Unfair competition harms consumers and businesses that comply with the German Act Against Unfair Competition (Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb (UWG)). Violations of the UWG can be sanctioned.
GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London - www.grprainer.com/en conclude: The German Act Against Unfair Competition is meant to protect consumers and competitors from unfair practices and facilitate fair competition. However, violations of the UWG are no rarity.
According to its own information, the German Agency to Combat Unfair Competition (Wettbewerbszentrale) last year once again processed more than 13,000 enquiries and complaints. Roughly 60 per cent of the cases were said to relate to “misguidance and transparency”. The main focus here is compliance with the statutory information and labelling requirements.
It is absolutely possible for these information and labelling requirements to be unintentionally breached, as the number of regulations has risen continuously in recent years and it is often very difficult for individual companies to stay on top of these. A further complication is that various legal fields are frequently concerned. A constant stream of new regulations also means that uncertainty has gone up among businesses as to which rules need to be observed. It is often difficult to draw distinctions. Furthermore, the German Federal Government’s plans indicate that the Act Against Unfair Competition is set to be strengthened.
In order to avoid legal disputes, businesses can seek the advice of lawyers versed in the field of competition law. Expert legal advice can help to prevent infringements of the UWG as well as enable measures to be taken if a competitor resorts to unfair practices which jeopardise fair competition. Infringements that can be punished include, e.g. violating information requirements, aggressive sales methods, loss leaders, counterfeit, Ponzi schemes or inducing a breach of contract. That being said, national and international laws may differ in many cases.
If such infringements exist, the aggrieved business, consumer associations or interest groups can assert claims for injunction and / or removal. Damages claims, on the other hand, may only be brought by companies that have in fact been harmed by the infringement.