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Warning letter IDO? Why this is a case for the lawyer!

The interest association for the legal and financial consulting of German online companies e.V. (IDO) is an active association.

Abmahnung IDO
Did you recieve a warning letter from IDO? Call us at (040) 3501 6360 or write a mail to info@kanzlei-bennek.de.

One focus of its work: Warning letters. The IDO's specialist lawyers are on the lookout for competition violations and send out wave after wave of warning letters to online retailers.

What is the smartest way to deal with a warning from the IDO? Do you have to react at all? Are you rid of the association with the one-time payment? This article will give you some orientation.


  1. Mail from IDO must be taken seriously.
  2. A warning from the IDO does not end up in the post box!
  3. The IDO has no general authority to issue warnings.
  4. Conclusion

1. Mail from IDO must be taken seriously

The IDO reacts very sensitively. Sometimes it is disturbed by a single word.

An example: An online retailer offers Playmobil via eBay. The retailer adds a warning to the toy: 'Not suitable for children under three'. He receives a warning from the IDO because he has violated the Product Safety Act.

This stipulates that every warning must begin with the word 'Caution'. This may seem like splitting hairs to you, but it has a legal basis. The Higher Regional Court of Hamm had sentenced an online retailer for breach of competition because he had written 'Sicherheitshinweis' instead of 'Achtung'.

Therefore, once again, beware: The IDO's lawyers are well informed. Take it seriously when you receive mail from them.

2. A warning from IDO does not end up in the post box!

Have you forgotten the basic price information? Are there any incompletenesses in the cancellation policy? Are the instructions on the existence of the statutory right of liability for defects missing?

Then you might receive mail from the IDO. The letter points out the violation of competition law and asks you to pay warning costs in the three-digit range. In addition, a cease-and-desist declaration with a penalty clause is enclosed with the letter. The IDO asks you to sign and return this declaration.

Nobody is happy about such mail. After you have found the warning letter in your mailbox, you can react in three ways:

  • You tear the letter
  • You sign the cease and desist declaration and pay the reminder fee
  • You involve a lawyer

Tear the letter

This emotional method gives you satisfaction for the moment, but the thick end comes after. The IDO persistently pursues its warnings and has its lawyers enforce injunctions.

Sign the letter

The legally supported warning from the IDO triggers fear in many online retailers. They pay the warning costs and believe they have peace of mind. But they have also signed the penalty-based cease-and-desist declaration.

This means: All competition violations criticized by the IDO must be corrected immediately. If you sell only one product under the old conditions, you will receive new IDO mail. This is because you have violated the cease-and-desist declaration and this will result in contractual penalties in the four-digit range. For some online retailers, this could mean the end of their business.

Involve a lawyer

Legal advice has proven itself in many cases of IDO warnings. The expert lawyer checks the IDO's warning for its justification. The experts of the interest group are well versed in competition law: Their justifications are based on solid legal ground and therefore appear legitimate. Nevertheless, there is room for maneuver.

The specialist lawyer examines the legal situation in each individual case. In most cases, there are actual violations of competition law. It is then important to gain time to examine the factual situation in detail.

To this end, the lawyer can include a grace period in the cease-and-desist declaration. This gives you enough leeway to change the offending offers. At the same time, the lawyer investigates whether the IDO was entitled to issue a warning at all.

3. the IDO has no general authority to issue warnings

The warning of the competition violation is legitimate and yet the association is not entitled to do so? How is this to be understood?

There are numerous court rulings on the association's activities, but unfortunately these are individual court decisions that do not apply nationwide. Specialist attorney research is required here.

Example: If you sell books and toys online in Hesse, you fall outside the IDO's jurisdiction. This was decided by the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court.

The second legal defense strategy against IDO warnings focuses on the association's authority to issue warnings. This only exists if the association represents a significant number of competitors.

Whether this circumstance exists is clarified in an individual court decision. The experienced specialist lawyer assesses in advance whether such an individual decision is worthwhile for the online trader. If the court does not recognize the IDO's authority to issue warnings, the association must withdraw its claims.

4. Conclusion

Warnings from the IDO have hardly been substantiated with generally legally valid judgments. For a case-by-case decision and the assessment of the correct behavior towards the association, you need the support of a specialist lawyer. Please contact our law firm for this purpose. Legal advice is always worthwhile!

Do you have questions or do you want to schedule an appointment?

Make an appointment now!

image source: © onephoto (YAYMicro) / panthermedia.net

Marco Bennek
I started working as a lawyer in 2006 and have been advising clients in competition and trademark law for more than 10 years. Since June 2015 I have been a specialist attorney for industrial property rights and since May 2013 a partner in the firm of HELMKE Attorneys at Law and Tax Advisors and Patent Attorneys. I studied law in Hamburg, Madrid, and Wellington (New Zealand) and hold a Master of Laws (LL.M.).
Rechtsanwalt Marco Bennek
Lawyer Marco Bennek – trademark law, copyright, competition law and IT law in Hamburg
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