Virtual Attacks of Competitors

It’s not always easy doing business – especially when your competitors do not want to stick to the rules. Jerry had such experience as the number of requests coming from a competitor’s IP address blocked his website. Therefore, his competitiveness was blocked. The correctness of such isolation was brought up to the OLG Hamm (re 4 U 99/07) to solve the dispute. On February 13, 2008, the court gave its judgment.


An internet shop was offering more than 5,000 deliverable articles to be sold. A competing company started to hit the shop’s website to test if the number of the offers really met with reality. Within two hours, 650 pages were hit. The shop installed a protective system against access of spam systems and “leaks”. This lead to the IP address of the competitor being blocked. Since the competitor considered this as unfair competition, he sued the shop in court.

If virtual access denial is in compliance with the rules of fair competition or not also depends on the action of the competitor. Only when the person complaining also acts lawfully will he have rights to complain about his competitor that his IP address was blocked. The judges of the Higher Regional Court Hamm considered the action of the competitor already as violating unfair competition law. With his rampant visits, the competitor did not act like a normal customer would. He was practically blocking the site from other persons’ access. The shop has a legitimate interest that its site is protected against security relevant annoyances. It is irrelevant if an IP address is automatically, like in this case, or manually blocked. As long as the competitor behaves like a normal customer, he will be able to study the shop’s site as thoroughly as he wants.

Published on the old CMS: 2008/4/23
Read on the old CMS till November 2008: 2,836 reads

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