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Anticompetitive violation and the button 'Like' on Facebook

The Regional Court Stuttgart decided in a ruling from August 19, 2014 that the advertising with purchase 'like' on Facebook is to be considered an anty-competitive practice (RC Stuttgart, in a ruling from August 19, 2014, Case No. 37 O 34/14 KfH).

An entrepreneur collected in a short period of time about 14500 'likes' on Facebook, most of these Facebook users were from Indonesia, Brasile and India. In these countries, however, the entrepreneur was inactive. Thus a competitor came to the conclusion that the huge number of 'likes' must have been purchased. The sale of Facebook 'likes' is nothing new on the internet, for instance it is possible to buy a package of 'one thousand likes' on Ebay. The competitor thought the purchased 'likes' were a strategy of an anti-competitive advertising and decided to seek an injunction against such breach.

The Regional Court Stuttgart released a temporary injunction against the entrepreneur: according to § 5 Abs. 1 UWG it is a case of misleading advertising. In accordance with § 5 paragraph 1 UWG we are dealing with a misleading advertising if the advertiser makes untrue statements or any other information that is intended to deceive. Through a significant number of purchased 'likes' on Facebook we have a wrong idea of the popularity of a product and of the dealer's network. Therefore the 'likes' are suitable for the purpose; they make the customer think of a high quality of the product, which is not in keeping with reality. The only aim the entrepreneur pursued by purchasing 'likes' on facebook has been that of misleading the customers. On the contrary the connection is assigned every day a new IP address, available in a pool of addresses.