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Questions on the commercial use of computer games at the BGH

Bossland GmbH from Zwickau and Blizzard S.A.S. from France have been engaged in bitter legal disputes before German and international courts for many years. An appeal is already pending on a ruling by the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court on the question of the permissibility of automation software in the game World of Warcraft. It is expected that these will be negotiated in the summer of 2016 and that interesting questions on the complex of issues relating to third-party software for computer games will be clarified.

Another dispute is now pending. The Dresden Higher Regional Court was faced with the question of whether and to what extent a computer game purchased in a retail store may be used commercially if the owner of the exploitation rights has not expressly stipulated its use. Furthermore, questions arose as to whether and when general terms and conditions were properly included in computer games and to what extent claims for information are owed in the event of a possible copyright infringement.

In a questionable decision, the Dresden Higher Regional Court did not allow an appeal to the Federal Court of Justice. The Federal Court of Justice has now corrected this and, following our appeal against non-admission, now allows an appeal. With only 6.5% successful appeals against non-admission in 2014(source), the Federal Court of Justice probably recognized the importance of the circumstances and thus creates a good opportunity to finally have important and interesting legal questions from the field of computer games, also with European reference, clarified by the highest court.

A further appeal against a decision by the Munich Higher Regional Court is also pending, and further proceedings are still pending at the Dresden Higher Regional Court and the Hamburg Regional Court.

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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