Firm Profile > MTR Rechtsanwälte > Cologne, Germany

MTR Rechtsanwälte
Konrad Adenauer Ufer 83
50668 COLOGNE
Germany

The firm: MTR Rechtsanwälte https://www.mtrlegal.com/en is an international law firm with lawyers specialising in business law, commercial law and company law. The attorneys counsel commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses and private individuals worldwide from offices in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Germany. Knowledgeable and experienced.

Responding to clients‘ needs with personalised service is the priority at MTR Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH. The clients can rely on MTR’s guarantee of complete integrity and commitment to their interests at all times.

MTR Rechtsanwälte is dedicated to working towards clients‘ success. Reliable and determined.

MTR Rechtsanwälte provides the comprehensive knowledge necessary to compete in today’s ever-changing and expanding global markets – legal advice and tax advice.

In order to gain a key competitive advantage, it is imperative to receive outstanding, well-rounded interdisciplinary advice based on analysing and optimising available legal, fiscal and economic opportunities. Proactive and multi-faceted.

The firm takes pride in being a client-oriented service provider. Its clients‘ best interests determine every move. With their dedication to reliable, individualised advice they develop customised interdisciplinary and comprehensive solutions.

MTR Rechtsanwälte has access to a complete range of integrated and comprehensive consulting expertise at its fingertips, from legal advice to management consultancy. MTR Rechtsanwälte is therefore able to offer rock-solid and well-balanced success-oriented solutions to national and international companies regardless of their size, legal form, industry sector or complexity of issues. The firm carefully considers all business aspects on the basis of its outstanding specialised knowledge and extensive experience.

MTR has steadily and consistently continued to develop its expertise since the establishment. Today, the team of specialists made up of industry professionals and all of its staff members are working for the client from offices in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart.

Department Name Email Telephone
Structured finance and securitisation
Banking and finance
Capital markets
Corporate and M&A
Dispute resolution
Employment
Insolvency and restructuring
IP: trade marks
Investment funds
Media
Private equity
Real estate and construction
Tax
Business
Commercial
Company
Information technology and outsourcing
Photo Name Position Profile
Mr Michael Below  photo Mr Michael Below Civil litigation, Industrial and Intellectual Property law
Mr Alexander Gottstein  photo Mr Alexander Gottstein Tax law, Criminal tax law, and Litigation, Banking law, Business law, Family…
Mr Marc Klaas photo Mr Marc Klaas Corporate and M&A, Private equity, Company, Commercial law.
Mr Marius Lieven  photo Mr Marius Lieven M&A, IT law, Civil litigation
Dr Hilmar Müller  photo Dr Hilmar Müller Insolvency law, Corporate law, Real estate law, Trusts and Estates law
 Michael Rainer photo Michael Rainer Structured finance and securitization, banking and finance, capital markets, corporate and M&A…
Mrs Susan Währisch  photo Mrs Susan Währisch Tax law, Family law, Trusts and Estates law, Labor and Employment law,…
Mrs Charlotte Wendel  photo Mrs Charlotte Wendel Banking, Insurance and Finance, Healthcare, Mechanical and Plant engineering, Media and Entertainment…
Mr Michael Wiechmann  photo Mr Michael Wiechmann Civil law, Civil procedure law, Labor and Employment law, Banking law, Litigation.
English
French
German
Russian
Spanish
American Bar Association
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bank -und Kapitalmarktrecht im Deutschen Anwaltverein
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Handels- und Gesellschaftsrecht im Deutschen Anwaltverein
Cologne Association of Lawyers
German-American Lawyer's Association (DAJV)
German Chinese Lawyers Association
International Bar Association
Union Internationale des Avocats
Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Internationalen Rechtsverkehr im Deutschen Anwaltverein
Other offices : Berlin
Other offices : Bonn
Other offices : Düsseldorf
Other offices : Frankfurt
Other offices : Hamburg
Other offices : Munich
Other offices : Stuttgart

BGH changes tune on trademark forfeiture

In a judgment from January 14, 2021, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) – Germany’s Federal Supreme Court – overruled its own legal precedent on the forfeiture of trademarks (Az.: I ZR 40/20) in finding that failure to make use of a trademark means forfeiting trademark protection.

Bundeskartellamt issues fines in response to illegal price fixing

The Bundeskartellamt – Germany’s Federal Cartel Office – has imposed fines totaling around 6 million euros on two foundries for entering into anticompetitive agreements regarding prices and discounts.

KG Berlin: Commercial rent reduction in response to closures related to COVID-19

In a judgment from April 1, 2021, the Kammergericht (KG) Berlin – the Berlin Court of Appeal – ruled that commercial rent can be lowered by 50 percent in response to a closure related to COVID-19 (Az.: 8 U 1099/20).

