Archive for: Polish Civil Code

E-proceedings in Poland

January 18th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 1 January 2010 the provisions of the Act of 9 January 2009, amending the Act – Civil Proceedings Code and other acts, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 26, item 156, came into force. This act introduced articles 50528 – 50537 which added to the CPC, in the First Book – the Trial, the title VII. Separate proceedings, Chapter VIII. Electronic proceedings, Chapter 1 Electronic admonition proceedings. In addition, the series of implementing regulations were published in the Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) on 31 December 2009, No 226. These regulations include inter alia:
– The regulation of the Minister of Justice of 28 December 2009 on the procedure of setting up an account and the way of using of electronic signatures in the electronic admonition proceedings,
– The regulation of the Minister of Justice of 28 December 2009 on the procedure of electronic serving in the electronic admonition proceedings,
– The regulation of the Minister of Justice of 28 December 2009 on the method of electronically lodging of pleadings in the electronic admonition proceedings,
– The regulation of the Minister of Justice of 28 December 2009 on the action of the court relating to the enforceability of a judicial decision rendered in the electronic admonition proceedings.

So, since 1 January 2010, XVI Civil Department of the Regional Court in Lublin is formally and officialy the first Polish e-court.

The electronic admonition proceedings were introduced as a separate proceeding – having the nature of summons for payment – in cases where the facts are not complicated and there is no requirement of the evidence proceedings. The suit in the electronic admonition proceedings may be filed by a natural person or a person acting on behalf of the plaintiff (the agent, legal representative) who also has an account enabled at www.e-sad.gov.pl website and a valid certificate to create the electronic signature. The plaintiff’s pleadings have to be lodged electronically to produce legal effects as provided by the law with regard to pleadings filed in the court.

Electronic versions of the statement of claim and other pleadings may be signed with a qualified certificate issued by a Qualified Certification Center. A person who does not have a valid qualified certificate should request a certificate from the Certification Center EPU and download the certificate, before filing a suit.

The suit should also include plaintiff’s number in the Universal Electronic System for Registration of the Population – PESEL – (in Polish: Powszechny Elektroniczny System Ewidencji Ludności) which is the national identification number used in Poland since 1979 or Tax Identification Number – NIP – (in Polish: Numer Identyfikacji Podatkowej) of the plaintiff other than a natural person, if the plaintiff is obliged to have one, and the number of the National Court Register (in Polish: Krajowy Rejestr Sądowy), or the number in the other appropriate register or other records. This is much stronger requirement when it comes to e-pleadings because such a requirement does not apply to actions brought in writing.

The plaintiff should indicate the evidence to support his/her claims in the petition. The evidence is not attached to the petition.

Court fees in the electronic admonition proceedings are paid only electronically via the payment service provider. Activities during the electronic admonition proceedings may be exercised by court’s referendary (division official).

The ruling issued in the electronic admonition proceedings is deemed as the writ of execution. The enforcement clause is only left in the computer system. After the decision issued during the electronic admonition proceedings becomes final, the enforcement clause is issued ex officio. The plaintiff, or person acting on behalf of the plaintiff, may submit a request for execution of the decision to the selected bailiff through the communications system of the e-court based on the electronic writ of execution received.

Polish regulations on personal data protection

January 11th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

I.A. Substantive law

  • The Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of October 29, 1997, No. 133, item 883, unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of July 6, 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments.
  • The Civil Code – CC – (in Polish: Kodeks Cywilny) of 23 April 1964, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 16, item 93, with subsequent amendments.

I.B. Procedural law

  • Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments.
  • Act on proceedings before administrative courts – PBAC – (in Polish:Prawo o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi) of 30 August 2002, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 153, item 1270, with subsequent amendments.
  • Civil Proceedings Code – CPC (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Cywilnego) of 17 November 1964, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 43, item 296, with subsequent amendments.

I.C. Case law
See “Polish case law on personal data protection“.

I.D. EU law
Since 1 May 2004, which was the accession day to the EU, the Republic of Poland has been bound by all aquis communitaire, including judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

I.E. International law
The Republic of Poland is a party of many International treaties and agreements concerning the protection of personal data.

II. National bodies and procedures
The Inspector General for Personal Data Protection decides cases within its competence under provisions of the Code of Administrative Proceedings, unless provided for otherwise. A party dissatisfied with a decision issued by the GIODO may request for the reconsidering of the case. The decision by the GIODO on the application to reconsider the case may be appealed against with the Voivodeship Administrative Court. The judgment of the VAC may be a subject to a cassation complaint which is decided by the Supreme Administrative Court.

