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European Commission compliance guidelines for trade in dual-use items
The European Commission has published a recommendation for an internal compliance programme (ICP) for trade in dual-use items. The guidelines are not binding on businesses.The EU and its Member States have strict regulations that need to be observed when trading in dual-use items. The European Commission has provided businesses with guidelines in Commission Recommendation (EU) 2019/1318 from July 30, 2019. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rech...

BaFin maintains tight restrictions on CFD trading
Germany"s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, better known by its abbreviation "BaFin", recently determined that restrictions in Germany on the marketing, distribution and sale of contracts for difference (CFDs) to retail investors will continue to apply going forward.BaFin had already placed tight restrictions on financial CFD trading back in 2017 in order to protect investors. Due to the high risk of loss, it imposed a total prohibition ...

BFH on exemption of family home from estate tax
An heir inheriting property from his or her parents has a period of six months in which to personally occupy it for residential purposes in order to avoid it being subject to estate tax. That was the verdict of the Bundesfinanzhof (BFH), Germany"s Federal Fiscal Court.Spouses and children benefit from relatively high tax allowances when inheriting. If tax allowances are exceeded then estate tax becomes due. This often occurs when property becom...

Costs incurred obtaining tax advice reduce estate tax burden
The costs incurred by an heir in correcting the testator"s tax return reduce the estate tax burden. That was the verdict of the Finanzgericht (FG) Baden-Württemberg, the Fiscal Court of Baden-Württemberg (Az. 7 K 2712/18).We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte https://www.mtrlegal.com/en.html note that if the testator submitted incorrect tax returns, the heir is obliged to correct them. According to a ruling of the FG Baden-Würt...

BGH on contesting repayment of a shareholder loan in insolvency proceedings
Repayment of a shareholder loan can potentially be contested by the insolvency administrator even if the amount circuitously ends up in the company"s account again.Payments made in the face of looming insolvency may be contested by the insolvency administrator on the basis that the payment places other creditors at a disadvantage. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte https://www.mtrlegal.com/en note that even if the money ends up...

OLG Celle: Plant-based product can be designated as alternative to cheese
A purely plant-based product can be promoted as an alternative to cheese. The Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Celle, the Higher Regional Court of Celle, ruled that this kind of advertising is neither unfair nor misleading to consumers.The designation of foodstuffs as vegan is an issue with which the courts have had to grapple. In 2017, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that designations such as "milk" and "yoghurt" must be not used in relation ...

Conducting litigation in national and cross-border legal disputes
Strategic litigation is essential to enforcing one"s rights in national and cross-border legal disputes.Due to globalization, both national and international laws need to be considered in the context of legal disputes. While trade is international, legal jurisdiction begins and ends at national borders. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte https://www.mtrlegal.com/en.html note that strategic planning, as well as collaboration wit...

CJEU: Sampling permissible within narrow parameters
The courts have been grappling for years with the extent to which sampling pieces of music breaches copyright. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has now ruled that sampling is permissible within narrow parameters.This longstanding legal dispute concerns an electro-pop group and a music producer. The producer had taken a short sequence from a song by the pop group and added it to a song by another singer. The latter featured the ...

ECJ: Cookies require users" active consent
The use of cookies on websites requires users" active consent. That was the verdict of the ECJ in a ruling from October 1, 2019 (Az.: C-673/17).Users regularly encounter what are referred to as "cookies" on websites online. These are used for storing information on a user"s hard drive. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte https://www.mtrlegal.com/en.html note that this makes recognizing users and their preferences quicker when th...

Failed capital investment - Compensation for flawed investment advice
A lot of investors have experienced a crash landing when it comes to their financial investments. If the bank gave flawed investment advice, it is possible to assert claims for damages.During periods of persistently low interest rates, many people search for suitable capital investment opportunities. However, a lot of investors also have past experiences where their investment flopped and they lost money as a result. But in many cases the money...

