Written Warning! Portal Operator Uses Brand Logo Without Approval
The logos of major brands create awareness among the target group and enjoy a high level of trust. For this reason alone, these companies protect their word and figurative marks and enforce their rights to them with legal assistance if necessary. This was also the experience of a portal operator who used the logo of a supermarket chain somewhat carelessly for his own purposes on his website without first obtaining the necessary permission. In this article, we reveal how it turned out for him.
Portal Operator Disregards Trade Mark Protection
A portal operator who compared the offers of various well-known companies on his website used both the logo and the name of a popular supermarket chain prominently in one of his posts. He assumed that this was permissible within the scope of his activities, even without the express consent of the trade mark owner. After all, there are many comparison portals in which the providers are also displayed with a logo. When he went through his mail a few weeks later, he was shocked to find a letter from a law firm. The supermarket chain did not want to accept the unlawful use of its word and figurative mark and sent the portal operator a written warning. The unauthorised use was to cost him 6,500 euros in damages.
If you find a written warning in your letterbox, it raises many questions and concerns. Nevertheless, don't panic. Our article Have You Received a Written Warning? This Is How You Should Respond will help you to deal with this legal dispute appropriately.
Insurer Takes Over Negotiations
The operator of the portal reacted immediately. He had taken out Professional Indemnity Insurance through exali to protect his business in advance against expensive consequences due to professional negligence. As a result, he did not have to fight this dispute alone. Instead, he described the facts of the case to the experts at exali customer care. They examined the case in detail before forwarding it to the responsible insurer.
After some negotiations, which the insurer undertook on behalf of the portal operator, the legal representatives of the supermarket chain agreed to settle the dispute under the following conditions: The portal operator was to pay a penalty of 4,000 euros for the unauthorised use of the trademark and also bear the legal fees of 2,500 euros.
If a written warning is justified, the person issuing the warning has the right to pass on their own legal costs to the person being warned in the form of compensation.
All parties involved finally agreed to this proposal. The portal operator signed the declaration to cease and desist, which was checked for legal pitfalls. The insurer settled the claim for 6,500 euros less the deductible of 250 euros.
In this case, the insurer was able to settle the claim quickly, as it was a clear case of trade mark infringement by the portal operator. Even if he presented the trade mark in a positive light on his website, the rights of the supermarket chain were violated - the use would only have been possible with the consent of the rights holder.
Infringements of rights are the most common trigger for a damage event. Find out how this manifests itself and what you can do about it here: The 5 Most Common Infringements and how to Avoid them.
Coverage For Your Special Risks
As the operator of a portal, you have to consider many legal aspects in your work. In addition to written warnings due to legal infringements, you may also face legal action for GDPR violations and damage to your business - such as reputational damage due to the spread of fake news on your portal.
Professional Indemnity Insurance through exali protects you against this. Even the basic coverage includes comprehensive protection against financial losses as well as protection against personal injury and property damage in the form of General Liability. If third parties make claims against you, the insurer will check and cover them if they are justified. However, if the claims prove to be excessive, the insurer will defend them on your behalf. If you have any questions, our customer service experts will be happy to help you on + 49 (0) 821 80 99 46 0 from Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm (CET). Or you can simply use our contact form.
6,500 Euros In Damages For Portal Operator
However, the portal operator got off lightly with this sum. This is because large companies in particular usually respond to trade mark infringements with high claims for compensation. In this case, the portal operator benefited from its cooperative behaviour. He immediately removed the offending word and figurative mark from his website. However, the name of the supermarket chain was still included in a product name. The rights holders therefore insisted that a cease-and-desist declaration should be issued.
The legal representatives of the supermarket chain justified this with the fact that the infringed trade mark is advertised at great economic expense and achieves high sales every year. However, as the supermarket chain had not set itself the goal of jeopardising the existence of the portal operator and the latter was cooperative, they were satisfied with a payment of 6,500 euros and the signing of a cease-and-desist declaration.
Vivien Gebhardt is an online editor at exali. She creates content on topics that are of interest to self-employed people, freelancers and entrepreneurs. Her specialties are risks in e-commerce, legal topics and claims that have happened to exali insured freelancers.
She has been a freelance copywriter herself since 2021 and therefore knows from experience what the target group is concerned about.