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New version of yellow page cases in different appearance

08-27-2013 11:07 AM CET | Politics, Law & Society

Press release from: bunk-alliance Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH

In our newsletter July to September 2012 we informed you about the decision by the Bundesgerichtshof (German Supreme Court) with regard to the so called yellow page cases. Those were cases in which a company or a person maintained a yellow page list on the internet and in order to receive entries, it sent forms to traders, which were construed in a manner that on the left side of the form there were several lines with company data and an additional line for signature, which was usually highlighted in bold, as well as a remark that the form shall be sent back to the sender immediately. On the right side of the form there was usually - in very small letters- a remark that this is a subscription, which usually had a duration of two years and should cost several hundred Euros net per year.

The Bundesgerichtshof decided in such cases that the monetary clause on the right part of the form is to be deemed as so called “surprising monetary clause” and therefore invalid in accordance with German rules on general terms and conditions. The background is that it is not clearly visible for the recipient that the form is only an offer in order to conclude a monetary contract since the recipient’s attention is drawn to the left side of the form by the highlighting there and therefore the monetary clause on the right side of the form is not being noticed by an average attentive trader.

The decision by the Supreme court, which was already expected by the legal practitioners for a long time however did not lead to a complete cession of so called yellow page cases, however now it is much easier for recipients, who fill out and sent back the equivalent form, to withdraw from the contract.

Now another kind of letters is being sent out. However this time the form does not appear to be asking for trading data, but in this case proprietor of trademarks are contacted and an amount for the registration of the trademark is demanded. This does not only refer to newly registered trademarks, but also to trademarks that are already registered with the appropriate trademark offices for several years. In particulars for trademark proprietors of trademarks that are already registered for several years this suggests that it is now time to pay the extension fee for the trademark. The letters contain the registration number as well as registration date and the Nice classes, for which the trademark was registered, a picture of the trademark, as well as an overview on the fees to be paid and the account details, to which the payment shall be transferred, as well as the demand that payment shall be effected within seven days. All those things are highlighted in bold letters, whereas only at the end of the letter - in simple and comparably small letters - there is a remark that this is not actually an invoice, but only the offer for registration of the trademark on an internet page.
While in the past years such offers very often came from Slovakia, now more and more senders come from the Czech Republic or from Poland. An overview over several of those offers can be found on the webpage of the World Intellectual Property Organization at www.wipo.int/pct/en/warning/pct_warning.html. However we point out that the list contained on that webpage is not final and that there are several other offers on the market by different companies. If you or your company receives such an “invoice” you should be very careful and scrutinize the letter before effecting any kind of payments.

The clients of our law firm are mainly foreign companies (non-EU and EU-companies) as well as German companies. We serve middle-sized companies (mainly corporations) as well as bigger companies listed on the stock exchange.
In addition to companies of the financial service sector (banks and investment companies), most of our clients belong to the manufacturing trade or the industrial sector. Our client's industrial focus is, among others engineering (mechanical and plant engineering), furniture and food industry and the transportation sector, however we are also experienced in the construction sector. The issues arising with the business activities of those companies with regard to fiscal and business law, under which we also define issues with regard to individual and collective labour law, therefore belong to our consulting spectrum. In case of acquisition of companies, we undertake the transaction advisory and preparation of documentation as well as a legal due diligence. If fiscal or economical issues arise, we have renowned corporation partners at hand.

Due to the international profile of the law firm, a very important field of consultation naturally is cross-border commercial law and the securitisation of receivables by appropriate means of securitisation, as well as the collection of commercial receivables.

As a result of our expertise in national and international insolvencies and restructurings, another important scope of our services is the consultation in reorganization/restructuring and insolvency related matters. With regard to the European insolvency regulation (Counsel Regulation) (E.C.) (No.1346/2000) we possess profound knowledge and experience, which has been maintained after having been tried and tested in practice.

Due to previous activities of the founder of the law-firm as "workout" specialist for large credits in a German financial institution, we are able to advise our clients from the point of view of a potential creditor as well as the debtor company's view. Our founder's strength in mediating between the debtor and financial institutions and negotiate realisable restructuring plans results in acceptable and overall prompt solutions for all participants.

We are members of B.R.S.I (Bundesverband Restrukturierung, Sanierung und Interim Management- Corporate Restructering Associations Germany), BCCG (British Chamber of Commerce in Germany), PZGH (Polskie Zrzeszenie Gospodarzo Handlowe) –Polish Association of Economy and Commerce), GRUR (Deutsche Vereinigung für gewerblichen Rechtsschutz und Urheberrecht e.V. – German Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property) and DAV (Deutscher Anwaltsverein - German Lawyers Association).

Office Worms
bunk-alliance
Goethestr. 15
67547 Worms
Germany

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