IT Law Firm – Lawyers advise

IT Law

IT Law – Law Firm Herfurtner in Hamburg – Munich – Frankfurt. IT law is the abbreviation for “information technology law”.

IT law is an area of law that has many intersections with other areas of law. For example, there are points of contact with trademark law, competition law or copyright law. But data protection, contract law or software law are also part of IT law.

Topics in our legal advice

The topics of internet law, data protection (DSGVO) and fraud offences committed using the internet as a tool of crime or computer technology and malware also play a role in connection with IT law.

Compared to other areas of law, IT law is still a relatively new but very diverse field that is constantly developing. Examples include blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies and smart contracts.

Table of contents

  1. IT law lawyer – for companies and private individuals
  2. Internet law or online law? What is the difference?
  3. Legally secure online shop
  4. eCommerce law
  5. Drafting IT contracts
  6. Media law
  7. Software law / software patent
  8. Open Source Software
  9. General Terms and Conditions of Business
  10. Business-to-Business
  11. Warning letters – definition
  12. Disclaimer – what is it?
  13. Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Xing, LinkedIn, Google+
  14. Compulsory e-mail details
  15. File sharing – explanation
  16. Licence agreement
  17. Domain law
  18. Affiliate marketing
  19. SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
  20. Used Software
  21. Blockchain & Smart Contracts
  22. Internet crime, cybercrime, internet fraud

IT law lawyer – for companies and private individuals

IT law covers many disciplines and provides the legal framework within which private individuals and companies operate when they use software, hardware or the internet. The internet and the availability of large amounts of data in particular mean that IT law is becoming increasingly important.

This is because technological developments and advancements are dynamic and raise many new questions from a legal perspective. It is therefore all the more important to keep up to date with the latest IT law news.

In IT law, our lawyers offer companies, founders, operators of online shops, SEO agencies, influencers and private individuals in all German-speaking countries legal support and advice on their IT projects and plans in the areas of internet law and data protection.

As an IT law firm, the lawyers around Wolfgang Herfurtner advise their clients in all areas of internet law. Whether you are looking for an IT law contact in Munich or IT law legal advice in Hamburg – we are your contact throughout Germany.

Companies as well as private individuals come to us for information on various issues of IT law. The founder and name giver of the law firm Herfurtner was also chairman of the board of an IT and software company for a long time.

He therefore knows the legal and economic requirements in IT law from practical experience. You can obtain legal advice from us in the following areas, among others.

To arrange a non-binding appointment for IT law, please click here to go directly to the contact form.

Internet law is a topic that especially online shop operators, but also website operators and providers of internet services in general, should deal with. This is primarily for self-protection, because if an Internet presence is not implemented in a legally compliant manner, there is a threat of a warning notice.

For operators of websites and online shops, it is worthwhile to be familiar with internet law, information obligations on the internet and also liability issues. The lawyers of the Herfurtner law firm are at your disposal for questions and advice on these topics. Click here to go to our contact area.

Internet law or online law? What is the difference?

There is no independent internet law, it is rather a collection of different laws. Accordingly, there is also no independent “online law”; the term is merely used here and there as a synonym for internet law.

Especially in the area of online commerce, warnings are often issued by consumer associations or competitors.

Online law or internet law affects many areas of law. These include competition law for marketing and advertising measures. Intellectual property law and domain law are also relevant. In addition, the General Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO) and e-commerce law also play an important role.

IT Law: Laws, GTCs, European Directives

In addition to the various laws that apply on the internet, the general terms and conditions of large social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or YouTube also apply, as do the registries of internet domains such as DENIC eG, which administers German domains (.de).

Since legal regulations are often insufficient to regulate individual cases, court decisions are of great importance in concrete conflicts and concerns.

This applies to internet law more than to other areas of law, because in many cases the courts have to deal with new issues first due to rapid technological progress.

