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Unfair Competition Law

Our lawyers and specialist lawyers for industrial property rights advise you in and out of court on unfair competition law

Here you will be advised by lawyers specialising in unfair competition law. You will receive advice by telephone and in writing and legal representation in all matters relating to warnings, preliminary injunctions and cease and desist letters. The focus of our advice and representation is on unfair business practices such as unfair advertising or product counterfeits.

We are happy to advise you in Frankfurt am Main, nationwide or even internationally.

Competition law is complex, involves considerable risks due to high amounts in dispute and requires rapid action. You should therefore only trust experts. We advise self-employed persons, small and medium-sized companies. For advertising agencies and marketing departments we quickly check campaigns.

Describe us briefly the facts of the case if you would like to send a warning to a competitor. Or send us the warning notice issued to you. One of our lawyers will contact you shortly.

Your contact person: Attorney Jens Liesegang, specialist lawyer for industrial property rights

Let us advise you

What is competition law?

Competition law is generally understood to be the entire body of legislation governing competition between undertakings. Competition law is regulated in particular by the Act against Unfair Competition and the Act against Restraints of Competition. The legal area of "competition law" is regularly associated with the topic of "warning letters", especially when, for example, advertising may discriminate against competitors or be unfair in the broader sense. If you have received a warning letter, it is in any case advisable to contact a lawyer before signing the regularly attached cease and desist declaration.

These questions may arise, for example:

Is comparative advertising permitted in Germany?

What do I have to take into account for auctions on the Internet (see also eBay & Law)?

How do I correctly formulate the revocation or return instructions in a distance selling contract?

What can I do against illegal e-mail advertising or fax advertising?

What's a warning?

Who is entitled to issue a warning notice at all?

What is a cease and desist declaration?

What is a conciliation board?

What is a restraining order?

For all questions concerning competition law, our specialized attorneys will be happy to assist you via e-mail consultation and telephone advice.

The consulting services of our intellectual property department focus on two types of clients:

  • Advising traditional companies in the fields of industrial property rights, copyright and competition law
  • Advising start-up companies in the fields of industrial property rights, copyright and competition law, especially in connection with the use and licensing of information technologies

The economic significance of the field of industrial property rights for a leading economic country such as the Federal Republic of Germany does not require any further explanation. Therefore, in order to be able to provide our clients from the various industrial sectors with the best possible advice, we provide a highly specialised and motivated team of experienced lawyers. We advise traditional companies, including many advertising agencies, mainly in the fields of patent law, design law, copyright law, trademark law, computer law and general competition law.

Our consultants also offer their experience with the new information technologies in the entire field of e-business. Important legal acts in this context are emerging at European level (E - Commerce - Directive, Distance Selling Directive). With regard to the German market, the implementation of these European legal acts (Distance Selling Act, etc) must therefore also be taken into account.

Our network of lawyers will be happy to assist you in the planning, implementation and follow-up of your international e - business projects. Our knowledge in the traditional and the rapidly developing electronic business sectors, together with the worldwide network of lawyers and tax and management consultants / auditors make our intellectual property department a comprehensively competent provider of services.


The importance of competition law in Internet commerce

There are many pitfalls waiting in online trade. Some of them are mentioned here, which can easily lead to infringements of competition law.

instruction on the right of revocation or return for distance contracts

Purchase contracts in online trade and also eBay auctions are so-called distance contracts if they are concluded between an entrepreneur and a consumer. In such distance selling contracts the consumer has a right of revocation or return according to §§ 312d, 355 BGB.

Violations of the Price Indication Regulation

The Price Indication Ordinance requires, among other things, that prices to final consumers must always be indicated including value-added tax and other price components (final prices). In the case of distance selling contracts, it must also be stated whether the prices include the statutory value-added tax and whether, and if so to what extent, additional costs are incurred (e.g. shipping costs). Missing or insufficient information constitutes an infringement of competition, which may result in a warning from a competitor.

Admissibility of advertising statements

Misleading claims, omission of references, incorrect promotion, etc. are all examples of inadmissible advertising practices. The Internet makes it easier to uncover them. Furthermore, competitors are only one click away from each other. Consequently, it is on the one hand easier to uncover infringements of competition law and on the other hand all the more important to prosecute them in order to avert damage.

Drug advertising law

Beyond general competition law, the German Drug Advertising Act restricts advertising to a large extent in the field of medicinal products, i.e. in particular medicinal products, cosmetic products and medical devices. The professional codes of conduct of the liberal health care professions contain supplementary provisions to be observed by their members.

For example, it should be noted that

  • all advertising for medicinal products must, in principle, contain compulsory information
  • no other medicinal or cosmetic product may be advertised in the package leaflet
  • advertising with expert opinions or specialist publications must contain certain additional information
  • the free distribution of goods or the provision of services is only permitted to a very limited extent even after the abolition of the Ordinance on Bonuses
  • the advertising of remote treatment is not permitted
  • prescription-only medicines may only be advertised in specialist circles
  • the advertising of medicinal products intended to eliminate insomnia or mental disorders in humans or to influence their mood is prohibited
  • it is not permitted to advertise medicinal products, procedures, treatments, objects or other remedies in certain forms outside the specialist circles (e.g. by means of expert opinions, the reproduction of medical histories, prize competitions, the supply of samples or specimens of medicinal products or vouchers therefor, the supply of other means or objects within the meaning of the Law on the Advertising of Medicinal Products or vouchers therefor etc.)
  • advertising outside the specialist circles for medicinal products relating to certain diseases is prohibited

A violation of the law on the advertising of medicinal products can result in civil and criminal law consequences as well as professional law sanctions. Under civil law, the advertiser may be subject to claims for injunction and damages. In addition, a violation of certain regulations may be punished as an administrative offence or criminal offence. The members of the liberal health care professions, i.e. in particular doctors or pharmacists, are also subject to the professional regulations, which make punishment by the state and the professional courts appear possible. Pharmaceutical companies or other companies which are not subject to the professional code of conduct of the medical professions commit an infringement of competition if they promote or exploit the infringement of the professional code of conduct.

Food law, labelling obligations, health claims regulation

We also provide comprehensive advice on the labelling and advertising of foods and food supplements, taking into account not only the general competition law provisions but also numerous national and EU regulations, in particular the Health Claims Regulation.

Food supplements are products for the increased supply of the human metabolism with certain nutrients or active substances in the border area between pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs.

Legally, this product group is regulated in EU law by Directive 2002/46/EC. In particular, the permissible minerals and vitamins are specified.

As they legally belong to the food sector, in Germany they fall under the regulations of the Food and Feed Code (LFGB). The permitted ingredients are listed in Appendix 1 of the Food Supplements Ordinance (NemV).

Advertising claims about dietary supplements will be regulated by the new Health Claims Regulation from 1 July 2007. Requirements for nutrition and health claims will thus be regulated uniformly throughout the European Union. All deviating individual national regulations are repealed by this regulation as directly applicable European law.

The composition and purpose of these contracts differ considerably depending on the region of origin. In the USA, for example, many products are available as dietary supplements which would be classified as pharmaceuticals under German law. In Germany, food supplements may not fulfil any therapeutic benefit.

Disease-related statements and indications are, as for other foods, not permitted.