Company Personality Rights

Personality rights are inherent to every person. They can be breached by defamatory remarks by a third person. In such cases a number of options are open to an injured party to pursue the matter.

A company’s rights are protected by rules on trademark, copyright and unfair competition. However, protection is afforded only in specified circumstances. Competition law protection, for example, applies only to relationships where there is some form of competition present.

Comments and publications by third parties who have no direct connection to a company are not restricted by this legislative framework. Consequently, a discrete area of legal protection, namely that of personality rights, is required.

The case law of the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) and the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof), accepts that companies do have personality rights which protect a company’s social presence, goodwill and reputation. The concept of company personality rights are derived by the courts from Art. 2 paragraph 1 and Art. 19 paragraph 3 of the German constitution (Grundgesetz).

The protection of a company’s social presence is extremely important, as a negative comment or publication can have an adverse effect on the success of a company.

Where a potential breach of a company’s personality rights have been discovered, it is advisable to seek legal advice immediately, so that legal steps can be taken to protect the company’s reputation.

Options for pursuing a matter include:

  • Warning letters
  • Retraction or correction
  • Compensation

Do you need to protect yourself or your company from personality right infringements? Do you need to defend yourself against damaging publications? Or perhaps you simply have general questions of the right to free speech and rights of the press? We are here to help!

German lawyer Christian Solmecke and his expert team are available to answer your questions. Call us on +49 (0) 221 / 951 563 0.

Back to Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press

Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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