil Code raised by the opponent relate to the violation of personal interests, and therefore not personal rights. However, the the mere fact that someone applied for a trade mark consisting of a part of the name of another company is not yet an obstacle to the registration. It is required that the registration and use of the trade mark constitutes a violation of the right to the company name. The average consumer will considers the designation as descriptive for the goods and services related to information technology. However, the figurative element – the first letter “e” – plays the dominant role in the perception of the whole trade mark. The registration of a domain name does not create exclusive property rights that are effective against all (erga omnes – absolute rights). The right to use an Internet domain name is the “relative right” based on the contractual obligation that is effective only with respect to the domain registrar. Mr Chlebowski filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 September 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 917/12 dismissed it, and Mr Chlebowski decided to file a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 April 2014 case file II GSK 244/13 repealed the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for further reconsideration. The SAC held that a name of enterprise (business or company) belongs to the category of personal and property rights, which are subject to legal protection, and that these rights may be infringed by the use of the trade mark, because the two signs (the company’s name and a trademark) both identify the company. The SAC noted that the VAC relied on provision of the Polish Commercial Code that for many years were no longer in force, and incorrectly stated that Mr Chlebowski, as a natural person conducting his business activities, is not entitled to the company name. While the the Polish legislature has regulated in the Civil Code in Section III titled “Entrepreneurs and their designation” the right to the company name, which is also entitled to an entrepreneur who is a natural person. Thus, in this case occurred primarily a conflict of a right to the company name and the right of protection for a trade mark. The Supreme Administrative Court stated in its previous case-law, that the name of a company (the firm) is used to identify and differentiate entities in legal and economic transactions. It also serves a carrier of certain information about the characteristics and qualities of their activities. Unauthorized interference with the functions of the company name infringes the right to the name. This infringement is not prejudiced by registration of a trade mark that is identical or similar to the name of another company. Exclusive rights to the company name (firm) are not absolute. Their limits are territorial and objective and are based on actual activity of an entity that uses a given name. Only within these limits a collisions between identical or similar company name and trademark may occur. If different fields of business activities of a person (legal or natural) that is entitled to the company name and the proprietor of a trade mark, do not lead to consumers’ confusion with regard to the identity of companies, or such proprietor of the later trade mark is not using the reputation associated with earlier (identical or similar) company name, it is difficult to talk about the collision of these two rights, and consequently an infringement of an earlier right to the company name by the later mark (see: “Trade mark law, case II GSK 31/06” and “Trade mark law, case II GSK 406/08“). Applying these considerations to the present case, the SAC ruled that the VAC should reconsider and establish such facts as from which time Mr Chlebowski had acted in the course of trade under the company, using in addition to his surname a designation Informatica, what was the scope and of that activity and whether there is a risk of consumers’ confusion as to the identity of his company and the owner of a disputed trade mark. As it was already established in the case-law of Polish administrative courts, while finding an infringement of personal or property rights of third parties by a trade mark registration, it does not matter whether there are specific facts of confusion in trade, i.e. consumers’ confusion as to the identity of the company and the sign. It is enough to determine the potential possibility (likelihood) of such confusion, that in case of companies carrying identical or convergent activities, seems inevitable (see the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 30 March 2006 case file II GSK 3/06, published in electronic database LEX, under the no. 197239). While considering this case, the VAC should also pay attention to the unified position of both the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court expressed in the case law that in case of a collision between a company name and an applied and/or registered trade mark, the priority is given to the earlier right.

Personal interest, case I ACa 841/2013

January 9th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

The “Nigdy Więcej” (Never Again) Association and the “Zielone Światło” (Green Light) Foundation organized a social action entitled “Nazism never again on Allegro”. It was a protest against a Polish auction website which allowed to buy and sell different Nazi gadgets and memorabilia. The Foundation together with a writer, artist and social activist Jerzy Masłowski prepared an illustration with logotype in which in which two L letters were changed and shaped as the SS symbol. This illustration was used on postcards that were handed out to different people during the street-action that happened near Metro Świętokrzyska in Warsaw on 21 March 2010.

Stop Allegro

On 20 April 2010, the Foundation received a cease and desist letter from QXL Poland – the owner of Allegro. The Company requested the removal from all public places of all publications, photographs, posters and billboards, and other materials that included the altered trade mark. QXL demanded destruction of all the above mentioned materials and asked the Foundation to publish an apology on its website, as well as in the pages of Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. The Foundation refused to comply.


QXL Poland sued the “Zielone Światło” foundation and Jerzy Masłowski for the infringement of personal rights. During the trial, the Foundation argued that it has conducted correspondence with Allego with regard to products with fascist symbols or products referring to fascist ideology, that were offered at different auctions. However, it has not brought the intended effect, because did not remove these items from its website. For this reason, the Foundation organized the street action. The Foundation argued that from 8 June 2010, the provisions of Article 256 of the Criminal Code were amended.