Finanzgericht Düsseldorf: No tax exemption for flat-rate bonuses

Bonuses for night work and working on Sundays are only tax exempt if they are awarded on an individual and not a flat-rate basis. That was the verdict of the Finanzgericht (FG) Düsseldorf – the Fiscal court of Düsseldorf – in a judgment from November 27, 2020.

Indications of origin: Black Forest ham need not be sliced in the Black Forest

Black Forest ham (Schwarzwälder Schinken) may be referred to as such even if it is not sliced and packaged in the Black Forest. That was the verdict of the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), Germany’s Federal Supreme Court (Az.: I ZB 72/19).

LAG Düsseldorf: Short-time workers on zero hours do not accumulate vacation leave

Short-time working – Kurzarbeit in German – refers to a government scheme that allows businesses experiencing economic difficulties to temporarily reduce their employees’ working hours, with the state making up for all or part of the lost wages. Many firms have had recourse to this program for reasons related to COVID-19. The Landesarbeitsgericht (LAG) Düsseldorf – the Regional Labor Court of Düsseldorf – has now ruled that short-time work also entails a reduced entitlement to vacation leave (Az. 6 Sa 824/20).

Greensill Bank: Customers unable to access their money – BaFin orders moratorium

The Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufischt (BaFin) – Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority – has closed down Greensill Bank’s business operations with its customers and filed criminal charges. Private investors as well as institutional investors and municipalities fear losing their money at the bank.

BaFin determines that compensation is payable to depositors of insolvent Greensill Bank

As was to be expected, the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufischt (BaFin) – Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority – has determined that compensation is payable to Greensill Bank’s depositors, as the bank is no longer able to repay all of its customers’ deposits. Insolvency proceedings have also been initiated against the bank with the Amtsgericht Bremen, the District Court of Bremen (508 IN 6/21).

LG Berlin overturns fine for GDPR violation

In a remarkable ruling from February 18, 2021, the Landgericht (LG) Berlin – the Regional Court of Berlin – declared a million-euro fine imposed in response to a breach of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) invalid.

COVID-19: Provider of business closure insurance to pay out around 760,000 euros for closed bars

In a ruling from February 19, 2021, the Landgericht (LG) Düsseldorf – the Regional Court of Düsseldorf – held that the provider of business closure insurance has to pay out for bars closing in connection with the coronavirus (Az.: 40 O 53/20).

BGH: No guidance on right of withdrawal means realtor not entitled to commission

According to a ruling of the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) – Germany’s Federal Supreme Court – property buyers can potentially reclaim the commission they paid to the real estate agent if the latter fails to inform them about their right of withdrawal and provides no guidance on the issue.

Exchange of financial information with Turkey delayed – Submit a voluntary declaration now

As part of efforts to combat cross-border tax evasion, it appears that Turkey has yet to provide Germany with any financial information. This means that the individuals concerned still have the opportunity to submit a voluntary declaration.

OLG Dresden – Commercial rent reduction a legitimate response to COVID-19

A retailer is allowed to lower the net rent (exclusive of heating, lighting and other service costs) by 50 percent on account of its store having to close due to COVID-19. That was the verdict of the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Dresden – the Higher Regional Court of Dresden – in a ruling from February 24, 2021 (Az.: 5 U 1782/20).

Bundeskartellamt imposes million-euro fines in response to illegal arrangements

The Bundeskartellamt – Germany’s Federal Cartel Office – has imposed fines totaling approx. 175 million euros on five aluminum forging companies and ten employees responsible for engaging in anticompetitive arrangements.

Distributing FFP2 masks free of charge in breach of competition law

Groups deemed to be at risk can redeem vouchers for FFP2 masks. Pharmacies that waive the two-euro personal contribution are violating competition law according to a ruling of the Landgericht (LG) Düsseldorf – the Regional Court of Düsseldorf.

BGH: D&O insurer liable for payments made after the onset of insolvency

The insurer behind a D&O policy is liable for payments made after the onset of insolvency. That was the verdict of the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) – Germany’s Federal Supreme Court – in a judgment from November 18, 2020 (Az.: IV ZR 217/19).

Automatic exchange of information with Turkey – Voluntary declaration for tax evasion

Turkey is the latest country to sign up to the automatic exchange of information as part of efforts to combat cross-border tax evasion. It is still possible to submit a voluntary declaration for tax evasion. There are now more than 100 countries participating in the automatic exchange of (financial) information (AEOI). Former tax havens such as Switzerland, Austria, and Liechtenstein have already signed up, and Turkey is now following suit. The process involves countries committing to mutually exchange the banking information of taxpayers who reside in another country, making it increasingly difficult to conceal untaxed income from foreign accounts from the exchequer. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte can report that this now applies to accounts in Turkey as well.

