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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses intermediary liability and trade mark infringement from a civil law perspective, while highlighting differences and commonalities of trade mark and copyright enforcement online. The chapter considers first how the infringement test in EU trade mark law is more context-specific than the infringement analysis in copyright law and how limitations of trade mark rights provide room for unauthorized use that serves (commercial) freedom of expression and freedom of competition. In this context, this chapter looks into the use of filtering mechanisms and how they might wash away these important nuances of the scope of trade mark protection. Again, the chapter makes a distinction between legitimate comparative advertising and infringing consumer confusion, legitimate brand criticism and infringing defamation, legitimate offers of second-hand goods and infringing sales of replicas in order to consider the threshold when trade mark owners obtain overbroad protection. Further, this chapter reviews leading case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union on the question of intermediary liability and filter obligations that points towards a cautious approach in trade mark cases—an approach that does not undermine the inherent limits and statutory limitations of trade mark rights. However, examples of court decisions in civil law jurisdictions, such as Germany, show a tendency of developing national doctrines that allow the imposition of more extensive filtering duties. Against this background, the chapter concludes by considering whether a balanced approach based on the principle of proportionality should prevail in trade mark cases.

Keywords: trade mark infringement, civil law, online intermediaries, copyright infringement, freedom of expression, freedom of competition

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