Art. 256.
§ 1. Whoever publicly promotes a fascist or other totalitarian system of state or incites hatred based on national, ethnic, race or religious differences or for reason of lack of any religious denomination
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.

§ 22 The same punishment shall be imposed on anyone, who for the purpose of dissemination, produces, records or import, acquire, stores, possess, presents, transports or transfers a print, record or other item of the content specified in § 1 or being a carrier of the fascist, communist or other totalitarian symbolism..

§ 3 A crime is not committed by a perpetrator of a forbidden act specified in § 2, if he or she commits the said act in the course of artistic, educational, collectible or scientific activity.

The Foundation concluded that its action was a response to long-term omission of Allegro. The action was organized to draw the attention of relevant authorities and the public at auctions that poses a danger to others. It sought to protect an important public interest, and therefore was not unlawful. In addition, the Foundation argued that according to the legal doctrine the criticism aimed at improving the reality is not illegal, even if it is excessively expressive in description and in negative assessment, as well as it’s impolite way of expression and presentation of arguments, if it is justified by the importance of issues raised and the literary form that was used. Moreover, the scope of permissible criticism depends on the weight of social affairs, and in case of doubt, freedom of expression takes precedence, and in some cases even offensive criticism is acceptable. If the case requires so, the criticism might be very offensive, and it may even seek to destroy the enemy, for example, in the dispute against pedophilia or against the view that is glorifying Stalin. The Foundation argued also that a request for legal protection raised by Allegro cannot ban the Foundation and other individuals from expressing their critical opinions of the plaintiff’s conduct. Such behavior constitutes an abuse of the subjective right as decided by the Appeallate Court in Lódź in its judgment of 25 May 2006 case file I ACa 15/06, published in electronic database LEX, under the no. 512493.

On 9 November 20011, a lawyer representing the Foundation presented a legal opinion issued by Prof. Wojciech Sadurski. Prof. Sadurski wrote that there was no violation of personal interests. In the opinion of the author, the case brought by QXL Poland illustrates the conflict between two types of claims related to absolute rights protected by the law. The claims relating to freedom of expression, and intellectual property claims relating to the protection of trade marks owned by QXL Poland. Citing the case law of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, prof. Sadurski argued that freedom of speech is superior to other constitutional rights and freedoms. He noted that limiting the right to freedom of expression by issuing a ban on speech, would violate the essence of the constitutional right to freedom of speech. Prof. Sadurski cited Smith v Wal-Mart Stores, 537 F.Supp.2d 1302 (ND GA 2008), however he pointed out that the Foundation does not conduct any commercial activity, and the risk of consumers’ confusions is clearly excluded. Please bear in mind that such opinions are treated by the Courts as private documents, not as the expert witness evidence/testimony. The case is pending and the next hearing is scheduled on 6 February 2012.

QXL Poland filed also a request for preliminary injunction. The District Court in Warsaw in its order of 20 January 2011 case file XXIV C 1035/10 dismissed it during a closed-door court session (in camera). However, the Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its decision of 5 May 2011 case file I ACz 671/11 decided to secure the claim of QXL. The Court prohibited the Foundation and Jerzy Masłowski from transmitting and disseminating on their websites of any publications or materials containing the questioned trade mark.

The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 13 March 2013 case file XXIV C 1035/10 ruled that the “Zielone Światło” (Green Light) Foundation infringed personal rights of Allegro, such as reputation and fame. The Court decided that the demonstrations against the sale of Nazi memorabilia and interference with the logo of the portal were too excessive and bore the risk of linking the portal with Nazi organizations.

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 9 January 2014 case file I ACa 841/2013 dismissed Allegro’s claims. The Court noted that in this case there was a conflict of values, but also drew attention to the historical context of the sale of items referring to the Nazi ideology. The court held that undoubtedly there has been violation of the good name of the plaintiff – the name of the portal website, and in consequence, it could interfere with its business because some customers would not have positive opinions regarding the auction site. However, the rough means of expression that were undertaken by the Defendants, in order to remove the sale of a Nazi gadgets, excluded illegality. According to the Court this actions proved to be effective – have led to restrictions on the sale of Nazi’s memorabilia . What’s more important, the Court held that the Defendants acted to protect a legitimate public interest. The court ruled that artistic criticism of such business activities of an auction portal is not an unlawful action and deserves constitutional protection. The judgment is final.

Personal interests, case I CSK 128/13

January 4th, 2014, Tomasz Rychlicki

Roman Giertych sued Ringer Axel Springer, the publisher of website, for the infringement of personal interests. Mr Giertych demanded that defamatory comments posted at should be removed by the publisher. He also seek for the compensation and the apology to be published on some websites.

Ringer Axel Springer argued that it is not responsible for the comments that appeared on its website based on the provisions afforded in the Polish Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means – PSEM – (in Polish: ustwa o świadczeniu usług droga elektroniczną), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 144, item. 1204 with subsequent amendments, and the TOS that excluded the liability of the publisher for vulgar or offensive comments.

