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GDPR and unfair competition - data protection pitfalls when doing business in Germany

GDPR and unfair competition - data protection pitfalls when doing business in Germany

 

Dr. Marcus Dittmann, Rechtsanwalt

 

Last updated 20 November 2018

 

Companies operating business websites in Germany have to be careful to ensure compliance to German laws. Among other things, German laws require that companies must provide certain legal information on their commercial websites and company homepages, specifically provider identification and address etc., in what is somewhat infamously known as “imprint”, in German: “Impressum”. Furthermore, German laws are relatively strict in regard to consumer protection and even which specific clauses may or may not be allowed in a company’s general terms and conditions (in German: Allgemeine Geschäftsbedingungen, abbreviated as “AGB”). 

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German Federal Court of Justice: Facebook must grant heirs full access to a deceased person’s account

German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH, Urteil vom 12. Juli 2018, Az. III ZR 183/17) ruled that Facebook must indeed grant the heirs of a deceased user access to the deceased’s Facebook account.

 

Dr. Marcus Dittmann, Rechtsanwalt

 

Last updated 12 July 2018

 

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Berlin Court of Appeals: Facebook is not obliged to grant heirs access to a deceased person’s account

 

 

Note: This is an update to this author’s earlier article from 2016, see: Berlin District Court: Facebook must grant heirs access to a deceased person’s account (2016).

 

In December 2015, the Local District Court of Berlin had decreed that Facebook must grant the heirs of a deceased user access to the deceased’s Facebook account (Landgericht Berlin, Urteil vom 17.12.2015, Az. 20 O 172/15). This ruling was overturned by the Berlin Court of Appeals at the end of May 2017 (Kammergericht, Urteil vom 31.05.2017, Az. 21 U 9/16).

 

Datum: May 2017

 

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Industrie 4.0 - Industrial Data and Machine-Generated Data under German Law

 

Dr. Marcus Dittmann (Rechtsanwalt)

 

Last updated 14 July 2016

 

Machine-generated data is increasingly gaining in importance and relevance to business activities.

Cloud services, online and mobile user activities, server logs, vehicle telemetry, car-sharing services, sensor data, processes in the manufacturing and transport industry generate huge amounts of data. In Germany, a prominent buzzword for this is Industrie 4.0. The internet of things and smart devices are moving from buzzwords to actual facts of daily life. Big data thus generated can be mined and analyzed, and may form the basis for data-driven innovations in new commercial products and services, enabling customized information products and concepts like predicting consumer behavior, predictive maintenance and precision logistics and stock-keeping. Such data may become a business asset in itself and may become a valuable commodity.

This raises the question of data ownership, that is, if and how such data can be legally protected.

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WhatsApp English Language Terms and Conditions do not bind German consumers - Terms and Conditions must be in German Language, Berlin Court of Appeals rules

 

Dr. Marcus Dittmann (Rechtsanwalt)

 

Last updated 1 June 2016

 

The Berlin Court of Appeals has ruled that WhatsApp’s Terms and Conditions do not bind German consumers, as long as they are available only in English and as long as there is no German version or translation (Kammergericht, Urteil vom 08.04.2016, Az. 5 U 156/14, link to the full decision on the Verbraucherzentrale website).

 

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Steam User Accounts not transferable, confirms Berlin Court of Appeals

 

Valve Corporation, the operator of the popular Steam online games platform, successfully withstood some pressure in Germany. Starting in 2013, the Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband, an important German consumer protection organization, filed a law suit against Valve for alleged violation of consumer rights. The subject matter of the complaint was a clause in the terms and conditions of the Steam platform, according to which a user may not transfer his user account to someone else. We reported on this matter on this website back then (Link).

 

Date: February 2016

 

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Berlin District Court: Facebook must grant heirs access to a deceased person’s account

In December 2015, the local district court of Berlin decreed that Facebook must grant the heirs of a deceased user access to the deceased’s Facebook account (Landgericht Berlin, Urteil vom 17.12.2015, Az. 20 O 172/15).

Date: January 2016

 

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German trademark law: Banks must disclose account holder in cases of counterfeit and pirated goods

The German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) has ruled that in cases of counterfeit and pirated goods, banks may be obliged under the law to disclose the identity, name and address of the account holder involved in the sale. The decision was handed down on 21 October 2015, following an earlier preliminary ruling by the European Court of Justice (BGH, Urteil vom 21. Oktober 2015, Aktenzeichen I ZR 51/12 - Davidoff Hot Water II, see the BGH press release).

Date: November 2015

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German trademark law: Black-and-white trademarks may not automatically offer protection against colored copies, German Federal Court of Justice rules

 

The German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) has handed down a decision which shines a light on a curious aspect of trademark law. In the case which was decided on 12 March 2015, German automaker BMW had sued a company which had produced and sold replica badges with the famous BMW sign, namely the blue-and-white propeller sign found on hoods of the Bavarian cars, marketed as spare parts (BGH, Urteil vom 12.03.2015, Aktenzeichen I ZR 153/14 - BMW-Emblem).

 

Date: September 2015

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Valve under pressure for forbidding transfer of user accountsterms and conditions to be illegal

Valve Corporation, the operator of the popular Steam online games platform, finds itself under pressure in Germany. This January (2013), the Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband, an important German consumer protection organization, has filed a law suit against Valve for alleged violation of consumer rights.

 

Date: January 2013

 

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The German Federal Court of Justice on online newspaper archives and personal rights of publicity (BGH, Urteil vom 30. Oktober 2012 - VI ZR 4/12)

 

A couple of days ago the German Federal Court of Justice has handed down an interesting decision regarding the question whether an individual may demand that his name be deleted from press articles in publicly available online newspaper archives, if the matter reported is long in the past and no longer currently relevant (Bundesgerichtshof, Urteil vom 30. Oktober 2012, Az. VI ZR 4/12.

 

Date: November 2012

 

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Email Newsletters - Double opt-in double bind?

Following a controversial court decision, there has been some uproar recently in the German online industry and legal circles in regard to email newsletters. The Munich Court of Appeals has passed a ruling according to which even a formal newsletter confirmation email a may be considered illegal spam (OLG München, 27.09.2012 - 29 U 1682/12, link, see also Fabian Laucken’s German language article on the subject: Link). If this decision is taken literally, this could lead to the end of closed-loop email authentication for email newsletters and similar subscription services. This has naturally caused a heated debate.

 

Date: November 2012

 

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German Court rules Facebook original Friendfinder and various terms and conditions to be illegal

The Berlin District Court has ruled that the original practice of Facebook regarding its Friendfinder function and certain terms and conditions are illegal and unenforceable under German law (Landgericht Berlin, Urteil vom 6. März 2012, Az. 16 O 551/10, press release with link to the decision to be found here, German language).

In a decision published on 6 March 2012 the German court has issued an injunction against the European subsidiary of Facebook, Facebook Ireland Limited, to the effect that, at least not in regard to users and contacts from Germany,

 

Date: April 2012

 

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OLG Düsseldorf: Apple vs. Samsung: Injunctions against sale of certain Samsung tablet PCs in Germany

(Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy Tab 10.1; OLG Düsseldorf, Urteil vom 31. Jan. 2012, Az. I 20 U 126/11 and I 20 U 157/11)

The Appellate Court of Dusseldorf has ruled on 31 January 2012 that the sale of certain models of Samsung tablet PCs – namely Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 – is illegal in Germany, and the court has granted or confirmed injunctions to that effect.

 

Date: Februar 2012

 

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