What is a warning letter?

A warning notice serves to settle disputes out of court when asserting claims for removal and injunctive relief. If a rights holder discovers an infringement of his or her rights, he or she will not immediately take legal action, but will seek an out-of-court settlement. He will directly request the infringer to stop the infringement and to refrain from doing so in the future.

Warning letters can be used for any area of civil injunctive relief and in any contractual continuing obligation.

In this case, however, the infringer usually does not receive a polite letter with a request to cease and desist, but a formal warning. This way, the rights holder does not have to pay court and lawyer’s fees if he later wants to enforce his rights in court.

Experience shows that warnings are often used as harassment against competitors, as they are cheaper than court proceedings to punish legal infringements in the long term.

With the warning procedure, 90 to 95 percent of all infringements in competition law are ended out of court beforehand. The warning is legally regulated in teriles in the German § 13 UWG.

Warning letters are important in labour law, industrial property law, especially competition law, copyright law and trademark law.

Attorneys-at-law Michael Horak, LL.M.

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