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

December 22nd, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

I.A. Substantive law

  • The old Polish Trade Mark Act – TMA – (in Polish: Ustawa o znakach towarowych) of 31 January 1985, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 5, item 15, with subsequent amendments.
  • Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej) of 30 June 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments.
  • Act of 16 April 1993 on Combating Unfair Competition – CUC – (in Polish: ustawa o zwalczaniu nieuczciwej konkurencji), Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 47, item 211, with subsequent amendments

I.B. Procedural law

  • Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments.
  • Act on proceedings before administrative courts – PBAC – (in Polish:Prawo o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi) of 30 August 2002, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 153, item 1270, with subsequent amendments.
  • Civil Proceedings Code – CPC (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Cywilnego) of 17 November 1964, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 43, item 296, with subsequent amendments
  • Criminal Proceedings Code – CRPC – (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Karnego) of 6 June 1997, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 89, item 555, with subsequent amendments.
  • Act on Patent Attorneys – APAT – (in Polish: ustawa o rzecznikach patentowych) of 11 April 2001, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 49, item 509, with subsequent amendments,

I.C. EU law
Since 1 May 2004 which was the accession day to the EU, the Republic of Poland has been bound by all aquis communitaire including the Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 of 26 February 2009 on the Community trade mark (CTMR). The CTMR is a part of the Polish Legal system and is directly aplicable by Polish Courts, especially by the Court for the Community Trade Marks and Community Designs (in Polish: Sąd Okręgowy w Warszawie Wydział XXII Sąd Wspólnotowych Znaków Towarowych i Wzorów Przemysłowych).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal interest, case III CZP 92/09

November 20th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

Personal data protection, case II SA/Wa 297/09

October 21st, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

An individual had a telecommunications services agreement with a Company, but failed to comply with the payment and the Company has assigned the claim to another entity. The debtor requested by the assignee filed a complaint to the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection. It found that the operation of the company not been in conflict with 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. The debtor filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 26 August 2009 case file II SA/Wa 297/09 held that the transfer of the debt is inseparably connected with the transfer of personal data of the debtor. Such situation is in accordance with the provisions of Article 509 § 2 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 509. § 1. The creditor may, without the debtor’s consent, transfer the receivable debt upon a third party (assignment) unless that would be at variance with statutory law, a contractual stipulation, or the nature of the obligation.
§ 2. Together with the receivable debt, the rights connected therewith shall pass to the acquirer, in particular, the claim for the interest in arrear.

All related rights together with the debt claim are transferred to the acquirer, and thus the right to dispose of the debtor’s personal information in order to implement the debt. The acquirer becomes autonomous possessor of the debtor’s personal data. The acquirer becomes the controller of personal data and processes personal information for its own account and risk. The acquirer enjoys the same rights and obligations relating to the processing of personal data as the previous controller.

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

Personal data protection, case I OSK 174/08

September 26th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The biggest Polish telecommunication company – Telekomunikacja Polska S.A. posted on its website an offer to sell its databases. This offer was addressed to research and telemarketing companies, BTL advertising agencies, insurance companies and banks. TP proposed a disclosure of private telephone numbers of its subscribers as part of the database. Through this service the company was preparing a database of phone numbers compatible with the order placed and then it passed the database on a CD for a client with a protocol of receipt. The phone numbers could be selected or sorted according to geographical criteria.

The Inspector General for Personal Data Protection ordered not to disclose of personal data of subscribers of Telekomunikacja Polska’s who are consumers within the meaning of Article 221 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, to third parties in the future.

Article 221
The consumer shall be deemed to be any natural person who performs acts in law which are not directly connected with his economic or professional activity.

The prohibition was not allowed without fulfilling one of the conditions of Article 23(1) of the 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 October 29, 1997, No. 133, item 883, unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of July 6, 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments.

Article 23
1. The processing of data is permitted only if:
1) the data subject has given his/her consent, unless the processing consists in erasure of personal data,
2) processing is necessary for the purpose of exercise of rights and duties resulting from a legal provision,
3) processing is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is a party or in order to take steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into a contract,
4) processing is necessary for the performance of tasks provided for by law and carried out in the public interest,
5) processing is necessary for the purpose of the legitimate interests pursued by the controllers or data recipients, provided that the processing does not violate the rights and freedoms of the data subject.

The GIODO held that according to Article 159(1) 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, phone numbers are deemed as the telecommunications secrecy. Telekomunikacja Polska S.A. filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 12 November 2007 case file II SA/Wa 1252/07 dismissed this case and TP S.A. decided to file a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 26 January 2009 case file I OSK 174/08 dismissed the cassation and held that Article 159(1) TLA provides for stronger data protection than the provisions of Article 23 of the PPD and therefore it will be used as a basis for legalizing the processing of telecommunications secrecy.

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

Trade mark law, case I ACa 967/08

July 5th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appellate Court in Poznań in its judgmet of 28 January 2009, case file I ACa 967/08 held that after the introduction of goods bearing a trademark on the market, the right of protection is “exhausted”. This follows directly from the provisions of Article 155(1) 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.

Article 155
1. The right of protection for a trademark shall not extend to the acts in respect of the goods bearing that trademark consisting, in particular, of offering the goods or further putting on the market the goods bearing that trademark, where the said goods have earlier been put on the market on the territory of the Republic of Poland by the right holder or with his consent.
2. The right of protection for a trademark shall neither be considered infringed by an act of importation or other acts, referred to in paragraph (1), in respect of the goods bearing the trademark, if these goods have earlier been put on the market on the territory of the European Economic Area by the right holder or with his consent.