In Germany, the Higher Regional Courts (Oberlandesgerichte, OLG) and the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) make legally binding judgements; in the European Union, the European directives and decisions of the ECJ apply. In addition, many internet-related laws find their origin in European directives.

In general, it can be said that all rules and laws that regulate correct conduct on the internet are referred to in their entirety as internet law.

Internet law: Legal regulations on the internet

In the internet, different legal regulations apply depending on the situation, which affect different areas of law and together form internet law:

E-commerce

The German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB) and the Introductory Act to the German Civil Code (Einführungsgesetz zum BGB, EGBGB) contain provisions on the conclusion and performance of contracts in online commerce and on the duty to provide information.

Liability

On the Internet, liability primarily relates to the content of a website. Essential here is the “Stoererhaftung” (Breach of Duty of Care) for infringements of rights, among other things by third-party content. Examples of third-party content are comments and postings in forums, linked content of third-party websites and embedded videos.

Domain names

Websites need independent addresses. However, due to the large number of domains, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find one’s own domain that has not yet been registered by others. In particular, attention must be paid to existing trademark or name rights.

TOM (Security)

Both the DSGVO (Art. 32 DSGVO) and the TMG (Section 13 (7) TMG) oblige website operators to take state-of-the-art technical and organisational measures (“TOM”). This is to prevent unauthorised access to technical equipment and data as well as general disruptions.

Advertising/Marketing

Commercial online presences serve marketing purposes, whereby specific laws play a role in addition to the UWG (e.g. the Youth Protection Act). Examples of online marketing are “Google Ads” or “keyword advertising” or also “influencer marketing”. Trademark rights must be observed in particular when bidding on keywords from competitors.

Website content

When it comes to website content, i.e. the entire content of a website, copyright issues and the regulations of the Unfair Competition Act (UWG) must be observed.

Internet law – data protection

When it comes to data protection, operators of websites and online shops must comply with the regulations of the DSGVO (Basic Data Protection Regulation). However, there are different opinions regarding the parallel validity of the Telemedia Act (§§ 11 – 15a TMG).

However, the content of the provisions of the Telemedia Act can be used for the interpretation of the General Data Protection Regulation. However, beyond the requirements of Section 13 of the German Telemedia Act (TMG), the additional requirements for information duties (Art. 13, Art. 14 DSGVO) determine the content of a data protection declaration.

Mandatory information

IT Law: Every commercial website as well as all other (also non-commercial) business online presences must contain an imprint.

Essential information duties on the internet

On the Internet, there is a whole range of information obligations for online shops and providers of Internet services:

  • Address and telephone number of the company,
  • legal liability in the event of defects,
  • offer of at least one method of payment that is free of charge,
  • e-mail address,
  • identity of the owner or operator of a website,
  • right of withdrawal,
  • guarantees and after-sales services,
  • information on delivery restrictions,
  • information on essential characteristics of goods or services,
  • information on means of payment and surcharges for payments,
  • information on delivery and payment dates,
  • conditions for payments, deliveries and services,
  • the method of calculating the price or the total price,
  • shipping and delivery costs.

These information obligations result from various laws:

  • Price Indication Ordinance
  • EGBGB (Art. 246 a)
  • Telemedia Act
  • BGB (Distance Selling Law and E-Commerce)

The imprint – what is important for websites and social media?

According to internet law, anyone who operates a business website must comply with the imprint obligation and make certain information easily accessible.

Businesses with a Facebook presence, but also those with a presence on other social networking platforms such as Xing, LinkedIn, Twitter and others, can be warned off and should check the accessibility of their imprint.

Internet law: Catalogue of duties for distance selling

In order not to jeopardise his business, every entrepreneur who concludes contracts with customers outside of retail shops should know the catalogue of duties for distance selling. One of the obligations is to inform the customer of his or her right to withdraw before concluding the contract. If the entrepreneur makes a mistake here, it can be expensive for him.

