Archive for: case law

Copyright law, case I C 471/16

April 22nd, 2016, Tomasz Rychlicki

Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy “SOLIDARNOŚĆ” (Independent Self-governing Trade Union “Solidarity”), the owner of the figurative European Union trade mark EUTM no. 014026454, sued Czesław Mozil, a Polish singer known also as Czesław Śpiewa (Czesław sings), for the infringement of copyrights and personal interests. Mr. Mozil has recorded and published a song and a TV clip entitled “Nienawidze Cię Polsko” (I hate you Poland) in which the well-known and iconic “SOLIDARNOŚĆ” logotype was also presented. NSZZ “SOLIDARNOŚĆ” demanded 500.000 PLN of compensation.

The District Court in Kraków in its judgment of 8 April 2016 case file I C 471/16 dismissed the case. The Court held that the logo was used in the video as a symbol of Poland and as a Polish identity, and not as a logotype that identifies a trade union, so there was no infringement of personal rights. Any attempts to limit forms of artistic expression would violate the constitutional principle of freedom of artistic expression. The judgment is not final.

Trade mark law, VI SA/Wa 1962/07

January 22nd, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish company Zakład Gospodarki Komunalnej Organizacja Odzysku Biosystem S.A. requested the Polish Patent Office to take a decision on the lapse of the right of protection for IR-653449 and IR-585713 trade marks registered for goods in the following Classes 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 16, 20, 21, 24, 25, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, 39, 40, 42. Both trade marks are owned by Der Grüne Punkt Duales System Deutschland GmbH.

IR-653450

In support of its legal interest, Biosystem S.A. explained that it is one of more than 30 domestic companies that are specializing in recovery of certain categories of waste and like other market participants have the right to use the informational signs. While Rekpol S.A., being the sole licensee of Der Grüne Punkt Duales System Deutschland GmbH trade marks, is sending C&D letters to different businesses, including Biosystem S.A. According to Biosystem the questioned trade marks are spread and used among various companies and as the result of negligence of the owner and licensee these signs cannot fulfill the functions to designate the origin of a particular entrepreneur and have degenerated in respect of all goods and services and become a carrier of information in trade that the product bearing the mark shall be recovered.

IR-653449

The PPO decided that the Polish company had no legal interest (but only factual one) in all classes of goods since it produces none of the goods covered by the protection right (and it doesn’t not sell them), but only provides services related to recovery of certain categories of waste. The PPO only agreed that Biosystem S.A. has shown legal interest in seeking the lapse of the disputed trade mark registration in part, on all services (i.e., services included in Classes 35, 36, 39, 40, 42). In this respect, the PPO considered that the interest can be inferred from the principle of freedom of establishment guaranteed in the provisions of Article 20 of the Polish Constitution and Article 6 of the Act of 2 July 2004 on Freedom of Economic Activity. Biosystem filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgments of 15 April 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 1959/07 and VI SA/Wa 1960/07 held that the definition of waste and recycling, shows that waste are the goods. Thus, in the view of the Court it was possible to trade in such goods. The court held that it may be that the scope of activities of Biosystem S.A. include those goods. Hence the need to examine the legal interest in the classes of goods. Legal interest shall be tested at the beginning of hearings, therefore, the VAC did not address the merits of the dispute. The Court ruled that the repealed decisions of the Polish Patent Office should not be enforceable.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court has also decided on other PPO’s decisions with regard to IR-585714 and IR-653450 trade marks and held the same in its judgments of 24 April 2008 case file VI SA/Wa 1961/07 and VI SA/Wa 1962/07. All four cases went back to the Polish Patent Office.

Again, Biosystem argued that the characters have lost their distinctiveness, as they appear on millions of packages of goods from various manufacturers. The company cited a research institute Pentor that consumers do not identify these signs with a particular trader. They are applied by different manufacturers for packaging and currently only indicate that they are subject to disposal (safe for the environment). Biosystem claimed that information as such cannot serve as trade mark and the sign does not identify an entrepreneur.

Der Grüne Punkt-Duales System Deutschland and Rekopol noted that they were active in defending these trade marks against the lapse, because both companies warned many entrepreneurs, that Grüne Punkt trade marks cannot be used without a proper license. In this way, both companies care about the protection of the brand which excludes the possibility of the lapse due to lack of distinctive character. The Polish Industrial Property Law clearly states that the loss of the distinctive character must be the consequence of the owner’s acting or negligence.

The Adjudicative Board of the PPO in its decisions of July 2010 case no. Sp. 363/08 and case no. Sp. 433/08 and ruled on the lapse of the right of protection. The PPO agreed with the argument that Grüne Punkt trade marks became very popular in many markets, especially in Europe. According to the case file, there are around 95,000 licenses granted all over the world for their use, and for example, in Western Europe, they are placed on almost 91% of the packaging. Such method of placing trade marks on a variety of products that originate from different manufacturers does not meet the conditions of the genuine use of the mark in its function.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its two judgments of 9 March 2011 case file VI SA/Wa 2169/10 and case file VI SA/Wa 2171/10 dissmissed complaints filed by Der Grüne Punkt-Duales System and Rekopol. Both companies filed cassation complaints. The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgments of 21 November 2012 case file II GSK 1551/11 and case file II GSK 1646/11 dismissed them both which in consequence lead to the final lapse of both trade mark rights on the Polish territory.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 665/10