3. Paragraphs (1) and (2) shall not apply, where there exist legitimate reasons for the right holder to oppose further commercialization of the goods, especially where the condition of the goods is changed or impaired after they have been put on the market.

This means that further market participant has the right to use the trade mark for advertising and information purposes, as long as this does not mislead as to the existence of economic links between the trade mark owner and a person who uses such sign. See also “Trade mark law, case III CK 410/03“.

The Court also ruled that the “pauperization” of a word trade mark means its adoption to the colloquial speech, which involves changing its function from being the name the unit of goods to the description of the species or genus and by enlarging its description on items that are in no way connected with the person entitled to a trade mark. This is usually the result of the existence of the brand for a long time in large areas and of its high popularity and intensive advertising. Such a phenomenon does not limit the exclusive rights of a holder of a registered trade mark and per se does not authorize other entities to use a protected trade mark in their business.

Polish regulations on prohibited contractual provisions

April 8th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

I.A. Substantive law

  • 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 later amendments.
  • Act of the Protection of Certain Consumer Rights and on the Liability for damage caused by a dangerous product – PCCR – (in Polish: ), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 31 March 2000, No. 22 , item 271.
  • Act on Protection of the Purchasers of the Right to use a building or residential unit for a specified time each year and on amendment to the Civil Code, Code of Minor Offenses,and the Law on Land and Mortgage Registers and Mortgage, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2000, No. 74, item 855.
  • Act on Specific Terms and Conditions of Consumer Sale and Amendments to the Civil Code.
  • Act of 16 February 2007 on competition and consumer protection, Journal of Laws – CCP – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie konkurencji i konsumentów), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2007, No. 50, item 331.
  • Act of 23 August 2007 on Combating Unfair Commercial Practices – CUCP – (in Polish: ustawa o przeciwdziałaniu nieuczciwym praktykom rynkowym), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 171, item 1206.

I.B. Case law
See “Polish case law on abusive clauses in B2C IT and IP contracts“.

II. Prohibited contractual provisions
Prohibited contractual provisions or “abusive clauses” are understood as provisions of the contract concluded with the consumer that were not agreed individually and in consequence shape consumer’s rights and obligations in a manner contrary to good customs and grossly violate consumer’s interests. Such provisions are not binding on the consumer, but the parties are bound by other provisions of the contract.

In accordance with the provisions of article 3853 of the Civil Code, if in doubt – it is considered that unlawful contractual provisions are those that, in particular:

  • exclude or seriously limit the liability to the consumer for failure to perform or improper performance of an obligation,
  • provide provisions, of which the consumer was unable to get acquaint with before concluding the contract,
  • impose solely on the consumer an obligation to pay a fixed sum in the case of the resignation from the conclusion or performance of the contract,
  • impose on the consumer, who has not performed the obligations or departed from the contract, the obligation to pay grossly inflated penalty or smart money,
  • exclude the jurisdiction of Polish courts or submit the matter to a Polish or foreign arbitration court, or other authority, and impose the adjudication by the court which is not locally relevant according to the Civil Code.

These are couple of examples of the so-called “gray abusive clauses”.

III. Procedure
The District Court in Warsaw, the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection decides if a given provision is prohibited and abusive. Anyone who has been or may be offered a contract containing such a clause, consumer organizations, consumer ombudsmen and the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection may bring an action before the Court. Consumers may obtain assistance from the local consumer ombudsman or one of the state-funded consumer organizations.

The clauses which have been found abusive by a final decision of the Court are entered into the Register of Prohibited Clauses that is available on the website of the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection and as of this moment cannot be used in relations with consumers. The application of such clauses may be regarded as an infringement of collective consumer interests and may result in a fine of up to 10% of the trader’s revenue.

Personal rights, case II CSK 539/07

March 27th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The company QXL Poland sp. z o.o. is the owner of the allegro.pl auction website which removed the user account of a natural person (Cezary O.) who was using the nicknames CezCez, 2cez, 2xcez and espia. The company presented different reasons for its decision to remove the account and tried to justify such action by putting various statements about CezCez on its forum website “Cafe Nowe Allegro”. CezCez did not agree with QXL’s statements and sued. The court of first instance agreed with Cezary O.’s arguments and ruled that QXL Poland make a statement of apology as follows

Allegro.pl wishes to apologize to CezCez for using comments by one of its employees which publicly appeared on the New Cafe Allegro on 17 January 2003,– wording that implied CezCez was dishonest, he lies, he is selfish and that he pursues his own self-interest. These actions and comments affected the good name of CezCez, which was not the intention of QXP Poland.

