The Quick and Easy Guide to German and EU Intellectual Property Law, Trademarks and Copyright
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Category — Misc

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

Five Signs Of Internet Auctions Selling Counterfeit Products

German consumers are very price conscious bargain hunters. Several Internet auction platforms are catering to this target audience. The platform with the biggest market share unsurprisingly is eBay.

It is also common place that these platforms are home to a huge number of “pirates” selling counterfeit goods. This poses a big threat to proprietors of trademarks and design patents. There is a direct financial loss involved. But what is probably worse, it dilutes the brand image.

The first step to fight this is to identify internet auctions featuring counterfeit goods. The following five signs are certainly not a 100% indicator. However the more boxes an internet auction ticks, the more further action might be appropriate, e.g. a couvert purchase to investigate further.

  1. Goods only up for auction for a short period of time at an unrealistically low price
  2. Several auctions with the same offer/ sales copy
  3. Substantial number of goods in stock/ on auction
  4. Does not show any seller details or imprint although auction clearly appears to be of commercial nature
  5. Relatively newly registered account and/ or a low number of feed back.
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June 5, 2009   No Comments

France restricting web access for internet pirates

According to Radio France International, the French Parliament yesterday passed a bill that will be signed into law by President Sarkozy shortly, based on which Internet users pirating software or music over the Internet my lose their Internet connection.

Interesting development. Unfortunately the article doesn´t specify, to what extent the Internet connection will be shut down. Will pirates be banned from using the Internet at all, i.e. banned from using the internet? Otherwise they might just register another account with another provider. Also, what is the maximum suspension time? Hopefully I will be able to report some more specific details, soon.

So far, I think this is a strong signal. The question is, if this is going to have an impact other than the message itself. We all know the Internet well enough to predict that the very same people who are targeted here, will very likely and easily find ways to circumvent this ban.

And one thing is for sure: rather sooner than later, this law will be challenged in terms of constitutionality and compliance with EU law. We shall see. I will keep you posted.

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May 14, 2009   No Comments