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April 2014
The European Court of Justice decides on the liability of an Internet access provider

In a decision of March 27, 2014 (C-314/12), the European Court of Justice had to decide on the admissibility of specific court orders rendered by national courts against Internet access providers. National courts are allowed to grant an injunction prohibiting an Internet access provider from allowing its customers access to a website placing protected subject-matter online without the agreement of the right holder. However, there must be a certain degree of freedom for the Internet access provider when choosing the right measures to respect the court order. Furthermore, only reasonable measures must be taken. In this context, it has to be taken into account whether the measure is effective in preventing unauthorized access to the protected subject-matter or, at least, of making it difficult to achieve and that the measures do not unnecessarily deprive Internet users of the possibility of lawfully accessing the information available.

March 2014
German Federal Supreme Court decides on statute of limitations in employed inventors matters

In a decision of November 26, 2013 (X ZR 3/13) the German Federal Supreme Court had to decide about the statute of limitation regarding claims raised by an employed inventor. According to the German Employees Inventor Act the inventor and the employer have the option to contact an arbitration body established at the German Patent and Trademark Office before bringing suit. The German Federal Supreme Court now has decided that approaching this arbitration body leads to suspension of the period of limitation which is applicable regarding the claims of an employed inventor at issue.

March 2014
Germany will have four local chambers in the Unified Patent System

The four patent chambers in the European Unified Patent System in Germany will be in Düsseldorf, Mannheim, Munich and Hamburg. These Unified Patent Courts will start their work in Germany together with the implementation of the EU-Patent. The member states of the European Union can build local or regional chambers usually one chamber per member state. Because of the high number of patent cases, Germany is allowed to build four chambers which will be implemented at the above-mentioned courts.

February 2014
The European Court of Justice decides about Hyperlinks and Copyright

In the decision of February 13, 2014 (C-466/12) the European Court of Justice came to the conclusion that the owner of an Internet page is allowed to refer to copyright protected works which are accessible through a third party’s Internet page via a hyperlink and without the permission of the copyright owner. The European Court of Justice stated in fact that setting of a hyperlink which leads to a copyright protected work is an act of public reproduction within the meaning of the laws of the European Union; but because the copyright protected work is freely accessible at another Internet page, there is no copyright infringement. The reproduction is, according to the Court, not directed to a new audience, which means an audience which the copyright owner did not want to reach when he allowed the original reproduction. In that respect, it does not play a role whether an Internet user, clicking onto that link, has or does not have the impression that the work is directly accessible via the webpage he is visiting and which contains the link.

February 2014
German Federal Supreme Court decides about „Typo Domain Names”

In a decision of January 22, 2014 (I ZR 164/12 the First Division of the German Federal Supreme Court which is competent for unfair competition has rendered a judgement on “Typo Domain Names”. The plaintiff provides weather forecast services under the domain name “www.wetteronline.de”. The defendant offers private health insurances under the domain name “wetteronlin.de”. A user making a typing error comes to the internet homepage of the defendant which gets a reward for any click on its homepage. The German Federal Supreme Court found the use of this “Typo Domain” to violate the Unfair Competition Act under aspect of an unfair hampering. The Court, however, denied a violation of name rights because the domain “wetteronline.de” is lacking the required distinctiveness for a name. Moreover, the Court rejected a request for deletion of the domain name “wetteronlin.de” because one can think of a legal use of this domain name and the mere registration does not hamper the plaintiff in an unfair manner.

February 2014
The General Court of the European Union denies trademark protection for the “Button in the Ear”

In a decision of January 16, 2014 the 5th Chamber of the General Court of the European Union has rejected in the legal matter T-433/12 the action of a trademark applicant for registration of a position mark for a shining or dim round metal button in the ear of a plush toy. According to the Court this trademark lacks distinction. First of all, this mark inevitably is fused with the appearance of the plush toy itself and usually would not be understood by the consumer as a hint to the indication to the origin from a certain enterprise. A distinctive sign could only then be seen in if it is considerably different from a usual configuration in the relevant sector. This is, according to the Court, not the case because buttons for plush toys are usual configurations within a wide variety the consumer is used to.

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