GRP Rainer LLP

Federal Court of Justice (BGH) on Advertising of Companies with the Same Name

Companies with the same name that are operative in separate economic areas may, considering certain formalities, also advertise themselves in the other company's respective area.


Cologne, Germany -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/25/2013 -- GRP Rainer Lawyers Tax Advisors, Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Hanover, Bremen, Nuremberg Essen and London explains: In its judgments of 24 January 2013 (Az.: I ZR 58/11 – I ZR 61/11 and I ZR 65/11), the Federal Court of Justice provided a few clarifications with respect to the advertising of companies with the same name.

The legal dispute concerned two confronting clothing chains with the same name, whose range of products had diverged over the years. One of the two companies is operative in the north German area and feared that its customers would confuse it with the other company, which is active in western, southern and central Germany, because of the latter’s nationwide advertising. The appeal court subsequently prohibited the advertising which had been complained of.

The BGH dismissed the legal action of the north German company. The nationwide advertising represented neither an infringement of its company symbol nor the prohibition against misleading practices. A trademark-related state of equilibrium would indeed exist between both legally and economically independent companies due to decades of using identical company names, which would also be unsettled by the nationwide advertising of the one company. Nonetheless, this company has a recognised interest in nationwide advertising. In contrast, the BGH requested that it be suitably clarified in the advertising that there are two companies with identical names and from which the advertising stems.

Trademark law protects the names of commercially traded products. Here, it is a matter of distinguishing company symbols, that is commercial designations of companies, and brands, which simply identify the goods and services of the corresponding company.

Both in instances of misuse of company symbols as well as brands, there are possibilities to proceed against infringing parties. A lawyer active in intellectual property law, can prepare solutions for you in such a case. However, it is also equally important that you yourself do not commit any legal infringements.

About GRP Rainer LLP
GRP Rainer LLP is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, Nuremberg and London UK.
Contact Michael Rainer
Lawyer, Managing Partner

GRP Rainer LLP
Hohenzollernring 21-23
50672 Cologne

Phone: +49 221-27 22 75-0