The above statement was to be published on the Allegro.pl website but both parties appealed. The Appellate Court in Lodz did not share the conclusions of the court of first instance that the username (a nickname) used in internet services is personal right/interests (i.e. intangible personal property) eligible for protection under 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 Appellate Court did not agree with the arguments that the user name (a nickname) has parallels with a pseudonym. The case went to the highest court in a further appeal as a cassation complaint. The Supreme Court of Republic of Poland in its judgment of 11 March 2008 case file II CSK 539/07 dismissed the case for procedural reasons. However, the SC did not agree with conclusion of the Appellate Court with regard to protection of nicknames or usernames in the digital environment. The court noted that a username fulfils a variety of functions. First, the creation of a username is a prerequisite to registering on the allegro.pl website in order to obtain its own account and so participate in auctions. A person using such a nickname may be a buyer or a seller. Secondly, a username allows a person to log into Allegro.pl website. In the process of logging in, the user is given a pair of identifiers, such as a username and password. Thirdly, the username/nickname identifies the individual in question in the online environment, in this particular case, in the environment of people using Allegro.pl services. The individual is therefore recognised as a user using a specific nickname. The Supreme Court could not agree with the position of Court of Appeal that the nickname is purely a technical issue used to personalise the operation. On the contrary it argued, the username/nickname defines and characterises the person who uses such an auction site, bids on it, is the party to a contract of sale, issues comments or is involved in correspondence with other users. The Court found that in some cases, participations in the auction website by a user using a specific name can be a source of information for other participants who know that this user typically takes part in an auction of that type, bids only to a certain amount of money, only on certain days, in a certain way, does not compete with users using specific names, that the user is honest, efficient and immediately carries out transactions, etc. The Supreme Court also ruled that a username identifies a specific natural person. A username consists of a series of signs and letters, and there are no counter-indications that a person who created his or her own username could use his or her own name, surname, artistic pseudonym, pen name, or alias or it could even be a natural person who is the agent and uses the company name (the firm) under which it operates its business. It appeared to the court that in the assumption of a username by a person rather than his or her own name, the pseudonym (which has so far been used as an example in artistic activities) is meant as the assumption of a nickname in order to allow for individualisation of that particular person. The word “nickname” comes from the Greek language (“pseudonymos”–bearing a false name, falsely named) and it means a first name, last name or another name which someone uses to conceal his real name or surname. The court found irrelevant the motivation of a person who takes a nickname which is used as a pseudonym only in the “internet environment” or that the nickname may only be associated with the activities of that particular person carried out within the scope of services offered by Allegro.pl, since it may also have a broader meaning and go beyond the services of Allegro.pl. Consequently, the court noted that a username is subject to legal protection on the same basis on which protection is granted for any name, pseudonym or firm name, under which a person has established its business (whether it is a company name or that of a private person). At the same time, the court found no reason to treat a username/nickname as a separate personal right.

Trade mark law, case IV CR 60/88

March 22nd, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 17 March 1988 case file IV CR 60/88 held that a person whose personal interests, as defined in this case as the right to use the surname, has been infringed by the use of a trade mark, is entitled to protection under the provisions of Article 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.

This protection is afforded regardless of the protection provided in 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.

Personal rights, case III CZP 17/86

February 25th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in a judgment of 10 November 1986, case file III CZP 17/86, published in OSNCP 1987, No. 10, item 145, ruled that the circumstances excluding the unlawfulness of an infringement of personal rights/interests include: the exercise of personal rights, the consent of a harmed person. It should be noted, however, that the consent as a condition repealing the illegality, applies if its expression does not affect either existing legislation or the rules of the application of a consent.

Personal rights, case II CR 419/89

January 25th, 2009, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in a judgment of 19 October 1989, case file III CR 419/89, published in OSP 1990, book 11-12, p. 377, ruled that the circumstances excluding the unlawfulness of an infringement of personal rights/interests include inter alia actions that are allowed under the law, i.e. an action that is permitted by an applicable legal regulation and an action taken in the defense of a legitimate interest.

Internet domains, case II C 1091/04

November 22nd, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Regional Court for Warszawa-Mokotów in its judgment case file II C 1091/04 ruled that according to Article 3851 § 1 the Civil Code – CC – (in Polish: Kodeks Cywilny) of 23 April 1964, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 16, item 93, with subsequent amendments, the provisions of a contract concluded with a consumer, which have not been individually agreed with him, shall not be binding thereupon, if his rights and duties have been stipulated in conflict with public decency and in flagrant violation of his interest (wrongful contractual provisions). According to Article 3853 § 1 of the CC, in the case of doubt, the wrongful contractual provisions should be, in particular these which exclude the jurisdiction of the Polish courts, or have the case decided by a Polish or a foreign conciliatory court or another authority, or force a decision in the case to be made by the court which has no local competence. According to the court’s decisions, the obligatory referral of a domain name dispute to a court of arbitration is a wrongful contractual provisions. For this reason Article 23 of the Domain Names Regulations issued by NASK, does not relate to or is not binding for consumers.

22. In case a third party initiates a legal action in the Arbitration Court against the Subscriber claiming that the Subscriber has infringed the rights of that person by entering into or performing the Agreement, the Subscriber shall submit to that Arbitration Court a duly signed arbitration clause to the Arbitration Court in due time stated in the summon to sign this arbitration clause.

