Category Archives: Politics Law Society

Politics Law Society

GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte – Assessing possible violations of antitrust law

GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte – Assessing possible violations of antitrust law

GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte - Assessing possible violations of antitrust law

Investigations looking into whether the so-called „car cartel“ entered into illegal arrangements and thus breached antitrust law are currently underway. Should this be the case, the cartel members should anticipate heavy fines.

Whether the car manufacturers have actually violated antitrust law needs to be clarified by the competition watchdogs. This process may drag on. If it can be proven that violations of antitrust law were committed, the companies involved ought to expect severe fines and the aggrieved parties will be able to assert damages claims. That being said, not every arrangement made among businesses is automatically illegal. Various arrangements may even be necessary and do not constitute a violation of antitrust law. We at the commercial law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that the first thing that therefore always needs to be assessed is within what framework the arrangements were carried out and whether or not the companies involved acted within the scope of the relevant legal rules and regulations in doing so.

As a matter of principle, agreements should not hinder fair competition., which is why price agreements, for instance, with a few exceptions, are prohibited. This kind of prohibition is meant to protect consumers as well as other competitors. However, agreements may be perfectly acceptable or even required in other areas.

If a violation of antitrust law has occurred, the parties aggrieved by the cartel can assert claims for damages. The 9th amendment to Germany“s Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen (GWB) [Act Against Restraints on Competition] is supposed to make enforcing these claims easier. Aggrieved parties previously had to demonstrated they had suffered loss or damage as a result of the illegal cartel arrangements. There is now a statutory presumption that said loss or damage occurred, i.e. the cartel members need to prove that no loss or damage has been incurred due to their arrangements.

The alleged car cartel and the truck cartel are cases that dominate the headlines. However, not all antitrust violation are subject to the same level of publicity. It is also possible for small and medium-sized businesses to be affected by violations of antitrust law. In these instances, severe sanctions and penalties are a real prospect. That is why it is advisable to have contracts and agreements examined by lawyers who are experienced in the field of antitrust law with a view to potential antitrust infringements. It is equally a good idea to obtain legal advice for the purposes of enforcing or fending off claims.

https://www.grprainer.com/en/legal-advice/antitrust-law.html

GRP Rainer LLP www.grprainer.com/en/ is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London UK.

Contact
GRP Rainer LLP
Michael Rainer
Augustinerstraße 10
50667 Cologne
Phone: +49 221-27 22 75-0
Fax: +49 221-27 22 75-24
E-Mail: info@grprainer.com
Url: http://www.grprainer.com/en

Politics Law Society

Wills in cases involving childless married couples

Wills in cases involving childless married couples

Wills in cases involving childless married couples

Those who wish to play it safe when it comes to the subject of inheritance ought not to rely on the rules of intestate succession and should instead prepare a will. This also applies to childless couples.

It is a misconception that the surviving spouse automatically becomes the sole heir following the death of his or her partner in cases concerning childless married couples. If no will or contract of inheritance exists, the rules of intestate succession apply. In these instances, it is not only the surviving spouse who is entitled to inherit but also the parents of the deceased or his or her siblings as well as potentially more distant relatives. It can therefore by no means be assumed that the spouse will be provided for, it being possible for disputes to arise among the heirs. This can particularly become a problem in cases where the estate includes real estate. It may even prove necessary to sell the property. We at the law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that it is possible to prevent these kinds of inheritance disputes by drafting a will or contract of inheritance.

The testator is able to determine who will become heir in a will. Married couples have the option of drawing up individual wills for each spouse or preparing a joint will. The advantage of the latter is that the joint provisions normally have a strong binding effect and are difficult to amend unilaterally. Spouses typically mutually appoint each other as sole heirs in this kind of will. Notwithstanding this, it ought to be noted that the testator“s parents are also entitled to a share in the compulsory portion if no effective agreement waiving the compulsory portion has been reached.

In cases involving childless unmarried couples it is even more important to prepare a testamentary disposition, as the surviving partner will come away empty handed in the absence of a will or contract of inheritance because he or she is not accounted for by the rules of intestate succession. However, it is not possible for unmarried couples to draft a joint will. In these cases, each partner can prepare his or her own will, but these can be altered at any time. For this reason, it may make more sense in cases involving unmarried couples to draw up a contract of inheritance.