OLG Rostock: Unlawful advertising of fruit nectar as fruit juice
Fruit nectar is not the same as fruit juice and therefore must not be promoted as such. The OLG Rostock has ruled that this kind of advertising is misleading and in breach of competition law.We at MTR Rechtsanwälte https://www.mtrlegal.com/en.html note that information about the essential characteristics of a product is key to consumers deciding whether or not to make a purchase, which is why they must not be misled about essential characte...

ECJ: Stringent requirements for registering a color mark as an EU trademark
A beverage manufacturer had a combination of colors registered as an EU trademark. In a ruling from July 29, 2019, the ECJ confirmed that the mark is null and void (Az.: C-124/18 P).Registering a combination of colors requires overcoming significant hurdles. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte https://www.mtrlegal.com/en.html note, for instance, that the arrangement of the colors and their relationship to one another need to be ...

Antitrust violation - Fines for steel producers
Germany"s Bundeskartellamt has fined three steel producers and three people in positions of responsibility to the tune of some 646 million euros for illegal price rigging https://www.mtrlegal.com/en/ .Price rigging hampers competition and is contrary to antitrust law, which is why the Bundeskartellamt has imposed fines totaling around 646 million euros on three steel producers and people in positions of responsibility. It announced on Decembe...

Revision clauses in joint wills
A joint will in which both parties mutually appoint each other as sole heir is popular among spouses. However, they need to be mindful of its strong binding effect.Joint wills are very popular among spouses in Germany. These generally entail the partners mutually appointing each other as sole heir and designating a final heir for when both parties are deceased. Nevertheless, it is important to consider the strong binding effect associated with ...

International law - From drafting contracts to conducting litigation
International law is no longer confined to regulating relations between states. Today, it also plays an increasingly important role in business and private law.Globalization has made the world a smaller place. Trade is conducted across national borders and cross-border business relations are the rule rather than the exception. That being said, increasing globalization and internationalization also have legal consequences that must be borne in m...

ECJ: Copyright protection for designs only possible to a limited extent
Although a pair of jeans may fit perfectly and look good to boot, this does not in and of itself confer copyright protection. That was the verdict of the ECJ in a ruling from September 12, 2019 (Az.: C-683/17).According to the established case-law of the ECJ, an original subject matter constituting the expression of its author"s own intellectual creation can be classified as a "work" and enjoy copyright protection. We at the commercial law firm...

OLG Stuttgart: Damages due to truck cartel
The OLG Stuttgart, Stuttgart"s Higher Regional Court, has ruled in connection with what has become known as the "truck cartel" that an aggrieved buyer is in principle entitled to claim damages from Daimler AG (Az.: 2 U 101/18).From 1997 to 2011, the truck manufacturers Daimler, MAN, Volvo/Renault, DAF, and Iveco entered into illegal price-fixing arrangements. In 2011, this so-called "truck cartel" was uncovered. We at the commercial law firm MT...

ECJ: User consent to social plugins on websites
If websites make use of social plugins, the ECJ has ruled that the provider and the operator of the site are jointly responsible for the collection and transfer of personal user information.Many website operators use what are referred to as social plugins by embedding them on their website. While the site operators are then jointly responsible for the collection and transfer of personal information, they are generally not responsible for the su...

Steinhoff International Holding - OLG Frankfurt opens model case proceedings
The Steinhoff accounting scandal has shaken investors. Those who have incurred losses can join the ongoing model case proceedings pursuant to the German Capital Markets Model Case Act, the Kapitalanleger-Musterverfahrensgesetz (KapMuG).At the end of 2017, investors in Steinhoff International Holding N.V. were rocked by news of accounting irregularities. The company"s share price subsequently collapsed. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsan...

EGC: Chinese scooter not in breach of competitor"s intellectual property rights
A Chinese manufacturer of motor scooters is not in breach of an Italian competitor"s intellectual property rights. That was the verdict of the General Court of the European Union (EGC) in a ruling from September 24, 2019 (Az. T-219/18).We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte https://www.mtrlegal.com/en.html note that in order for a registered design to be capable of being affording protection under the Community Design Regulation, i...