June 3rd, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

On May 2006, the Polish Patent Office granted the right of protection for the word trade mark corovin R-173989 that was applied for by the Polish company CB S.A. The German company Coroplast Fritz Müller GmbH & Co.K.G. from Wuppertal filed a notice of opposition to the decision of the Patent Office on the grant of a right of protection, claiming similarity to its trade mark Coroplast R-91907. The PPO dismissed the opposition and decided that in assessing the similarity of signs, the word trade marks COROPLAST and COROVIN are not similar in the semantic aspect because both are fanciful signs, they are neither similar in aural aspect because both assessed globally sound different due to the different endings, and they are not similar in the visual aspect due to different endings. Both companies operate in Poland in various sectors and the goods, at which the trade marks are placed, are not everyday use products. Furthermore, COROPLAST and COROVIN are also registered as trade marks in Germany and they co-exist seamlessly. Coroplast Fritz Müller filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 4 January 2010, case file VI SA/Wa 442/09 repealed the contested decision. The Court applied to its reasoning rules of the law of prägnanz (German: pithiness) while deciding this case. The Court ruled that by creating specific stimuli, one can manipulate the external context, and by influencing the human experience, one can manipulate the internal context. The law of proximity states that elements close to each other compared with other, more distant elements form the figure. The law of similarity based on the law of proximity in relation to similar elements, indicates that human perception can give rise to a new separate figures, and a new association. Next, the law of closure indicates that the perceptual system adds the missing elements and closes the form of incomplete figures, and in this case one can add to the already existing characters CORO other letters. It should be noted that the human being creates the perceived reality based on the interaction of knowledge that flows from the various branches and experience, with received stimuli. So it may be, in this case. Human knowledge derived from other branches of science may “complete” the lack in the designation and close this sign. CB S.A. filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 22 June 2011 case file II GSK 665/10 repealed the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for further reconsideration. The Court held that when assessing the similarity of word trade marks, the first and initial part is essential, because it focuses recipients’ attention. However, the VAC ignored the fact that in a situation when the first element has a very weak distinctive character as a result of its use by many entrepreneurs in many different trade marks, the meaning of the second part of the trade mark is increasing and may well be that it’s this second part of the sign – the ending of the words – is distinctive and dominant.

Telecommunications law, case I OSK 1079/10

August 3rd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of a story described in “Personal data protection, case II SA/Wa 1598/09“. The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 15 July 2010 case file I OSK 1079/10 decided to stay the execution of the decision issued by the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO), and ruled that 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, provides broader protection of personal data because of telecommunications confidentiality, than the provisions 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 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. The Court held that the disclosure of IP addresses which enable identification of specific individuals, that was ordered during administrative proceedings initiated with regard to disclosure of such data, while such proceedings did not ended with judgment in force, may violate the provisions of Article 160 of the TLA.

Article 160.
1. An entity participating in the performance of telecommunications activities within public networks and entities cooperating with it shall keep the telecommunications confidentiality.
2. Entities referred to in paragraph 1 shall maintain due diligence, within the scope justified by technical or economic reasons, while securing telecommunications equipment, telecommunications networks and data collections from disclosing the telecommunications confidentiality.
3. A person coming into possession of a message not meant to be read by him/her when using radio or terminal equipment shall keep the telecommunications confidentiality. The provisions of Article 159 (3) and (4) shall respectively apply.
4. The recording of a message acquired in a manner described in paragraph 3 by a body executing control of telecommunications activities in order to document a violation of a provision of the Act, shall not be a violation of the telecommunications confidentiality.

While assessing the validity of the request to stay the execution of GIODO’s decision to disclose the requested IP address at this stage of proceedings, the Court agreed with the author of the cassation complaint, that the execution of the questioned decision at this stage makes it impossible to reverse the actions taken after the disclosure of the IP addresses, and such action should be seen as causing the effects that are difficult to reverse according to Article 61(3) of the Act of 30 August 2002 on the Law on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts – PBAC – (in Polish: Prawo o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 153, item 1270, subsequent amendments.

§ 1 Filing a complaint does not stay the execution of the act or actions.

§ 3 After the delivery of a complaint to the court, the court may issue at the request of the applicant, the order to stay the execution, in whole or in part of the act or actions referred to in § 1, if there is a risk of causing significant damage or cause to be difficult to reverse, with the exception of the provisions of local law which entered into force, unless the special Act excludes the stay of their execution. The refusal to stay the execution of the act or actions by the authority, does not deprive the applicant of action to the court. This also applies to acts issued or adopted in all proceedings conducted within the same case.

The SAC held that if the Supreme Administrative Court would agree with the cassation complaint filed against the judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court of 3 February 2010 case file II SA/Wa 1598/09, the effects of the execution of the questioned decision could not be reversed, because the IP address identifying a specific person is available to another participant in the proceedings. Accordingly, the court held that the correct solution at this stage of proceedings, is to stay the execution of the questioned decision also with a view to the impact of which its execution might result in, as well as the nature of the protection of personal data resulting from the relevant regulations such as, inter alia, the TLA.

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

Trade mark law, case Sp. 334/05

July 30th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 1 March 2004, the Polish Patent Office registered word-figurative trade mark CZUWAJ R-152214 (in English: “Be Prepared”). Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego – Główna Kwatera is the owner. The sign looks exactly the same as the Scouts Cross.

The final design of Scout’s Crass was approved during ZHP’s unification conference held on October 1-2 1918 which has choosen this sign as the official badge of Polish scouting In November 1918 the Polish Ministry of War decreed that the Krzyż Harcerski was the only civilian emblem that might be worn on military uniforms. The tradition continues to this day.

Nowadays, there are three major scouting organizations in Poland. Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego, Związek Harcerstwa Rzeczypospolitej and Stowarzyszenia Harcerstwa Katolickiego Zawisza.

R-152214.jpg

ZHR filed a request for invalidation of the right of protection. The request was based on provisions of article 8(1) of 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.

A trademark shall not be registrable if:
1) it is contrary to law or to the principles of social coexistence,

The Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej) of 30 June 2000, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text on 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments, provides more stricter regulations against registering such signs.

