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Attention to advertising with emergency service or similar

A dental group practice may not create the impression by advertising on a website that its own emergency service is the emergency service provided by a panel physician. This was decided by the 6th Civil Senate of the Cologne Higher Regional Court in March.

The plaintiff, the North Rhine Chamber of Dentists, filed a claim for injunctive relief against a joint practice in Cologne. The dentists had advertised their own emergency service on their website during evening hours and weekends. At the bottom of each page was a note stating that this was not the emergency service of the plaintiff or the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Dentists.

The plaintiff had taken the view that the defendant’s advertising on its website was misleading. It is understood that the offer is an emergency service organized under public law. This impression is not dispelled by the note at the bottom of the page. Moreover, this is only visible by “scrolling”.

In its judgment of March 6, 2020, the 6th Civil Senate of the Cologne Higher Regional Court ordered the defendants to cease and desist, thus partially modifying the first-instance decision of the Cologne Regional Court. The specific design of the defendant’s website was misleading within the meaning of § 5 para. 1 sentence 2 no. 1 UWG. Even a legally permissible and thus objectively correct statement can be misleading if it leads to a misconception in the minds of the persons addressed, which could influence their business behavior. The defendant’s advertising statement is directed at potential patients who may be suffering from pain or third parties who are looking for emergency dental services. The Internet address used by the defendants does not indicate that it is the website of a practice or a dental clinic. Rather, the domain name was very general. Therefore, the impression is not far away that it is about the (dentist ) doctors who are organized in the plaintiff and thus also about the emergency service organized by the plaintiff. The emergency service offered by the defendants is particularly highlighted on the page, without it being apparent that the defendants are thereby solely advertising the emergency service organized by themselves. The correction at the end of the page is not presented in connection with the eye-catcher and therefore does not justify a different result.

The Senate has not allowed an appeal against the judgment

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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