Workshop Blockchain: When theory meets practice

On July 22, 2019, an international workshop on “Blockchain: When Theory Meets Practice” took place at the ITM in Münster. It brought together lawyers and mathematicians from science and practice from Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and the USA. From the ITM, Prof. Dr. Thomas Hoeren, Assistant Professor Dr. Nikolas Guggenberger as well as the research assistants Johannes Baur and Lukas Willecke and the research assistant Toshihiro Wada participated.

Blockchain technology and the use of Smart Contracts are already being discussed worldwide and offer immense application potential. The workshop explored how the technology can help to solve economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems.

The participants heard four introductory presentations by Erik P.M. Vermeulen (Senior Legal Counsel, Signify & Professor of Business and Financial Law, Tilburg University), Sandra van Heukelom (Partner, Pels Rijcken), Craig Calcaterra (Professor of Mathematics, Metropolitan State University) and Nikolas Guggenberger (ITM). They then deepened the discussion into legal and technical aspects of the block chain technology and its practical implementation; e.g. the importance of programming skills in legal education, the importance of the involvement of lawyers in the conception phase of block chain solutions, data protection challenges and the regulation of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

One of the topics of discussion was whether the decentralized structure of the block chain technology is up to the practical challenges, which at least a part of the participants considered possible. According to the participants, the technology not only had great economic potential, but could even create a basis for a new form of democracy. Other participants were somewhat more reserved about this euphoria.

The ITM thanks all participants for the meaningful and instructive discussion.

Campuskickern: Großer Erfolg!

Last Thursday the Campuskickern 2019 took place in the basement of the ITM. Students of all disciplines were invited to indulge in the wild hustle and bustle around the white ball. Designers played against lawyers or musicians against architects. Thanks to Viking chess, flunky ball and nice conversations, no one who had to sit out at the table was bored.

The game was played in 2 groups. After the semi-final matches, the players played the individual positions until the grand final was played. Accompanied by Carls Orff’s “Oh Fortuna” and under the eyes of all the other participants, Marvin and Armin on the one hand and Carola and Johannes on the other were facing each other. While Carola and Johannes had to pay tribute to their exhausting games in the course of the tournament so far, Marvin and Armin turned up the heat and played themselves into a frenzy. But at the end of the rather one-sided final game, there were only winners. All players seemed to have had a lot of fun at the tournament and are already looking forward to next summer, when it’s back to: Welcome to Campuskickers!

The ITM would like to thank everyone who participated and would be happy to welcome you (and anyone else who feels like it) again next year.

Copyright workshop

On 16 May 2019, a workshop on copyright in public relations was held for EMU staff. The workshop resulted from the cooperation between the ITM and the Central Custody of the EMU.

The background is the planned digitization of the extensive scientific university collections. These include both the university’s art holdings and collections from departments such as religious studies or geology. The Central Custody of the EMU is responsible for the administration of these various collections. The broad spectrum of tasks of the Custody includes the digitization of the exhibits. If the digitized collections are also to be made publicly accessible on the EMU website, various copyright issues arise: Are the objects copyright-protected works? How does the granting of rights in an employment or service relationship work? Who has the right to the digital copies of public domain works?

Marten Tiessen, as a member of the ITM staff, clarified these and other questions by first giving an overview of the basic principles of copyright law and then going into the Custody’s concrete plans. The workshop was attended by staff members of the EMU, each of whom is responsible for the respective collection in their respective department. In keeping with the diversity of the collections, the participants also brought with them a large number of copyright issues from their professional practice, which were also productively discussed in the workshop.

Dr. Münker: a lecture on unfair competition law

On May 28, 2019, Dr. Reiner Münker (General Manager of the German Competition Authority and head of the German National Group LIDC) gave an exciting and well attended lecture on current developments in competition law at the ITM.

Dr. Münker studied law at the Justus-Liebig-University in Gießen and completed his legal clerkship in Frankfurt a. M. and Brussels. His doctorate was entitled “Copyright approval requirements for digital sampling”. Today, he is a managing member of the executive committee of the competition headquarters in Bad Homburg. We are also pleased that he will be offering a lecture on the fundamentals of advertising law at the EMU starting in the winter semester 2019/2020, which will expand the portfolio of the ITM focus area.

After a short introduction on the development of the Competition Center, Dr. Münker described the main tasks of the Competition Center as four pillars. In particular, it serves the enforcement of the law, advising its members in the area of the Unfair Competition Act, providing information and, finally, it is even active in an advisory capacity in the area of legislation. The law on unfair competition is constantly being developed in today’s age, which is why the expert advice of the staff of the Competition Authority is in particular demand.

Dr. Münker then dealt with numerous current cases. At the beginning he presented the BGH ruling of 19 April 2018 on AdBlock Plus and explained at this point why the BGH – in contrast to the OLG Cologne – does not consider this business model to be anti-competitive. According to this ruling, there is no undue influence and no anticompetitive impediment. Rather, AdBlock Plus is a marketable service which does not aim to deprive the user of advertising revenue.

Dr. Münker then addressed the highly topical phenomenon of influencers. While just a few years ago products were still being advertised on TV by celebrities such as Thomas Gottschalk or George Clooney, the advertising market today is increasingly shifting to social platforms such as Instagram or YouTube. This would enable new target groups to be reached and product sales to be increased more effectively than ever before. For an advertising mail, an influencer with approx. 1 million followers receives up to 10,000 dollars. But the Internet is not a lawless space. UWG, TMG and RStV also apply here, which increasingly leads to legal disputes. Numerous court decisions (including OLG Celle v. 08.06.2017; KG Berlin v. 08.01.2019; LG Karlsruhe v. 21.03.2019 and most recently LG München I v. 29.04.2019) have dealt with the so-called labelling obligation in recent months. The question of whether posts for which influencers do not receive any concrete consideration should also be labelled as advertising is often at the centre of these discussions. Every influencer also advertises for himself with regular postings, which is why an unpaid post is also a business act within the meaning of the UWG. However, it was questionable whether the circumstances could not reveal the advertising nature of the act, so that labelling was not necessary. This was most recently affirmed by the Regional Court Munich I in the case of Cathy Hummels (judgment of 29 April 2019 – 4 HK O 14312/18). Dr. Münker pointed out that the development in this area of unfair competition law in the coming period remains to be seen. However, a new definition of the commercial act could prove to be problematic and could have consequences for the entire UWG.

In the following, Dr. Münker reported on further cases in which the Competition Authority was also involved. For example, the non-transparent calculation of a monthly average price on Check 24 and Verivox violated the PAngV and thus also the UWG.

 

Finally, Dr. Münker went into some projects on a European level. As early as April 2018, the EU Commission adopted the “New Deal for Consumers”, which is intended to ensure more transparency in the network. This includes the so-called Omnibus Directive, which intends to amend four directives, including the UCP Directive. The Directive is intended to create individual legal remedies for consumers. Within the scope of the implementation, however, Germany will have a certain amount of leeway. At this point, Dr. Münker warned in particular against the creation of administrative fines. These were questionable not only with regard to the principles of determination and proportionality, as the UWG works with numerous undefined legal terms. Moreover, it was also doubtful whether the imposition of fines would make it more difficult to punish competition violations. He then promoted the work of the League for International Competition Law (LIDC).

Finally, questions were asked from the audience and the lecture also provided sufficient discussion material for the concluding champagne reception. In response to a question from Prof. Hoeren, Dr. Münker stated that one should not lose sight of the fact that the UWG not only serves consumer protection but also the protection of competitors. In this respect, the competitors in particular were the market guardians of the UWG.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Münker once again for his exciting and varied presentation and look forward to our future cooperation.