May 24, 2005

Germany: A new Supreme Court decision on domain names

The Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) held that the name “Literaturhaus e.V.” (Literature House, registered association) had no distinctive character and was, therefore not protected by trademark law or Sec. 12 (protection of names) of the German Civil Code (BGB).
In the case at hand, a marketing agency had registered the domain in order to set up a website for the association with the same name, which organized cultural and literary events. The association terminated the cooperation at an early stage and the marketing agency set up its own website under the registered domain name. The Court dismissed the claim under trademark and name laws but pointed out that the marketing agency may have violated competition law.
BGH, Decision of December 16, 2004 [Source: Law in Context]

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