Webpage Owner's Characteristics on the Internet

Before July 20, 2006 there was uncertainty on how to correctly provide one’s contact details for one’s internet presentation. The BGH (in its decision I ZR 228/03) has now laid down the rules. This judgment determines the requirements for contact details incircumstances of media services and remote purchases and sales. Pursuant to §6 TMG and pursuant to §10 II MDStV it is a legal requirement to publish one’s contact details.

The provider of an online shop for medical literature was sued in court by the Zentrale zur Bekämpfung unlauteren Wettbewerbs e.V. (Center for Fighting Unfair Competition [This registered association is legally authorized to sue for violation of unfair competition law – pursuant to §8 III UWG for incorrectly disclosing its imprint details in violation of the Unfair Competition Act. The company’s name, its representatives, commercial registry details, physical address were only retrievable after first clicking twice.

The issue was whether needing to click twice to obtain the obligatory details was “easily retrievable” within the meaning of the law. The website of the company sued presented its commercial details only after first clicking on »contact« and then secondly once again by clicking on »imprint« on the page opened thereafter. Thus the imprint was not directly retrievable from the initial webpage nor was it visible during online purchases.

The Federal Supreme Court dismissed the case. It decided that having to click twice still meets the requirements of “transparency” as the law demands. The law requires one to present his contact data directly and continuously. It is not necessary to have the link to the imprint directly on the first page encountered or to show it during a purchase transaction. Meanwhile, the words »contact« or »imprint« have become standardized as signifying the route to the required contact details. It does even not matter if the “contact” page leads to an eMail form (so-called “mail-to-link”) which enables the average user to contact the provider. Even if the front page only offers the »contact« link, and not expressly the »imprint« link, this still fulfills the statutory requirements.

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