The obligation at Xing to publish legal information about a company on its website has already been subject to much legal dispute. This legal site notice is called Impressum in germany.
The platform operator itself has already responded to this discussion and now offers the technical possibility of creating a site notice on their website.
In a very controversial and much discussed decision of the Landgericht Stuttgart (judgment dating 27th June 2014, Case No. 11 O 51/14), it was ruled that these site notices were insufficient, affirming them as a breach of competition law.
In finding the site notices to be inadequate, the legal resoning of the court was, amongst other things, that the link to the site notice was in small font, found outside of the main text, an area to which the ordinary reader would not pay attention.
Therefore the court found that the link was too inconspicuous, a link which a reader with average attentiveness could easily overlook.
As a result, despite the existence of the site notice, a violation in the obligation to have a legal site notice arose in this case.
Comments from Attorney Hoesmann
This judgment has been criticised by legal professionals in all areas of law.
Not only does it leave users of a Xing site notice de facto at risk of receiving a formal warning from competitors, but also, from our point of view, the judgment is incorrect with regards to the consequences it entails. The decision would mean that hardly any German website would meet the requirements set by the obligation to have a site notice, according to the Landgericht of Stuttgart.
Generally, as is the case on our website, the link to a site notice is to be found outside the main text. This has been the accepted practice for many years in Germany. The reasoning and judgment of the Landgericht of Stuttgart, that the site notice must be clearly visible and in the upper part of the main text on the website is therefore absurd.
It can only be hoped that this decision will stay an isolated case and that in similar cases, appropriate decisions will be made, which are based upon the legal obligation to provide a site notice.
Should you still have questions regarding formal warnings pertaining to defective legal site notices / impressum, we are glad to be of assistance.