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Defense clause on websites: Not a good idea

Because I just stumbled across an imprint of a page and had to smile again, another post today at a slightly later hour, even if the subject itself is a bit older.

Again and again, one finds on websites so-called defense clause in the imprint, occasionally also in the form of a somehow formulated disclaimer. Statements in the sense of:

“In order to avoid unnecessary litigation and unnecessary costs, we ask you to contact us in advance in case of any complaints. We will immediately remedie infringements of competition law or other legal objections, so that it will not be necessary to intervene by a lawyer.” This is often garnished with an addition such as “The assumption of costs for legal warnings without prior contact shall be rejected as unfounded within the meaning of the obligation to reduce damage.’

This clause can be found via Google in one form or another with certainty in the 5-digit range.

As a lawyer who is constantly dealing with warnings in one form or another, I can only advise not to use this embarrassing statement or to remove it.

This is, of course, for the simple reason that such a clause, like the vast majority of disclaimers, has no legal significance. In particular, they do not protect, in the case of a legitimate warning, to have to pay the warning costs of the competitor.

What is particularly critical, however, is that the Regional Court of Düsseldorf even decided about two years ago that such a clause could have its own financial consequences. In the case decided on file number 37 O 82/16, someone used such a clause and wanted to warn a competitor of his part – entitled!! – He received the declaration of injunction from the opponent. However, no reimbursement of costs for his own lawyer.

The district court ruled, in my opinion, correct, as follows

[…] In particular, such a claim does not consist of Paragraph 12(1) of the 1 p. 2 UWG. The request for reimbursement contradicts the applicant’s own request not to be charged with legal fees for warnings. Your own request for payment therefore infringes the principle of good faith and belief, Section 242 of the German Civil Code (see OLG Düsseldorf, judgment of 26 January 2016 – I-20 U 52/15, paragraph 17 -juris). […]

As a result, the warning remains at his own expense and the cost of the lawsuit. All this for a clause which would not have had any effect in the event of a competition infringement of its own.

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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