Article 131
1. Rights of protection shall not be granted for signs:

(…)

(ii) that are contrary to law, public order or morality, or

(…)

2. A right of protection shall not be granted for a sign, if:
(i) it has been applied for protection with the Patent Office in bad faith,
(ii) it incorporates the name or abbreviated name of the Republic of Poland, or its symbols (emblem, national colours or national anthem), the names or armorial bearings of Polish voivodships, towns or communities, the insignia of the armed forces, paramilitary organisations or police forces, reproductions of Polish decorations, honorary distinctions or medals, military medals or military insignia, or other official or generally used distinctions and medals, in particular those of government administration, local self-administration or social organisations performing activities in vital public interests, where these organisations’ activities extend to the entire territory of the State or to a substantial part thereof, unless the applicant is able to produce evidence of his right, in particular in a form of an authorisation issued by a competent State agency or a permission given by an organisation, to use the sign in the course of trade,

(…)

(v) it incorporates elements being symbols, in particular of a religious, patriotic or cultural nature whose use could hurt religious feelings, sense of patriotism or national tradition,

The Polish Patent Office in its decision case file Sp. 334/05 invalidated the right of protection. The PPO ruled that all Polish scouts’ organizations should have the right to use this sign. This decision is not yet final. A complaint may be filed to the Voivodeship Administrative Court.

Personal interest, case VI ACa 1402/09

July 16th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Appellate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 15 July 2010 case file VI ACa 1402/09 held that even if a website only republishes articles or summaries of works published in major periodicals, it is not absolved from responsibility for infrigement of personal interests of a person who was described in such an article.

Industrial design and trade mark law, case II GSK 481/09

July 14th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of the history described in “Industrial design and trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 710/08“. Rosinski Andrzej Rosinski Michal Rosinska Joanna Zaklad Produkcji Opakowan Rosinski i S-ka, Sp. J. decided to file a cassation complaint to the Supreme Administrative Court, hoping that the Court would clarify the interpretation of Article 117(2) of the 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.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 15 May 2010 case file II GSK 481/09 ruled that there is no issue of wrong implementation of the provisions of Article 11 of the Directive 98/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998 on the legal protection of designs. The Court noted that even the preamble of Design Directive explicitly states that Member States should remain free to fix the procedural provisions concerning registration, renewal and invalidation of design rights and provisions concerning the effects of such invalidity. Therefore, there is no need to refer a question to the Court of Justice of EU for a preliminary ruling. The SAC did not agree with arguments that the issue of finding that the exploitation of the industrial design infringes third parties’ personal or author’s economic rights shall be decided by civil court and not by the PPO. The question of similarity of the questioned design and 3D trade mark should also be decided by the PPO. The Court did not follow arguments presented by the General Court in its judgment of 12 May 2010 in case T-148/08, Beifa Group Co. Ltd v Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market, Schwan-Stabilo Schwanhaüßer GmbH & Co. KG. However, the SAC did agree with the Polish company that facts of the case were not handled properly by the Voivodeship Administrative Court. Therefore, the SAC annulled the questioned judgments and returned the case to the VAC for reconsideration and ordered the Polish Patent Office to pay the Polish company a reimbursement of costs of the cassation compliant.

The Court noted also that if the trade mark that was used as a basis of the application for invalidation of the industrial design, is a sign that was registered with an earlier priority in Germany, which is not identical with the Community design that was questioned in the aforementioned application, is similar to this design, the law of the Member State (in this case § 14 section 2 pt 2 of Markengesetz, similar to Article 296 of the IPL) affords Unilever, the proprietor of the mentioned trade mark, the right to prohibit use of this sign in a later design only if because of the similarity of the design to the said trade mark and identical or similarity of the goods or services, which relate to the trade mark and the later design, there is a likelihood of confusion.

See also “Polish regulations on industrial designs” and “Polish case law on industrial designs“.

Personal interest, case VI Aca 1460/09

July 12th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Małgorzata F. sued a residential community and the advertising company for infringement of her personal interest that according to Małgorzata F. occured by placing on the building in which she lives a big banner advertising, which concealed all windows of her apartment. The plaintiff did not ask for financial compensation but only for the apology to be published in the media.

The Appellate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 9 July 2010 case file VI Aca 1460/09 held that such advertising does not constitute an infringement of personal rights, in particular immunity of residence, because it rather concerned the so-called domestic peace (mir domowy). The court suggested that the right way for such disputes is to challenge the resolutions of the community or to base a lawsuit on the rules on the protection of property, and not the path of protection of personal interests.

See also “Advertising law, reclaim the windows“.

Computer crimes, case I KZP 7/10

July 9th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its order of 29 June 2010 case file I KZP 7/10 held that, the prescription of defamation crime is counted from the date of publication of the offensive content. This crime is defined in the provisions of Article 212 of the Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with subsequent amendments.

Article 212. § 1. Whoever imputes to another person, a group of persons, an institution or organisational unit not having the status of a legal person, such conduct, or characteristics that may discredit them in the face of public opinion or result in a loss of confidence necessary for a given position, occupation or type to activity
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.
§ 2. If the perpetrator commits the act specified in § 1 through the mass media
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.
§ 3. When sentencing for an offence specified in §1 or 2, the court may adjudge a supplementary payment in favour of the injured person or of the Polish Red Cross, or of another social purpose designated by the injured person a supplementary payment (nawiązka).
§ 4. The prosecution of the offence specified in § 1 or 2 shall occur upon a private charge.

This issue was referred to the Supreme Court by the District Court, who had inquired whether the defamation is a crime of continuous nature, which means that in case of defamatory entry placed on the Internet, it is committed as long as entry is available on the website. Interestingly, the SC refused to answer this question but the Court deliberated very wide on this issue in the justification of the order. The Supreme Court ruled that on-line defamation is not a continuous crime, which would involve creating and maintaining the status recognized by law as unlawful. The Court was aware of the fact the interests of the victim are violated as long as the defamatory content is publicly available on a website. However, per analogy to the printed press, where the victim’s interests are harmed as long as there are archived copies of newspapers containing offensive words.