If a customer places an order by e-mail, for example, he or she has the same 14-day right of withdrawal as when ordering in a web shop. If the trader does not inform the customer, does not inform him in time or does not inform him correctly about the right of withdrawal, the customer has the right to withdraw from the transaction after 12 months and 14 days and get a refund.

The trader is usually left holding the bag.

Only those who inform the customer about the right of withdrawal in their e-mail before the actual conclusion of the contract, e.g. in the case of an order by e-mail using the appropriate official model form, can avoid the extended withdrawal period and preserve the 14-day period.

IT Law: Who is liable on the Internet?

The Telemedia Act (TMG) regulates who is responsible if information published on the internet violates the rights of third parties or legal regulations. Everyone who moves online should know and follow the rules on liability on the net. The regulations apply to one’s own website as well as to blog entries, for example.

For a long time, the liability of Wi-Fi providers was controversial, but it was de facto abolished with the amendment of the TMG in October 2017. This means that the operator of a WLAN hotspot is no longer responsible if a third party, for example, carries out illegal file sharing via the router.

The Wi-Fi provider is not responsible for damages, injunctive relief or removal in the event of an infringement by a third party.

As a result, there is no longer any obligation to take security precautions, such as setting up identity and password protection. Under certain circumstances, the provider of the Wi-Fi hotspot is nevertheless obliged to take security measures, up to and including a ban on use, in order to prevent repeated infringements.

Many websites contain a so-called “disclaimer” (exclusion of liability) in the imprint. Since liability cannot be excluded per se, the sense of such a disclaimer is questionable. The disclaimer is most suitable if one offers links to third-party pages or embeds third-party information in one’s own website.

Dispute involvement and consumer arbitration

Consumers should be informed about the possibilities of online dispute resolution. A shop operator must provide a link to an online dispute resolution procedure on its website. The link must be clickable and easily accessible.

The regulation does not specify where it should be placed. The imprint is one possibility.

If a shop operator employs more than ten employees, he must additionally inform customers whether he is willing to participate in a consumer arbitration procedure. If online traders are not generally willing to participate in a dispute resolution procedure, they must inform customers of this.

Feedback on the internet – customer reviews

Successful search engine optimisation (SEO) and an appealing online presence are important prerequisites for the success of an online company. For many potential customers, customer reviews are also among the important sources of information on the Internet that are consulted in the run-up to an order.

Positive feedback increases the chance of website visitors and further orders. Reviews can be found on the company’s website or on third-party review portals. Bad reviews can affect sales and have a negative impact on a company’s reputation or image.

Care should be taken when asking consumers for reviews by mail, as this is not always permissible.

Advertising by e-mail – what is permitted under internet law?

When advertising by e-mail, but also by telephone, SMS and letter, certain regulations must be observed. Whether and when advertising is to be classified as illegal and disturbing is regulated by the Unfair Competition Act (§ 7 UWG). For example, e-mail advertising may only be sent if the recipient has given his or her consent.

Terminating contracts by email – what internet law says

Consumer contracts can be terminated by text message, email or scanned PDF file since 1 October 2016. This is because it is no longer necessary to send a document with a handwritten signature.

If a company’s general terms and conditions (GTC) require a written notice of termination, this passage must be changed.

Copyright – When Warning Notices Are Threatened

Companies are often confronted with copyright law. Streaming, downloading, sharing and linking content in words and images on a website are common examples. There is a risk of a warning notice if the rules of copyright are violated.

IT Law: What to do in case of infringement of photo rights?

Copyright protection applies to all images, photos and videos, but also to texts, works of art and software. Copyright infringement occurs when other people’s works, such as photographs, are published without the consent of the author or rights holder.

Thus, it is forbidden to copy or distribute a protected work without the appropriate permission (e.g. sending a photo or a newspaper article to a distribution list by e-mail). Only the author or the holder of the exclusive rights of use and exploitation has the right to claim injunctive relief and damages.

Those who receive a warning should always check whether the person issuing the warning is entitled to issue a warning at all.

