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03322 5078053

New judgment of the Munich Regional Court: The case of the Sky cancel button and its significance

Introduction:

The recent ruling by the Munich I Regional Court on Sky’s cancel button plays a central role in the current debate about online memberships. As a lawyer who frequently represents clients from the games, SaaS, communities and forums sectors, I see it as an important opportunity to point out the significance and legal requirements of such a termination button. This ruling is particularly relevant as it underlines the need for clear and immediate accessibility of the cancel button. In previous posts, I have already pointed out the importance of a correctly implemented cancel button(here) and here).

Insight into the judgment of the Munich Regional Court

In its ruling of November 16, 2023 (Ref.: 12 O 4127/23), the Regional Court of Munich I made a clear and groundbreaking decision regarding the design and placement of unsubscribe buttons on websites. The court clearly stated that a cancel button on a website must be directly and easily accessible in order to meet the legal requirements. In the specific case of Sky, the cancel button was presented in a way that did not meet these criteria: the button was in small, gray font, which significantly impaired its visibility and legibility. In addition, the button was not placed directly on the main page or in a prominent position, but was only visible after clicking on an additional link “Show more links”. This practice was deemed by the court to be non-compliant with the legal requirements, in particular with Section 312k BGB.

The ruling emphasizes that the design of a cancellation button is not only a question of user-friendliness, but also of legal conformity. The decision of Munich Regional Court I emphasizes that the visibility and accessibility of such a button must not be impaired by design decisions that make it difficult to find. This ruling thus sets an important benchmark for the design of websites, especially for providers of online services and subscriptions, and underlines the need for such buttons to be clearly recognizable and accessible without unnecessary hurdles.

What is a no-go besides NO button at all?

Cancellation buttons in small, gray font: In its ruling, the Munich I Regional Court found that the small size and grey color of Sky’s cancellation button significantly impaired legibility. This circumstance violates the principle of good legibility, which is anchored in Section 312k BGB. The comparison with other, more visible buttons on Sky’s website, such as the offer link highlighted in blue, particularly highlights this shortcoming. The combination of small font size and the use of a gray color, which is difficult to distinguish from the white background of the website, meant that the cancellation button was not easy to read. This is contrary to the meaning and purpose of Section 312k BGB, which requires that the consumer should be able to terminate a legal transaction that is designed for a permanent legal relationship just as easily as he was able to conclude the contract.

Accessibility only visible after clicking: A further violation resulted from the fact that the cancel button only appeared after clicking on the “Show more links” link. This contradicts the criterion of immediacy and easy accessibility, as the button was hidden under a large number of other links and was therefore difficult for the average consumer to find. The cancel button was only visible under 58 different links and was located at the bottom right in the last line, together with other links such as “Imprint”, “Contact”, “Privacy & Cookies”, “Terms of Use” and “Terms and Conditions”. This placement made it almost impossible for the average consumer to find the cancellation link without considerable effort. The buttons that appeared after clicking on the “Show more links” button also dealt with completely different subject areas, which made it even more difficult for the consumer to find access to the cancel button in a clear manner.

These two aspects of the ruling underline the importance of a clear, direct and easily accessible design of unsubscribe buttons on websites. They show that providers of online services must be careful to ensure that their unsubscribe buttons are not only present, but also designed and placed in a way that complies with legal requirements. This is crucial in order to offer consumers a fair and transparent way to terminate their online contracts.

Relevance for online service providers

This ruling has far-reaching implications for providers of online services, particularly in the areas in which I work as a lawyer, such as SaaS (Software as a Service) and gaming. It underscores the need for unsubscribe buttons to be not only available, but also clearly recognizable and easily accessible. This applies not only to large platforms and services, but also to smaller providers that offer WordPress plugins for Pro versions with annual subscriptions, for example. These providers must also fulfill the same obligations, as they also offer online continuing obligations.

The significance of this ruling extends across various industries and business models. SaaS providers, who often offer complex and long-term services, need to ensure that their customers have the ability to cancel their subscriptions without unnecessary hurdles. Similarly, gaming providers that offer subscriptions in their games or via their platforms must ensure that the termination options are clear and easy for users to find.

Furthermore, the ruling shows that smaller providers, such as those offering specialized services or products like WordPress plugins, should not be disregarded. Many of these providers offer pro versions of their plugins on a subscription basis and therefore fall under the same legal requirements. It is crucial that they also recognize and implement the importance of a clearly visible and easily accessible unsubscribe button.

Overall, the judgment of the Munich Regional Court makes it clear that compliance with the legal requirements for unsubscribe buttons is a fundamental requirement for all providers of online services, regardless of their size or the specific sector in which they operate. It is an important step towards a more transparent and consumer-friendly online market.

 

 

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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03322 5078053

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info@rahaertel.com