Judicial venues for unfair competition cases


Jens Künzel

Germany’s law on unfair competition provides that a party seeking relief against another one for alleged unfair competition may choose the judicial venue.

It may either choose the court located in the district in which the defendant has his place of business, or may apply to the court located in the district in which the allegedly unlawful act has been committed (Unfair Competition Act, Sec. 14 para. (1) and (2)). In practice, the second option has developed into the more significant one by far because in Germany commercial businesses tend to offer their products or services nationwide, so advertisements are published with nationwide effect.

If an advertisement with nationwide effect contains the incriminating act, the plaintiff can choose any court in Germany because the act is deemed to have been committed in the whole nation.

So any practitioner will then choose a court with established credentials in unfair competition matters to lodge its request or complaint. That has led to a situation in which some courts have developed into “national centres” for unfair competition cases, with highly specialised and experienced judges. Such courts include the District Courts of Düsseldorf, Cologne, Hamburg or Frankfurt am Main.

Judicial venues, unfair competition, German District Courts, Bundesregierung