Wed, Aug. 03, 2005

Dr. No Title. No Dr. OK

CK - Washington.   The German law blog world is abuzz in discussion of an analysis by Dr. Wolfgang Zimmerling entitled Zum Anspruch auf Anrede mit dem Doktorgrad, or The Right to Being Addressed with the Degree of Doctor.

Dr. Zimmerling explains that the academic degree is not part of the name for purposes of §12 of the Civil Code which controls rights relating to names. Rather, Zimmerling notes that the degree is merely academic and not even a title, although the term doctor is colloquially used as, and frequently said to be, a title. §18(2) of the statute on the framework for universities, Hochschulrahmengesetz, HRG, conclusively leads to that result.

Subject to one important exception, a person with that degree may not insist on being addressed as Dr. SoAndSo. The exception follows from a decision by the top German court for employment matters, Bundesarbeitsgericht, which held that employers are required, absent exigent circumstances, to use the degree of an employee in external communications; see MDR 1984, 873 et seq.

Zimmerling's discourse provides relief to all who focus on substance and may confuse matters of form.

FIFA Wins Trademark Dispute

MAG - Washington.   The German federal patent court in Munich ruled on August 3, 2005 that corporate users of its soccer world cup trademark, such as food manufacturer Ferrero--which had lodged a complaint against FIFA, the world body governing soccer championships,--will remain unauthorised to use FIFA's trademarks "WM 2006" and "Fussball WM 2006" in advertising or on their products without FIFA license. In the matters 32 W(pat)237/04 and 238/04, the court thereby ended a long dispute between the FIFA and companies that disputed the registrability of the marks.

Possession Vests in Heir

CK - Washington.   Johanna Knapp published at a useful overview of the civil code rules that apply to possessory rights of an heir after an inheritance.

Generally, under German law, an heir steps into the shoes of the decedent. Unlike the laws in the United States which provide for probate and possessory rights vested in an executor or administrator, German law transfers possession of the assets of an estate immediately to the heirs.

The specific point addressed in Knapp's note involves the issues of factual possession, which the heir ordinarily does not acquire immediately--for instance, for lack of knowledge of the decedent's death--, and the issue of factual possession being held by a third party, with or without the permission of the decedent.

Knapp outlines the possible scenarios, available claims and statutory remedies succinctly, as of July 24, 2005. Her starting point is §857 of the Civil Code, Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, as of January 1, 2002, and amended by Art. 1 of the Statute of February 2, 2005, Statute to Amended the Law Governing Names in Marriage and Life Partnership, Federal Gazette I, vol. 201, no. 9, p. 201.

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