A specimen ID badge of a ticket inspector is neither a trade nor entrepreneur’s secret

The Provincial Administrative Court [PAC] acknowledged legitimacy of a complaint against a railway carrier’s refusal to provide public information in the form of photocopies of specimen ID badges for the positions of a conductor, train manager and inspector entitling them to inspect tickets on trains.

The carrier refused to grant the request of the petitioner citing article 11 section 2 of the act on access to public information ( The right to public information is subject to limitation on account of a natural person’s privacy or entrepreneur’s secret …) in conjunction with article 11 section 1 of the act on combating unfair competition (trade secret) noting, among other things, that such information being obtained by entities competing in the market could enable them to use it for the purposes of their own business activity.

The PAC found such position to be unjustified and pointed to the content of article 33a section 1 of the transport law whereby a carrier or a public mass transport operator or a person authorized by them proving his/her identity with a badge worn in a visible place may inspect the documents covering transport of persons or luggage. The regulation also quotes the data that an inspector’s ID badge must contain.

In the opinion of the Court, since the ID badge of the person carrying out an inspection should be, in accordance with the will of the legislator, put in a visible place, then in this case talking about a trade or entrepreneur’s secret was out of the question.

Here, two types of a secret should be distinguished which are not identical with each other. An entrepreneur’s secret is derived from the concept of a trade secret and basically the two concepts coincide in scope although in certain situations an entrepreneur’s secret may have a broader meaning.

An entrepreneur’s secret is the information known to a select circle of persons and connected with activity carried out by an entrepreneur in respect of which sufficient means of protection have been used to maintain confidentiality thereof (the condition of commercial value of information is not required unlike in case of a trade secret).

  • judgment of the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw of 5 May 2015