2005 | 2(164) | 85-127
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The legal problems related to Internet addresses have been analysed and presented mainly in Polish law, the United States and the European Union countries. In the author's opinion, an Internet address can be accepted as a new company sign and treated as a subject of absolute rights. The distinctive capacity of an Internet address will be the ground of its registration as a trademark and other signs of company in Polish law and the European Union law. He describes the problem of infringement of rights by registration and use of domain names identical or similar to their distinctive signs in range of traditional trademark law, unfair competition law, copyright law and law protecting personal names to domain name as well as four possible conditions for alleging infringement of a trademark (Article 296, Section 2 item 1 and 2 of the Polish Industrial Property Law). In the European Union law the most important element in system of trademarks is an absolute law using of trademark by the owner in all European Union since the trademark has been registrated. The domain name case shows that a fundamental legal tool used in cybersquatting cases in the United States and the United Kingdom is passing off but in other countries, like Germany, general clauses are included in unfair competition regulations. The author assumes that also general clause of Article 3 Section 1 of the Polish Act on Combating Unfair Competition may be a ground for protection of commercial interests of undertakings threatened or infringed by abusive registration and use of domain names identical or similar to their commercial distinctive signs. According to Article 5 of this Act, the function of an identifier of an enterprise could be performed by various symbols.Under the Polish law, an unauthorised exploitation of a personal name as a domain name may be prohibited under Article 23, 24 and 43 of the Civil Code. Similarly is in case of registration and use of domain names identical or similar to the company of enterprise name. The entrepreneur acts under a company name and it should be distinguished enough from company names of another entrepreneurs acting on the same market (Article 432, 433 of the Civil Code). Moreover, the author shows possibility of infringement of copyright law in the context of Internet addresses. In his opinion the Polish legislator has brought legal remedies for protection of domain names in case of infringement rights by the registration and use of domain names identical or similar to their distinctive signs.Finally, the author mentions proposal to create the Cyberspace Code which would cover all legal problems in connection with Internet and considers it as impossible to realise.
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  • M. Bienias, Instytut Nauk Prawnych PAN, ul. Nowy Swiat 72, 00-330 Warszawa, Poland
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