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Case Details

Case Details
National ID link
Państwo członkowskie Polska
Common Name link
Decision type Supreme court decision
Decision date 09/04/2015
Sąd Sąd Najwyższy
Temat
Powód/powódka A. spółka z o.o. with its registered office in P.
Pozwany/Pozwana "V." spółka z o.o. in S.
Słowa kluczowe advertising, comparative advertising, liability, supplier, trader, unfair competition

Misleading and Comparative Advertising Directive, link

A person advertising its activity by using an unfair advertisement cannot be released from liability for such an act of unfair competition if the advertisement was prepared on the basis of an agreement concluded with a company that is professionally engaged in such activities.
The plaintiff filed a lawsuit, pointing out that the defendant infringed its right to the business name and committed an act of unfair competition by using a misleading advertisement that used the plaintiff's name.

The defendant denied committing this act of unfair competition, arguing that all its activities related to advertising were performed by third parties on the basis of civil contracts.

The District Court agreed that the defendant had infringed the plaintiff's right to the business name and had committed an act of unfair competition; however, it dismissed the claim. The judgment pointed out that the defendant's actions were not deliberate and therefore the defendant was not culpable. The defendant immediately removed reference to the plaintiff's name upon receiving a demand to cease the infringing acts. Furthermore, the plaintiff did not prove that the advertisement in question had had a negative impact on its business activity. An important aspect for the District Court was also the fact that the defendant delegated the preparation of the advertisement to a professional company.

The plaintiff appealed to the Court of Appeal, which ruled partially in its favour. The Court of Appeal shared the view of the District Court and pointed out that the defendant infringed the plaintiff's right to the business name and committed an act of unfair competition.

However, the Court of Appeal emphasized that neither the purpose of the activity nor proving the negative effects of the advertisement are necessary conditions for proving liability. Moreover, the Court of Appeal noted that the defendant should have checked whether the company preparing the advertisement infringed the rights of its competitors .

The defendant filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, claiming that the judgment of the Court of Appeal infringed the law.
Can a person advertising its activity by using an unfair advertisement be released from liability for such an act of unfair competition if the advertisement was prepared on the basis of an agreement concluded with a company that is professionally engaged in such activities?
The Supreme Court (hereinafter referred to as "the court") assessed the defendant's appeal. It noted that defendant's argumentation concerns the effects of its decision to engage an advertising company in the context of liability for an act of unfair competition.

The court emphasized that the Court of Appeal agreed that the defendant had committed an act of unfair competition by using the advertisement. The defendant's opinion that it did not have any influence on the content of the advertisement is meaningless in the context of the assessment of liability in this case. The court pointed out that the defendant's liability results from the use of the advertisement in question. This means that the defendant cannot be released from liability even if it did not know what the content of the advertisement was.

Therefore, the court's interpretation was that a person advertising its activity by using an unfair advertisement cannot be released from liability for such an act of unfair competition on the basis that the advertisement was prepared under an agreement concluded with a company that is professionally engaged in such activities.
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The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the defendant.