The Supreme Court held that the offense involving the placement of a defamatory content in the Internet as referred to in article 212 § 2 of the CC is committed at the moment to making an entry and not while removing it. This means that the perpetrator cannot be prosecuted with the private charge after a year from the time when the victim learned about the offender, but no later than the expiry of three years from the time it was committed.

Tax law, case III SA/Wa 25/10

July 7th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court (VAC) in Warsaw in its judgment of 5 July 2010 case file III SA/Wa 25/10 confirmed the interpretation that contracts based on providing access to websites for displaying ads should be deemed as the lease of such a website. That’s the most favorable interpretation from the perspective of the website owner and the advertising company. The first can choose a lump sum and pay 8.5% tax regardless of income. The company is not required to act as a withholding agent, who is obliged to collect withholding income tax.

See also “Tax law, case I SA/Kr 60/10“.

Tax law, case ITPP3/443-52/10/JK

July 5th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish newspaper Gazeta Prawna reports in the article entitled “Faktury papierowej nie można przechowywać w formie elektronicznej” on the individual interpretation of the Director of Tax Chamber in Bydgoszcz of 17 June 2010 No. ITPP3/443-52/10/JK regarding e-invoices. The Director explained that there is no possibility to store electronic invoices, which were issued and sent to the contractor in paper form. The tax regulations do not provide that taxpayers can store documents, copies of sales invoices issued in paper form, in electronic form, with the possibility of printing only when the need arose. On the contrary, these regulations require the taxpayer to retain copies of sales invoices and correction invoices in the original form that was created at the time of issue of the originals of these documents. In addition, there is no legal basis for the application of such a mixed-mode, in which on the one hand the invoice would be issued in paper form, and copies of invoices to be kept in the electronic form.

An entrepreneur seeking to reduce costs associated with invoicing can sign invoices issued in the electronic form with the qualified electronic signature, and after prior approval obtained from the recipient of such a document, send it via e-mail, deliver it on a CD or other electronic medium. Such system of delivery of documents that also ensures its authenticity and integrity, not only reduce the cost of billing on the drawer side, but also reduce costs of customers of such entrepreneur, and will be in accordance with the provisions governing the matter of invoicing.

The Polish Ministry of Finance treats only two types of invoices as legitimate way of billing if they could not be received personally. These are paper invoices that one may send to its customer by post or courier, or electronic, not so popular, because to use it the entrepreneurs must pay for the so-called qualified e-signature.

The Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reports in its article entitled “Zabawa w zginanie faktur” that lots of companies in Poland send invoices by e-mail in the attached file (usually scanned), because it’s faster, more convenient and cheaper. One does not pay for stamps or envelopes. There is only one problem – the tax authorities believe that it is illegal activity. In the case of tax control, a company is threaten by financial penalties.

But Polish entrepreneurs have found a solution for such unrealistic approach. The invoice that was received by e-mail is printed and bend in half. It looks like it was taken out of the envelope. There is no provision in the tax law tha would require the storage of envelopes. The tax control is not able to prove that it wasn’t printed by the issuer of the invoice and send by post or courier. Almost everyone is happy.

The Ministry of Finance respects the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court that was described in the post entitled “Tax law, case I FSK 1444/09“, but it does not mean that the Ministry agrees with legal arguments presented by the SAC. The Republic of Poland is a civil law country and there are no binding precedents. It means the every entrepreneur would have to go the same way as the one whose case ended before the SAC.

See also “Tax law, case III SA/Wa 396/10“.

Trade mark law, case IX GC 104/06

July 5th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2003, Polish company Zakłady Tytoniowe Lublin started to produce “Full Flavor ZTL Mont Blanc” and “Light ZTL Mont Blanc” cigarettes. Te tanie papierosy miały być konkurencją dla przemycanych z Ukrainy papierosów Monte Carlo. These latter cheap cigarettes were meant to be competition for Monte Carlo cigarettes smuggled from Ukraine.

R-160948

German company Montblanc – Simplo sued Polish company for infringement of Montblanc trade marks’ reputation, unfair competition delict and infringement of personal rights/interest. Montblanc – Simplo demanded the cessation of production of these cigarettes and the publication of a statment on illegal use of the trade mark, in nationwide newspapers.

R-160949

The District Court in Lublin in its judgment case file IX GC 104/06 dismissed these claims. The court held that that the contested name is written on cigarette packs separately (as the name of a mountain peak) and in a figurative aspect it has a different color, font and background. Therefore it cannot mislead consumers, what is more important, these are goods of various kinds. The expert in the field of commodities found that use of the trade mark for cheap cigarettes has no effect on the reputation of Montblanc sign and there is no percolation of the two groups of consumer of both products. Also an expert in the field of social psychology, did not reveal blurring of Montblanc reputation by the use of the geographical name “Mont Blanc” on the cheap cigarettes.

Telecommunications law, case C‑99/09

July 2nd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justice of the European Union in its judgment of 1 July 2010, Case C‑99/09, Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa sp. z o.o. v. Prezes Urzędu Komunikacji Elektronicznej, ruled that article 30(2) of Directive 2002/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services (Universal Service Directive) is to be interpreted as obliging the national regulatory authority to take account of the costs incurred by mobile telephone network operators in implementing the number portability service when it assesses whether the direct charge to subscribers for the use of that service is a disincentive. However, it retains the power to fix the maximum amount of that charge levied by operators at a level below the costs incurred by them, when a charge calculated only on the basis of those costs is liable to dissuade users from making use of the portability facility.

Polish patent attorneys, case II GZ 224/09

June 28th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 May 2010, case file II GZ 224/09 ruled that the Act on the Law 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, did not afford a possibility of making a further appeal, or complaint from the judgments delivered by the Supreme Administrative Court. This means that the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court becomes final upon its publication. The administrative proceedings, as a general rule, is divided into two stages of jurisdiction. This principle is consistent with the regulations included in Article 176(2) of the Polish Constitution.