The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 20 October 2011 case file III C 330/11 agreed that all these comments were defamatory, however, the Court ruled that there is a different legal status of the editorial part of the website that included newspaper articles, and another status has to be attributed to a part that included the users’ comments – i.e. an internet forum, even if these comments were posted under the article placed by the owner of a website/web hosting provider. Despite claiming the right to control the content of entries (comments) that were made ​​by website’s readers, in the light of the provisions of the PSEM, the publisher has no such obligation. The Court decided that the publisher can not be held responsible for offensive comments posted on its website, however it can be found responsible only in case it failed to remove such comments, after obtaining positive knowledge of the unlawful nature of such entries. It means that under the Polish law, the publisher is not liable for the infringement of personal rights, but only for a possible damage that is based on the general principles that are provided in the Polish Civil Code. Mr Giertych appealled.

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 11 October 2012 case file VI A Ca 2/12 made a clear distinction between the services provided by Ringer Axel Springer. The first one was a news service of a daily newspaper made available for free in the electronic form under the domain name, and the second was a free service of the internet forum. The provisions of the Polish Act of 26 January 1984 on Press law – APL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo prasowe), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 5, item 24, with subsequent amendments, should be applied to the first service, and the provisions of the PSEM to the second. The Court ruled that comments posted for free, by anonymous users of website under the article that was an online version of a paper edition, do not constitute press materials as defined in the Article 7(2)(i) of the APL. The lack of any influence from the editorial over anonymously published comments, not to mention any of their prior verification makes this kind of speech free of control and as such cannot be regarded as a press material. The Court disagreed with Mr Giertych that such comments should be treated as “letters sent to the editor” of a journal that is published electronically. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 28 September 2000 case file V KKN 171/98 ruled that letters to the editor are the press material if they were sent to the editor for publication, and the editor-in-chief is responsible for publication of press releases, however, the publication of the letter to the editor must be preceded by careful and accurate checking of the information contained in such a letter to the editor. The Court agreed that such comments could be deemed as letter to the editor according to the APL, but only, if they were published in the paper version of the magazine, therefore, the editor (editor-in-chief) or the publisher would have full control over the content of such comments/letters. Users of do not send their their opinions and comments to the editorial of for publication on a discussion forum that exists on that same website, but they decide themselves about such a publication. The editor-in-Chief cannot therefore be responsible for comments published by third parties, because he or she had no control over the content or the action. The Court also ruled that Mr Giertych drawn incorrect conclusions as to the Terms of Service of website, in which the editorial of allegedly reserved the right and at the same time undertook its control over the content posted on website, including comments, and the right to manage them, especially the right to decide which comment deserves publication and which does not. First, the Court found that Ringer Axel Springer has reserved only the right and not an obligation to manage of comments posted by users, secondly, this right was reserved in the TOS ​​not on behalf of the editorial of a journal that is published in electronic form under the domain name, but on behalf of the administrator of the IT system, thirdly, the reserved right applied not to decisions about publication of a particular comment on the website, but to decisions about its blocking, moderation or deletion. Therefore, the Court dismissed the appeal. Mr Giertych filed a cassation appeal.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 10 January 2014 case file I CSK 128/13 partially agreed with Mr Giertych and returned the case to the lower court for reconsideration. The SC held that if the comments were defamatory and included vulgar words, the IT system applied at should have automatically removed such comments, but it did not, therefore it must be presumed that the publisher of a website, could know about offensive comments. If there was such knowledge, then the publisher/editor is liable for the infringement of personal interests. The Supreme Court established the so-called presumption of facts based on the provisions of the Article 231 of the Civil Proceedings Code. The court may conclude and consider as established facts, that are relevant for the outcome of the case, if such a conclusion can be derived from other established facts (presumption of fact).

Regardless of the cassation complaint filed in this case, Mr Giertych filed a complaint before the Polish Constitutional Tribunal. Mr Giertych requested the Tribunal to decided whether Article 14 of the PSEM is consistent with the principle of the rule of law, the right to protect of private life, family, honor and good name.

Personal interests, case I C 327/11

August 30th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The case concerned class’ photos of 32 children. Such photos were placed on a social networking site The black and white pictures were taken between the years 1972-1980, in a public space, i.e. a public education institution. Most of them were photos of the class as a whole, not each individual student. One person who was shown in this picture demanded its removal. The administrator of a website refused. The case went through all stages of administrative proceedings, and the person concerned decided to initiate a civil suit. The plaintiff demanded an apology in the media, 20.000 PLN compensation and the payment of 50.000 PLN for a social purpose, from the owner of

The District Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 10 May 2013 case file I C 327/11 dismissed the suit. The Court ruled that the person seeking for the protection of his or her image has to prove that such image was published and is recognizable. It results from identification of information features of an image. Moreover, the image should be recognized not only by the person concerned, but also by third parties. The image of the plaintiff contained in the pictures was not fully recognized even his colleagues from the former primary school, as evidenced by comments on the website. Publishing of any informational or shooting materials on the website only provides the opportunity to look at such meterial by others, but this does not mean automatically that such information reached to an unlimited number of people, and consequently, that information was widespread. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 10 February 2010 case file V CSK 269/09 (published in: OSNC 2010/9/127) held data published on the web are not deemed as well-known/widespread data. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 27 February 2003 case file IV CKN 1819/00 (published in: OSP 2004/6/75) held that the infringement of the image of the individual occurs when it was published without the consent of the person in the photograph and while it allows for the identification of that person.

