A ban on misleading advertising

The defendant advertised himself in the German business directory, the so called “Yellow Pages”, in the column “Sewage system clearance”. Simultaneously, he listed his branches in different places giving telephone numbers of each of them. In fact he had no separate branches and calls coming from different numbers were being redirected to the main telephone number at the registered office of the company.

In the opinion of the Regional Court, such practice gives customers an erroneous impression that they use services of a company in their vicinity and constitutes an act of unfair competition. Because a significant number of customers prefer local service providers since they want to support local enterprise on one hand and count on greater availability of a service on the other.

Another act of unfair competition imputed to the defendant was the use in an advertisement of the title “Member of the Chamber of Crafts”. Indeed, the entrepreneur is a member of the Chamber of Crafts in Wiesbaden, but pointing to this fact is the so called obvious advertising which is regarded as prohibited. For every company of this type must be registered with the Chamber of Crafts, the fact of which not all consumers are aware. Advertisement of the defendant can lead consumers to a conviction that the entrepreneur stands out from other service providers.

The Regional Court in Gießen forbid the entrepreneur engaged in water and sewerage services to use misleading information in his business activity.

In German judicature, it is assumed that advertising which gives factual information but in such manner that it gives the advertiser an advantage over competition, in spite of the fact that other competitors are also obligated under the law to abide by the same rules (here: membership of the Chamber of Crafts) is an act of unfair competition defined in § 5 of the German act on combating unfair competition.

  • judgment of the Regional Court in Gießen of 14th July 2015, file reference number 6 O 54/14