Industrial design, case VI SA/Wa 134/10

June 27th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administratve Court in Warsaw in its order of 16 June 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 134/10 held that the principle of filing a complaint in the administrative proceedings through a public authority/body means that in case of a complaint filed directly to the administrative court or through a public authority other than the one whose action or inaction is the subject of the complaint, that court or authority should hand on such complaint to the competent authority of public administration. The deadline to bring an action referred to in article 53 § (1-3) of the PBAC, is decided on the date when the complaint was delivered to the relevant court or public administration body by the public authority who received it first.

This judgment is not yet final. A cassation complaint may be filed to the Supreme Administrative Court.

See also “Polish regulations on industrial designs” and “Polish case law on industrial designs“.

Copyright law, case I ACa 206/10

June 26th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

Passa Company sued its competitor – Informator Handlowy Publishing House for the copyright infringement of personal and economic rights to a few ads that were published by Passa. Passa argued that Informator Handlowy copied, altered and distributed these advertising in its magazine, including photographs that were used by Passa.

Informator Handlowy argued that it has received all the published materials from its advertisers and they should be the defendants in this case. IH also argued that the advertisements at issue are not protected by copyright law, since they do not have the characteristics of the copyrightable work. They rely solely on the computer alteration, without the creative factor, and photographs (walls, roofs and chimneys) do not have the nature of the copyrightable work because they do not contain any creative element.

The District Court in Lublin ruled that photographs that were used in ads cannot be protected by provisions of the Polish Act of 4 February 1994 on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 24, item 83, consolidated text of 16 May 2006, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 90, item 631. However, the Court also held that these advertisements are subject to copyright protections as provided in article 1 of the ARNR because they meet the criterion of individuality (creativity of the plaintiff) and originality (they presented a visible margin of creative freedom, own personal choice of treatment of the subject). The Court held that the publication of advertisements without consent of Passa infringed its copyright. The Court also ruled that there were no conditions for the adoption of the liability of the defendant under the provisions of article 17 and 79 of the ARNR.

The Appellate Court in Lublin in its judgment case file I ACa 206/10 confirmed the findings of the court of first instance as to the copyright infringement of advertisings, but also pointed out that the District Court misinterpreted the law. The Court held that in a situation where the use of the work is illegal (there is no agreement to use copyrighted work or the provisions of fair use/allowed use cannot be applied), i.e. such use is made without the consent of the creator, his claims are set out in article 79 of the ARNR, including the right to equitable remuneration. A defendant in such case can be anyone who infringes on creator’s right. The Court emphasized that copyright protection vest in the owner against anyone who violates those rights. It did not matter that the advertisements were published on behalf of Informator Handlowy’s clients and that the infringer was in good faith or it has exercised due care. See also “Copyright law, case I ACa 2/96“. The Appellate Court found that the Court of First instance was wrong to rely on Article 42(2) of the Polish Act of 26 January 1984 on Press law – APL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo prasowe), published Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 5, item 24, with subsequent amendmets.

The publisher and the editor is not responsible for the content of announcements and advertisings published in accordance with article 36.

That provision concerns the responsibility for the content and form of advertising, or infringement of the rights associated with breaking the rules of social coexistence, or any legal prohibition of advertising, such as alcohol, cigarettes, or the Act on Combating Unfair Competition. This provision does not cover the issue of infringement of copyright. See also “Press law, case V CK 675/03“. The Appellate Court referred the case back for retrial because of the scope of procedural and material errors, including rejection of a motion for admission of an expert as to the estimate of the amount of compensation, the lack of assessment of all material.

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

Polish patent attorneys, case I CSK 481/09

June 25th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in its judgment of 16 June 2010, case file I CSK 481/09 held, that a party to the proceedings may request from its legal representative to compensate for damages only if the representative did not act diligent and failed to meet the prevailing standard of competence in his or her work on client’s behalf. The court pointed out that the representative (advocate, patent attorney) is responsible for the due care, and not for the result of the case. The fact that a representative has been unsuccessful in conducting a case, even if the reasoning of a judgment indicates that this was the result of his or her mistake, it does not mean legal malpractice, and that the client can claim compensation for the loss suffered by the this injury.

The final ruling is binding not only for the parties and the court which issued it, but also to other courts and public bodies and authorities, and others in all cases provided for in the law. This is called “material validity of the judgment”, also known as “extended validity”.

Internet domains, case I ACa 1334/07

June 17th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

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

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

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

2. Infringement of the right of protection for a trademark consists of unlawful use in the course of trade of:
(ii) a trademark identical or similar to a trademark registered in respect of identical or similar goods, if a likelihood of misleading the public, including in particular a risk of associating the trademark with a registered trademark, exists;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also “Polish case law on domain names“.

Procedural law, case II FSK 153/09

June 11th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 21 May 2010 case file II FSK 153/09 held that the allegations made in the cassation complaint are key issues for identyfing the boundaries of a given case. The Supreme Administrative Court shall decide the case within the scope of a cassation complaint, examining ex officio only the invalidity of the proceedings. The legitimacy of cassation complaint shifts from the legitimacy of allegations that were raised in it, which should be demonstrated by appropriate justification. The exclusion by the Voivodeship Administrative Court of binding interpretation of law in a given case, that is based on article 153 of the PBAC, is a violation of law, in particular the democratic rule of law provided in article 2 of the Polish Constitution.

Personal rights, case I ACa 572/11

June 5th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 18 January 2010, Michał Okonek, the owner of MAP1 company, filed a petition to the court with a request to order ParaRent.com Wawrzyniak Sp. j. company seated in Szczecin, to block access to the thread entitled “a suit for the use of a part of a map” which is available at www.forumprawne.org website (http://forumprawne.org/prawo-autorskie/501-pozew-za-wykorzystanie-fragmentu-mapy.html) operated by ParaRent.com. Mr Okonek also requested the court to prohibit ParaRent.com to publish of new content concerning Michał Okonek at foras available at forumprawne.org website. Mr Okonek pointed out that ParaRent.com allows its users for posting and sharing information that unjustly accuse him of extorting money, making false statements, misleading the courts and prosecution, intimidation of Internet users, even for distributing of pornography. Moreover, users of forumprawne.org called Mr Okonek as the swindler and the parasite, while he only uses the right to sublicense the use of copyrighted works such as digital maps.