Detailed project contracts for software development and computer programming
Ready-made software solutions no longer cut it in many businesses whose needs require dedicated software. In this context, attention needs to be paid to how the project contract is drafted.A lot of business sectors require the use of specially developed software that is tailored in detail to individual requirements. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte https://www.mtrlegal.com/en/ note that in order to avoid legal disputes betwee...

OLG Hamm: Advertising must include all information that is material to consumers
Consumers must not be deprived of information material to their decision whether or not to make a purchase. This constitutes a breach of competition law, as demonstrated by a ruling of the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Hamm, the Higher Regional Court of Hamm.In order for consumers to be able to make an informed transactional decision, they must be provided with all information regarding the product"s essential characteristics that is essential to the...

GDPR violation - Record 14.5 million euro fine imposed
GDPR violations can prove expensive, something which one real estate firm recently had to learn the hard way when it received a fine to the tune of 14.5 million euros.The EU General Data Protection Regulation - GDPR for short - is supposed to afford better protection to sensitive personal data. For businesses, this means stricter data protection standards. GDPR violations may be met with tough sanctions. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechts...

LG Essen: Unlawful advertising statements promoting e-cigarettes
Liquids for e-cigarettes must not be promoted using the slogan "Genuss ohne Reue" (enjoyment without regrets). That was the verdict of the Landgericht (LG) Essen, the Regional Court of Essen, in a ruling from October 25, 2019 (Az.: 41 O 13/19).Consumers must not be misled by health claims in advertising. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note that this kind of advertising is unlawful and in breach of competition law.The Landg...

BFH reinforces tax relief when selling owner-occupied accommodation
The BFH delivered a ruling on Sept. 3, 2019 facilitating the sale of owner-occupied accommodation that has been rented out for a short time (Az.: IX R 10/19).If a property is sold before the end of the ten-year speculation period, tax must be paid on any increase in value. However, the situation is different for owner-occupied accommodation: no tax is due even after a short period of occupancy if the property was personally occupied by the owne...

OLG Naumburg deems GDPR violation an antitrust infringement
The OLG Naumburg ruled in judgments from November 7, 2019 that a violation of the General Data Protection Regulation may also constitute an antitrust infringement (Az.: 9 U 6/19 and 9 U 39/18).Whether a GDPR violation can also constitute an antitrust infringement is significant, as competitors are entitled to issue formal warnings in response to antitrust infringements and may, e.g., sue for an injunction or damages. We at MTR Rechtsanwälte no...

ECJ - Balsamico not a protected designation
Balsamic vinegar can also come from Germany. According to a judgment of the ECJ from December 4, 2019, "balsamico" is not a protected term (Az. C-432/18).We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note that geographical designations of origin are eligible for protection because consumers associate them with a certain quality. But according to a judgment by the ECJ, balsamico need not come from Modena in Italy and can equally come from Ger...

GDPR violation - Telecom provider facing severe penalty
Inadequate data protection measures can prove costly. Following a recent case involving a real estate business, a telecom provider is the latest business facing a heavy fine.The GDPR came into force in May 2018. While fears of a wave of warning notices were never realized, the authorities are cracking down on violations of the GDPR. We at MTR Rechtsanwälte can report that fines running into millions of euros were recently imposed on two busine...

LG Berlin: Reference must be made to GmbH"s legal form
A company"s legal form as a GmbH is a key piece of information for consumers. Withholding information from advertisements about its legal form constitutes an antitrust violation according to a ruling of the LG Berlin.Information that is crucial to consumers" decision to purchase must not be withheld from them. This may include the company"s legal form. We at MTR Rechtsanwälte can report that according to a ruling of the LG Berlin, withholding ...

OLG Köln: Protection of competitive distinctiveness
A product that is not protected by a trademark may nevertheless benefit from protection against imitations under competition law. That was the verdict (Az. 6 U 82/19) of the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Köln - the Higher Regional Court of Cologne.We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte can report that purely technical solutions are not supposed to be afforded protection under trademark law in order to allow for free competition. A product ...