23. The non-signing of the arbitration clause specified above shall result in the termination of the Agreement three months after the time stated to sign this arbitration clause, and this time limit shall be shortened to the date of the expiry of the calculating period based on the Price List if this date occurs before the end of the three month-period after the time stated to sign this arbitration clause. If the NASK has been informed during the time period specified above by the Arbitration Court about the delivery of the signed arbitration clause to that Court, the Agreement shall not be terminated.

Consequently, the termination of the contract based on these provisions could be regarded as invalid. The court also noted that such provisions could be challenged even in the course of a professional trade, as affecting the principle of contractual freedom and the right to a court.

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

Polish regulations on the protection of trade secrets

October 9th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

I. Definitions
There is no definition of “trade secrets” in Polish law. However, there are regulations that allow for very effective protection.

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

II.A. Unfiar competition
Act on Combating Unfair Competition – CUC – (in Polish: Ustawa o zwalczaniu nieuczciwej konkurencji) of 16 April 1993, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 47, item 211, with later amendments.

Article 11
An act of unfair competition is the transfer, disclosure or use of third party information, which is company confidential or their receipt from an unauthorised person, if it threatens or violates the interests of the entrepreneur.
2. The provisions of section 1 shall also apply to the person who has been rendering work based on employment contract or another legal relation, for the period of three years from its expiration, unless the contract stipulates otherwise or there is no longer secrecy.
3. The provisions of section 1 shall not apply to the person who, bona fide, by way of a legal operation against payment, acquired the information constituting a business secrecy. The court may oblige the acquirer to the appropriate remuneration for its use, nevertheless for a period not longer than duration of secrecy.
4. Company confidentiality is understood to include the entrepreneur’s technical, technological organisational or other information having commercial value, which is not disclosed to the public to which the entrepreneur has taken the necessary steps to maintain confidentiality.
(…)
Chapter 4
Penal provisions
Article 23.1. Every person, who contrary to her obligation towards the entrepreneur discloses to another person or uses in her own economic activity information which is a business secrecy, shall be liable to the fine, probation or imprisonment up to 2 years, provided it is to the significant detriment of the entrepreneur.
2. The same sanctions shall apply to the person, who having acquired illegally the business secrecy, discloses it to another person or uses in her own economic activity.

It is noteworthy that definition of “company confidentiality” provided in article 11(4) CUC explicitly included “trade secrets” term before amendments in 2002. The CUC protection of “company confidentiality” can be enforced in civil or crminal proceedings. However, regulations afforded in the CUC basically apply only to relations between entrepreneurs (commercial relationships).

II.B. Civil Code
The Civil Code – CC – (in Polish: Kodeks Cywilny) of 23 April 1964, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 16, item 93, with later amendments.

Article 72 [1]. § 1. If during the negotiations, a party has provided information as confidential, the other party is required not to disclose and not to transfer of such information to others and not to use such information for its own purposes, unless the parties otherwise agreed.
§ 2 In the event of failure of performance or improper performance of duties as described in § 1, the entitled person may demand from the other party to undo the damages or to return profits received by the other party.

II.C. Criminal Code
The Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with later amendments.

Chapter XXXIII. Crimes against protection of information
(…)
Article 267.
§ 1. Whoever, without being authorised to do so, acquires information not destined for him, by opening a sealed letter, or connecting to a wire that transmits information or by breaching electronic, magnetic or other special protection for that information shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.
§ 2. The same punishment shall be imposed on anyone, who, in order to acquire information to which he is not authorised to access, installs or uses tapping, visual detection or other special equipment.
§ 3. The same punishment shall be imposed on anyone, who imparts to another person the information obtained in the manner specified in § 1 or 2 discloses to another person.
§ 4. The prosecution of the offence specified in § 1 – 3 shall occur on a motion of the injured person.

The mentioned above regulations are the basic. There are some other legal acts that govern specific fields of law. For instance the Act on Acountancy, the Code of Commercial Companies, the Code of Labour, the Act on Banks Law etc.

Personal rights, case I ACa 385/2006

July 31st, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

Update on Februrary 27, 2010.
I reported on a final judgment in Justyna Steczkowska’s case in my post entitled “Personal rights, case I ACa 1176/09“.

My post that was written in Polish language is too long and probably boring for most of you. It concerns Justyna Steczkowska’s naked pictures taken during her holiday at Turkish Rivera and being published by “Super Express”, which is one of many Polish tabliods. I also wrote about some comments that were posted by Polish lawyers regarding the right of privacy issue and I wanted to write a comparative note about American and Polish legal systems but I am way too busy for such undertaking. I can only tell you that Maciej Ślusarek, an attorney representing Justyna Steczkowska, will have easier case in Poland as opposed to the US legal reality. Mr. Ślusarek previously won a case against “Super Express” publisher and editor-in-chief. It was a very important judgment of the Appellate Court in Warsaw of 29 September 2006 case file I ACa 385/2006. Mr. Ślusarek represented another Polish singer Edyta Górniak. The Court held that there is a need to distinguish the persons carrying out the public functions, if a person due to the character of those functions might be subjected to public control and the openness of their life is justified by the important society interest, from the commonly known persons, who are not subjected to such intense public control. The distinction included in court’s ruling is of course of great importance for protection limitations established for such persons.