Warning notice: Who is entitled to issue one?

If the person issuing the warning notice is obviously not the author himself and does not provide any further explanation as to his entitlement, evidence should be requested. For example, if the person issuing the warning notice is a limited liability company that claims the “copyright” (and not just a right of exploitation) to the picture.

The reason for this is that under German law only a natural person, not a legal entity such as a GmbH, can be the author. If the image in question was not created by the person issuing the warning notice, he or she must demonstrate and prove that he or she is the rightful owner of the rights of use and exploitation.

Copyright infringements are conceivable in particular on the Internet by any kind of publication on one’s own website, not only by illegal direct uploading to one’s own website.

Permission is also required when using “frames” or “deep links” to embed content. Furthermore, linking to a copyrighted object can be difficult for website and shop operators.

Small entrepreneurs & turnover tax – what to look out for

Anyone who, as a trader or freelancer, has an annual turnover of less than €17,500 (including turnover tax) in the year of establishment is considered a small entrepreneur. If the gross turnover in the previous calendar year did not exceed € 17,500 and is not expected to reach € 50,000 in the current calendar year, no turnover tax is due.

Small entrepreneurs and turnover tax liability

If a small entrepreneur meets these criteria, he can choose to charge VAT. Accordingly, a small entrepreneur who does not choose this option cannot claim input tax and cannot show VAT on his invoices.

Regardless of whether or not the small business regulation is used, a VAT return must be submitted.

Internet law – Price Indication Ordinance

The Small Business Regulation and the Price Indication Ordinance (PAngV) stipulate that the prices of products or services must include VAT and other price components if they are sold via the Internet. According to Section 1 (1) PAngV, prices must be shown to the customer as the final price including VAT.

In this way, the legislator wants to prevent customers from seeing net prices and not being able to see the true final price at a glance. However, the legislation is difficult to implement for small businesses because they cannot indicate that VAT is included in a price. This is because a price indication “incl. VAT.” is misleading and thus anti-competitive, according to the Higher Regional Court (OLG) Frankfurt, Ref.: 6 O 219/07.

Due to the small business regulation, small businesses should declare the stated price as the final price and point out that VAT cannot be shown. With this indication, the small entrepreneur fulfils his responsibility under the Price Indication Ordinance and at the same time avoids deceiving the customer.

IT law – making your online shop legally secure

For many online shop operators, legal issues and IT law are a red rag. This is because their focus is on the technical infrastructure, on questions of shipping, on the products or on marketing.

However, laws and regulations play an important role, because different rules apply to internet commerce than to stationary sales. For example, there are various obligatory components of an online shop that have to be worked out and made available before the shop is opened.

IT law states that a legally binding imprint is just as much a part of this as general terms and conditions, a valid cancellation policy or the implementation of the so-called “button solution”. Especially if the shop is aimed at private individuals, the topic should be dealt with intensively, as private consumers enjoy far-reaching protection.

For example, the special regulations on distance selling according to the German Civil Code apply if a business concludes a contract with a consumer for the delivery of goods or the provision of services and only “means of distance communication” such as a website or e-mail are used for this purpose (distance contract).

Operators should have their online shop checked for legal certainty in order to avoid warnings.

It is not advisable to use a data protection generator or a general terms and conditions generator, as the results rarely take into account the individual circumstances and details. It is worthwhile in the long term to have thoroughly thought-out GTCs drawn up on which you can rely in case of emergency.

As employees of an IT law firm, our lawyers know Shopify and many other software solutions for online shops and can provide information.

E-Commerce IT Law

When the internet is used to buy or sell goods, it is referred to as e-commerce or online trade or internet trade. Online trade now plays a significant role from an economic point of view and is characterised, sometimes to a greater or lesser extent, by strong competition from competing providers.

Due to the large number of market participants and the business relationships that companies enter into with each other (B2B) or with private individuals (B2C), many laws and regulations apply in the context of IT law, which are subsumed under the generic term e-commerce law.