Personal data protection, I CSK 190/12

August 29th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 8 November 2012 case file I CSK 190/12 held that without a doubt, the first name and surname constitute personal data of the individual, therefore, the important question arose, whether they belong to the scope of the individual’s privacy as understood in the provisions of 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.

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.

Previous opinions of the Supreme Court on the relationship between the right to protect of personal data and the right to privacy are not clear. They were formulated mainly from the point of view of the protection of personal interests as defined in Articles 23 and 24 of the Civil Code – CC – (in Polish: Kodeks Cywilny) of 23 April 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 16, item 93, with subsequent amendments.

Article 23
The personal interests of a human being, in particular to health, dignity, freedom, freedom of conscience, surname or pseudonym, image, secrecy of correspondence, inviolability of home, and scientific, artistic, inventor’s and rationalizing achievements, shall be protected by civil law independent of protection envisaged in other provisions.

Article 24
§ 1 The person whose personal rights 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 rights 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 Supreme Court in its judgment of 15 February 2008 case file I CSK 358/07 (published in OSNC 2009, no. 4, item 63) ruled that legal commentators and case law of the Constitutional Court agree that the right to protect of personal data is derived directly from personal rights such as human dignity and the right to privacy, citing judgments of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal of 19 February 2002 case file U 3/01 (published in OTK-A 2002, no. 1, item 3) and of 12 November 2002 case file SK 40/01 (published in OTK-A 2002, no. 6, item 81). Nowadays, the collection and processing of the personal data is technically relatively simple, therefore it is necessary to protect a person against uncontrolled collection and use of his or her personal data, often without the contribution or even awareness of the person concerned. For these reasons, the legislator specifically regulated the issues of data collection, processing, use and protection of personal data in the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 29 October 1997, No. 133, item 883, unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments. While interpreting its provisions, one cannot ignore the Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and its preamble that explicitly states that data-processing systems are designed to serve man, whereas they must, whatever the nationality or residence of natural persons, respect their fundamental rights and freedoms, notably the right to privacy. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 28 April 2004 III CK 442/02 (unpublished) stressed that when assessing whether there has been the breach of privacy protected by the law, this concept cannot be absolutized due to the degree of its generality, it requires interpretation, taking into account the specific circumstances of the situation. Events and circumstances that form the personal and family life can be classified as private sphere of life. The special nature of this area of man’s life justify the grant of its strong legal protection. However, this does not mean that any reference to a particular person was information in the field of his or her personal life. The regime of protection of privacy and personal data protection regime are therefore independent. Undoubtedly, when it comes to the relationships and the impact of these regimes, because in certain situations, the actual processing of personal data may result in a violation of personal interests in the form of the right to privacy, or protection of the right to privacy will required the objection to the use of personal data. It is difficult to unequivocally determine whether the disclosure of the first name and the surname of an individual by a local government violates his or her right to privacy. This problem can be resolved only while assessing particular circumstances of each case. In this case, the city was requested to disclose the names of individuals with whom it has entered into a contract of mandate and contract of work. One of these contracts concerned preparation and delivery of a lecture. It was difficult for the Court to accept that anonymization and hiding of the surname of a person giving such a lecture would have any meaning. Other agreements related to use of the electronic system of sociological analysis and organization of the conference. They were entered by specific individuals with a public body, which was the city. These people had to reckon with the fact that their personal data will not remain anonymous. For a person requesting access to public information related contracts entered by a local authority, names of parties to such agreements are often more important than the content, and it is understandable for obvious reasons. It would be difficult in this case to defend the view that the disclosure of names of people in the present context would be deemed as a limitation on the exercise of constitutional freedoms and rights of these persons. It had therefore to be assumed, that the disclosure of the names of persons entering civil contracts with a local authority does not affect the right to privacy of those persons referred to in Article 5(2) of the API.

See also “Polish regulations on personal data protection“, “Polish case law on personal data protection“.