The District Court in Szczecin in its decision of 4 February 2010, case file I Co 26/10 sided with Mr Okonek and issued the order blocking the aforementioned thread. ParaRent decided to appeal.

The Appellate Court in Szczecin in its decision of 18 May 2010, case file I ACz 296/10 overruled the ban. The Court held that in cases filed against the public media, for the protection of personal rights/property, the court may refuse to grant an injunction against publication of given information if the important public interest opposes such injunction/ban.

Michał Okonek filed another lawsuit against ParaRent.com, for the protection of personal rights and compensation. The case was linked with a blocked thread. The District Court in Szczecin VIII Economic Division in its judgment of 5 May 2011 case file VIII GC 106/10 dismissed the complaint. The Court ruled the administrator of forumprawne.org website cannot be held responsible for comments that appeared on his website, unless Mr Okonek proves that the content of posts/comments was illegal, and the fact that the administartor had knowledge regarding such posts or comments, or received information from a reliable source regarding such posts or comments, and that the administrator did not fulfill his duty to disable access to such illegal content. All these prerequisite must be met together. The Court ruled that the administrator cannot arbitrarily interfere with the content published by users. These limits are set by the TOS of the forum website and the law. The Court noted that too much interference may lead to violation of freedom of expression, and thus it may also be an infringement of personal interests of users. The Court has also interpreted the meaning of the “credible information” of the illegal character of the stored data as provided in the Article 14 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.

1. A person who gives access to the contents of a network IT system to a customer, where the customer stores data, is not aware of the illegal features of the data or activity connected with the data and upon receiving an official notification or credible information about the illegal features of the data or activity connected with it, immediately bars access to the data, shall not be responsible for the data.
2. A Service provider who has received the official notification of an illegal character of the stored data that was supplied by the customer, and prevented the access to the data, shall not be liable to the customer for damages resulting from preventing access to such data.
3. A service provider who has received credible information of the illegal character of the stored data supplied by the customer and prevented access to the data, shall not be liable to the customer for the damage resulting from preventing access to such data, if it has immediately notified the customer of the intention to prevent access to data.

For the adoption of the credibility of information, it is necessary to show that on the basis of credible information, the ISP had an objective opportunity to assess the illegality of data placed on the Internet by the customer. A different interpretation – that each request of an interested person (legal or natural) results in receiving of credible information of the illegal character of the stored data, would cause that, in principle, anyone whose activities fall within the online forum discussion, could remove data with reference to the violation of personal interest, and it would end any discussion. As the Court noted, such situation would be against the principle of freedom of expression and the essence of Internet activity. The Court also ruled that a complext topic on Map1 actions against Internet users, which appeared in a short period of time shows great interest in the subject and proves the difficulties of the current monitoring, which, moreover, is not a responsibility of the ISP. The Administrator is not a forum editor, the users of this forum are themselves. Mr. Okonek became a public figure and therefore he should more callous. The Court decided that the administrator had acted properly moderating only part of the disputed posts.

Mr Okonek appealed. The Appellate Court in Szczecin in its judgment of 26 October 2011 case file I ACa 572/11 dismissed the complaint.

Internet domains, case C-569/08

June 3rd, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justic of European Union in its judgment of 3 June 2010, case C‑569/08, Internetportal und Marketing GmbH v. Richard Schlicht, ruled on bad faith registration of EU domain names.

1. Article 21(3) of Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004 of 28 April 2004 laying down public policy rules concerning the implementation and functions of the .eu Top Level Domain and the principles governing registration must be interpreted as meaning that bad faith can be established by circumstances other than those listed in Article 21(3)(a) to (e) of that regulation.

2. In order to assess whether there is conduct in bad faith within the meaning of Article 21(1)(b) of Regulation No 874/2004, read in conjunction with Article 21(3) thereof, the national court must take into consideration all the relevant factors specific to the particular case and, in particular, the conditions under which registration of the trade mark was obtained and those under which the .eu top level domain name was registered.

With regard to the conditions under which registration of the trade mark was obtained, the national court must take into consideration, in particular:

– the intention not to use the trade mark in the market for which protection was sought;

– the presentation of the trade mark;

– the fact of having registered a large number of other trade marks corresponding to generic terms; and

– the fact of having registered the trade mark shortly before the beginning of phased registration of .eu top level domain names.

With regard to the conditions under which the .eu top level domain name was registered, the national court must take into consideration, in particular:

– the abusive use of special characters or punctuation marks, within the meaning of Article 11 of Regulation No 874/2004, for the purposes of applying the transcription rules laid down in that article;

– registration during the first part of the phased registration provided for in that regulation on the basis of a mark acquired in circumstances such as those in the main proceedings; and

– the fact of having applied for registration of a large number of domain names corresponding to generic terms.

Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 274/10

June 1st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

On 14 March 2005, the Polish company PMB S.A. from Białystok applied for “dębowa mocno wędzona” (oak heavily smoked) trade mark Z-292377, for goods in class 29 such as meats, smoked products and offal products.

The Polish Patent Office denied to grant a right of protection and PMB filed a complaint to the administrative court. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in a judgment of 14 April 2010, case file VI SA/Wa 274/10, rejected the complaint. According to the Court, in this case, the PPO correctly held that PMB has not shown that the sign has acquired distinctiveness. As it was clear from case files, the only evidence provided by PMB was statements of sales of products marked with the questioned sign as of January 2005. The issue of acquisition of secondary meaning (acquired distinctiveness) is taken into account together with all the circumstances of the presence of a sign on the market, including such as: market share, the intensity, geographical extent, duration of the use of a trade mark, investments in advertising, the percentage of a relevant group of customers who recognize the sign as an indication of origin from a particular entrepreneur, etc. Such evidences must come prior to the date of filing of a trademark application with the Polish Patent Office. The Court commented on the Community case law in which the evidence of secondary meaning is also allowed from the period after the date of trade mark application, if they show that acquired distinctiveness already existed at that date.