In addition to the provisions on e-commerce, these include, for example, the right of withdrawal for consumers, the Price Indication Ordinance (Preisangabenverordnung), copyright law, the Unfair Competition Act (UWG, Wettbewerbsrecht) or the Telemedia Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO).

In the event of violations of IT law, shop operators face sanctions ranging from warnings to fines. Legal advice on e-commerce is advisable in order to avoid pitfalls and to protect one’s own company in the long term.

The e Commerce law in Germany may differ from the e Commerce law in Austria. An e Commerce lawyer develops the appropriate strategy for online traders and recommends adequate preventive measures.

We also take into account the current legal situation in commercial law and the law on the sale of goods or UN sales law, among other things, in legal questions on the subject of e-commerce.

Designing IT contracts

In the field of information technology, there are various fields, from consulting to the development and application of software to technological infrastructure. Providers and users of products and services conclude a software contract, which regulates the cooperation. This is also part of IT law.

A carefully formulated contract helps to set out the expectations of both contracting parties in a binding manner.

In principle, there are different types of contract for this, such as purchase contract, leasing contract, service contract or contract for work and services, depending on the application.

IT contracts are used when software is individually programmed, when software and hardware are provided for use or to regulate consulting and maintenance services.

A lawyer experienced in IT law helps to draft individual contracts or checks contract templates on behalf of his clients. IT contracts are used in business relationships between companies and consumers and between companies (B2B).

We advise and support companies, plans and projects in the area of IT law in Munich in the drafting and review of contracts, such as:

  • IT project contracts
  • Software contracts
  • Software Licence Agreements
  • Software production contracts
  • Software transfer agreements, etc.

IT Law and Media Law

Media law combines various areas of law. These include copyright law, press law, broadcasting law and telecommunications law.

Media law is often cited in connection with IT law. It pursues several goals, for example

  • the protection of intellectual property
  • guaranteeing a generally accessible communication structure
  • the safeguarding of diversity of opinion or
  • the protection of minors and data protection, and
  • the protection of media users.

Wherever information is published, i.e. made public, media law applies. This also and especially applies to modern media such as the Internet. Above all, the right to freedom of expression, the right to one’s personal image, the protection of one’s own data or copyright have weight here.

There are a number of criminal offences under media law. If media law is violated, claims for damages or a demand to cease and desist are often the result. Those affected can react with a warning letter, and injunctions also play a role.

A lawyer specialising in media law will take action, for example, if his client’s reputation is endangered by press coverage.

A lawyer for IT law can also be consulted if the right of personality has been violated or if business-damaging statements are made online – for example in rating portals, blogs or forums.

Software law – Software patent

IT law and digitalisation play an essential role, especially in the area of software. Software law is a sub-area of IT law that is primarily concerned with regulating the creation, use and licensing of software.

Copyright law is also affected by the creation of software, because computer programs, including their designs, are protectable types of work. To protect software, IT law provides for the possibility of applying for a software patent.

In contrast to traditional patents, which relate to technical inventions, a software patent protects an idea or a concept.

Especially in the case of large projects, it is important to reach a legally binding agreement in advance in the form of a contract that is satisfactory for both contracting parties.

Particularly in the case of complex software solutions, it is often impossible to foresee in the planning phase what effort will actually be required for implementation. Here it is important to define the economic framework in such a way that clients are enabled to develop according to the requirements and clients can plan with binding budgets.

To provide sound advice, a lawyer should have technical understanding and also be well versed in IT law and software law. He is the contact person for software developers as well as for companies that want to commission the development of customised software.

IT Law & Open Source Software

In the context of IT law, open source software is software whose source code is publicly accessible and which third parties can view, change and use.

The use of the software is usually free of charge for the user; the developers’ motives range from altruism to market development.

In practice, terms such as “freeware”, “shareware” or “public domain software” are often used synonymously, but with regard to the legal situation there are differences that must be taken into account.