The protection of personal image/publicity rights is provided in Article 23 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. This provision outlines the personal image as one of the personal property/interests – an intangible personal right. Furthermore, a person who would like to claim an infringment of his/her rights might also exercise the civil protection of personal image afforded 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 with subsequent amendments.

Article 81.
1. The dissemination of an image shall require the permission of the person presented in that image. Unless there is a clear reservation, such permission shall not be required if such person has received the agreed price for posing.
2. The permission shall not be required for the dissemination of the image:
1) of a commonly known person, if such image has been made in connection with his/her performance of public functions and, in particular, political, social or professional functions,
2) of a person constituting only a detail of a whole, such as a meeting, a landscape, or a public event.
(…)
Article 83.
The provisions of Article 78, paragraph 1 shall apply respectively to claims brought due to the dissemination of the image of the person presented in it and the dissemination of correspondence without the required permission of the person to whom it was addressed; such claims may not be asserted after the lapse of twenty years from the death of that person.

Additional protection is also provided in the Act of 26 January 1984 on Press Law, the Criminal Code and the Act of 29 August 1997 on Protection of Personal Data. The protection of privacy and publicity may also derive from the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 2 April 1997.

Article 47
Everyone shall have the right to legal protection of his private and family life, of his honour and good reputation and to make decisions about his personal life.
(…)
Article 54
1. The freedom to express opinions, to acquire and to disseminate information shall be ensured to everyone.
2. Preventive censorship of the means of social communication and the licensing of the press shall be prohibited. Statutes may require the receipt of a permit for the operation of a radio or television station.

And, of course, from the European Convention on Human Rights of 4 November 1950.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 98/07

July 6th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 8 November 2004, the Polish Patent Office received a request from JOOP GmbH on the invalidation of the right of protection for JUUPI! R-103654 trade mark owned by “AQUAREL” Kosiorek Spółka Jawna. The applicant has based its legal interest on the fact that questioned sign is similar to JOOP! R-64463 trade mark, registered on his behalf with an earlier priority, and to international trade mark registration JOOP! IR-739262. The request was based on provisions of Article 165 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.

Article 165
1. A request for invalidation of the right of protection shall not be admissible:
(i) on the ground that it conflicts with an earlier trademark or the personal or economic rights of the requesting party have been infringed, where the requesting party has acquiesced, for a period of five successive years, in the use of the registered trademark while being aware of such use,
(ii) after the expiration of a period of five years from the grant of the right of protection, where the right in question was granted in breach of the provisions of Article 129, however in consequence of its use the trademark has acquired a distinctive character,
(iii) on the ground that it conflicts with a well-known trademark, where the party entitled to the well-known trademark has acquiesced, for a period of five successive years of the use of the registered trademark, in the use of the latter while being aware of such use.

2. Paragraph (1) shall not apply, where the holder of the right has acquired the right in bad faith.

The PPO dismissed the request. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 13 October 2006 case file VI SA/Wa 1339/06 rejected the appeal filed by JOOP GmbH and upheld the decision of the PPO. JOOP filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 5 July 2007 case file II GSK 98/07 held that “being aware of the use of the mark” means that the applicant, who requested for the invalidation based on provisions of article 165 of the IPL, had knowledge about the use of that trade mark by its proprietor. One cannot extend the scope of this statutory condition for “the possibility” or “the duty” to finding out or getting acquitant that such mark is being used by its proprietor. The Court ruled that it’s impossible to accept the existence of a general legal obligation that could be put on entrepreneurs to “track the competition” in order to be aware of the use of different trade marks on the market.

Trade mark law, case II CR 143/88

February 25th, 2008, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 25 October 1988 case file II CR 143/88, published in PUG 1990, no. 5-6, item 10, ruled that a trade mark is solely a material/economic interest and therefore it’s not subject to protection under the provisions of 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/rights 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.

Contract law, case III CZP 109/07

December 11th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its order of 22 October 2007 case file III CZP 109/07 decided in case brought by Naukowa i Akademicka Sieć Komputerowa (Research And Academic Computer Network ) against two tenders with regard to the payment of fees for the maintenance of the domain name, held that the agreement/contract on the maintenance of the domain name is not a telecommunications services agreement but rather an unknown type of a contract similar to the contract of mandate. By a contract of mandate, the mandatary shall assume the obligation to perform a definite act in law for the mandator. The provisions on mandate shall apply respectively to contracts on performance of services not regulated by other provisions. Therefore the claim for compensation under the contract on the maintenance of the domain name terminates based on the general civil law rules on the expiration of time limits, i.e. unless a special provision states otherwise, the period of limitation shall be ten years and for claims pertaining to periodical performances and claims resulting from an economic activity, three years.

