After more than a year of negotiations, the grand coalition has agreed on a bill to counter the warning letter. She is primarily concerned with protecting small and medium-sized companies from the “excesses of abuse warnings” such as high lawyers’ fees and contractual penalties for minor violations.
Abusive warnings are still a big problem for small and medium-sized businesses, online shops and clubs, explained Dirk Wiese, vice-chief of the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag. Rip-offs automatically search websites with special crawlers for minimal errors, for example in the imprint and warnings sent by serial letter. This stitch will no longer be worthwhile in the future.
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Violations of statutory labeling and information requirements could still be warned, but competitors would no longer be entitled to reimbursement. The possibilities for contractual penalties are also restricted and the sanctions for small companies in simple cases are capped at EUR 1,000. Anyone who is warned improperly should get back the legal costs that the person who issued the warning has claimed.
Capped value in dispute
Small and medium-sized companies in particular were concerned about warnings against GDPR violations, emphasized CDU / CSU parliamentary group leader Thorsten Frei. The fears at the time are now considered exaggerated.
With its original draft, the federal government had also proposed to further increase the requirements “in order to assert copyright claims”. Business associations should therefore only be allowed to issue warning letters if they have been checked by the Federal Office of Justice and are entered on a list of those authorized to bring an action. On this aspect, the SPD parliamentary group only emphasizes that it has ensured that “the union’s right to sue is maintained”.
The Bundestag had already passed a law against “untrustworthy business practices” in 2013, thereby reducing the amount in dispute at first warnings for simple copyright violations in the private sphere to a flat rate of € 1,000. However, the government saw increasing signs that abuse warnings were still being used.