It is a good idea to address the issue of preparing a will or contract of inheritance early on so that the testamentary dispositions can be implemented to the greatest extent possible in accordance with the wishes of the testator. Lawyers who are experienced in the field of succession can advise accordingly.

https://www.grprainer.com/en/legal-advice/private-clients/law-of-succession/last-will-and-testament.html

GRP Rainer LLP www.grprainer.com/en/ is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London UK.

Contact
GRP Rainer LLP
Michael Rainer
Augustinerstraße 10
50667 Cologne
Phone: +49 221-27 22 75-0
Fax: +49 221-27 22 75-24
E-Mail: info@grprainer.com
Url: http://www.grprainer.com/en

Politics Law Society

GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte: Experience drafting Berliner Testaments

GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte: Experience drafting Berliner Testaments

GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte: Experience drafting Berliner Testaments

Spouses ought to be afforded financial security in the event of their partner“s death. Many married couples want this to happen and therefore prepare a joint will, also referred to as a „Berliner Testament“ (Berlin will).

In the absence of a will or contract of inheritance, the rules of intestate succession apply. We at the law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that this generally means that the spouse inherits half of the estate and the children inherit the rest. However, this is not in line with the wishes of a lot of married couples who may first and foremost wish to initially provide their partner with proper financial security. In these instances, a will should be drawn up. A so-called „Berliner Testament“ is particularly well suited to many cases involving married couples. In the case of this joint will, married couples typically mutually appoint each other as sole heirs and the children as final heirs. In practice, this means that only the surviving partner will inherit following the death of his or her spouse, and the children do not become heirs until after the second parent has passed away.

We at GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte have a great deal of experience in the field of succession law and are familiar with the advantages as well as the disadvantages associated with a Berliner Testament. A joint will provides spouses with proper security. This may prove to be especially important if the married couple owned a property. The use of property often gives rise to disputes, particularly in cases involving communities of heirs. That being said, a Berliner Testament has a strong binding effect, it being difficult to unilaterally amend the joint provisions.

In the event that only one spouse wishes to amend the will, he or she must send his or her partner a notarized withdrawal notice. If one of the spouses had passed away, it is no longer possible to amend the will. The advantage of this is that the final heirs, normally the children, remain the heirs. The disadvantage is that it is no longer possible to react to changing circumstances, e.g. if a row emerges within the family or the widowed partner remarries. It is possible to relax this strong binding effect by including appropriate clauses.

Those wishing to prepare a Berliner Testament should inform themselves about the legal consequences. Lawyers who are experienced in the field of succession law can offer advice.

https://www.grprainer.com/en/legal-advice/private-clients/law-of-succession/last-will-and-testament.html

GRP Rainer LLP www.grprainer.com/en/ is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London UK.

Contact
GRP Rainer LLP
Michael Rainer
Augustinerstraße 10
50667 Cologne
Phone: +49 221-27 22 75-0
Fax: +49 221-27 22 75-24
E-Mail: info@grprainer.com
Url: http://www.grprainer.com/en

Politics Law Society

BKA analyses Panama Papers – Voluntary disclosure for tax evasion

BKA analyses Panama Papers – Voluntary disclosure for tax evasion

BKA analyses Panama Papers - Voluntary disclosure for tax evasion

It has been known since the beginning of July that the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), Germany“s Federal Criminal Police Office, has purchased what are referred to as the „Panama Papers“ and is set to analyse the controversial information they contain. Those who are concerned they may have evaded taxes can still submit a voluntary declaration.

The so-called Panama Papers caused a sensation last spring. These supposedly concern what are sometimes called shell or letterbox companies, money laundering and tax evasion. According to media reports, the Bundeskriminalamt has since purchased the information and will be analysing this together with the fiscal authorities for the German state of Hesse with the intention of looking into criminal and tax offences.

