The Quick and Easy Guide to German and EU Intellectual Property Law, Trademarks and Copyright
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Posts from — August 2009

K-Swiss vs Puma

As the German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche reports in its online issue, the German sporting goods manufacturer Puma is facing a battle in the US over its trademarked “form strip”, a bended leather strip. One of Puma’s competitors, K-Swiss, claims that Puma’s trademark application with the US Trademark and Patent Office was erroneous.

K-Swiss argues that Puma had deliberately given false information when filing their trademark application. Allegedly the German entity (Puma AG) misrepresented that its North American entity, Puma North America, is co-proprietor of the trademark, by declaring Puma North America to be the only one having any rights to this mark.

Wirtschaftswoche states that the background of this matter is an ongoing dispute between the two companies in which Puma alleges K-Swiss to use a leather strip on one of its shoes similar to Puma’s formstrip.

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August 31, 2009   No Comments

How much is trademark litigation in Germany

I often get the question, how much trademark litigation in Germany is likely to cost. This post is meant to give a basic overview. Figures may vary widely depending on the individual case.

Let’s take a closer look at the way legal services in Germany are billed. The traditional way is – not so much a surprise – based on a law, regulating lawyers’ fees. At the center of the fee calculation is the amount involved in the case, determining how much a fee unit in this case will be (the law provides a table). Depending on the kind of work (preparing the case, litigation etc) a fraction or multiple of a fee unit is due. This billing method used to be legally binding but had come under criticism as it does not reflect the actual effort and complexity an individual case may require. But things have changed over the last couple of years and lawyers are now mainly free to agree a fee on their own.

As a rule of thumb the amount involved in a trademark case can be expected to be around 50.000 EUR. Based on this, the lawyer’s fee for a case involving litigation is ca. 2635 EUR (+ VAT). This amount comprises of 1359 EUR for preparing the case and 1255 EUR for litigation plus ca 20 EUR flat for postage & phone. Court charges are 1368 EUR (not subject to VAT). Pursuant to the German code of civil procedure, the cost are split in relation to the outcome of the case. This means, the losing party is carrying not only their own lawyers’ fee but also the other party’s lawyer fee plus court charges. In our example the losing party will have to pay legal cost totaling 6638 EUR (any fees in excess of the officially outlined fees are not recoverable).

In the last couple of years hourly billing has more and more evolved as an alternative. Hourly rates vary widely. For IP specialists a rough estimate is at least 200 to 250 EUR per hour. One has to bear in mind that it is against the law for a German lawyer charge less than the legal fee for litigation. As IP matters tend to be often complex, require in depth knowledge and carry a significant liability risk, most IP specialists tend to bill by the hour, so fees often exceed the the above mentioned figures.

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August 4, 2009   5 Comments