Wed, Apr. 15, 2009

German Title Protection, Again

CK - Washington.   Last year, foreigners using their degrees awarded abroad as titles in Germany without appropriate conversion became a target of zealous prosecutors. This year it's Germans with foreign degrees.

Last year, the buzz was greater than the cause which was quickly settled. The action against a German lawyer with a Slovak law degree which he abbreviates in German with Dr. resulted in an expensive civil judgment against him.

A court in a western Land determined that he violated the laws of all German states except Bavaria and Berlin. The lawyer's use of the title on his Berlin-based web site caused anti-competitive effects throughout the states that do not follow Bavaria and Berlin.

The February 18, 2009 decision, uncovered by prolific law-twitterer Michael Seidlitz, is from a lower Düsseldorf court in the matter 12 O 284/06 and nicely illustrates the limits of federalism in Germany.

The next issue for the courts is whether foreign authors contributing to books published in Germany need to go through the recognition process and identify their foreign degrees in the German Land-approved way. Make that 16 states and Berlin and hope for a uniform position.

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