This judgment is not yet final. A cassation complaint may be filed to the Supreme Administrative Court.

Polish patent attorneys, case I OZ 356/10

May 30th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 17 May 2010 case file I OZ 356/10, held that if legal representative refuses to prepare and file an appeal because he or she believes that such appeal would be unfounded, and informs the party, giving a proper opinion in this matter, this must be regarded as giving up the cassation complaint by a represented party, since a party has no standind in this area because the appeal must be made by a legal representative only under pain of dismissal of the action. The entitled representatives to file a cassation appeal are only these mentioned in the Law on proceedings before administrative courts, and so, in particular, advocates and legal advisors (radca prawny). In addition, the cassation complaint may also be made by the tax consultant – on tax obligations, and in matters of industrial property – by the patent attorney. The obligation to file a cassation by a professional results from two-instances of the administrative judiciary and to ensure more efficient proceedings. The obligation to file a cassation by a professional results from two-instances of the administrative judiciary and to ensure more efficient proceedings. This requirement was also introduced in order to ensure an adequate level of the form and content of a cassation complaint, and thus to provide a party the certainty that there will be no risk of rejection of its complaint. The knowledge of the regulations and enforcement procedures that are applicable to judicial proceedings can be expected and required from a professional representative. The refusal to prepare and to file a cassation complaint is not subject to review by the administrative courts. However, if in doubt, a party may apply to the competent authority of the professional autonomy requesting to review the merits of such action.

Industrial design, case VI SA/Wa 506/10

May 27th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 27 may 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 506/10 held that due to the fact that the Polish Patent Office did not timely corrected the deficiency of the reasons of its decision and it did not decided and ruled on this issue in its response, although irregularities were indicated in the complaint, the Court had to decide at this stage of proceedings that the contested decision infringes the rules of administrative proceedings in the aspect that could significantly affect the outcome of the case.

Wzór Przemysłowy Rp-11779

This judgment concerned the industrial design “Zestaw podstawek reklamowych Star Fala” (in English: Set of advertising coasters Star Fala) Rp-11779. This judgment is not yet final. A cassation complaint may be filed to the Supreme Administrative Court. See also “Polish regulations on industrial designs” and “Polish case law on industrial designs“.

Industrial design, case VI SA/Wa 1038/09

May 21st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 23 February 2010 case file VI SA/Wa 1038/09 held that the Polish Patent Office wrongly ruled that the admission of evidence based on the testimony of a witness will not bring anything new to the case, by stating that these witnesses were not credible evidence that the subject of disclosure in the shop (boards) was questioned industrial design. The VAC held that such ruling has the nature of prejudice and is contrary to the provisions of administrative procedure because the PPO made the assessment of usefulness and credibility of evidence, of which it has not get acquainted with.

Wzór Przemysłowy Rp-11243

This judgment concerned the industrial design “Tablica informacyjna” (in English: Information table) Rp-11243. The judgment is not yet final. A cassation complaint may be filed to the Supreme Administrative Court. See also “Polish regulations on industrial designs” and “Polish case law on industrial designs“.

Tax law, case I FSK 1444/09

May 21st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Polish entrepreneur asked the Director of the Tax Chamber in Kraków, whether the inclusion in the billing of VAT of the amount of tax charged on the purchase of goods and services on the basis of invoices and correction invoices received by e-mail or fax, not in the form of electronic invoices with digital signature, is correct. The Director ruled that such interpretation is incorrect. The Company did not agree with this decision and filed a complaint to the administrative court. The Voivodeship Administrative Court (VAC) in Kraków in a judgment of 17 March 2009, case file I SA/Kr 97/09 dismissed the case. The Company filed a cassation complaint. The Supreme Administrative Court in a judgment of 20 May 2010, case file I FSK 1444/09, ruled that invoices that were sent via fax or e-mail are equivalent to these sent via traditional mail. What’s more important, such invoices do not need any electronic signature.

Tax law, case III SA/Wa 1823/09

May 17th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Director of Tax Control Office in Warsaw ruled that the amounts of cash referred to as a “license to exercise the media rights” that were received by Legia football club from the Polish Football Association (PZPN), should be subject to tax on goods and services. Legia argued that such an agreement is not a contract of sale of rights, but the license agreement. However, the Director has found that the PZPN was the sole owner of intangible (economic and non econimic) property rights to the Polish national championships. To be the sole owner of the rights to football matches, PZPN had to acquire these rights. Therefore, Legia had to transfer these rights in some way, and that included proper fee.

The Director referred to a series of court decisions and pointed out that the sports’ event, namely football games, do not constitute a copyrightable work under the Polish Act on Authors Rights and Neighbouring Rights – ARNR – (in Polish: ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych) of 4 February 1994, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 24, item 83, consolidated text of 16 May 2006, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 90, item 631. Legia as a football club does not take action on the creative nature. In the opinion of the Director, it is not precluded that on the legal market may exist licensing agreements relating to intangible property, other than works that are defined in the ARNR.

Only article 43(1) pt 13 of the Act on Goods and Services Tax – GSTA – (in Polish: ustawa o podatku od towarów i usług) of 11 March 2004, Journal od Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 54, item 535, includes a reference to the ARNR.

Art. 43. 1. The following shall be exempted from the tax:
13) licensing or authorization to use a license, as well as assignment of the proprietary right within the meaning of the copyright law – in relation to computer programmes – free of charge, for educational facilities, referred to in paragraph 9.