Marc Klaas at MTR Rechtsanwälte ranked among "Best M&A Lawyers"
The German business newspaper Handelsblatt has published its list of "Germany"s best lawyers in 2020," featuring Marc Klaas at MTR Rechtsanwälte in the category "mergers and acquisitions."Each year, Handelsblatt identifies the best lawyers in various legal fields in collaboration with the U.S. publisher Best Lawyers. This distinction is one that lawyers particularly prize, as it shows that their skills and expertise are recognized and held in ...

Marc Klaas at MTR Rechtsanwälte - One of Germany's leading M&A lawyers
Marc Klaas at MTR Rechtsanwälte has been featured in this year"s ranking of Germany"s best lawyers in the category of mergers and acquisitions (M&A).Each year, the renowned U.S. publisher Best Lawyers recognizes the best lawyers in various legal fields. This year has seen the inclusion of Marc Klaas in its M&A ranking, a particular honor given the exceptional challenges faced by practicing M&A attorneys in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic....

Tougher sanctions - Draft legislation to combat corporate criminality
The Bundesjustizministerium, Germany"s Federal Ministry of Justice, has submitted draft legislation designed to combat corporate criminality. The bill provides for, among other things, significantly harsher penalties.Going forward, businesses could be faced with significantly harsher penalties in the event of serious legal violations. The Bundesjustizministerium has submitted draft legislation to this effect, as was first reported by the Südde...

The coronavirus pandemic and employment law
The coronavirus pandemic is turning employment law on its head. The protective measures - some of which are recommendations and others mandatory in nature - designed to contain and curtail the strain of coronavirus and respiratory disease known as COVID-19, have far-reaching consequences for all aspects of life. Schools and kindergartens have been and remain closed, as are pubs, and sports and fitness facilities. Production chains are being disrupt...

LG Freiburg: Food products" county of origin must be correctly specified
Apples that were merely packaged in Germany must not carry the designation of origin "aus Deutschland" / "from Germany". That was the verdict of the Landgericht (LG) Freiburg - the Regional Court of Freiburg - in a ruling from January 14, 2020 (Az.: 12 O 88/19 KfH).The origin of food products is a key factor influencing consumers" purchase decisions. Accordingly, the courts are increasingly having to deal with legal disputes concerning designa...

Coronavirus - Loans and government assistance at a time of crisis
Germany"s federal government has unveiled a vast package of measures that provide financial support to businesses and the self-employed to ensure they are able to weather the crisis.The federal government is proposing extensive support measures for businesses, freelancers, and the self-employed to ensure they are able to cope financially during the coronavirus crisis. Germany"s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, gave the green light to t...

COVID-19 & Commercial Law - Nonperformance of contracts in times of crisis
The coronavirus pandemic is putting a strain on economic relations throughout the world. In many cases, it is either no longer possible to perform contracts as agreed or performance is completely impossible.The coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on national and international business relations, it no longer being possible in many cases to perform contracts as agreed due to the coronavirus crisis. This has led to the increased p...

COVID-19 - Obligation to file for insolvency to be suspended
Germany"s Federal Ministry of Justice has made plans to suspend the obligation to file for insolvency due to the coronavirus. The measure is designed to protect businesses that have gotten into difficulties as a result of the pandemic.A company that becomes insolvent or overindebted must file for insolvency without undue delay. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note that if there is good reason to believe that the grounds for ins...

Avoiding insolvency during the coronavirus crisis
Businesses whose existence is threatened by the crisis surrounding the coronavirus are to be lent a helping hand. Germany"s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, has legislated for the suspension of the obligation to file for insolvency.Businesses on the brink of insolvency, i.e. unable to pay or overindebted, must file for insolvency as soon as possible, but at the latest within three weeks. This obligation is now being relaxed in order to...

