Warning abuse soon to be smoke and mirrors?


New warning law

New law from the German government is intended to protect companies from dubious warnings from "warning squads" and thus also prevent the establishment of bogus companies that are only set up for the purpose of issuing warnings.

The Federal Minister of Justice, Katarina Barley (SPD), wants to pass a law to strengthen fair competition and put an end to the abuse of warning letters. The purpose of this new law is to reduce the financial incentives for warning letters and to strengthen the rights of those being warned.

In the past, there have been many cases of warnings issued by so-called "warning lawyers" or "associations" whose business model focused solely on issuing warnings to companies without the actual focus being on preventing unfair competition (UWG). It was merely about the intention to enrich themselves through mass warnings, so that, for example, "dummy companies" were founded in order to be able to issue warnings to competitors. Such an approach harms competition, so a stop must be put to it.

The proposal submitted is intended to limit the amount in dispute and the penalties for insignificant infringements to €1000 and also shift the place of jurisdiction in accordance with the Code of Civil Procedure to the location of the party receiving the warning.

The Ministry's intention is to separate those from reputable trade associations that are seriously interested in representing the rights of their members. There is to be a qualified list for this, which must have at least 75 members and have been entered in the register of associations for at least one year. In addition, no large sums of money may be given to members.

Control is subject to the Federal Office of Justice, which reports to the Ministry of Justice.

With regard to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), many website operators fear expensive warnings due to minor negligence, which is now to be prevented by the draft. Small companies and the self-employed in particular should be pleased if they fail to comply with their information obligations.

Warnings should only be issued with good reason!

A. Navidy

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