Fri, Mar. 19, 2004

Trademark Violation on Trading Site

ASG - Washington. On March 12, 2004 the German Supreme Court (BGH) ruled in a trademark matter launched by manufacturers of "ROLEX"-watches against, a now closed internet trading site.

Ricardo supported private and commercial vendors and received transaction fees. Clearly designated knock-offs of "ROLEX" watches appeared on ricardo at prices far below those of the regular products. The Cologne District Court granted the plaintiffs's prayers for removal of these offers and compensation.

The BGH remanded the case for retrial. It determined that the tele services statute (Teledienstegesetz, TDG)--which exempts the provider of technical infrastructure from liabiliy for content--does not ban claims for cease and desist orders.

The court outlined the requirements for such an order: (1) The seller would be a professional trader because the unauthorised use of trademarks is only illegal in commercial settings. (2) The defendant's technical means enable it to identify and remove illegal offers. A manual effort would go beyond the scope of the statute.

The court rejected the claim for damages because had neither infringed upon the trademark by merely providing the trading service nor contributed to the infringement of the mark.

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