Violations of the principles of fair competition - claims against the entrepreneur

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Running a company in accordance with the principles of fair competition is the responsibility of every entrepreneur. If this is not the case, the aggrieved party has the right to defend his position on the market and demand the fulfillment of certain obligations from the perpetrator of the fraudulent act. So what claims are there when one of the entrepreneurs infringes healthy competition?

Acts of unfair competition

The definition of an act of unfair competition can be found in Art. 3 of the Act of April 16, 1993 on combating unfair competition, according to which this action is against the law or morality, if it threatens or violates the interest of another entrepreneur or customer.

The acts of unfair competition are in particular:

  • misleading designation of the company;

  • false or fraudulent indication of the geographical origin of goods or services;

  • misleading designation of goods or services;

  • breach of trade secrets;

  • inducing the termination or non-performance of the contract;

  • imitation of products;

  • slander or dishonest praise;

  • obstruction of market access;

  • bribery of a person holding a public office;

  • unfair or prohibited advertising;

  • organizing an avalanche sales system;

  • running or organizing activities in a consortium system;

  • unjustified extension of payment terms for delivered goods or services rendered.

The above catalog of acts of unfair competition is open, which means that, in practice, unfair market behavior may also take other forms. In each case, however, the aggrieved party is entitled to specific claims against the perpetrator of such an act.

Claims in the event of violation of the principles of fair competition

The claims that the aggrieved entrepreneur are entitled to are aimed at counteracting unfair market practices. The compensation functions are also important, especially when one of the entrepreneurs suffered losses as a result of unfair competitive actions.

In the event of an act of unfair competition, an entrepreneur whose interest has been threatened or infringed upon may request:

  • cessation of unlawful activities;

  • removing the effects of prohibited activities;

  • submitting a single or multiple declaration with appropriate content and in an appropriate form;

  • compensation for the damage caused, on general terms;

  • issuing unjustified benefits, on general terms;

  • adjudication of an appropriate amount of money for a specific social purpose related to supporting Polish culture or protection of national heritage - if the act of unfair competition was culpable.

The court, at the request of the entitled party, may also adjudicate on products, their packaging, advertising materials and other items directly related to the commission of an act of unfair competition. In particular, it may order their destruction or include them towards compensation.

In the event of an act of unfair competition consisting in a breach of a trade secret, the court, at the request of the entitled party, may oblige the defendant to disclose information about the judgment or the content of the judgment to the public, in a designated manner and to a specified extent, if it is justified due to the circumstances of the fraudulent act. competition, in particular the manner in which the act was performed, the value of the information to which the act concerned the act, the effect of the act and the probability of the act of unfair competition in the future, and if the defendant is a natural person - if it is not additionally opposed by the legitimate interest of the defendant, in particular for the protection of his personal rights. The manner and scope of disclosing information about the judgment or the content of the judgment to the public may not lead to the disclosure of business secrets. Start a free 30-day trial period with no strings attached!

In the event of an act of unfair competition consisting in the breach of a trade secret, the court, instead of accepting the request to omit or remove the effects of the act of unfair competition, may, at the request of the defendant, oblige the defendant to pay to the claimant an appropriate remuneration in the amount not exceeding the remuneration that would be at the time of its investigation. due by virtue of the authorized consent to use the information, for a period no longer than until the end of secrecy, if:

  • the respondent, at the time of using or disclosing information constituting a business secret, did not know, or with due diligence, could not have known that the information was obtained from an unauthorized person;

  • granting the claim to cease the unlawful actions would cause disproportionate damage to the defendant;

  • the obligation to pay the remuneration does not infringe the legitimate interest of the plaintiff.

In the event of an act of unfair competition consisting in a breach of a trade secret, the entitled party may request, instead of compensation, compensation for the damage by payment of a sum of money in the amount corresponding to the remuneration that, at the time of its investigation, would be due as a consent to the use of information constituting a trade secret by the entitled party.

Pursuing claims by an entrepreneur

Fair competition infringement claims can be pursued in two different ways:

  • out-of-court - by sending an appropriate call to cease the violations and remove the effects of the act of unfair competition, or call for payment of specific compensation or redress the damage in a different manner;

  • in court - by bringing an action to discontinue a specific act, removing the effects of unlawful actions, submitting a declaration of single or multiple content, payment of specified compensation. All claims can be filed in both one and separate suits.

Filing any claim will incur costs in the form of a court fee and a hired lawyer (however, this is not strictly necessary, as the entrepreneur may appear in court on his own). In the case of non-pecuniary claims, the fee for each of them is fixed and amounts to PLN 300. When it comes to pecuniary claims (e.g. payment of damages), the amount of the court fee depends on the value of the claim. In cases concerning property rights, a fixed fee is collected from the letter, determined according to the value of the subject of the dispute or the value of the subject of the appeal, amounting to:

  • up to PLN 500 - in the amount of PLN 30;

  • over PLN 500 to PLN 1,500 - in the amount of PLN 100;

  • over PLN 1,500 to PLN 4,000 - in the amount of PLN 200;

  • over PLN 4,000 to PLN 7,500 - in the amount of PLN 400;

  • over PLN 7,500 to PLN 10,000 - in the amount of PLN 500;

  • over PLN 10,000 to PLN 15,000 - in the amount of PLN 750;

  • over PLN 15,000 to PLN 20,000 - in the amount of PLN 1,000;

  • in property rights cases, if the value of the subject of the dispute or the value of the subject of appeal exceeds PLN 20,000, a relative fee of 5% of this value is collected, but not more than PLN 200,000.

Limitation of claims

Regardless of the form in which the entrepreneur decides to pursue his claims against the perpetrator of the act of unfair competition, it should be remembered that they are subject to statute of limitations (after a specified period of time, their enforcement cannot be effectively pursued). Claims for acts of unfair competition expire after 3 years. The limitation period begins separately for each infringement.

Judgment of the SA in Warsaw of September 18, 2017 (file reference number I ACa 808/17):
A summons to a conciliation trial interrupts the limitation period. However, this only applies to receivables precisely defined in the summons, both as to the object and the amount.

Summary

Claims due to an entrepreneur in the event of violation of the principles of fair competition may take various forms - the decisive factor here is primarily the will of the aggrieved party. Regardless of this, he can assert his rights both in court and out of court. Each claim in this respect, however, expires after 3 years from the date of the act of unfair competition.