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

Internet domains, case XVII AmC 170/05

October 20th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Register of Prohibited Clauses operated by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection contains contractual clauses found unlawful by a legally binding judgements. According to the latest judgment of the Polish Court of Competition and Consumer Protection of 26 December 2006, case file XVII AmC 170/05, it won’t be so easy to get cybersquatters who are private persons before any ADR court. This case concerned two clauses of the Domain Names Regulations issued by NASK.

22.
In case a third party initiates a legal action in the Arbitration Court against the Subscriber claiming that the Subscriber has infringed the rights of that person by entering into or performing the Agreement, the Subscriber shall submit to that Arbitration Court a duly signed arbitration clause to the Arbitration Court in due time stated in the summon to sign this arbitration clause.

23.
The non-signing of the arbitration clause specified above shall result in the termination of the Agreement three months after the time stated to sign this arbitration clause, and this time limit shall be shortened to the date of the expiry of the calculating period based on the Price List if this date occurs before the end of the three month-period after the time stated to sign this arbitration clause

After this judgment, the ADR in trade mark cases is unlikely to succeed if the disputed domain name is registered in the name of a natural person.

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

Civil law, case II C 903/06

August 2nd, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Regional Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 6 February 2007 case file II C 903/06 held that Internet auctions organized by the popular websites such as allegro.pl and ebay.com are auctions as defined in article 70 ¹ of the Civil Code. Auction’s closing within the meaning of the Civil Code is a statement generated by the system or by auction’s organizer and sent to the bidder which has submitted the best offer. This message should be treated just as a statement of will of the seller who accepted the offer. It means that the contract takes effect not due to the passage of time, but precisely upon a receipt by the bidder of seller’s statement of acceptance of his offer.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 13/07

July 19th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish entrepreneur Wierzbicki Jan, Krzywdziński Andrzej Przedsiębiorstwo Produkcyjno Handlowo Usługowe MACRO applied to the Polish Patent Office for the right of protection for the trade mark ŚWIAT KAWY I HERBATY (TEA AND COFFE WORLD) Z-205579, for goods in Classes 30, 42. Dariusz Z. who conducts its business under the company name “Świat Kawy i Herbaty”, and who had established contractual relationships with the applicant, submited to the PPO his observations as to the existence of grounds that may cause a right of protection to be denied. The PPO refused to grant the right of protection for the trade mark “ŚWIAT KAWY I HERBATY”. MACRO filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 27 July 2006 case file VI SA/Wa 871/06 upheld the contested decision and MACRO filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 24 May 2007 case file II GSK 13/07 held that the company name (firm) of a individual person is its personal right/interest and it may be an obstacle to registration of a trade mark. According to the SAC, the sale of goods on the stand/trading post under the trade name identical to that trade mark cannot be treated as a trade mark use since the essence of the trade mark is to identify the goods with a particular trader, and the use of the mark should primarily consist of placing a mark on the products or their packaging.

Trade mark law, case I CK 626/04

April 14th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

Jerzy Gojawiczyński owns the word-figurative trade mark ALE KINO! R-113226, registered for advertising and printing services in Class 35 and 42. Canal + Cyfrowy Spółka z o.o. is a broadcaster of a specialized TV program called “Ale Kino”, in which the company places also ads. Mr Gojawiczyński sued for trade mark infringement.

R-113226

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 17 February 2005 case file I CK 626/04 held that the use of a registered mark in the course of trade by other entrepreneurs will be deemed as a violation of the provisions of the Industrial Property Law only if it is associated with the continuity of such activity, and when it is done effectively in business, i.e. outside the company, where it can be recognized and associated by consumers. The mere use of the trade mark within the company, especially one-time use or shortly periodic, is not deemed as a trade mark infringement.

Copyright law, case I CK 312/02

March 17th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in a judgment of 3 December 2003, case file I CK 312/02, has denided the right of action to a collecting society that wanted to initiate a copyright suit in the name of a living person. The Court held that the collective management does not include protection and management of moral and personal rights of living persons, creators or authors. In this case, the Polish Society of Authors and Composers (ZAIKS) wanted to bring an action for the protection of personal rights of a living author who composed music/soundtrack for the movie.

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

Personal rights, case I ACr 436/91

March 11th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in a judgment of 30 Ocrober 1991, case file I ACr 436/91, that was issued under the old Act on authors rights of 1952, ruled that the personal interests in copyrights, are special personal rights as defined by the general rules of civil law, and they are not a separate conceptual category.

Personal rights, case II CR 753/90

February 25th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in a judgment of 26 September 1991, case file II CR 753/90, published in Przegląd Sądowy 1993, no. 1 p. 95, ruled that a threat or a violation of personal rights/interests of an entiled person and its unlawfulness are the circumstances for the appropriate application of article 24 of the Civil Code – CC – (in Polish: Kodeks Cywilny) of 23 April 1964, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 16, item 93, with later amendments.

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 unlawfulness is defined as an action of a third party that is contrary to the widely understood rules of legal order, i.e. legal regulations and rules of social coexistence.

Personal rights, case I CKN 818/97

January 14th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 3 September 1998 case file I CKN 818/97, published in OSP 1999, No. 7-8, item 142, ruled that the protection of personal rights/interests provided in Article 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, also includes author’s personal rights.

