A German court has recently ordered WhatsApp to use German language terms and conditions towards users in Germany (see also here, for example). Or, to be more precise, called upon by a German consumer protection agency the Kammergericht, the appellate court for the district of Berlin, has, amongst other things, decided that using English language terms and conditions for user agreements to be concluded between WhatsApp and users in Germany is in violation of a certain provision of the German Civil Code that demands there to be transparency when using pre-worded terms and conditions towards consumers. So, if you allow the pun, what’s up with that? Continue reading
When drafting and negotiating technology agreements of almost any sort between German companies and US or UK companies (or companies from other common law based countries), particularly on software, one of the various Groundhog moments that one experiences is the never-ending discussion on everything that is “warranty”. Continue reading
It‘s easy to be a unfair competition law violator in Germany. Just operate an eBay shop or deal on Amazon’s market place and use their default settings when informing your customers on how long it will take to get the goods delivered to their homes. In all seriousness, that is what the Bremen Court of Appeals has effectively decided in a judgment in early October. Continue reading
When you negotiate agreements between German companies and companies with a – broadly speaking – common law background, especially the U.S., one issue that keeps appearing is the parties’ liability for damages. Groundhog day, if you will.
“Liability” is certainly a difficult legal term to being with, especially as you have to first decide what you are actually talking about when using the word. Continue reading
I have just (goes to show how much time I really have to scan the law journals for relevant stuff) stumbled upon a very interesting decision by the District Court of Cologne published in the February edition of Germany’s famed “C&R” (i.e. “Computer & Recht” = “Computer & Law”) regarding the terminability of perpetual software licenses under German law for material breaches of contract. As per the District Court of Cologne the answer is: Sure you can! Which is a bit surprising, really. Continue reading
When you’re asked to localize contracts coming from a U.S. legal background so that they function under German law two very different legal worlds collide. Things just work differently over here. And things word differently over there. We draft our contracts differently, we use different language (which is why simply having a translator go over your documents just won’t cut it, much less asking uncle Google), our concept of selling and licensing software is nowhere near the “this software is licensed not sold” was of thinking, and so on and so forth. Nothing wrong with that, but it provides for some hard going sometimes.
One of the more peculiar concepts of German contract law is that of or our “Law on General Terms and Conditions” (Google Translator tells me that in English that should be “Legal terms and conditions of” which isn’t even close, so there…). In a nutshell, the idea is this: If, as a company, you work with standard contracts, i.e. a set of contractual documents that you have in your drawer all drafted to best fit your particular interests and ready to pull out for every new customer you want to do business with, the terms and conditions of those contractual documents are subject to the so-called “content control” (we Germans like control, as is well known). Continue reading