Lecture on trademark protectiom of real estate names

After studying in Frankfurt and majoring in IP/IT/data protection law, Mr Christoph Matras worked for more than three years as a research assistant for a medium-sized commercial law firm in Frankfurt. Thereupon, Mr Matras decided to do his doctorate with Professor Thomas Hoeren on the topic of “trademark protection of real estate names”. Mr Matras has now submitted his dissertation and held a lecture on it on 17 May 2022.

As an introduction, Mr. Mantras clearly presented the basics and the legitimacy of trademark law with reference to the influence of Union law. He then went on to explain the problem of the protection of the real estate name under trade mark law. There are hardly any unresolved legal questions arising from § 3 (1) MarkenG and Art. 4 lit. a UMV, but the concept of goods is a particularity. The Federal Supreme Court assumes that only movable goods are to be subsumed under the term “goods”, which means that real estate falls into an area not covered by the Trade Mark Act. Whether this assumption is compatible with Union law is left to the ECJ.

Mr Matras explained the argumentation for and against this assumption and then presented possibilities of how real estate could otherwise be protected under trade mark law and considered these critically. In particular, he discussed alternatives under trade mark law, supplementary trade mark protection via the Unfair Competition Act or even a right of designation under copyright law. In the end, however, Mr Matras had to come to the conclusion that, although trade mark law is not a conclusive and comprehensive protective law, real estate in particular is not sufficiently protected under trade mark law. There was no justification for this lack of protection.

On the basis of this, Mr Matras then went on to take a closer look at the need for development as well as the possibilities for development of trademark law. Among other things, a claim arising from fundamental rights was discussed, economic arguments were put forward and the loss of competence under European law was pointed out. As possible solutions, Mr. Matras examined a “Real Estate Trademark Act”, a further development of the Nice Classification or the interpretation of Union law. The latter, the most promising approach, was examined in more detail; a decision by the ECJ in this regard remains to be seen. Finally, Mr Matras summarised his findings and answered questions from the participants – especially on the example of “One Forty West”.

We would like to thank Mr Matras for his fascinating lecture and the participants for their lively interest.

Click here for the video.

Presentation at the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

As part of the virtual 39th meeting of the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft Working Group, Johanna Schaller, a research assistant at the Forschungsstelle Recht im DFN, gave a presentation on electronic signatures and seals on Thursday 12 May 2022. The lecture included an overview of the various technical and legal designs of electronic signatures. In particular, the handling of the qualified signature was the focus of attention.

In the ensuing lively discussion among the almost 100 participants, the practical implementation of signatures was discussed in many different ways in addition to reports on experiences.

The ITM would like to thank the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft for its kind invitation and the positive feedback!


Course on ITM successful

“I learned a lot and found it exciting to be able to think outside the box of the normal curriculum!” (Participant from the winter semester 2021/22)

With these words of praise, the ITM proudly looks back on the additional training in information, telecommunications and media law offered for the first time last winter semester to external students from all over Germany.

The ITM supplementary training is a free continuing education opportunity for law students, legal trainees and practitioners from all over Germany who are interested in the topic of internet and media.

The additional training lasts 2 semesters and starts in the winter semester. The first semester consists of a lecture on internet law, held by Prof. Dr. Thomas Hoeren, and a lecture in public media law, held by Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel. Both lectures cover a wide range of media law topics: In addition to current issues on artificial intelligence, social media and data protection, classic topics such as the function of public broadcasting are also discussed. Current cases are regularly addressed and legally classified in the lectures, so that the pulse is always on the latest developments. The two lectures are each followed by a digital final exam of 90 minutes. In the second semester, the acquired knowledge is then deepened in the form of a seminar. Participants can either write a seminar paper in the area of internet law or public media law. In the choice of topic, there are suggestions from the seminar leader, but the participants also have the opportunity to make their own suggestions and contribute themselves. The seminar concludes with a presentation of the participants’ work and a stimulating discussion with the other participants on the topic. Alternatively, it is also possible that a seminar paper already prepared by the participants on the topic of information, telecommunications and media law can be credited.

