Masters of the Rings

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 at 20:07 | Posted in Bloggers' rights, Blogosphere, Freedom of speech, Germany, internet, Legal | Leave a comment

I have been keeping an eye on legal problems around Saftblog for quite some time but have unfortunately not found time to write a deep diving account on them. I am not doing it now either, just briefly putting on record the background of the case. There are a lot of good posts in German about the topic, for example this comprehensive summary by 3-Bein Peter.

Kelterei Walther is a small family business in Arnsdorf, Germany. The CEO Kirstin Walther runs the business of producing and marketing juices in the fourth generation. She also got the idea of using a business blog for marketing and interacting with their customers.

During the Olympic winter games in February, there was a post in Saftblog about the difference between the terms Olympic Games and Olympiad. In another post Saftblog reflected in retrospect to some of the olympic ideals in context of performance of German athletes. The first post was illustrated with those famous five rings.

One would wonder why two innocent blog posts would turn into such a mess. But Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund apparently did not regard those posts as innocent. They thought that Saftblog was infringing their trade mark and other rights and sent their lawyers on the juice business.

As I wrote on top of this post, I am not going to write about this case in detail, much less so with the famous German Gründlichkeit which often almost drives me crazy. The bottom line of the story is that while many of the legal arguments quoted by the masters of the Olympic Rings could very well contradict the German constitution (as well as they most certainly contradict common sense), the Walther’s were risking serious financial consequences unless they either gave up or sought an agreement. As CEO Kirstin Walther explained in her comment to this post by Robert Basic, she has the very existence of the business and 15-20 jobs to consider.

This just in: Saftblog wrote a few hours ago that their lawyers are still having constructive talks with the DOBS lawyers and a settlement acceptable for both parties may still be in sight. I’ll keep an eye on the developments. It would be a disgrace if a small business with such an innovative approach to web 2 marketing would have to change the way they are acting just because somebody thinks that they have a monopoly on drawing round rings.


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