OLG Hamm on reporting illegality in e-commerce

A company is not in breach of competition law if it reports illegality by a competitor on an online e-commerce platform and the allegations are true. That was the verdict of the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Hamm – the Higher Regional Court of Hamm. Antitrust infringements are a persistent feature of the e-commerce landscape. Large online platforms have for this reason put in place reporting systems for these kinds of violations, with offers being delisted when flagged accordingly. Of course, this is not meant to give rise to unwarranted complaints against competitors that hinder their business operations. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note that unwarranted complaints are contrary to the German Unfair Competition Act (Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb, UWG) and represent antitrust infringements in and of themselves.

BFH: Obtaining an expert opinion on purchase price allocation of land

In the event of a dispute between a taxpayer and the tax authorities regarding the allocation of the fair market value of land and buildings in real terms, the fiscal courts are required to obtain an expert opinion. Appraisals of the fair market value of buildings and land in real terms are often contentious. While an allocation of the purchase price to land and buildings is common in cases involving a contract for the purchase of real estate, the tax authorities often do not go along with the outcome based on the assumption that the allocation does not reflect the economic reality but is instead aimed at securing tax benefits, with only the building portion being depreciable for wear and tear.

LG München: No risk of confusing advertisements featuring maritime themes

The Landgericht (LG) München – Regional Court of Munich – has ruled that consumers were not being misled by two manufacturers promoting their fish products using a captain, and that the advertisements in question therefore did not violate competition law.

FG Düsseldorf: Demolition of inherited family home may retrospectively give rise to estate tax

The demolition of your parent’s home post-inheritance may lead to a retrospective loss of tax-exempt status. That was the verdict of the Finanzgericht (FG) Düsseldorf – the Fiscal Court of Düsseldorf – in a judgment from January 8, 2020 (Az.: 4 K 3120/18 Erb).

Obligation to file for insolvency only suspended in cases of over-indebtedness, not illiquidity

There has been a limited extension until December 31, 2020 to the suspension of the obligation to file for insolvency due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, this only applies to cases of over-indebtedness, not illiquidity.

Law aimed at promoting fair competition passed

The Bundestag and Bundesrat – Germany’s lower and upper houses of parliament respectively – have passed a law designed to promote fair competition, with the legislation expected to curb misuse of warning notices significantly.

Transfer of shares from company to private hands not an acquisition

On January 1, 2009, a flat rate withholding tax (Abgeltungssteuer) was introduced in Germany. A transfer of shares acquired prior to this cutoff date from company to private hands does not amount to an acquisition of shares. That was the verdict of the Finanzgericht Münster in a judgment from March 26, 2020 (Az.: 8 K 1192/18 F). We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note that this in turn means that any future profits from the sale of such shares will not be treated as income from capital investments.

Business closure due to COVID-19 – Claims against insurer successful

An insurer was forced to indemnify a Munich restaurant for its closure due to COVID-19. The owner’s claim was successful before the Landgericht (LG) München, the Regional Court of Munich (Az.: 12 O 5868/20).

COVID-19 – Provider of business closure insurance must pay out

The Landgericht (LG) München – the Regional Court of Munich – recently delivered a judgment requiring an insurance company to pay out on a business closure insurance policy. The restaurant owner in question will now receive substantial compensation because of the closure of his premises due to COVID-19.

BFH on taxable income from interest in connection with transfer of house along with plot of land in return for annuity payments

According to the Bundesfinanzhof (BFH) – Germany’s Federal Fiscal Court – transferring a plot of land at a discount in the context of anticipated succession in return for annuity payments gives rise to taxable income from interest.

Wirecard AG – Shareholders can register claims in insolvency proceedings

Insolvency proceedings concerning Wirecard AG were opened on August 25, 2020 (Az.: 1542 IN 1308/20). Creditors had until October 26, 2020 to register their claims with the insolvency administrator.

Anyone promoting products or services using the accolade “Testsieger” (test winner) must also provide a source reference for the test. Important information is otherwise being withheld from consumers according to the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Köln – the Higher Regional Court of Cologne.

FG Münster: No capital gains tax due on furniture and fittings from sale of real estate

Furniture and fittings do not count towards capital gains from the sale of real estate. That was the verdict of the Finanzgericht (FG) Münster – the Fiscal Court of Münster – in a ruling form August 3, 2020 (Az.: 5 K 2493/18).

Rechtzeitig Selbstanzeige stellen – Automatischer Informationsaustausch von Finanzdaten steht bevor

Der Automatische Informationsaustausch von Finanzdaten (AIA) ist ein Mittel Steuerhinterziehung konsequent zu bekämpfen. Steuersünder können noch immer eine strafbefreiende Selbstanzeige stellen.

FG Münster: Steuerpflichtiger Einbringungsgewinn bei Verschmelzung einer KG auf eine GmbH

Wird eine KG auf eine GmbH verschmolzen, ist der Einbringungsgewinn steuerpflichtig. Das hat das Finanzgericht Münster mit Urteil vom 19. Mai 2020 entschieden (Az.: 13 K 571/16 G,F).