That provision indicates the grant of the license or authorization to use copyright licenses and the transfer of property rights under copyright law (the ARNR). The absence of such references in other regulations means that the transfer of copyright may affect the rights of the author, or a sole owner of any intangible property, which does not have the characteristics of the copyrightable work. A similar situation will occur in the case of a license. Wherever there is no reference to copyright law (ARNR) it will also mean the license agreement for the use of intangible property other than the copyrightable work.

The Tax Office ruled that Legia transfered “media rights” to the PZPN, so the Association could fully manage of them, and so enter into an agreement concerning the disposition of such rights. The rate of the tax shall be 22% for such service. The tax shall become chargeable upon the receipt of all or part of payment, though not later than upon the expiry of the due date specified in the contract or invoice – for the performance in the territory of the country of services referred to in article 27(4) pt 1 of the GSTA.

4. The provision of paragraph 3 shall apply to the following services:
1) sale of rights or granting of licenses or sublicenses, transfers and assignments of copyrights, patents, trademarks, letting joint trademarks or joint guarantee marks for use, or other related rights.

Legia did not agree with the decision of the Director of Tax Control Office and filed a complaint against. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 26 March 2010 case file III SA/Wa 1823/09 dismissed it.

Trade mark law, case II GSK 555/09

May 17th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

This is the continuation of the story described in “Trade mark law, case VI SA/Wa 2376/08“. The Free Trade Union of Drivers of the Republic of Poland (FTUD) and its representative disagreed with the decisions of the Polish Patent Office and the Voivodeship Administrative Court, and filed a cassation complaint to the Supreme Administrative Court. The FTUD claimed that the drawing of an eagle included in its sign differs from the National emblem, because it has different colors and is on a different background. The Union also argued that the sign emphasizes its national identity, and not link with the state bodies. According to the Union, the PPO already registered many characters that consist of national symbols that were artistically altered. The refusal of registration of the questioned sign limits the competition argued the Union.

The Supreme Administrative Court in a judgment of 21 April 2010, case file II GSK 555/09, dismissed the cassation appeal. According to the SAC the provisions of the IPL and the Act on Coat of Arms, Colours and Anthem of the Republic of Poland should be read together. Neither the emblem or image of the Eagle established as the emblem and symbols of the Republic of Poland shall not be subject to protection rights. This applies also to similar signs – said Judge Małgorzata Korycińska. The judgement is final.

Polish patent attorneys – substitution and delivery of documents

May 16th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

According to the provisions of Articles 240 and 241 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, a representative shall be authorised to appoint a substitute (substitution).

Article 240
1. Except for the persons referred to in Article 236(2), a representative shall be authorised to appoint a substitute (substitution).
2. Authorisation by another joint right holder shall not be required for performing conservatory action.

Article 241
1. Where two or more persons are parties to a proceeding and no representative has been appointed, the persons concerned shall be required to indicate one address for service. Failing to indicate such address, the address of the person named first in the application or in another document, on the basis of which the proceeding is instituted, shall be deemed to be that address.

2. At a party’s request, the Patent Office shall also send letters addressed according to paragraph (1) to the addresses additionally indicated by that party. This provision shall also apply accordingly, where only one person who has appointed a representative is a party to the proceeding.

As the effect of establishing a substitute, the same relationship, which was established between a party and a patent attorney is also created between a party and a substitute, while maintaining the existing powers of attorney. This means that the party has two equivalent proxies since the establishment of an effective substitution. See for instance opinions presented by the Supreme Court Civil Chamber in a judgment of 13 February 2004, case file IV CK 269/02, the Supreme Court Civil Chamber in a decision of 7 November 2006, case file I CZ 78/06, or judgment of the Voivodeship Administraive Court in Poznańof dnia 20 February 2007, case file I SA/Po 1432/06.

On the basis of provisions of Article 40 of the Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments, where a party has established a representative, all documents are delivered to the proxy and not a party.

Article 40.
§ 1. Documents shall be served on the party to proceedings, and if the party is acting by a representative – on that representative.
§ 2. If a party to proceedings has appointed an attorney then documents shall be served on the attorney.
§ 3. If a case has been commenced at the instigation of two or more parties the documents shall be served on all parties, unless the application indicates that one of them is authorised to receive service.

Due to the limitation established for granting the substitute power of attorney only to patent attorneys and provisions of article 237(1) of the IPL which provide that there can be only one proxy for one legal action, in case of existence of a substitute, all correspondence will be delivered to one person – the agent or a substitute.

Article 237
1. In the performance of one act a party may be represented by one natural person only.
2. A power of attorney shall be in writing and shall be included in the files on performance of first legal act.
3. Where the power of attorney covers two or more cases, it shall be included in the files of that of the cases, in respect of which the first act is performed by the representative. When acting in other cases covered by the power of attorneys, the representative shall be required to furnish a certified copy of the power of attorney.
4. A patent agent shall be allowed to certify himself a copy of the power of attorney granted to him.
5. Failing to pay a due stamp duty for the power of attorney, the Patent Office shall invite the representative to make relevant payment and in case it should not be made, it shall additionally invite the party to confirm, within the fixed time limit, the acts performed by the representative. Failing to observe the fixed time limit, the provision of Article 223(4) shall apply accordingly.

The decision in this regard will be taken following an assessment of attorney documents and attorney substitution. However, in the case of granting substitution of confluence with the scope of powers of attorney and without indicating an address for delivery of documents, the Polish Patent Office will continue to deliver documents only to a substitute.

Personal interests, case II CSK 580/09

May 1st, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Supreme Court in a judgment of 6 May 2010 case file II CSK 580/09 ruled that if there is a high probability of irreversible impairment of the fetus, the mother can decide whether to remove the pregnancy. The Court has confirmed that the decision on the abortion is every mother’s personal right/interest, and in the case of an infringement of such right, a woman has the right to seek the redress for the harm and damages to compensate for both parents increased costs of raising a handicapped child.