Unlike open source software, the source code is not public and the software may not be changed or extended. In IT law, so-called “OSS licences” regulate the use of open source software. The most common licence is the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL).

Among other things, it obliges the licensee to place the original or modified software under the terms of the GPL when redistributing it (“copyleft effect”).

If the licensee violates these provisions, he automatically loses the rights of use for the original and for the modified software. The copyright acquired by modifying the software also expires in this case.

If the licence provisions are violated, the author has the possibility to assert his resulting claims. These may include damages, injunctive relief or removal of the infringing object. Advice is available from a lawyer for IT law.

General Terms and Conditions

General terms and conditions, abbreviated to GTCs, are pre-formulated contractual conditions that one party to a contract imposes on the other when concluding a contract. These regulations are often applied when companies conclude a contract with a consumer. Accordingly, GTCs are also a topic in IT law.

One of the tasks of a lawyer is to draft general terms and conditions or to review them for effectiveness or invalidity.

Often the trick lies in the detail, which is why it is not advisable to fall back on sample general terms and conditions that circulate on the internet.

Especially for online shops or for activities on online platforms such as eBay or other marketplaces, it is important to know the IT law. It is important to find individual formulations that allow the company to participate in trade without risk.

Our lawyers are at your disposal for the preparation of individual GTCs.

IT Law Business-to-Business

The term business-to-business (or B2B) describes the fact that a company enters into a business relationship with another company. If, on the other hand, a company is in contact with a consumer, it is called business-to-consumer (B2C). IT law applies in both situations.

The term is mainly used in a marketing context, but a business relationship between two companies always requires a legal basis.

In the context of IT law, questions often arise that can only be answered unambiguously if it is clear whether the relationship is purely B2B or not. If, for example, an online shop is aimed exclusively at businesses, it has to go to considerably less trouble than if it also allows private individuals to shop.

There are advantages, for example, with regard to consumer information obligations, which are omitted, a waiver of the right of withdrawal or the possibility of being able to quote prices without VAT.

Warning letters – definition

A warning is a formal request to refrain from a certain conduct or action. Warning letters are mainly found in the field of intellectual property law. They should therefore also be discussed when dealing with IT law.

A cease-and-desist letter is – also in IT law – an attempt to settle disputes out of court first.

Anyone who has a claim to cease and desist should send the debtor a warning letter – according to the Unfair Competition Act (UWG) – and enable him to settle the dispute by issuing a cease and desist declaration with a penalty clause.

Especially companies that are active on the Internet and operators of online shops are very often confronted with cease-and-desist letters. A lawyer for IT law helps clients to assess the risks of a warning notice and to react appropriately.

The subject matter of the legal advice is, for example, the legal examination of the warning, the weighing of the risks, if necessary the submission of a modified cease-and-desist declaration or also a negative declaratory action or a counter-warning.

Warning letters in IT law

Protect your online presence and defend yourself against warnings under competition law. Warning letters in the area of IT law mainly concern competition law, copyright and trademark protection rights. New laws have been in force since December 2020. The regulation banning cease-and-desist letters has not led to cease-and-desist letters disappearing from the market, as many had hoped.

The year 2021 was the first year in which warning letters were sent out under the new provisions of the Anti-Warnings Act. However, there are still a large number of letters sent out by the same competition associations warning companies that they are violating competition law.

New law has little effect

The following aspects indicate that the law has little effect:

  • The Wettbewerbszentralen can issue warnings even for minor infringements, such as the violation of information duties. These can lead to fines and the request to issue a cease-and-desist declaration.
  • Admittedly, cease-and-desist letters for breaches of information duties are now less attractive and have thus become less important. However, this has the consequence that warning letters are no longer based on a breach of duty but on the argument of misleading. This, however, does not fall under the legal provisions that are intended to prevent the abuse of warning letters.

