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Warning adé? The changes in the UWG

Today, the new “Law on Strengthening Fair Competition” came into force, but in the opinion of many colleagues, it does not deserve its name, as it tends to weaken fair competition. But we’ll have to wait and see how things develop.

Perhaps one of the most important changes is that there is a new Section 13(4) in the UWG:

Entitlement to reimbursement of the necessary expenses pursuant to paragraph 3 shall be excluded for persons entitled to benefits pursuant to § 8 paragraph 3 number 1 in the following cases

1. violations of statutory information and labeling obligations committed in electronic commerce or telemedia, or

2. other breaches of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data, on the free movement of such data and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation) and the Federal Data Protection Act by companies and commercially active associations, provided they generally employ fewer than 250 employees.

This applies in particular to violations of the obligation to provide an imprint, the obligation to provide information in distance selling, the obligation to provide information on revocation and the obligations arising from the General Data Protection Regulation. Other mandatory information and the numerous other traps that can lurk in self-made GTCs are NOT covered by the regulation. According to the explanatory memorandum, “warning notices” are also not to be covered by the privileged treatment of cost reimbursement and contractual penalties. This concerns regulations on the sale of food, product safety and the like. Also, the restriction applies only to competitors. Business and consumer protection associations, provided that you comply with the requirements and provided that the warning as such is not abusive, may continue to issue warnings and claim compensation for their own costs.
It should be noted, however, that the standard only excludes the reimbursement of costs for the warning party. It therefore does not mean that no cease-and-desist declaration can be demanded, nor does it mean that if a party refuses to issue a cease-and-desist declaration, for example, an injunction would no longer be possible, which would in turn trigger cost consequences.

On the other hand, Section 13a UWG is also new, which on the one hand regulates that “The agreement of a contractual penalty […] for claimants under Section 8(3)(1) in the case of a first warning for violations under Section 13(4) [“is”] excluded if the person warned generally employs fewer than 100 employees.” and which additionally regulates that “Contractual penalties […] may not exceed an amount of 1,000 euros [“may”] if the infringement, in view of its nature, extent and consequences, affects the interests of consumers, competitors and other market participants only to an insignificant extent and if the warned party usually employs less than 100 employees.”

Another important change is that Section 14 UWG now stipulates that the court in whose district the defendant has its general place of jurisdiction now always has jurisdiction for legal disputes in electronic legal transactions. The so-called “flying jurisdiction” is thus invalid.

Incidentally, the following amendment to Section 13(5) is also interesting:

Insofar as the warning is unjustified or does not comply with the requirements of Paragraph 2 or insofar as a claim for reimbursement of expenses is asserted contrary to Paragraph 4, the warned party shall have a claim against the warning party for reimbursement of the expenses necessary for its legal defense. The claim under sentence 1 shall be limited to the amount of the claim for reimbursement of expenses asserted by the person issuing the warning. In the event of an unjustified warning, the claim pursuant to sentence 1 shall be excluded if the lack of justification for the warning was not apparent to the person issuing the warning at the time the warning was issued. Further claims for compensation remain unaffected.

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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