OLG München: Golden color not protected as trademark acquired through use

The golden color of a chocolate Easter bunny is not protected as a color mark. The Oberlandesgericht (OLG) München – the Higher Regional Court of Munich – found that the producer in question did not enjoy any trademark rights in relation to the color.

Wirecard AG – Claims for damages against corporate bodies and auditors

With Wirecard AG now insolvent, investors are potentially facing severe losses. Shareholders and investors in Wirecard bonds and derivatives can assert claims for damages.

Rocket Internet delists its shares – Shareholders facing huge losses

Rocket Internet has decided to delist its shares, with the shareholders having approved the buyback offer at the extraordinary general meeting held on September 24, 2020.

Wirecard AG – Investigations on suspicion of market manipulation

The Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office has conducted a search of Wirecard’s head office in Aschheim near Munich on suspicion of market manipulation.
The raid that took place at Wirecard’s head office on June 5, 2020 appears to have been in response to a criminal charge lodged by the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin) – Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority – concerning ad-hoc announcements made by the company on March 12 and April 22 of this year. When considered in connection with a special report produced by the auditors, these announcements may have given misleading signals with respect to the market price of Wirecard shares. They could give the impression that accusations relating to various accounting irregularities might be refuted by the special report.
Wirecard has come under fire for alleged accounting irregularities for some time now. The company has consistently rejected the accusations made against it. In the interest of clarity, the payment services provider decided to task an auditing firm in the fall of 2019 with conducting an independent special investigation. Following multiple delays, the report was submitted on April 28, 2020. It lays out an entire list of criticisms. Wirecard’s share price subsequently experienced a significant drop in value.
According to media reports, the auditors accused Wirecard of having delayed the investigations and belatedly made documents available in some cases and not at all in others.
The ad-hoc announcements made prior to the publication of the special report paint a different picture. The shareholders are now faced with the question of whether they ought to feel reassured or deceived by these announcements. Members of the executive board are therefore being investigated on suspicion of market manipulation.
Wirecard stresses that it is the board members and not the company which are the subject of these investigations, noting that the annual and consolidated financial statements for 2019 are expected to be released on June 18, 2020 as planned.
This is reassuring news for shareholders of Wirecard AG. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note that if the company has failed to comply with its reporting obligations vis-à-vis its shareholders, providing inaccurate or incomplete information, this may give rise to claims for damages.
Investors are already piling pressure on the company, accusing it of potentially supplying erroneous information. In addition, a formal request has been submitted to open model case proceedings pursuant to the German Capital Markets Model Case Act (Kapitalanleger-Musterverfahrensgesetz, KapMuG).
Lawyers with experience in the fields of capital markets and stock corporation law can assist shareholders of Wirecard AG in enforcing their rights. https://www.mtrlegal.com/en/legal-advice/capital-markets-law/stock-corporation-law.html

Scale of Wirecard AG accounting scandal grows

The scale of the accounting scandal besetting Wirecard AG continues to grow. Wirecard’s running assumption is that 1.9 billion euros supposedly held in escrow accounts likely never existed. The company has experienced a dramatic drop in the value of its shares.

Wirecard AG files for insolvency – Options available to investors

The accounting scandal facing Wirecard AG has ended in insolvency for now. Those who invested in Wirecard stocks and bonds find themselves faced with the question of whether they can claim damages.

New attempt to establish Unified Patent Court

There is a desire for the process of issuing patents within the EU to be made more efficient. The idea of establishing a Unified Patent Court is seen as a positive step in this direction. The Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz (BMJV) – Germany´s Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection – has submitted a new bill as part of a second attempt to do so.

BGH upholds trademark protection for square design

In rulings from July 23, 2020, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) – Germany´s Federal Supreme Court – confirmed that three-dimensional forms, including the shape or packaging of goods, are capable of benefiting from trademark protection (Az.: I ZB 42/19 and I ZB 43/19).

BFH: Interest on the deferral of compensation for forgoing the statutory share subject to taxation

In the event that an heir waives their right to the statutory share in the estate and opts to defer claiming compensation, the deferral interest is subject to income tax. That was the verdict of the Bundesfinanzhof, Germany’s Federal Fiscal Court (Az.: VIII R 22/17).

COVID-19 & Protective Masks – Distributors Left With Outstanding Invoices

People wearing protective masks have become a common sight since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Yet the quality of some of these masks and the outstanding invoices are becoming a source of frustration.

COVID-19 – Substandard Quality of Masks and Other Protective Equipment

COVID-19 – Substandard Quality of Masks and Other Protective Equipment The coronavirus pandemic is not over. Respiratory masks and other protective gear remain vital. However, the issues of quality and outstanding invoices are also increasingly taking center stage.

FG München: Stock splitting does not give rise to capital gains tax

Investors who acquire new shares in the course of a corporate spin-off are not required to pay withholding tax on this. That was the verdict of the Finanzgericht (FG) München, the Fiscal Court of Munich (Az.: 8 K 981/17).

