Competition stimulates business
This is what a German proverb says, because, due to their competitors, companies are required to constantly improve their performance and products and thus their position compared to other competitors. However, even among competitors, certain competition rules must be observed. For example, it is not permitted to damage the reputation of a competitor (through disparagement or dissemination of false statements of fact), to exploit a competitor (e.g., through imitating the goods or services offered and/or deception relating to their commercial origin) or even to deliberately hinder competitors. Just as it is not permitted to advertise the obvious as a special feature (for example, returning a product within 14 days if it is not liked, since there is already a statutory right of return) in order to persuade consumers to buy. Or offering "free gifts" when they are in fact not free, or as a company giving the impression of offering goods as a private seller in order to escape return and cancellation obligations (commonly found on online portals). Advertising products that are "only available today" when they are in fact available for a longer period of time is also not permitted, as is generally exerting pressure on consumers to make a purchase that they would not otherwise have made (for example, attracting them with discounts due to the closure of a business - without there being a business closure).
The Act against Unfair Competition (Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb, UWG) thus protects not only competitors, but also consumers.
As a company as well as a consumer, you have the option of defending yourself against unfair competition and asserting claims for removal and/or, injunctive relief and damages, etc. - by means of a warning letter from a lawyer, initiating preliminary injunction proceedings or bringing an action for an injunction, removal etc.
Anti-trust law is another not insignificant area of competition law and is therefore also part of our day-to-day work. It is intended to guarantee free competition and protect companies and consumers from abuse of market power, amongst other things. If you are planning a merger, to acquire an equity interest in a company or to enter into an extensive cooperation agreement or similar with another company, it is advisable to have this plan reviewed for its admissibility under antitrust law. If an infringement is only discovered during an official merger control or audit, this can result in severe penalties.
Please feel free to contact our experts on these or other competition law issues for competent advice or representation.
A final note: the sending of unwarranted (and thus legally abusive) warnings to direct competitors is expressly not part of our professional work, because we are in favour of fair competition.