Online trading

Henry Alves Branche EN

Online trading

In Following you can find information about the competition law, the trademark law and data protection for online traders.

Competition law for online trading

Competition law aims at combating acts of unfair competition while at the same time regulating the law on restriction of competition. NIMROD’s expertise particulary covers the area of fair trading law, which finds its legislative basis especially in the Unfair Competition Act [Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb]. In this regard, competition law determines the rules by which businesses must abide when acting in markets and possible sanctions in case of infringements.

Competition law is a gateway for the introduction of complexes from multiple areas of law, especially in the area of e-commerce. At the same time the internet significantly multiplies the number of potential competitors. Due to this complexity, it is inevitable for online retailers to deal with certain aspects of competition law.

This, however, is a significant challenge for lay persons. Competition law gives competitors grounds for cease and desist warnings based on provisions from multiple areas of law, especially distance selling law and consumer protection law. Also, competition law is regularly subject to significant legislative changes. What may be common practice now, could be objectible already tomorrow, as demonstrated with regard to the integration of the “facebook” like-button or the alternative enumeration of events triggering the time limit for withdrawal from contracts in withdrawal instructions under European consumer protection law.

NIMROD is pleased to support you in your endeavours. For example, we can legally assess your web-shop and other advertisements, draw up your general terms and conditions as well as other legal documents, update your web-shop to the current status of jurisprudence and legislation, consult and represent you when you receive a cease and desist warning from a co-competitor and take action against competition infringements committed by competitors.

Trademark law for online trading

Trademark law can play a significant role in the area of online trading. For instance, while you are entitled to advertise the products designated by your trademarks, using other trademarks for purposes of comparison to your products without the owner’s prior consent is prohibited.
Such infringements are subject to cease and desist claims and can result in high costs. It is recommendable to avoid such developments by having your attorney verify whether the use of other trademarks is legal.
If you are already facing claims for trademark infringements we will develop a defense strategy with you and represent you in extrajudicial and pre-trial negotiations as well as in court.

If you are seeking to register a trademark for your products and/or services we will – in close cooperation with you – create a list of the goods and/or services relevant for your trademark, find out whether your desired trademark can be protected and assess potential conflicts with already existing trademarks. We will register your trademark with the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) as well as the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and, if necessary, extend protection of your trademark to selected countries throughout the world by undergoing international registration procedure according to the World Intellecutal Property Organization (WIPO).

After your trademark has been successfully registered we will survey the market in order to notice and react to infringements more quickly. In case of such infringements, we will enforce your claims – whether outside of court, by issuing cease and desist warnings, or in court, by filing injunctions and law suits.

Data protection for online trading

Data protection law is designed to protect personal and person-related data. Furthermore, data protection law lays out the rules for businesses that are entrusted with handling such data.

Processing – i.e. collection, storage, usage and possibly also forwarding – of person-related data is subject to extensive obligations, starting with the obligation to duly notify the affected person of these actions. Notification usually occurs by means of a privacy statement, which is only effective if the affected person has taken notice of it.

Such privacy statements are required, among others, for websites, as, due to technical procedure, the respective user’s IP-address is registered already upon first access of the website. Beyond that, the employment of a privacy statement is also required when concluding a contract with a client that includes the collection of data deemed as personal or person-related.

Privacy statements are essential especially in the area of online commerce. At the latest during the purchasing process, the customer will be obligated to transmit personal data, such as name, address and, depending on the method of payment, credit card or debit card information. The customer must be informed of the purpose of data processing.

As an employer you are subject to various duties regarding employee data protection, which largely depend on the extent to which employee data is collected and stored. Especially personnel files are a sensitive issue. We recommend that you include a clause in your employment contracts, providing that data processing is subject to the respective employee’s prior approval. Regardless of that, all procedures of data processing that affect personnel data must be duly documented.