In many cases, trade secrets, know-how or other non-patentable knowledge can be more valuable than patents. These things are - among others - protected under the Act Against Unfair Competition (UWG). The principle of this law is to ensure that everyone participating in the trade and business is complying with the basic rules of honest practices.
UWG is sometimes used as a supplementary protection for industrial property rights. As for what deeds are considered as unfair competition, UWG mainly contains general clauses. According to Sections 1 and 3 UWG, any person who, in the course of business activity for purposes of competition, 'commits acts contrary to honest practices', or 'makes deceptive statements concerning business matters, in particular concerning the nature, the origin, the manner of manufacture, or the pricing of individual goods or commercial services or of the offer as a whole, concerning price lists, the manner or the source of acquisition of goods, concerning the possession of awards, concerning the occasion or purpose of the same, or concerning the size of the available stock', may be considered to have commited unfair competition. Under the light of these principles, the courts contribute to form the present system by case law. Specific examples of unfair competition acts are false or offensive and annoying advertisement, slavishing imitations, attacks of business activity, to name only a few.
A note-worthy point about UWG is that UWG is a very good weapon against unfair competition as it grants not only individual interests of competitors but also some certain consumer protection associations the right to sue for injunction.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.