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.

Personal rights, case V CKN 499/00

January 8th, 2007, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 5 January 2001 case file V CKN 499/00 ruled that the protection granted by the civil law to personal rights/interests is independent of the protection afforded by the provisions of other laws. It means that this kind of the protection is cumulative. The provisions of Article 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, have the fundamental importance.

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 Court held that one of the most important tasks of the civil law is the protection of personal rights/interests, especially human rights. This is a relatively new sphere of the civil law, which traditionally has been oriented to the protection of financial and economical interests.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 377/05

October 6th, 2006, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish Patent Office invalidated the right of protection for word-figurative trade mark OCETIX R-135047 based on 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. The request was filed by the competitior of Szczęsna Ewa DELTA L.T.D, who claimed its prior rights to the company name (firm).

Article 8
A trademark shall not be registrable if:
1) it is contrary to law or to the principles of social coexistence;
2) it infringes the personal or economic rights of third parties;

Ewa Szczęsna filed a complaint against this decision. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 20 July 2005 case file VI SA/Wa 67/05 dissmissed the case. The VAC agreed with the PPO that the registration of the word-figurative trade mark OCETIX constituted the infringement of the firm of the competitor of Ewa Szczęsna, who established its undertaking in 1991. The Court ruled that the dominant element is the word OCETIX, it attracts the attention and has the distinctive character, while other elements are informative and are indicating the scope of the activities of Szczęsna Ewa DELTA L.T.D.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 5 April 2006 case file II GSK 377/05 upheld the contested judgment and ruled that in accordance with Article 164 of the IPL, the right of protection for a trade mark may be invalidated at the request of any person who has legitimate interest. Article 315(3) of the IPL provides the principle according to which the registrability of signs registered or applied for the registration before 22 August 2001, is assessed on the basis of existing regulations. Thus, the law underlying the assessment of trade mark protection for OCETIX that was applied for the registration on 14 October 1998 are the provisions of the TMA.

R-135047

The SAC repeated that the right of protection for a trade mark is deemed as an exclusive, absolute, transferable and heritable property right. It’s a sign intended to distinguish the goods of one undertaking from those of the same type from another entrepreneur. A trade mark performs a distinctive, warranty and advertising functions. The Court noted also that in the course of trade, the category of distinctive signs, in addition to trade marks, are also brands/signs that are distinguishing of companies. The firm is one of such signs. It is the name under a which the registered merchant (general partnership, limited partnership, limited liability company, joint stock company) operates its undertaking. The firm of an undertaking distinguishes a given undertaking from other undertakings, in the same and/or other object/way of business. See R. Skubisz, Prawo znaków towarowych. Komentarz (in English: Trade mark law. Commentary), Warszawa 1997, p. 13 and 17. The Court also ruled that the Paris Convention of 20 March 1883 on the Protection of Industrial Property, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 1975, No. 9, item. 51 and 52), introduced to the Polish law the term of the trade name, which previously was not used in the Polish legislation. The term collectively covers all the markings of companies enjoyed by the persons mentioned in Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention. The SAC agreed that Article 8 of the Convention does not constitute an independent basis to protect the trade name of the entrepreneur, because it does not specify conditions for such protection and does not indicate what claims should be used in the case of infringement of the rights to the company name. However, this affect the domestic law. See also “Trade mark law, case II SA 2914/01“. The Court ruled that the firm is protected under the Article 37 Code of Commerce (it was repealed by the Code of Commercial Companies later on) and Article 43 of the Civil Code. According to Article 37 of the Code of Commerce, the protection of the firm arises upon its entry into the commercial register, and will expire on the date a court order to withdraw its registration from the register comes into force. The infringement of the firm occurs if there is unlawful use by unauthorized person of a sign which does not distinguish definitively from the firm in a given locality (Article 37 in connection with Article. 35 of the Code of Commerce). Pursuant to Article 43 of the Civil Code, the firm is subject to the protection provided for personal rights/interests (Articles 23 and 24 of the CC). This protection arises from the date of the first use of a firm in business.

Consumer protection, case III SZP 3/06

August 8th, 2006, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 13 July 2006 case file III SZP 3/06 ruled that the application of standardized agreements which provisions are identical with the provisions deemed as prohibited contractual provisions (abusive clauses) by the District Court in Warsaw, the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection, and were entered into the register kept by the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, may be considered in relation to another undertaking as the practice detrimental to/infinging on the collective interests of consumers.

See also “Polish regulations on prohibited contractual provisions” and “Polish case law on abusive clauses in B2C IT and IP contracts“.

Polish patent attorneys, case III CZP 14/06

June 29th, 2006, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 30 March 2006, case file III CZP 14/06, held that a legal advisor who makes the first procedural step and is acting as a representative of legal person, should under the pain provided in the law, attach power of attorney and a document showing that a person, for instance a CEO, who empowered the adivisor had all required powers to issue such POA. The evidence of such powers can be a copy of an extract from appropriate register of commercial companies that was authenticated by a legal advisor himself.