We at the commercial law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that it is not as a matter of principle illegal to be involved or have a share in an offshore firm. Provided tax has been properly paid on the profits generated this is legal. Notwithstanding this, if it is suspected that the German exchequer has been cheated with the help of shell companies, those concerned should anticipate investigations being opened. It is important to note here that it is not only German but also international tax law that needs to be considered. Anyone who has doubts regarding whether the transactions were all carried out legally can turn to lawyers who are experienced in the field of tax law. They can assess whether submitting a voluntary declaration leading to immunity for tax evasion is possible.

Voluntary disclosure remains the only means of returning to a state of tax compliance and avoiding a conviction for tax evasion. Having said that, the voluntary declaration needs to be submitted on time, i.e. before the offence is discovered, and complete. To this end, all information that is relevant from a tax perspective from the last ten years has to be disclosed to the competent tax office. This not only applies to those whose name or information appears in the Panama Papers but also anybody who has concealed untaxed income from the exchequer in foreign accounts.

The obstacles standing in the way of an effective voluntary declaration are significant, which is why the latter must be prepared thoroughly and in detail. It is virtually impossible for a layperson to comprehend the complex processes involved. For this reason, a voluntary declaration ought not to be prepared on one“s own or with the help of standard templates, as it is easy to make mistakes this way and even minor errors can result in the voluntary declaration being ineffective. Lawyers who are experienced in the field of tax law can examine each case on an individual basis and prepare the voluntary declaration in such a way that it leads to immunity.

https://www.grprainer.com/en/legal-advice/tax-law/voluntary-disclosure.html

GRP Rainer LLP www.grprainer.com/en/ is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London UK.

Contact
GRP Rainer LLP
Michael Rainer
Augustinerstraße 10
50667 Cologne
Phone: +49 221-27 22 75-0
Fax: +49 221-27 22 75-24
E-Mail: info@grprainer.com
Url: http://www.grprainer.com/en

Politics Law Society

Straw man managing director held responsible for breaches of duty

Straw man managing director held responsible for breaches of duty

Straw man managing director held responsible for breaches of duty

Ignorance does not spare anyone from punishment. The Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Celle [Higher Regional Court of Celle] confirmed that this holds true for managing directors who are merely a front, ruling that they are liable for breaches of duty.

In its judgment of May 10, 2017, the OLG Celle held that a managing director who is merely a front and leaves it to third parties to fulfil his responsibilities will be held liable for breaches of duty, e.g. in the case of a failure to properly pay social security contributions (Az.: 9 U 3/17).

The OLG Celle had to rule on a case concerning a managing director of a GmbH, a type of private limited company under German law, who had run a call centre. It was determined in the course of an investigation that two telephone operators were „Scheinselbstständige“, meaning that while they were treated by the company as self-employed they were in a position of economic dependence in relation to said company, and ought to be treated as employees subject to social security contributions. The managing director was then required to pay the late contributions for both employees.

The former resisted complying with the request, arguing that she had merely been a front and that control of the business had been exercised solely by those working behind the scenes. She claimed this is why she did not attend to the organisation of employment relationships, and all the more so since she had no reason to doubt that this was being properly taken care of. This line of argument was not accepted by the OLG Celle. It held that she was responsible for employees“ contributions being withheld, irrespective of whether she had merely been a front. The Court went on to note that managing directors have rights and responsibilities. The fact that she did not exercise her powers and responsibilities but instead left it to third parties to do so did not absolve her.

It was said that the formal position of managing director from which all possible legal and practical courses of action officially emanate justified this external accountability. This was also said to be the case if the managing director is merely a front and some other person is exercising his responsibilities and acts as the de facto managing director. The OLG concluded that anyone who serves as a front and fails to attend to their duties, instead relying on third parties, is at least partially acting wilfully.

In addition to other obligations, a managing director needs to ensure that taxes and social security contributions are properly paid. We at the commercial law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that he will be held liable should he fail to comply with his obligations. Lawyers who are experienced in the field of company law can advise managing directors and shareholders.

https://www.grprainer.com/en/legal-advice/company-law/managing-director.html

GRP Rainer LLP www.grprainer.com/en/ is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London UK.