The OS platform is missing

Warning letters in IT law are issued, for example, if the EU platform for online dispute resolution is not linked by online traders as of 09.01.2016. Therefore, make sure that the EU Commission’s online dispute resolution site: www.ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr is located exactly under the imprint details.

According to general law, a hyperlink must be included in information designated as https://www.ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr. Bear in mind that stating the URL of the ODR platform is not sufficient to fulfil the information obligation!

Disclaimer – what is it?

In IT law, the term disclaimer refers to a disclaimer of liability. Disclaimers are mainly used on websites and in email signatures. In the case of e-mails, the purpose is often to ask the reader to delete the message received if he or she is inadvertently not the intended recipient.

On websites, a disclaimer can be used, for example, to inform the user that the operator of the website accepts no liability for links that refer to other websites.

In addition, it is often stated that the use of the website is at the user’s own risk and that no liability is assumed for the topicality and correctness of the information provided. A lawyer for IT law clarifies to what extent disclaimers are legally binding and what disadvantages could arise if one decides to use a disclaimer.

Social Media

Social media refers to channels and platforms that enable their users to interact. The best-known social media platforms include Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp.

The social networks are widespread worldwide and have become a significant economic factor. Every company that seriously advertises also includes the various platforms in its budget planning.

If one shares contributions in social networks, in the form of posts or advertisements, it must be ensured that this is done within the legally permissible possibilities.

Above all, copyright and personal rights must be taken into account. Thus, activities in social media must also be examined from the perspective of IT law.

Since the providers only make the technical platform available, the responsibility for the disseminated content lies with the person who shares this content. A lawyer for IT law can advise companies on how to make their company profile legally secure and protect it against warnings. Private individuals can be helped if there are personality violations.

Compulsory email information in IT law

In business dealings, e-mails are the standard nowadays, so it is worthwhile to make a reference to IT law. Since the beginning of 2007, the regulations on the imprint obligation for business letters (which also include e-mails) have been revised.

An e-mail is business-like if it is an outwardly directed business-like communication and has content related to the business. In these cases – according to IT law – an e-mail signature is obligatory if the sending company is registered in the commercial register.

Traders who are not registered in the commercial register are advised by the IHK to include the last name and at least one first name as well as the business address.

The mandatory information to be included in the signature of an e-mail depends on the legal form of the company. Failure to provide the required information in business e-mails can result in fines from the registry court or warnings from competitors.

File sharing – explanation

File sharing is the process of exchanging files between users on the internet, often using a file sharing platform. The files are usually located on a user’s computer or on servers from where they are distributed to other users.

Films, music, software or literature are also among the files shared, which is why copyright infringements are regularly recorded here.

The companies acting as rights holders suffer great damage due to the free use of the offers. Lawyers for IT law are commissioned by rights holders to take action against the unlawful use of protected works.

Private individuals can also use the services of a law firm for IT law if they receive a warning for illegal downloads.

Licence agreement Rights of use

A licence agreement falls into the category of IT law. It is concluded in order to grant third parties the right to use an intellectual property right such as patents, copyrights, utility models, designs or trademarks.

It summarises the rights and obligations of the contracting parties. Usually, a licence agreement contains information on the subject matter, the term of the agreement, the remuneration and also contractual penalties.

Lawyers for IT law can be commissioned to draft and implement licence agreements individually. In addition, their task is to defend against infringements of industrial property rights and copyright.

IT Law and Domain Law

The various legal regulations that exist for the allocation of internet domains are summarised under the term domain law. In the context of IT law, in the absence of an explicit law, it is based on case law in various areas of law. Domain law touches on areas of law such as competition law or trademark law.

Trademark owners in particular have a great economic interest in securing their trademark as a domain. On the one hand, this is due to easy recognition by the user, and on the other hand, they want to avoid the competition gaining an advantage.