The special feature of the additional training is that it is purely digital and participants can work through the learning content at their own pace. The recorded lectures and consolidation notes are made available to the participants weekly via the mailing list so that they can familiarise themselves individually with the subject matter. In addition, there are also digital question sessions with the lecturers every fortnight, in which, in addition to answering questions, cases are repeatedly discussed interactively with the participants. At the beginning of the additional training, the participants receive a schedule that informs them when which topic will be discussed, when the question sessions are and by when they should have read what, in order to facilitate organisation.

The interim conclusion of the participants is that they are enthusiastic and appreciate the opportunity to work on the learning content individually. The final exams were also rated as “good and doable”. Not only the broadening of their own legal horizons is emphasised in the evaluation of the additional training, but also the opportunity to come into contact with other students, legal trainees and practitioners. The additional training is therefore already seen as a benefit and is gladly recommended to all those who have an interest in the topic or who come into contact with such legal issues for the first time.

After passing the two final exams and the seminar, the certificate is awarded at the end of the summer semester. This certificate serves as proof of knowledge in the field of information, telecommunications and media law, which is becoming increasingly important, so that new academic or professional perspectives can be opened up through this.

Further information on the additional ITM training is available on the ITM homepage (https://www.itm.nrw/lehre/zusatzausbildungen/das-itm/). A current field report can be found in JA 05/2022.

Aurelia Merbecks (aurelia.merbecks@uni-muenster.de) will be pleased to accept applications for the new ITM training course starting in October 2022.

Ebbinghaus and the Art Loss Register

On 19 April 2022, Ms Amelie Ebbinghaus, Client Manager & Provenance Researcher at the Art Loss Register in London, gave a one-hour Zoom lecture (available here) on the topic of “Due Diligence and Restitution in the Art Market”. She had accepted the invitation of the Art Law Clinic based at the ITM and led by Prof. Dr. Thomas Hoeren.

Ms Ebbinghaus introduced the Art Loss Register (ALR) in London. The private company was founded in 1991 and is the world’s largest database of lost and stolen works of art with approximately 700,000 registrations. The aim of the ALR is to protect the art market from problematic goods, to recover registered objects and to prevent theft and insurance fraud. The work of the ALR is explained in the course of the lecture through three different levels: registration, search and recovery.

At the registration level, losses are mainly recorded by victims of theft, insurance companies and law enforcement agencies, and all art collectors’ items can be registered, Ebbinghaus said.

This is followed by research, in which the ALR matches the object it has registered with the database for auction houses, museums and dealers, among others, and determines the background of loss circumstances and the work’s identity. In total, the research involves about 400,000 queries annually, as Ms Ebbinghaus informed the interested audience.

Ms Ebbinghaus then explained the procedures in case there is a match between the registered object and the database. The repatriation was explained on the one hand using the example of Nazi looted art and on the other hand using the example of a theft. The so-called Washington Principles of 1998, which provide for a “just and fair solution”, have a significant influence on the repatriation of Nazi looted art.

The lecture was rounded off with an exciting discussion and Q&A session. We would like to sincerely thank Ms Eb

Podcast on TDPF

In this short episode of the ITM Podcast, research assistants Malin Fischer, Owen Mc Grath and Nicolas John talk about the planned Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework. The EU Commission and the US government have recently agreed on the basics of such a new data protection framework. With this framework, data transfers from EU countries to the USA should be possible in the future with legal certainty. The previous agreement, the EU-US Privacy Shield, was declared insufficient by the European Court of Justice in a ruling in 2020.

Markus Bertling died

As I just learned from the university newspaper, a good friend of the ITM, Dr Markus Bertling, passed away on 13 February. Mr Bertling, born in 1959, was the director of the Palaeontological Museum of the WWU. I am connected with Markus by many years of cooperation in the Senate Committee for Art and Culture of the WWU and a personal friendship that developed as a result. I will greatly miss him, his mischievous humour, his enthusiasm for art, his willingness to experiment. Thomas Hoeren