COVID-19 - Bundestag gives green light to multi-billion-euro aid package
On March 25, 2020, Germany"s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, approved a multi-billion-euro aid package to manage the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis and gave the green light to the supplementary budget.The crisis surrounding the coronavirus is hitting the economy hard. Not wanting to leave businesses and the self-employed to fend for themselves in responding to its economic impact, the federal government has come up with an ...

Compliance - Preventing economic loss
Compliance is an important topic not only for large corporations but also small and medium-sized enterprises that want to avoid breaking the law and incurring penalties as a result.Compliance with contractual provisions and legislation is a key issue for every business, irrespective of its size. Businesses need to make sure that each of their employees consistently complies with the law. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note tha...

Commercial tenancy law - The devil is in the detail
There are a number of material differences between commercial tenancy law and tenancy law as it applies to private sector housing. The way in which leases for commercial premises are formulated is therefore a matter of particular importance. Commercial tenancy law is not a field of law unto itself. As in the case of residential tenancy law, it is regulated by the provisions of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB) dedicated to t...

Commercial Agency Law: COVID-19, Commission & Contract Design
The coronavirus crisis marks the beginning of difficult times for many commercial agents. It also raises a number of legal issues in connection with commission payments, claims for compensatory adjustment, etc.Despite the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, commercial agents can still maintain contact with their clients via telephone, email, etc. Personal contact in the form of one-to-one meetings in familiar environments, on the other hand, i...

International procedural law in cases involving cross-border litigation
With the increasing internationalization of many areas of life, international procedural law is playing an ever more important role in legal disputes.Globalization, internationalization, and European integration have transformed many areas of life. This is equally true for private life as it is for commercial life. Naturally, they have also had an impact on case-law dealing with cross-border litigation. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsa...

IP Law - Protection of intellectual property and intangible assets
Intellectual property is just as worth protecting as tangible assets. IP law covers the protection of rights pertaining to trademarks, designs, patents, copyright, and related rights.When it comes to the term "intellectual property", the first things people typically think of are works of art, literature, music, and the like. Yet the term is defined more broadly, also encompassing exclusive rights to intangible assets. Accordingly, rights relat...

Distribution Law - Legally Sound, Flexible, and Forward-Looking Agreements
The sale of goods and services requires an efficient distribution system that complies with complex domestic and international legal frameworks.An efficient distribution network is a key component of a company"s economic success, with different distribution channels for goods and services depending on the company"s industry. Legally sound collaboration with distribution partners based on mutual trust is a prerequisite for an efficient distribut...

Advantages of Arbitration
The courts are not the only venue for settling legal disputes. Arbitration proceedings are a good alternative in many domestic and international cases.Arbitration proceedings have several advantages over judicial proceedings. The former can be conducted more quickly, are less expensive, and are closed to the public. Moreover, the parties are able to choose the arbitrators, provided the latter are free and independent. One benefit of this is tha...

Discount Demands and Antitrust Law
Germany"s Federal Cartel Office, the Bundeskartellamt, has thrown its weight behind suppliers faced with demands for excessive discounts, and a furniture store chain has had to come to terms with limitations being imposed on its demands by antitrust law.Businesses are not allowed to abuse their market power and put pressure on their suppliers as a means of obtaining undue advantages for themselves. That was the verdict of Germany"s Federal Supr...

Ship Funds - Damages and Recovery of Distributions
Ship funds have long been considered a safe capital investment. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, many investment companies were forced to file for insolvency and investors lost a lot of the money they had invested.Ship funds have long been considered a safe capital investment that maintains a stable value over time and are popular among investors as a result. However, in recent years many of these investors have had to learn the hard w...

COVID-19 & Protective Masks - Distributors Left With Outstanding Invoices
People wearing protective masks have become a common sight since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Yet the quality of some of these masks and the outstanding invoices are becoming a source of frustration.Respiratory masks are among the measures that are meant to protect people from being infected with the coronavirus. It is now compulsory to wear the classic masks that cover the mouth and nose while shopping or traveling on public transport. The...

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