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11.10.2013

Law against dubious business practises has come into force

With effect from October 9, 2013, the law against dubious business practises has come into force. The majority of legislative amendments relate to the protection of consumers against such business practices. However, important amendments also affect competition and copyright law in the relation between companies and competitors.

For example, under the now amended Act Against Unfair Competition (UWG) the party warned without good reason is now entitled to claim the costs of legal defence from the opposite party (see § 8 IV S.2 and 3 UWG, new version). Up to now, a comparable regulation only existed for unjustified warnings of intellectual property infringements which could justify an independent compensatory damages counter-claim of the warned party (see News of March 7, 2007). In addition, a party which fears considerable negative effects on its economic situation because of the Court proceedings may apply for unilateral reduction of the amount in dispute – being the calculation basis for the costs of proceedings (cf. § 12 IV UWG, new version). Furthermore, the assessment of procedural costs is revised for both intellectual property infringement and competition processes. For example, in the future the amount in dispute for injunctive measures in unfair competition matters will be lower than the one of the main Court proceedings (see § 51 IV of German Court Fees Act (GKG) new version).

Also the amended Copyright Act (UrhG) now stipulates that the party warned without good reason now has an explicit claim for reimbursement of own legal defence costs (see § 97a IV, UrhG new version). In addition, from now on there are strict formal requirements for the effectiveness of copyright warning notices. Ignoring these requirements will lead to a void warning notice together with loss of the above-mentioned claim for reimbursement of legal costs.

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