Briefly noted: Germany introduces transparency register to fight money lau...

The German legislator has recently amended the Anti-Money Laundering Act, implementing European rules to more effectively prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. One important new feature of the Act is the introduction of a national central transparency register, showing which natural person(s) stand behind certain legal entities as their beneficial owner, to the extent this information […]

Read more
Alternative text

EU: Prohibition on payment surcharges starting January 2018

With the adoption of the revised Directive on Payment Services (PSD2), the EU has essentially banned surcharges for using specific payment methods. Currently, national legislators are implementing the regulation. As of January 13, 2018, most provisions stipulating additional fees for payments by bank transfer, direct debit or debit/credit card will be prohibited.

Read more
Alternative text

Implementing decrees for e-sport competitions in France

Bearing in mind the huge economic and legal impacts of e-sport (representing a worldwide market of around 600 millions of dollars with a growth rate of 30% per year according to a report by French MPs dated March 2016[1]), it is not surprising that various countries try to regulate the e-sport business. Since the Digital […]

Read more
Alternative text
Regulation of online and app-based games: An update from the UK
August 4, 2015
On 30 January 2014 the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) published the final form of its Principles for online and app-based games. These Principles can be found here. Games businesses then had until 1 April 2015 to bring their operations into compliance with the Principles. (As it happens, 1 April 2014 was also the date when the OFT was replaced by a new agency, the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA)).

During the OFT’s investigations that led to the Principles, the OFT identified a number of practices that it felt were not compliant with applicable laws and regulations. So as 1 April came and went, what happened? Read more

VGBA: Video Games Lawyers Meet At Gamescom
July 7, 2015
The Video Game Bar Association, a non-profit organisation uniting experienced video games industry lawyers, will bring its well-respected Summit on Games, Business and Legal Affairs to Europe for the first time as part of gamescom2015. The VGBA EuroSummit will be held concurrently with gamescom congress on August 6, 2015 at the koelnmesse in Cologne. Read more
[update] What Scrapping Freedom of Panorama Would Do to Games
June 29, 2015
We couldn’t believe it at first, but it’s no hoax: The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has voted a paper that urges the EU Commission to significantly restrict “freedom of panorama” as a part of the anticipated reform of EU rules on copyright. Such step would have dire consequences for developers’ creative options and ultimately the degree of realism possible in computer games. [update 9 July 2015: Not a hoax, but all clear now: Commissioner Oettinger tweets that “We will not limit #FreedomofPanorama”] Read more
New Case Law on Online Game Ads: ‘Shop in the Pet Store’ Not Illegal Targeting of Children
June 16, 2015
The final “Runes of Magic” decision of the German Federal Court of Justice (“BGH”) regarding an advertisement for in-game items (allegedly) targeted at children has caused enormous insecurity (we have discussed the case in some detail in this blog). The German language has different words and grammatical constructions for “formal” and “informal” address, the latter being commonly used for children, but also for family, friends, and in other informal settings. This peculiarity can make it hard to draw a line between advertisements specifically targeted at children, and legitimate and rather common “informal” promotional approaches. Is it really not allowed to use informal language in advertisements? Even the BGH decision contained contradictory passages on these issues.

The Regional Court of Berlin (“LG Berlin”) now had to decide on a quite similar issue. It seized the opportunity to make one thing crystal clear: Yes, you can. “Get it now” and “Shop in the pet store” are not forbidden advertising targeted at children even though they use the informal address. The Berlin judges also scrutinize the BGH decision in an insightful manner. Read more

The end of the UsedSoft case and its implications for “used” software licences
April 30, 2015
One of the most important copyright cases of recent years has come to a quiet end. The dispute between Oracle and UsedSoft, which opened the way for the rather new market of “used” software licences with the European Court of Justice’s (“ECJ”) landmark decision in 2012, has just now come to a close in the German courts, and with a surprising outcome: UsedSoft lost.

It is reported that UsedSoft has withdrawn its appeal and signed an undertaking to cease and desist. After eight years of legal proceedings and a landmark decision by the ECJ in their favour, they gave up the case. But why? Read more

Letter from Poland: Consumer Rights and F2P Advertising
March 19, 2015
We are very grateful for our readers all over Europe for sharing their views and comments on the topics we dicuss in this blog. Sometimes, readers’ comments could be blog posts in their own right. We have decided to feature such comments (with the author’s consent of course) as a hopefully regular new feature, the “Letter from …”. The first installment of the series comes from Warsaw – fellow IT/IP law blogger Jakub Kubalski tackles linguistic issues with Poland’s implementation of the Consumer Rights Directive and discusses a hefty fine for allegedly misleading online game advertisements. Read more
German Courts Ban Bots in Blizzard Games (Again)
February 24, 2015
A protracted legal battle is opposing World of Warcraft operator Blizzard and distributors of automation software (bots) in Germany – but two recent appellate court decisions are strongly hinting at which side will likely emerge victorious when the fog of war is lifted. Both courts also made some valuable comments on the enforceability of game EULAs under the notoriously strict German Civil Code. Read more
German Terms of Service mandatory when targeting German consumers
January 19, 2015
German consumer protection law puts a set of quite specific restrictions on the enforceability of clauses in B2C standard contracts, such as Terms of Service for an online game or platform. Furthermore, it is an overarching principle of these statutory consumer protection rules that Terms of Service in consumer contracts must be clear, unambiguous, and easy to understand for the customer. In addition, the German Telemedia Act requires any business providing online services to disclose a statutory set of contact information. Failure to comply with these rules may result in enforcement action from public authorities – but much more frequently, in cease and desist letters and lawsuits brought by competitors or consumer associations. Read more
Digital distribution platforms introducing 14 day refund policies
January 13, 2015
Digital distribution platforms for apps, games and other content have recently changed their refund policies for such virtual items. European users can now “return” their purchases within 14 days for any reason – or for no reason at all. These plans have caused quite a stir. Are consumer rights the next big thing coming from app stores? What is the motivation for this move? What exactly is covered by the users’ right to return their virtual purchases? And what are the consequences for other providers of virtual content, such as games, apps or digital media? Read more
A look back at Games Law in 2014
December 23, 2014
We are looking back at an eventful year in games. The courts puzzled us with their Runes of Magic decision, the specific privacy issues of mobile apps came into the regulators’ focus, and youth protection organizations joined consumer protection groups across Europe in raising legal challenges that go to the core of the free to play model, making sure we never got bored.

Read more