German Federal Court of Justice confirms Runes of Magic decision

von Konstantin Ewald

This morning, the German Federal Court of Justice (the highest German civil court; “BGH”) has confirmed its July 2013 “Runes of Magic” decision (docket no. I ZR 34/12), banning an advertisement for in-game items allegedly targeted at children. This decision will likely have a considerable impact on anyone advertising and selling goods or services online.

Legal Background

In its earlier decision, the court, following the arguments of a consumer watchdog organisation, had ordered the operator of a game to refrain from using the contested ad, which included the line

“Seize the advantageous opportunity and add that certain something to your armour & weapons”.

The BGH saw this language as an illegal direct exhortation to children to buy the relevant items. In making this finding, the court relied on the address with the German informal “you” (the German language has different words and grammatical constructions for “formal” and “informal” address, the latter being commonly used for family, close friends and children) and the use of other words it considers typical for children’s speech.

Therefore, the court BGH found the advertisement to be illegal commercial practice under § 3 para. 3 of the German Act against Unfair Competition (Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb; “UWG”) in connection with no. 28 of the appendix to the UWG (the so-called Black List).Under this no ...

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