Commercial Agency Law: COVID-19, Commission & Contract Design

The coronavirus crisis marks the beginning of difficult times for many commercial agents. It also raises a number of legal issues in connection with commission payments, claims for compensatory adjustment, etc.

Real estate funds – Impact of COVID-19

A lot of real estate funds were hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis. Today, many investors are faced with the question of how stable their holdings in real estate funds are given the crisis surrounding the coronavirus.

International procedural law in cases involving cross-border litigation

With the increasing internationalization of many areas of life, international procedural law is playing an ever more important role in legal disputes.

Marc Klaas at MTR Rechtsanwälte – One of Germany’s leading M&A lawyers

Marc Klaas at MTR Rechtsanwälte has been featured in this year’s ranking of Germany’s best lawyers in the category of mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

Commercial tenancy law – The devil is in the detail

There are a number of material differences between commercial tenancy law and tenancy law as it applies to private sector housing. The way in which leases for commercial premises are formulated is therefore a matter of particular importance.

Family law: Benefits of a prenup

A prenuptial agreement may not be romantic, but it does afford protection to spouses and allow all the major issues – including, of course, financial matters – to be clarified when times are good.

IP Law – Protection of intellectual property and intangible assets

Intellectual property is just as worth protecting as tangible assets. IP law covers the protection of rights pertaining to trademarks, designs, patents, copyright, and related rights.

Distribution Law – Legally Sound, Flexible, and Forward-Looking Agreements

The sale of goods and services requires an efficient distribution system that complies with complex domestic and international legal frameworks.

Criminal tax law continues to apply to requests for tax deferral during the coronavirus crisis

Tax evasion is constituted by sharing inaccurate or incomplete information with the authorities. This also holds true during the coronavirus crisis, tax relief notwithstanding.

Advantages of Arbitration

The courts are not the only venue for settling legal disputes. Arbitration proceedings are a good alternative in many domestic and international cases.

Be Prepared for Anything with Detailed Agreements

The coronavirus has made it painfully clear how important it is for agreements to be as detailed as possible and to account for exceptional circumstances in order to avoid legal disputes.

Ship Funds – Damages and Recovery of Distributions

Ship funds have long been considered a safe capital investment. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, many investment companies were forced to file for insolvency and investors lost a lot of the money they had invested.

Hague Convention on the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters

The 2019 Hague Convention is supposed to greatly facilitate the cross-border enforcement of foreign judgments in civil and commercial matters.

Marc Klaas at MTR Rechtsanwälte – One of Germany’s leading M&A lawyers

Marc Klaas at MTR Rechtsanwälte has been featured in this year’s ranking of Germany’s best lawyers in the category of mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

Advantages of Arbitration

The courts are not the only venue for settling legal disputes. Arbitration proceedings are a good alternative in many domestic and international cases.

Compliance – Preventing economic loss

Compliance is an important topic not only for large corporations but also small and medium-sized enterprises that want to avoid breaking the law and incurring penalties as a result.#

Advantages of Arbitration

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the Bundeskartellamt, has thrown its weight behind suppliers faced with demands for excessive discounts, and a furniture store chain has had to come to terms with limitations being imposed on its demands by antitrust law.

BFH: Only legacies and gifts from legal father enjoy privileged status

The legal father and the biological father may not be the same person. This has tax implications, as only legacies and gifts from the legal father fall under tax bracket I, the most favorable tax bracket.

Changes to German stock corporation law due to COVID-19 – Virtual general meetings

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic extends to German stock corporation law. To ensure that businesses remain capable of functioning effectively, stock corporations can now also hold virtual general meetings.

Applying to register a trademark with no intention of using it – Abuse of injunction suits and dam

Anyone seeking to register a trademark should actually intend on using it. According to a ruling of Germany’s Federal Supreme Court, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), holding a trademark with the sole intention of asserting claims against third parties represents an abuse of the law.

COVID-19 – Bundestag gives green light to multi-billion-euro aid package

On March 25, 2020, Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, approved a multi-billion-euro aid package to manage the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis and gave the green light to the supplementary budget.

OLG Köln: Protection of competitive distinctiveness

A product that is not protected by a trademark may nevertheless benefit from protection against imitations under competition law. That was the verdict (Az. 6 U 82/19) of the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Köln – the Higher Regional Court of Cologne.

LG Freiburg: Food products’ county of origin must be correctly specified

Apples that were merely packaged in Germany must not carry the designation of origin “aus Deutschland” / “from Germany”.  That was the verdict of the Landgericht (LG) Freiburg – the Regional Court of Freiburg – in a ruling from January 14, 2020 (Az.: 12 O 88/19 KfH).
The origin of food products is a key factor influencing consumers’ purchase decisions. Accordingly, the courts are increasingly having to deal with legal disputes concerning designations of origin. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note that in order for Germany to be designated as the country of origin of a food product, for example, it is not necessary for the entire production process to take place in Germany.

