Mon, Jun. 21, 2004

Superlative Advertising

SK - Washington.   On June 17, 2004, the Supreme Court in Karlsruhe decided case number I ZR 284/01, American Online Inc. vs. T-Online International AG. The latter is a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG, a telephone company with activities in the United States. The Lawgical blog discusses the case in German. The court published a press release and the ruling should appear soon on its web site.

The Court affirmed a cease-and-desist order issued under unfair competition laws against T-Online. In 1999 and 2000, the company had promoted itself with the German equivalents of statements such as T-Online is Europe's greatest Internet-Provider or Today, T-Online is already one of the world greatest Internet corporations.

The Court pointed to clear precedent by which it would apply the standard of the perception of the average consumer to issues of advertising. In the instant case, it held that such a consumer would have been led to believe that T-Online was the most frequently used Internet provider. That was not true at the time, and the advertising was, therefore, over the top, enabling AOL to step in. See also, Sevriens, Irreführende Werbung.


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