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The Warsaw Voice » Law » May 28, 2008
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May 28, 2008   
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EU Slams Misleading Airline Practices

Up to 80 air carriers may have misled European consumers about plane ticket prices in recent years, according to a report based on a seven-month investigation by the European Commission.

The commission has checked 386 websites across the European Union and Norway for compliance with EU regulations. A total of 137 websites representing 80 carriers have been found to have breached EU consumer law, and proceedings have been initiated against the offenders. The most important problems have included misleading pricing, unfair contract terms, and the fact that many of the special offers advertised were unavailable.

According to EU consumer commissioner Meglena Kuneva, who recently briefed reporters on the results of the airline ticket investigation, "a situation where one in three consumers going on to a website to book an online airline ticket is being confused and misled, and sometimes ripped off, cannot continue." During the press conference, Kuneva told consumers to be vigilant and to lodge complaints so that enforcement action could be taken.

Only Sweden and Norway have disclosed the lists of airlines with suspect practices, with Ryanair of Ireland topping the lists in both countries. The European Commission has given the carriers a year to correct their practices.

Negotiation Workshop for Law Students

The Jagiellonian University School of American Law in Cracow, in association with local law firm Gessel, held a workshop for students and graduates on negotiating corporate transactions. The subject of the workshop, which began March 31 and ended May 9, was the acquisition of shares in a limited-liability company by a private equity fund.

A total of 16 students and graduates took part in the workshop. They were divided into two teams, buyers and sellers, and were supposed to analyze a simulated contract and work out the best negotiating strategy. They were supported by lawyers from Gessel and lecturers from both Jagiellonian University and American universities.

The organizers wanted to encourage the students to gain expertise by using methods popular in law schools in the United States. "We wanted to show them how law is taught in the United States and that it can be taught mainly through practice," says Wojciech Jarosiński, who coordinated the project on the Jagiellonian University side.

Private Investors for Airports?

The economically liberal government of Donald Tusk is thinking of allowing private companies to build and jointly own airports.

Jan Bury, deputy minister of the Treasury, recently said that Polish Airports State Enterprise, which owns all airports in Poland, "should consider allowing private investors to take part in airport construction projects" now that the European Commission in Brussels seeks to deprive regional airports of EU funding.

This statement marks a change from the policy of the country's previous conservative government, which insisted that Polish airports did not need private capital. The previous Cabinet drafted a bill under which the transport minister was to be empowered to cancel any decision made by airport authorities, including the sale of a stake to a private company.

Under the new government, the sale of stakes in regional airports "is not ruled out, but every case will be considered on an individual basis," said Michał Marzec, director of Polish Airports State Enterprise.

By 2013 Poland's airports may spend over 710 million euros in EU funds to finance expansion projects, but 50 percent of a project's total cost has to be contributed by the airports themselves. The problem is that many regional airports do not have the money, experts say.

Patent Law Website

The www.vagn.dk/patent portal provides information about patent law and the protection of patents across the world. The website is run in English and consists of links to other websites that contain detailed information about specific issues.

The Patent Authority page provides links to national patent authorities and international patent organizations. The Patent FAQ and Info page provides access to definitions and articles on patent law in many countries. The Patent Search page comprises links to search engines to help the user find registered patents. The Patent Attorney page provides links to specialists dealing with patent law, including a link to the Polish Chamber of Patent Attorneys (www.rzecznikpatentowy.org.pl). The Patent Hotlist page contains links to the best websites dedicated to intellectual property. Finally, the Patent Law page provides links to websites with international patent conventions, national patent laws and patent-related court decisions.
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