GRP Rainer LLP

Promotional Advertising of Dental Services Is Anti-Competitive - Competition Law

In the view of the Regional Court of Cologne, offering dental services and their prices via an online coupon portal constitutes anti-competitive conduct.


Cologne, Germany -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/17/2013 -- GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Bremen, Dusseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich, Nuremberg, Stuttgart and London conclude: In the medical sector, one must exercise particular caution with respect to advertising measures, especially for doctors and dentists. While dentists are, in principle, permitted to promote their services, they must, however, in doing so observe their professional code of conduct. The Regional Court of Cologne (LG) had to rule on a case (Az.: 31 O 25/12) in which a dentist offered certain services via an online coupon portal in consideration of the grant of a rebate. The German Dental Association (Zahnärztekammer) took action against this and requested an injunction.

In their judgment, the Cologne judges found in favour of the German Dental Association and considered the dentist’s action to be anti-competitive conduct. He had infringed his professional code of conduct and thus also a regulation on market conduct. Dentists are not permitted to carry out promotional or publicising advertising. Similarly, advertising may not unduly or subjectively influence potential patients. In the instant case, the low prices and time-restriction pertaining to the offer were supposed to have lured in customers and pushed them into signing a contract.

In addition, one can assume that the customers, without having previously closely examined the offer, were seduced into carrying out the transaction. The fact that this kind of services is not only able to be carried out by a dentist, but also by a beautician, could not give rise to a different appraisal of the case. Whether or not the service is associated with health risks is irrelevant. The decisive factor was solely that the advertising was carried out in his capacity as a medical professional. That is why dentists are subject to professional regulations.

In order to facilitate lawful competition and protect consumers and competitors from unfair business practices, the legislature has created statutory provisions for these purposes with the Act against Unfair Competition (UWG). Businesses, sole traders and also professional workers thus have to take care that they do not infringe the UWG with their transactions.

In many cases, particularly those concerning the implementation of advertising, it is therefore advisable to turn to a lawyer versed in competition law. He can examine circumstances on a case-by-case basis and take action against infringements by competitors or prevent violations on your part from the outset.

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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.

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