Who to sue if the author of the post cannot be identified?

If it is impossible to identify the direct infringer, there is no other way then to contact the administrator of a website on which the infringement occurred to remove the infringing content. Once the administrator is aware of the infringement, he is obliged to react, and in the case of refusal to delete the post, he also becomes liable for the infringement.

That is why, it is worth getting acquainted with the regulations of a website and the procedure of reporting infringements. In Google, this procedure consists in filling out previously prepared forms relating to specific violations. If the post contains hateful, violent or inappropriate content, advertising or spam, it is not relevant or there is a conflict of interest in that post then it can be reported in Google maps. However, those reports are often left unanswered or Google’s response is negative.

Google does not verify whether the person who wrote a review actually used the services of the company reviewed, but only examines whether the review meets Google’s rules concerning only the form of the review, relying on the freedom of speech and equal weight of positive and negative reviews. Often the entrepreneur is therefore not able to enforce from Google the removal of the review, despite the certainty that the person has never been his client or that the review is a form of harassment from the competitor.

In such situation the only solution is to take the case to court.

If the website is maintained by an entity established in Poland or in territory of the European Union, it is possible to bring a claim to the Polish court competent for the place of registered office of the defendant or to the court in whose district the harmful event occurred (art. 35 of the Polish Code of Civil Procedure).

The issue of the jurisdiction in cases concerning infringements committed via the Internet (the so-called Internet torts) has been clarified in the Supreme Court resolution of 15 December 2017 in case III CZP 82/17, which states that: “An entrepreneur, pursuing claims resulting from an act of unfair competition, consisting in publishing on a website may, pursuant to art. 35 of the Code of Civil Procedure, bring an action before the court in whose district the publication was posted on the website or before the court in whose jurisdiction the availability of the website caused a threat or violation to his interests”.

The jurisprudence of the EU Court of Justice also leaves no doubt as to the possibility of suing an entity from another Member States in their own country. The CJEU stated that in the case of infringement of personal rights by means of content placed online, one can bring an action in the courts of the Member State in which the publisher of that contents is established or before the courts of the Member State in which the centre of his interests is based (judgment of the CJEU of 25 October 2011, case C- 509/09)

The problem arises when the website administrator is not based in the European Union.