Personal interests, case IV CSK 270/12

April 19th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

A Polish lawyer who felt insulted by the comments that appeared on website, sued its owner. The case went through all instances. The Polish Supreme Court in its judgment of 18 January 2013 case file IV CSK 270/12 dismissed the cassation complaint filed by the offended lawyer. The Court held that all comments were not about facts that could be verified, only described the experience of cooperation with a lawyer and did not contain offensive or vulgar expressions. The plaintiff is an attorney, a public person performing certain services in the field of law and his services should be subject to assessment, which is not always favorable. Due to the nature of the activities carried out by the plaintiff, the limits of acceptable criticism are wider, because the person undertaking public activities does it voluntary, yet inevitable, undergo evaluation and public reaction.

Personal interests, case I C 116/12

August 9th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Eryk Schuman wrote an article regarding Klaudiusz Sevkovic who is an alderman of Chorzów city and also the president of the local handball club. This critical piece appeared at website. According Mr Schuman, the data given in the declaration of interests of the alderman, could indicate that Mr Sevkovic uses the communal property in his private economic activities. Sevkovic filed a suit for the protection of his personal interests. He argued that the article overstated the amount of cash taken from the club. Mr Schuman wrote that the alderman took 275 thousand PLN (Schuman used the abbreviation “tys.” which stands for thousand in Polish) for a contract work. The journalist referred to a statement of financial interests filed by Sevkovic. However, the amount disclosed in the statement was 275 PLN not 275 tys. PLN. Schuman argued that it was an unintentional mistake in the text, and it was corrected immediately after he noticed it. He noted that the goal of the article was to draw attention to irregularities of the activities of alderman. Meanwhile, Sevkovic argued that such false information was visible on at least for two weeks and it was removed only after sending a letter to the editor to request a correction, and to publish an apology, which, however, never appeared on the website.

The District Court in Katowice in its judgment of 6 August 2012 case file I C 116/12 ruled that Eryk Schuman infringed Mr Sevkovic’s personal interest. The Court noted that the article served to undermine the credibility and good name of Sevkovic in the public opinion. The Court did not consider the text in question as a “typographical error”.

Personal interests, case I ACa 689/13

August 1st, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 1222/11

June 12th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On January 2000, the Polish Patent Office registered the trade mark DACH-BUD PERDKOWIE R-116968 for goods in Class 19 and services in Class 37. This sign was applied for by Polish entrepreneurs Krzysztof Perdek and Zbigniew Perdek Zakład Ogólnobudowlany DACH-BUD in 1996. Przedsiębiorstwo Budownictwa Ogólnego DACH BUD Spółka z o.o. from Wrocław filed a request for invalidation. DACH BUD argued that at the time of trade mark application, it was the only business that has used the sign DACH BUD as its company name. In 2002, one of the shareholders of the present company DACH BUD Spółka z o.o., has filed a request for invalidation, but it was dismissed by the PPO and the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 22 December 2005 case file VI SA/Wa 337/05.


Also in this case, the PPO dismissed the request and decided that the proceedings were separate and independent in relation to proceedings that were held before on the request of the predecessor of DACH BUD. According to the PPO, the request based on the provisions of Article 8(2) of the old Polish Act of 31 January 1985 on Trade Marks – TMA – (in Polish: Ustawa o znakach towarowych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 5, item 15, with subsequent amendments, was unjustified, and there were no grounds to invalidate the right of protection. That provision states that the registration of a sign which infringes personal or property rights of third parties, has to be refused. All the personal interests that are protected under the provisions of the Polish Civil Code, are identified among the rights of a personal nature. The name (firm) of the limited liability company (spółka z ograniczoną odpowiedzialnością) is the name under which the company is established according to the provisions of the Polish Code of Commercial Companies. The name of business/entrepreneur is treated as its personal right and as such is protected as the right to company name. According to legal commentators, it is an absolute personal right of an entrepreneur, and it is effective, erga omnes, against all. Its content is defined as the ability to use the company name to identify business/entrepreneurs on the market. The company name of a private person or entrepreneurs acting as a commercial companies, is not transferable. The Polish legal doctrine and case law established the view that the registration of a sign that is corresponding to the designation of another entrepreneur, that was used before the registration of that trade mark, affects the personal interests of such entrepreneur. However, that interference in the sphere of personal property, and more specifically – in the right to the name of the entrepreneur, may also occur in case of use of the part of that name, if it is a part that is fulfilling the function that sufficiently individualize an entity, i.e. that allows to uniquely identify and distinguish the company from other private or legal (corporate) persons. The PPO ruled that a similar position should be adopted in case of registration of a figurative sign, which in the word element contains the company name (firm) of another entity, or a significant part of it. The PPO noted that the company did not exist at the filing date of the disputed trade mark, and it could not effectively rely on the infringement of its right to the company name by the disputed sign, Therefore, if the applicant’s right was not the right “with a better priority”, there were no grounds to consider the request. In the opinion of the PPO, in the exercise of its personal interests, the applicant could rely only on the right enjoyed by it exclusively, and not by others. In particular, the company could not claim and invoke any right that was enjoyed by its shareholder – a private person. DACH BUD Spółka z o.o. filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 18 January 2012 case file VI SA/Wa 1222/11 agreed with the PPO and dismissed it. The Court noted that in case of conflict of rights, in this case, the protection right for a trade mark with a personal interest that includes the right to company name, the priority is to protect the personal interest. However, the registration of a trade mark that is identical or similar to a company name does not prejudge the infringement of the right to a company name. This exclusive right is not a total absolute. Its limits are defined by the coverage (territorial and goals) and the time of actual activities of the entity that is using the name. The collision between identical or similar company name and a trade mark may occur only within these limits. This judgment is not final yet.

