In the digital world, we are all constantly connected, and platforms like LinkedIn offer us the opportunity to expand our professional network. However, there are limits that must be observed here as well. A recent ruling by the Hamm Higher Regional Court makes it clear how important it is to respect these boundaries.
The case in detail
In the case at hand (OLG Hamm, 18 U 154/22), a company sent messages with advertising content to several users via LinkedIn without the recipients’ prior consent. The court found the act to be anti-competitive under the Unfair Competition Act (UWG).
The main considerations of the OLG Hamm
I have taken a closer look at the ruling and would like to address some key points:
- Targeting: The OLG Hamm emphasized that it is not sufficient that the sender and the recipient are in the same industry.
- Advertising character: A message is not per se unproblematic just because it does not contain a direct call to purchase. It is enough if the sender puts himself or his services in the foreground.
- Consent: Without the express or implied consent of the recipient, such contact is not permitted.
Actually already clear earlier: OLG Nuremberg 2019
It is interesting to see that the current ruling is in line with an earlier ruling of the OLG Nuremberg from 2019. At that time, it was about sending emails, but the legal principles are similar. You can read my assessment of the ruling at the time here.
Experience from other contributions
This ruling is an important signal to all companies that use LinkedIn for business activities. It shows that the laws against unfair competition also apply in the digital world. Caution is therefore advised: Anyone wishing to use LinkedIn for marketing purposes should ensure that the recipient has given the appropriate consent.