Contact
GRP Rainer LLP
Michael Rainer
Augustinerstraße 10
50667 Cologne
Phone: +49 221-27 22 75-0
Fax: +49 221-27 22 75-24
E-Mail: info@grprainer.com
Url: http://www.grprainer.com/en

Politics Law Society

BAG: No workplace surveillance using keyloggers without specific grounds

BAG: No workplace surveillance using keyloggers without specific grounds

BAG: No workplace surveillance using keyloggers without specific grounds

Monitoring an employee using a keylogger is only permissible if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence or a serious breach of duty has been committed. That was the verdict of the Bundesarbeitsgericht (BAG), Germany“s Federal Labour Court.

A lot of workplaces are equipped with a computer, with this tempting employees to make use of the work computer for private purposes. This also often means that the working hours owed under the employment contract are used for private purposes to the detriment of the employer. We at the commercial law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note, however, that there are limits to an employer“s ability to carry out surveillance, as the employee“s right to control and protection of data pertaining to him needs to be respected.

In its ruling of July 27, 2017, the Bundesarbeitsgericht held that the use of keylogger software recording all keystrokes on a work computer for the purposes of monitoring an employee is not acceptable in the absence of specific circumstances giving rise to reasonable suspicion that an offence or some other kind of serious breach of duty has been committed (Az.: 2 AZR 681/16).

The facts and circumstances informing the judgment were as follows: an employer had installed keylogger software on his work computers. This software recorded all keystrokes and took screenshots at regular intervals. The employer informed its employees about this. In the case of one employee, the recordings revealed that he had made considerable use of his work computer for private purposes. The employee in question admitted to having made only minimal use of the computer for private purposes and mostly during breaks. The employer issued notice of dismissal with immediate effect as well as ordinary notice of dismissal in the alternative.

The action for wrongful dismissal was successful, including before the courts of lower instance. The BAG ruled that the data collected by means of the keylogger could not be utilized. It went on to say that by recording the data, the employee“s right to control and protection of data pertaining to him had been infringed, since there had been no grounds for suspecting that an offence or a serious breach of duty had been committed justifying the employer“s use of the software. The Court therefore concluded that the surveillance had been disproportionate.

The BAG noted that while the employee had admitted to making private use of his work computer, the employer needed to have issued a formal warning before notice of dismissal.

Before issuing exceptional notice of dismissal, employers need to assess whether less severe measures would suffice to prompt the employee to change his behaviour. Lawyers who are experienced in the field of employment law can advise employers.

https://www.grprainer.com/en/legal-advice/employment-law.html

GRP Rainer LLP www.grprainer.com/en/ is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London UK.

Contact
GRP Rainer LLP
Michael Rainer
Augustinerstraße 10
50667 Cologne
Phone: +49 221-27 22 75-0
Fax: +49 221-27 22 75-24
E-Mail: info@grprainer.com
Url: http://www.grprainer.com/en

Politics Law Society

Car cartel – Allegations against VW, Daimler and BMW

Car cartel – Allegations against VW, Daimler and BMW

Car cartel - Allegations against VW, Daimler and BMW

The suspicion was borne out: the car makers Volkswagen (VW), Audi, Porsche, Daimler and BMW are reported to have coordinated in relation to technology, suppliers and costs and formed a kind of car cartel.

The German automobile industry could be faced with a huge scandal following a report by the news magazine „Der Spiegel“. According to this, the car manufacturers Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen as well as VW“s subsidiaries Porsche and Audi have been regularly coordinating through different working groups on various issues since the 90s. The arrangements are said to pertain to suppliers and costs in addition to technical issues.

Another issue reportedly addressed by the working groups was exhaust gas purification. According to the report, there may have been coordination regarding the size of what are referred to as „AdBlue tanks“. The car manufacturers involved are said to have opted for smaller tanks to save on costs and space. This might, however, have made it difficult to maintain emission values within acceptable limits when on the road. The fact that VW made use of manipulative software has been known since the emissions scandal came to light, with shareholders having since experienced a collapse in share prices. It remains possible until the beginning of September for them to join the model case proceedings in order to assert damages claims.

If it turns out that the car makers did in fact enter into these kinds of arrangements, they may have thereby substantially hindered competition and thus violated applicable competition and antitrust laws.