Personal interest, case II C 626/11

April 27th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2007, for about 6 months, the Polish Central Anti-corruption Bureau collected telecommunications data, including billings and location data from Base Transceiver Stations, of a Polish journalist Bogdan Wróblewski. Mr Wróblewski sued the Polish State Treasury which according to the Polish law represents the Polish state in certain legal aspects..

The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 26 April 2012 case file II C 626/11 has confirmed that the Central Anti-corruption Bureau violated personal interests of a journalist by collecting his telecommunications data. The Court pointed out that privacy is a fundamental human right and its breach must be justified and proportionate. The permission is limited “objectively” to offenses of corruption and “qualitatively” – its condition should be determined by the fact that there are not available less invasive means of control which could be useful. The process of receiving of telecommunications data must take into account these limitations each time it is initiated.

Personal interest, case I CSK 111/11

March 25th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Cezary Pazura sued Grupa o2, the owner and publisher of website. Mr Pazura claimed that the company infringed his dignity, the inviolability of the home, privacy and publicity, by publishing 17 articles that concerned his relationship with Edyta Zajac, then fiancee, and now his wife. He argued that comments like “his mistress was no longer pretending, what she meant?”, “oldish playboy” were clear examples of the infringement. The District Court agreed with Mr Pazura, but Grupa o2 appealled, and the Appellate Court reversed the contested judgment and dismissed the suit. Mr Pazura filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 14 December 2011 case file I CSK 111/11 repealed the contested decision and returned it to the Appellate Court for further reconsideration. The Court held that the public status of a person does not automatically mean that his or her private life becomes also a “public life”. The Court clarified the understanding of the provision of Article 14(6) of the Polish Act of 26 January 1984 on Press law – APL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo prasowe), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 5, item 24, with subsequent amendmets.

It is not allowed to publish information and data concerning the private sphere of life without the consent of the person concerned, unless it is connected directly with the public activity of such a person.

The Court ruled that in this case it was necessary to demonstrate the relationship between the public activity carried out by Mr Pazura, and published image, or private information that was published on website. Therefore, it had to be a relationship between a person’s behavior in the public sphere. In addition, the disclosure of such information should serve to protect specific, socially legitimate interest. Therefore, the primary task of the courts was to determine whether in this case, Mr. Pazura’s consent was granted, or whether it was not needed at all.

Personal interest, case III C 202/09

March 12th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Arnold Buzdygan sued Agora S.A. the owner and publisher of website, claiming that the company infringed his personal interest by publishing an online article entitled “Trolls – Internet’s vexatious personas” in which his name was mentioned. The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 12 December 2011 case file III C 202/09 dismissed the complaint and ruled that the criteria of the infringement of personal interests should be based on objective rather than subjective circumstances that usually arise from the feelings of the person concerned. The objective response of public opinion is more important in such case. The Court noted that Mr Buzdygan is a public person whose opinions and statements were subject to criticism by other users. Such negative comments were directed to his activities and comments posted on the Internet, and not directly against him.

See also “Computer crime, case V K 1595/08” and “Personal interest, case I ACa 949/09“.

Personal interest, case IX GC 367/11

February 27th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The company Polska Wódka (in English: Polish Vodka) from Warsaw sued two other companies Wódka Polska sp. z o. o. and Wódka Polska sp. komandytowa from Lublin (both companies are lined with Stock Spirits, former Polmos Lublin) for the infringement of the company name based on the regulations included in the Polish Civil Code that provides that the company name of the entrepreneur should differ sufficiently from the company names of other entrepreneurs that carry on their activities on the same market. The company name may not be misleading, in particular as regards the entrepreneur’s person, the object of their activity, place of activity and supply sources, and the Polish Act on Combating Unfair Competition which treats the use of the designation of the undertaking in a way which may mislead customers in relation to its identity, based on the use of trade mark, name, emblem, letter abbreviation or another characteristic symbol already lawfully used to indicate another undertaking, as the act of unfair competition.

Polska Wódka claimed that it has the priority to its company name based on the entry in the Register of Business Entities in the National Court Register (KRS). The name of Warsaw’s company was entered in 2003, and the company names of Lublin’s entities were entered accordingly in 2005 and 2009. Polska Wódka argued that both sued companies act intentionally in order to mislead other market participants.