If the coveted domain has already been assigned elsewhere or if a company feels that its rights have been violated, it can seek advice from a lawyer for IT law. This lawyer will check whether there are circumstances that justify the domain holder’s claim to surrender the domain.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a sub-discipline of online marketing and is used by advertising companies to gain new customers and interested parties. The actors in affiliate marketing are, on the one hand, the operators of an affiliate marketing programme (merchants).

Furthermore, there are the partners of the advertisers who publish the advertising (affiliates) and the operators of programme platforms as an interface between merchant and affiliate (networks). Placing the relationship between these parties on a legally secure basis is a partial task in IT law.

The principle of affiliate marketing is quickly explained: the merchant provides a set of advertising material and links, which the affiliates incorporate into their media (websites, shops, blogs, newsletters, etc.).

If a user clicks on an affiliate’s link, he is redirected to the merchant’s website. If the user places an order or downloads a product, the affiliate receives a commission from the merchant for forwarding the user to the merchant’s website.

Amazon is considered the inventor of affiliate marketing, as it was the first to offer other website operators the opportunity to place links to books on their pages. Today, an entire industry thrives on this form of affiliate advertising, with annual revenues in the billions.

Lawyers for IT law can advise programme operators, affiliates and also networks on the drafting of contracts and provide them with long-term legal support.

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation

SEO is the abbreviation for search engine optimisation and, together with SEA (search engine advertising), a sub-discipline of search engine marketing (SEM).

In SEO measures, a distinction is made between onpage and offpage measures. While onpage optimisation aims at optimising one’s own website from the search engines’ point of view, offpage optimisation is about taking external measures such as link building.

The common goal is to optimally place one’s own website on the search engines’ results pages, i.e. in the top position as possible. SEO agencies, for example, can provide advice on IT law.

IT law Used software

Used software is software that has already been used or whose licence has already been exercised. Jurisprudence in IT law distinguishes the term “software” between computer programs and data files such as music, photos, films or even e-books.

Under certain circumstances, owners of software may be interested in reselling it, for example in the case of insolvency or internal system changes. Whether a resale or the related transfer of the right of use is permitted is a matter of dispute.

With regard to IT law, a BGH ruling from 2000 states that a resale of data carrier-based software cannot in principle be restricted by the manufacturer via its licence conditions.

However, it is advisable to consider each individual case so as not to expose oneself unnecessarily to the risk of infringement. A lawyer for IT law can advise in the course of the decision-making process and point out any stumbling blocks that may exist.

Blockchain Technology, Cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin & Smart Contract

Cryptocurrency trading is booming. So is crypto fraud. Almost daily, dubious or fake online trading platforms for digital money sprout from the ground.

As many new opportunities as blockchain technology offers, it also offers many opportunities for fraud.

IT Law Munich: The lawyers of the Herfurtner law firm advise clients – private individuals and business people – on all topics related to blockchain.

  1. Cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ether, Cardano etc.)
  2. Crypto Trading, Crypto Fraud and Bitcoin Fraud
  3. Tokens (Security Token, NFT – Non-Fungible Token)
  4. Decentralised Finance
  5. Smart Contracts

Internet crime, cybercrime, internet fraud

Scamming, hacker attacks, phishing – these are just three common Internet fraud methods. Fraudsters are developing ever more creative scams and the number of fraud cases is increasing.

This is confirmed not only by the increasing number of our mandates, but also by the annually published police crime statistics of the BKA.

IT Law Munich: We advise clients who wish to inform themselves about the possibilities to protect themselves and their company against cyber attacks.

We also represent clients who have fallen victim to Internet fraud. In addition, we support you in the process of filing a complaint for fraud.

Contact us if you have legal questions or would like legal advice on the following topics:

  • Investment fraud
  • Cybercrime
  • Cybercrime
  • Rip-off on the Internet
  • Trading fraud
  • Online banking fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Phishing and pharming
  • Hacker attacks
  • Scamming
  • Tinder Fraud & Romance Scam
  • and other online scams
lawyer Arthur Wilms - law firm Herfurtner

Arthur Wilms | Lawyer | Associate

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