Sat, Dec. 31, 2005

Bremen Court Wins Award

.   A Bremen court, Sozialgericht Bremen, won the Anti Search Engine Optimization Award 2005 after gaining the attention of bloggers in Germany through a cease and desist letter from the court to a grocery shop blogger.

Various law blogs consider the demand nonsense. The court speculates that a blogger's reference to the name of the court is an illegal assumption, or usurpation, of its proper name, in violation of §12 of the German Civil Code, Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch.

The grocery blog's entry on the court appears in the Google top ten. Through the search engine, visitors reach its story on a court action. The story page begins with the headline Sozialgericht Bremen. The presiding judge equates the appearance of the entry with a web site that claims to be the official website of the court.

The court has its own website which is accessible only in a most circuitous and cumbersome manner and is styled such that the visitor does not necessarily recognize the arrival at a court site. The general consensus among German law bloggers is that the Sozialgericht Bremen's demand is legally and factually unfounded. §12 BGB does not prohibit the mention of proper names and marks. Limitations on the use of a name or trademark are limited to fraud, deception, anti-competition and such.

In the Bremen court's defense, one should note that it operates as a specialty court and within budgetary constraints that may fail to provide for funding for outside legal advice on basic civil and internet matters.

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