Both defendants did not agree with the suit and argued that they obtained the right to use their company names under final and binging decisions of the registration court, and noted that Polska Wódka does not proved that it performs any business activity under its company name because there are no annual reports in the KRS that would serve as proof of use.

The District Court in Lublin in its judgment case file IX GC 367/11 dismissed the suit as unfounded. The Court agreed that the company from Warsaw was the first one to start the use of the questioned name, however, it did not provided any evidence of its use in order to prove the confusion of other market participants. The Court also ruled that the protection if afforded to designation that are put in genuine use, not to these that were only registered in the KRS. Finally, the Court noted that the name Polska wódka (Polish vodka) is descriptive term related to a product name that is connected with a specific business activity, and it cannot be appropriated by single company. The Court ruled that Polish vodka is a designation that should be in the public domain, in order to be available for different entities which wish to use such name for their products. The judgment is not final yet.

Personal interest, case IV CSK 665/10

November 7th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

Personal interest, case II SA/Wa 364/11

October 13th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

On January 2010, a couple of entries signed by the nick “arfulik” appeared on few Polish websites. The author wrote critically about the company Bavaria Consulting and a person who is a member of the board. It seemed that this unknown author conducted a competitive activity. Bavaria and Krystiana D. decided to sue for the infringement of personal interest. They needed personal data of a person who wrote questioned comments. Telekomunikacja Polska (TP), one of the largest ISPs, refused to provide such information, referring to the telecommunications confidentiality included in the Article 159 of the Polish Act of 16 July 2000 on Telecommunications Law – TLA – (in Polish: Prawo telekomunikacyjne), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 171, item 1800 with subsequent amendments. Allegedly slandered filed a complaint to the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO). The GIODO ordered the disclosure the personal data but he overturned this decision after TP filed a request for reconsideration. The GIODO decided that such information is subject to the telecommunications confidentiality and found no reason to disclose it. The offended persons lodged a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 7 October 2011 case file II SA/Wa 364/11 dismissed it, and ruled that the intention of bringing action against the author of a forum post or comment is not a sufficient condition to disclose personal data. One has to file a suit for protection of personal interest. Only then, a court in order to avoid procedural deficiency, will summon the telecommunications operator to disclose personal data of the author of the questioned post.

See also “Polish regulations on personal data protection” and “Polish case law on personal data protection“.

Personal interests, case I CSK 743/10

October 8th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment case file I CSK 743/10 ruled that if the newspaper, which lost a case for protection of personal interests and was ordered to publish an apology in the paper version, has also an online edition, then such a newspaper should also place a reference to apologies for this publication in its online archive.

Personal interest, case I ACa 1273/11

October 3rd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

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

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

Personal interests, case III CSK 73/07

July 24th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Professor Andrzej Gregosiewicz posted very negative press articles and comments regarding homeopathic medicines, in particulr Oscillococcinum preparation that is produced by the French company Boiron. He also criticized regulations included in the Polish Pharmaceutical law. His publications were also available on different websites. These articles and comments included, among others, statements that homeopathic medicines may carry bird flu virus HN51, Professor Gregosiewicz argued that taking some homeopathic medicines is similar to suicide. He has named Oscillococcinum as the most widely used homeopathic product with the bird flu virus, and claimed that its producer was involved in bribery during the legislative process, in order to gain favourable regulations. Boiron Societé Anonyme sued for the infringement of personal interest. The case went through all instances.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 10 May 2007 case file III CSK 73/07 held that the belief that someone is using the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression and he acts in the interest of public health is not a sufficient basis to consider certain actions as repealing the illegality of expression.

Personal interest, case I OSK 1217/10

July 4th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO) ordered Axel Springer Polska to disclose addresses of three authors who wrote a critical article in “Dziennik” newspaper about Polish businessman, however, information presented in the article proved to be incorrect. He wanted to sue all authors but Axel Springer refused to provide addresses, therefore, the lack of addresses of the defendants in the lawsuit was the reason for the civil court to dismiss the action.

Axel Springer Polska filed a complaint against the decision of the GIODO but the Voivodeship Administrtive Court in its judgment of 8 April 2010 case file II SA/Wa 1488/09 dismissed it. Axel Springer filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 June 2011 case file I OSK 1217/10 ruled that if the addresses of journalists are required to bring an action for the protection of personal interest, the publisher must disclose them to the requesting party.

Personal interest, case I ACz 462/11

June 20th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

Personal data protection, I OSK 1086/10

June 3rd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 19 May 2011 case file I OSK 1086/10 acknowledged the principle that in case of a disclosure of personal data in the media, the press law and civil law regulations are applicable, and not the provisions of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments.

See also “Polish regulations on personal data protection” and “Polish case law on personal data protection“.