We at the commercial law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that the European Commission already imposed a fine last year of just under three billion euros against the truck cartel on account of illegal arrangements. If the suspicion bears out that VW, BMW and Daimler entered into illegal arrangements, the cartel members could be faced with a significant fine. Moreover, those aggrieved by the cartel, such as suppliers, competitors and clients, can assert claims for damages. Notwithstanding this, the cartel authorities“ investigations are expected to drag on over a long period of time.

Those who have been affected by the alleged cartel can turn to lawyers who are experienced in the field of antitrust law to protect their interests.

https://www.grprainer.com/en/legal-advice/antitrust-law.html

GRP Rainer LLP www.grprainer.com/en/ is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London UK.

Contact
GRP Rainer LLP
Michael Rainer
Augustinerstraße 10
50667 Cologne
Phone: +49 221-27 22 75-0
Fax: +49 221-27 22 75-24
E-Mail: info@grprainer.com
Url: http://www.grprainer.com/en

Politics Law Society

Bogus application – No right to compensation

Bogus application – No right to compensation

Bogus application - No right to compensation

If someone submits a bogus application without serious intent in response to a job advertisement, they are not entitled to demand compensation if the employer violates Germany“s Allgemeine Gleichbehandlungsgesetz (AGG) [General Act on Equal Treatment].

It is increasingly common for applicants to submit an application without serious intent in response to a job advertisement in order to demand compensation for a violation of Germany“s General Act on Equal Treatment, with the term „AGG hopper“ having since gained currency.

We at the law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that employers are not allowed to violate the AGG, including in relation to job advertisements. A violation has occurred if someone is rejected on the basis of, among other things, their age, background, gender or world view. If this is the case, the person concerned may be entitled to compensation. Having said that, this only applies to applicants who seriously apply for the relevant position and are not simply after the compensation. That was the verdict of the Amtsgericht (AG) München [District Court of Munich] in its final judgment from November 24, 2016 (Az.: 173 C 8860/16).

In the instant case, an agency had arranged for a job advertisement in a newspaper. This stated, among other things, that they were looking for a „Nette weibliche Telefonstimme“ [nice/friendly female telephone voice]. The only contact information cited was the firm“s telephone number. A 43-year-old man called and asked for the email address, claiming that a female friend of his wanted to apply despite personally applying for the position. Unsurprisingly, he later received notice of his rejection. He was also informed that the agency had already chosen a male employee.

The rejected applicant subsequently sued for compensation in the amount of just under 2000 euros, arguing that the job advertisement discriminated on the basis of gender. The AG München dismissed his claim.

In justifying its ruling, it held that the application lacked the necessary seriousness, noting that the application was a kind of circular letter that only made basic reference to the position in question. Furthermore, the man had already brought numerous other legal actions pertaining to the AGG and was known to the Court. Overall, the Court took the view that the man had filed improper AGG lawsuits with the intention of at least partially financing his living costs.

Unequal treatment is a common cause of legal disputes between employer and employee. Lawyers who are experienced in the field of employment law can advise on all issues relating to the workplace.

https://www.grprainer.com/en/legal-advice/employment-law.html

GRP Rainer LLP www.grprainer.com/en/ is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London UK.

Contact
GRP Rainer LLP
Michael Rainer
Augustinerstraße 10
50667 Cologne
Phone: +49 221-27 22 75-0
Fax: +49 221-27 22 75-24
E-Mail: info@grprainer.com
Url: http://www.grprainer.com/en

Politics Law Society

BGH on illegal health claims in the context of advertising food items

BGH on illegal health claims in the context of advertising food items

BGH on illegal health claims in the context of advertising food items

In its ruling of March 29, 2017, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), Germany“s Federal Supreme Court, clarified once again that health claims cannot pertain to products and must relate to substances (Az.: I ZR 71/16).

When it comes to promoting foods and foodstuffs with health claims, companies must take care to ensure that the claims do not relate to the product as a whole but instead refer to specific ingredients with respect to which the statement has been approved or the statements are supported by sufficient scientific evidence. Otherwise, we at the commercial law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that such claims may violate the Health Claims Regulation as well as competition law.

In its judgment of March 10, 2016, the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Celle [Higher Regional Court of Celle] had prohibited a tea producer from using the term „detox“ as a health claim in relation to a herbal tea comprising various ingredients including stinging nettle, green tea, peppermint and several others (Az.: 13 U 77/15), but granted leave to appeal to the BGH. The Bundesgerichtshof“s 1st Civil Panel strongly indicated in its ruling of March 29, 2017 that it intended to dismiss the appeal.