Short-time work during the coronavirus crisis – Applicants obliged to provide accurate information

Germany’s federal government has put together a comprehensive aid package to compensate for the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. This includes making it easier to apply for short-time allowance – referred to as “Kurzarbeitergeld” (or “KUG” for short).Germany’s federal government has put together a comprehensive aid package to compensate for the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. This includes making it easier to apply for short-time allowance – referred to as “Kurzarbeitergeld” (or “KUG” for short).

Coronavirus – Loans and government assistance at a time of crisis

Germany’s federal government has unveiled a vast package of measures that provide financial support to businesses and the self-employed to ensure they are able to weather the crisis.

The coronavirus pandemic is putting a strain on economic relations throughout the world. In many cases, it is either no longer possible to perform contracts as agreed or performance is completely impossible.

The coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on national and international business relations, it no longer being possible in many cases to perform contracts as agreed due to the coronavirus crisis. This has led to the increased prominence of the term “force majeure”. However, it cannot be invoked in every instance of defective contractual performance. The coronavirus has not generally rendered contracts obsolete. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note that the parties often have a right to insist on contractual performance.

Avoiding insolvency during the coronavirus crisis

Businesses whose existence is threatened by the crisis surrounding the coronavirus are to be lent a helping hand. Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, has legislated for the suspension of the obligation to file for insolvency.
Businesses on the brink of insolvency, i.e. unable to pay or overindebted, must file for insolvency as soon as possible, but at the latest within three weeks. This obligation is now being relaxed in order to avoid a deluge of insolvencies in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte can report that the Bundestag has approved a temporary suspension of the obligation to file for insolvency until September 30, 2020 with retroactive effect from March 1, 2020.

Avoiding insolvency during the coronavirus crisis

Businesses whose existence is threatened by the crisis surrounding the coronavirus are to be lent a helping hand. Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, has legislated for the suspension of the obligation to file for insolvency.

COVID-19 – Obligation to file for insolvency to be suspended

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Justice has made plans to suspend the obligation to file for insolvency due to the coronavirus. The measure is designed to protect businesses that have gotten into difficulties as a result of the pandemic.

COVID-19 – Employers can apply for permission to reduce working hours to get through the crisis

Businesses can introduce short-time work as a means of weathering economic hardship caused by the coronavirus crisis. Germany’s federal government has therefore moved to relax the conditions for applying for short-time allowance.
With supply shortages and empty order books among its consequences, the crisis surrounding the coronavirus is placing a massive burden on businesses and threatening jobs. Short-time work and short-time allowance can help firms to maintain liquidity and secure jobs. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte can report that in view of the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the federal government has decided to significantly relax the conditions for applying for short-time allowance and for permission to introduce reduced working hours.

COVID-19 – Restrictions on landlords’ right of termination

The spread of the coronavirus has now also led to restrictions on the right to terminate rental agreements. These apply to both private and commercial rental agreements.
If, on two consecutive occasions, a tenant falls behind on rent payments or defaults on a substantial portion of the rent, the landlord is entitled to issue extraordinary notice terminating the rental agreement. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte can report that significant restrictions have since been applied to this right of termination in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These are aimed at protecting businessmen and traders, among others, in this time of crisis.

Deferral of social security contribution due to the coronavirus crisis

Employers are obligated to pay social security contributions for their employees. With the outbreak of the coronavirus, they now have the option to defer these contributions.
Many businesses are seeing orders dry up as a result of the crisis surrounding the coronavirus, yet nothing has changed on the cost front. Wages, salaries, and social security contributions for employees need to be paid. This is particularly challenging when experiencing liquidity shortages. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte can report that employers therefore have the option to defer social security contributions.

Tax relief in response to the coronavirus crisis

Germany’s federal government has drawn up various measures in an attempt to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, including tax relief measures.
The crisis surrounding the coronavirus is hitting businesses, freelancers, and the self-employed hard and – aggravated by tax liabilities – undermining their economic viability. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte can report than the federal government’s plans include tax relief measures to ensure that businesses, freelancers, and the self-employed are able to maintain liquidity and that they do not come under additional strain from tax liabilities. Among the main features is the option to apply for an interest-free deferral of tax payments.

Coronavirus – What it means for businesses

Businesses across the world are feeling the strain of these difficult times brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Yet business goes on and businesses must come to terms with the situation. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte offer legal advice on a wide range of issues currently affected by the coronavirus.

MTR Rechtsanwälte – Experience in the fields of antitrust and competition law

Violations of antitrust law are subject to rigorous sanctions. In 2019, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the Bundeskartellamt, imposed fines totaling around 848 million euros in response to illegal agreements.