Personal interest, case I C 1050/09

June 3rd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Paweł Wodniak, journalist of the website “Fakty Oświęcim” was sued by Artur Kierczyński for violation of his personal interest. Mr Wodniak prepared a short video report in which presented testimonials of Broszkowice citizens, who participated in blocking the road 933 in a protest against a nearby gravel-pit from being functional. The report also contained footage of Marian Gołąb, who was the Mayor of Broszkowice, stating that there is already a criminal investigation underway on the ex-owner of the gravel-pit. Mr Gołąb released full name of Artur Kierczyński. Mr Kierczyński sued for violation of personal interest for releasing his full surname while there was an ongoing criminal trial against him. In his opinion, Mr Wodniak’s behavior breached the rule of alleged innocence and it was a breach of Article 13(2) of the Polish Act of 26 January 1984 on Press law – APL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo prasowe), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 5, item 24, with subsequent amendmets.

One cannot publish in the media personal information and images of individuals, against whom there is an ongoing preparatory proceedings or court proceeding as well as personal information and images of witnesses, wounded and hurt, unless these persons agree to it.

The District Court in Kraków in its judgment case file I C 1050/09 dismissed the lawsuit. The Court ruled that a news report that merely mentions an individual’s involvement in a criminal proceeding does not constitute a violation of the above mentioned regulations on Press Law, the rule of innocence, or journalism ethics.

Press law, case IV 346/08

April 27th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

The information about the preparatory proceedings and a criminal trial of the two members of the Wielkopolski Bank Rolniczy board, had been revealed by the Polish prosecutor general Konrad Napieralski. He had mentioned each of the person by a full name. His statement was transmitted on TV, news were published in the Internet. Bianka Mikołajewska wrote an article about this case in the Polish newspaper “Polityka” published by Spółdzielnia Pracy Polityka.

Both members of the board filed a civil suit for the infringement of their personal interests against Mrs Mikołajewska and the publisher. They recalled the provisions of Article 13 of the Polish Act of 26 January 1984 on Press law – APL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo prasowe), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 5, item 24, with subsequent amendmets, which under no circumstances permits publication of any personal data concerning people during a court trial, unless a prosecutor or a court of law permit the publication. The journalist did not asked for a permission.

The first instance court dissmissed the case and the higher court accepted its decision. The Court ruled that Article 13(2) of the APL does not apply to public figures. Both courts agreed that if personal data has been disclosed in a public statement, a journalist has the right to consider its free access. The plaintiffs filed a cassation complaint to the Supreme Court. They argued that the provisions of Article 13(2) the APL apply to them as the public figures. They claimed that even when personal data are freely accessible that doesn’t mean they are to be published in a newspaper.

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 28 January 2009 case file IV 346/08 dissmissed the complaint. The Court ruled both lower courts were wrong. The Court decided that the Article 13(2) of the APL applies to the public figures too. However, the Supreme Court agreed that the journalist is free from charges. It was not in journalist duties to check if a prosecutor acted in good faith during his official statements.

Personal interest, case I ACa 544/10

March 22nd, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

Personal interest, case II CSK 431/10

February 21st, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

Polish pop-singer Dorota Rabczewska sued Polish rapper Mieszko Sibilski for the infringement of her personal interests. She demanded an apology and 20.000 PLN as compensation for the damage she suffered. Rabaczewska lost the case in the first instance. The Court of second instance ordered Sibilski to publish an apology for the infringement of her dignity in the form of an online ad that has to be placed for 7 days at Polish portal site The calculations showed that such action would cost around 32.000.000 PLN. Sibilski lodged an cassation complaint.

The Supreme Court in its order of 2 February 2011 case file II CSK 431/10 held that the court cannot order an apology for the violation of dignity, if the plaintiff requested for the protection of other personal interests, in this case her reputation and right to privacy. Moreover, the Supreme Court ruled that the second instance court improperly ordered the form of publication of an apology because it did not take into account technical requirements and the costs associated with it. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment and sent the case back for reconsideration.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 601/10

December 21st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company Producent Okien i Drzwi z PVC “OKLAND” Joanna Wilk i Wojciech Wilk Spółka Jawna from Kostomłoty Pierwsze filed a request for invalidation of the right of protection for a word-figurative trade mark Okland R-154904 owned by OKLAND Spółka z o.o. from Rokitki, in regard to the goods in Class 19, wooden windows. The company from Kostomłoty Pierwsze claimed it operates since 1 June 1997. Its business activities include the production of windows and doors of PVC in the four southern voivodeships. The company argued that the simultaneous use of the OKLAND sign in its company name and as a trade mark registered for a different entrepreneur may increase the risk of misleading the public, which includes in particular the risk of association between signs. The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection. Okland from Rokitki filed a complaint against this decision.


The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 31 May 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 601/10 held that the registration of a trade mark that is identical or similar to a company name of another entrepreneur does not determine, however the infringement of the rights to the company name (the firm). The exclusive rights to the company name are not absolute. The limits of these rights are set by the coverage (territorial and objective) of the actual activity of a given company. The collision between identical or similar signs i.e. a company name and a trademark, may occur only within these limits. The judgment is not yet final.