Your specialized IP lawyers for trademark law and unfair competition law
In practice, trademark law and unfair competition law play a central role in business life. The attorneys of greyhills with offices in Cologne and Berlin are well-versed and highly specialized in the fields of trademark and unfair competition law. You can place your trust in our many years of work experience in these areas of law which are vital to your business.
What is trademark and sign law all about?
The effective protection of trademarks is essential for companies striving for market shares. In addition to trademarks, designations protected by sign law also include company names, work titles and geographical indications of origin.
The brand name (i.e. trademark) and the commercial name (company name) are the central “figureheads” of any business untertaking. They transport notions of quality into the marketplace and guarantee the commercial origin of the products so designated.
Therefore, the art lies in finding the right company name and securing it comprehensively both nationally and internationally by securing a registered trademark.
The same applies to choosing the right brand name for products and services originating from a certain company. Trademark rights grant their respective owners an exclusive right of use (monopoly right).
The owner of a trademark has the right to exclude third parties from using the trademark within its scope of protection. Trademark law provides protection of a registered mark against risks of confusion existing with a junior identical or similar mark or commercial designation.
In addition, an extended type of protection applies to well-known trademarks having a reputation in the trade. Within the scope of the protection of well-known trademarks, the trademark owner can prevent third parties from using marks or other commercial designations if the use of the latter may lead to an unfair exploitation of the goodwill of the earlier, reputed trademark or damages its good image.
The protection of trademarks is primarily aimed at preventing consumer confusion. In the case of well-known trademarks and signs, however, the aim of protection is also the prevention of parasitic behavior (free-riding and damage to reputation).
What is competition law about?
Competition law comprises the law on unfair competition (the law on fair trading) and the law against restrictions of competition (the antitrust law). The German unfair competition law contains the essential legal rules for regulating competition among market participants.
The objective is to ensure free and fair competition in the provision of a service. A large number of legal provisions must be observed in this regard.
E.g., it can be anti-competitive to imitate the “work products” of competitors, such as the appearance of goods or their packaging in circumstances where this behavior is apt to deceive about the commercial origin of the imitated goods. This also applies to acts of unfair “free-riding” and the unfair “leaning” on the overall product get-up of a direct competitor’s successful product.
Caution is also required in the field of comparative advertising or within the framework of statements relating to the goods or services of a competitor. Non-objective advertising comparisons or the expression of inappropriate criticism, which is merely intended to defame and tarnish the competitor and his services, can be legally restrained as acts of unfair competition under the applicable German competition law (German Act against Unfair Competition – UWG).
In addition to specific associations safeguarding fair competition in Germany, competitors who are fighting for market shares in the same market segment are entitled to bring claims (and to sue) under the German Act against unfair competition.
How can a lawyer of greyhills assist you?
Trademark and competition laws are subject to the constant changes of time and changing moral concepts.
The respective legal frameworks are constantly changing, as is the ruling legal practice of the competent specialized IP courts in Germany. In order to navigate your business safely through this jungle of applicable legal rules, you need the solid legal advice of an IP attorney specialized in trademark and unfair competition law.
Without the necessary support of a specialized IP lawyer, you may quickly overlook a relevant aspect and be at a disadvantage compared to your legally better informed competitors. You should therefore seek expert legal advice early on when creating and setting up company names, trademarks, products and advertising campaigns.
Our successful team of highly specialized IP attorneys and lawyers focusing on trademark law and unfair competition law is reliably at your side.
We will be glad to assist!