The coronavirus pandemic and employment law

The coronavirus pandemic is turning employment law on its head. The protective measures – some of which are recommendations and others mandatory in nature – designed to contain and curtail the strain of coronavirus and respiratory disease known as COVID-19, have far-reaching consequences for all aspects of life. Schools and kindergartens have been and remain closed, as are pubs, and sports and fitness facilities. Production chains are being disrupted because parts cannot be delivered. All of this has significant implications for employment law. Working parents have to look after their children, the conditions for a functional home-office environment need to be created, and employers are already struggling to cope with the existential threat posed by losses in revenue.

LG Berlin: Reference must be made to GmbH’s legal form

A company’s legal form as a GmbH is a key piece of information for consumers. Withholding information from advertisements about its legal form constitutes an antitrust violation according to a ruling of the LG Berlin.

Illegal price rigging – Bundeskartellamt imposes fines totaling 154.6 million euros

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the Bundeskartellamt, has imposed fines totaling around 154.6 million euros on seven pesticide wholesalers for entering into illegal, anticompetitive price-fixing arrangements.

Antitrust & Competition Law: Medical practice that does not admit inpatients is not a Klinik

A medical practice that does not provide overnight accommodation for patients is not a Klinik and is not allowed to style itself as such. That was the verdict of the Landgericht (LG) Hamburg in a ruling from November 15, 2019 (Az. 315 O 472/18).

BGH – Use of protected seal of approval only allowed in connection with licensing agreement

The use of seals of approval that are protected trademarks is not permitted without corresponding licensing agreements. That was the verdict of Germany’s Federal Supreme Court, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), on December 12, 2019 (Az.: I ZR 173/16, I ZR 174/16, and I ZR 117/17).

Profits from trading cryptocurrency subject to tax

Profits from the sale of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are subject to tax. That was the verdict of the Finanzgericht Berlin-Brandenburg in a ruling from June 20, 2019 (Az.: 13 V 13100/19).

Carmakers given antitrust fine – Anticompetitive arrangements relating to steel procurement

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the Bundeskartellamt, has imposed fines totaling approx. 100 million euros on three car manufacturers for anticompetitive practices in relation to the procurement of long steel.

Antitrust violation – Fines for steel producers

Germany’s Bundeskartellamt has fined three steel producers and three people in positions of responsibility to the tune of some 646 million euros for illegal price rigging.

GDPR violation – Telecom provider facing severe penalty

Inadequate data protection measures can prove costly. Following a recent case involving a real estate business, a telecom provider is the latest business facing a heavy fine.

ECJ – Balsamico not a protected designation

Balsamic vinegar can also come from Germany. According to a judgment of the ECJ from December 4, 2019, “balsamico” is not a protected term (Az. C-432/18).

ECJ – Balsamico not a protected designation

Balsamic vinegar can also come from Germany. According to a judgment of the ECJ from December 4, 2019, “balsamico” is not a protected term (Az. C-432/18).

NRW buys tax CD – Voluntary disclosure of tax evasion possible

The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) once again purchased a tax CD at the end of November. The storage medium in question is supposed to contain information on tax evasion. It is still possible to submit a voluntary declaration for tax evasion.

OLG Rostock: Unlawful advertising of fruit nectar as fruit juice

Fruit nectar is not the same as fruit juice and therefore must not be promoted as such. The OLG Rostock has ruled that this kind of advertising is misleading and in breach of competition law.

OLG Naumburg deems GDPR violation an antitrust infringement

The OLG Naumburg ruled in judgments from November 7, 2019 that a violation of the General Data Protection Regulation may also constitute an antitrust infringement (Az.: 9 U 6/19 and 9 U 39/18).

BFH reinforces tax relief when selling owner-occupied accommodation

The BFH delivered a ruling on Sept. 3, 2019 facilitating the sale of owner-occupied accommodation that has been rented out for a short time (Az.: IX R 10/19).

OLG Stuttgart affirms protection of collective trademarks featuring designations of origin

While it is not possible to completely shut out other market participants from indications of origin, a trademark’s reputation must not be unduly exploited according to the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Stuttgart, the Higher Regional Court of Stuttgart.

LG Essen: Unlawful advertising statements promoting e-cigarettes

Liquids for e-cigarettes must not be promoted using the slogan “Genuss ohne Reue” (enjoyment without regrets). That was the verdict of the Landgericht (LG) Essen, the Regional Court of Essen, in a ruling from October 25, 2019 (Az.: 41 O 13/19).

FG Münster: Managing director’s salary plus pension payments does not necessarily equal hidden pr

Pension payments to a shareholder with a controlling stake who also draws a managing director’s salary do not necessarily constitute hidden profit distributions according to the Finanzgericht (FG) Münster, the Fiscal Court of Münster.

OLG Celle: Plant-based product can be designated as alternative to cheese

A purely plant-based product can be promoted as an alternative to cheese. The Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Celle, the Higher Regional Court of Celle, ruled that this kind of advertising is neither unfair nor misleading to consumers.