The Panel clarified that health claims pertaining to foods and foodstuffs are only allowed to refer to substances and not the product as a whole. In the instant case, the herbal tea consisting of up to 20 per cent stinging nettle and green tea each had been promoted using the term „detox“. According to the Panel, consumers were said to perceive „detox“ as a health claim. It went on to say that there is always a presumption that a statement or term is a health claim if it is implied that consuming the food item in question will lead to an improved state of health. It was said that the term „detox“ would be understood as referring to the entire product and not merely the ingredients stinging nettle and green tea. The BGH followed the OLG Celle“s line of reasoning. Appeal proceedings have since been settled by way of a ruling from June 13, 2017 dismissing them.

Advertising is often a bit of a tightrope walk for businesses, it being possible for violations of competition law to occur. This is particularly true in relation to advertising and statements pertaining to foods. Violations can give rise to formal warnings, damages claims and injunction suits. Lawyers who are versed in the field of competition law can assist companies in fending off or enforcing claims arising from violations of competition law.

https://www.grprainer.com/en/legal-advice/intellectual-property-law-and-trademark-law/advertising.html

GRP Rainer LLP www.grprainer.com/en/ is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London UK.

Contact
GRP Rainer LLP
Michael Rainer
Augustinerstraße 10
50667 Cologne
Phone: +49 221-27 22 75-0
Fax: +49 221-27 22 75-24
E-Mail: info@grprainer.com
Url: http://www.grprainer.com/en

Politics Law Society

Depiction of a protected trademark on the site map for a fair not a trademark violation

Depiction of a protected trademark on the site map for a fair not a trademark violation

Depiction of a protected trademark on the site map for a fair not a trademark violation

Merely using a third-party“s protected trademark on the site map for a fair does not constitute a violation of trademark law. That was the verdict of the Landgericht (LG) Köln [Regional Court of Cologne] in its ruling of March 7, 2017.

Trademark violations can entail severe penalties. That being said, we at the commercial law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that it is not the case that every time someone makes use of a third-party trademark this automatically constitutes a trademark violation. This is clear from a recent ruling of the Landgericht Köln (Az.: 33 O 116/16).

In the present case, a company had not only included the layout of its own fair stand on the site plan to said fair but also sketched in the stall of its competitor bringing the legal action by using the latter“s brand logo. The rival firm was not okay with this and sued for an injunction as well as payment of warning costs, arguing that its trademark rights had been violated. It further claimed that the site map ought to be viewed as an advertising medium in relation to which the defendant had wanted to exploit the plaintiff“s brand recognition to present itself as being on par as a competitor. The plaintiff stated that this gave the impression that there was an agreement or some form of cooperation between the two companies.

The LG Köln dismissed the claim, ruling that the use of a mark on a site map to describe the location of a fair stand did not represent its use as a trademark and furthermore did not constitute an attempt to exploit the plaintiff“s reputation.

The Court held that violating a trademark presupposes that the infringed mark has been used as a trademark in the course of business. It went on to say that while this condition had been met due to the logo“s use in the site map, the logo had neither been used as a trademark nor, in particular, as a reference to the goods or services of the company that had made use of the logo, with the Court ruling that there was no direct reference to the protected classes of goods that were being marketed at the fair stalls. The LG Köln also noted that the inclusion of various trademarks on the site map made it clear that they stemmed from different companies. Moreover, it was said that the clientele that was being targeted by the site map would not make a connection between the two companies.

Lawyers who are experienced in the field of intellectual property law can advise companies on all issues pertaining to trademark law.

https://www.grprainer.com/en/legal-advice/intellectual-property-law-and-trademark-law/trademark-law.html

GRP Rainer LLP www.grprainer.com/en/ is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London UK.

Contact
GRP Rainer LLP
Michael Rainer
Augustinerstraße 10
50667 Cologne
Phone: +49 221-27 22 75-0
Fax: +49 221-27 22 75-24
E-Mail: info@grprainer.com
Url: http://www.grprainer.com/en