Tuesday 3 November 2015

Poles pose Enforcement Directive question on the assessment of copyright damages

Case C-367/15 Stowarzyszenie Oławska Telewizja Kablowa is now winging its way from the Sąd Najwyższy (that's the Polish for "Supreme Court") to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg. The question posed for the CJEU's guidance runs like this:
Is Article 13 of Directive 2004/48 ... on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights to be interpreted as meaning that the rightholder whose economic rights of copyright have been infringed may seek redress for the damage which it has incurred on the basis of general principles, or, without having to prove loss and the causal relationship between the event which infringed its rights and the loss, may seek payment of a sum of money corresponding to twice the amount of the appropriate fee, or, in the event of a culpable infringement, three times the amount of the appropriate fee, whereas Article 13 of Directive 2004/48 states that it is a judicial authority which must decide on damages by taking into account the factors listed in Article 13(1)(a), and only as an alternative in certain cases may set the damages as a lump sum, taking into consideration the elements listed in Article 13(1)(b) of that directive? Is the award, made at the request of a party, of damages as a pre-determined lump sum corresponding to twice or three times the amount of the appropriate fee permissible pursuant to Article 13 of the directive, regard being had to the fact that recital 26 of the preamble thereto states.
For those without photographic memories or who can't be bothered to follow the link above, Article 13 reads as follows:
1. Member States shall ensure that the competent judicial authorities, on application of the injured party, order the infringer who knowingly, or with reasonable grounds to know, engaged in an infringing activity, to pay the rightholder damages appropriate to the actual prejudice suffered by him/her as a result of the infringement. When the judicial authorities set the damages:
(a) they shall take into account all appropriate aspects, such as the negative economic consequences, including lost profits, which the injured party has suffered, any unfair profits made by the infringer and, in appropriate cases, elements other than economic factors, such as the moral prejudice caused to the rightholder by the infringement; or

(b) as an alternative to (a), they may, in appropriate cases, set the damages as a lump sum on the basis of elements such as at least the amount of royalties or fees which would have been due if the infringer had requested authorisation to use the intellectual property right in question.
2. Where the infringer did not knowingly, or with reasonable grounds know, engage in infringing activity, Member States may lay down that the judicial authorities may order the recovery of profits or the payment of damages, which may be pre-established.
This blogger notes that at last there appears to be an increased level of interest in the deeper meaning of this hitherto ignored Directive, which was the subject of a recent JIPLP-GRUR seminar reported here and here.

Here's Mark Schweizer's Katnote on this reference.

If you would like to send a comment on this case which might induce the UK government to make a submission, please email policy@ipo.gov.uk by 16 November 2015.

1 comment:

Lukasz Czernicki said...

The Polish referral is also interesting in light of the recent decision of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal which found on 23 June 2015 that triple damages in case of willful infringement (art. 79 of the Polish Copyright Act) are unconstitutional (SK 32/14).