OLG Hamm: Advertising must include all information that is material to consumers

Consumers must not be deprived of information material to their decision whether or not to make a purchase. This constitutes a breach of competition law, as demonstrated by a ruling of the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Hamm, the Higher Regional Court of Hamm.

ECJ on country of origin: the decisive factor is the location of the harvest

Germany is the county of origin for fruits and vegetables harvested in Germany, even if prior to this the fruits or vegetables were grown in another country. That was the verdict of the ECJ.

Tougher sanctions – Draft legislation to combat corporate criminality

The Bundesjustizministerium, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Justice, has submitted draft legislation designed to combat corporate criminality. The bill provides for, among other things, significantly harsher penalties.

Steinhoff International Holding – OLG Frankfurt opens model case proceedings

The Steinhoff accounting scandal has shaken investors. Those who have incurred losses can join the ongoing model case proceedings pursuant to the German Capital Markets Model Case Act, the Kapitalanleger-Musterverfahrensgesetz (KapMuG).

ECJ: User consent to social plugins on websites

If websites make use of social plugins, the ECJ has ruled that the provider and the operator of the site are jointly responsible for the collection and transfer of personal user information.

CJEU: Sampling permissible within narrow parameters

The courts have been grappling for years with the extent to which sampling pieces of music breaches copyright. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has now ruled that sampling is permissible within narrow parameters.

Conducting litigation in national and cross-border legal disputes

Strategic litigation is essential to enforcing one’s rights in national and cross-border legal disputes.

Detailed project contracts for software development and computer programming

Ready-made software solutions no longer cut it in many businesses whose needs require dedicated software. In this context, attention needs to be paid to how the project contract is drafted.

Automatic exchange of (financial) information (AEOI) – Timely voluntary disclosure for tax evasion

Financial information was automatically exchanged once again on September 30, 2019. Those with unreported income in foreign accounts can still submit a voluntary declaration leading to immunity from tax evasion charges.

Costs incurred obtaining tax advice reduce estate tax burden

The costs incurred by an heir in correcting the testator’s tax return reduce the estate tax burden. That was the verdict of the Finanzgericht (FG) Baden-Württemberg, the Fiscal Court of Baden-Württemberg (Az. 7 K 2712/18).

BFH on exemption of family home from estate tax

An heir inheriting property from his or her parents has a period of six months in which to personally occupy it for residential purposes in order to avoid it being subject to estate tax. That was the verdict of the Bundesfinanzhof (BFH), Germany’s Federal Fiscal Court.

European Commission compliance guidelines for trade in dual-use items

The European Commission has published a recommendation for an internal compliance programme (ICP) for trade in dual-use items. The guidelines are not binding on businesses.

KG Berlin: Misleading advertising featuring “best price” claims

Caution is advised in relation to “best price” advertising claims. These may give a misleading impression of occupying a leading position in the market and violate competition law.

ECJ: Copyright protection for designs only possible to a limited extent

Although a pair of jeans may fit perfectly and look good to boot, this does not in and of itself confer copyright protection. That was the verdict of the ECJ in a ruling from September 12, 2019 (Az.: C-683/17).

OLG Stuttgart: Damages due to truck cartel

The OLG Stuttgart, Stuttgart’s Higher Regional Court, has ruled in connection with what has become known as the “truck cartel” that an aggrieved buyer is in principle entitled to claim damages from Daimler AG (Az.: 2 U 101/18).

International law – From drafting contracts to conducting litigation

International law is no longer confined to regulating relations between states. Today, it also plays an increasingly important role in business and private law.

OLG Düsseldorf – Commercial agent must be main occupation to be entitled to an indemnity

Commercial agents are entitled to an indemnity following termination of the contractual relationship. As a prerequisite, however, their work for the company as a commercial agent must have been their main occupation.

Sale of real estate – No exclusion of liability if defects fraudulently concealed

A seller of real estate who fraudulently conceals defects cannot invoke a contractually agreed disclaimer of warranties. That was the verdict of the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Frankfurt, the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt (Az. 29 U 183/17).

BGH on contesting repayment of a shareholder loan in insolvency proceedings

Repayment of a shareholder loan can potentially be contested by the insolvency administrator even if the amount circuitously ends up in the company’s account again.

Revision clauses in joint wills

A joint will in which both parties mutually appoint each other as sole heir is popular among spouses. However, they need to be mindful of its strong binding effect.

Failed capital investment – Compensation for flawed investment advice

A lot of investors have experienced a crash landing when it comes to their financial investments. If the bank gave flawed investment advice, it is possible to assert claims for damages.

ECJ: Stringent requirements for registering a color mark as an EU trademark

A beverage manufacturer had a combination of colors registered as an EU trademark. In a ruling from July 29, 2019, the ECJ confirmed that the mark is null and void (Az.: C-124/18 P).