Weather app of the German Weather Service is illegal under competition law

The 4th Chamber for Commercial Matters of the Regional Court of Bonn ruled on 15 November 2017 that the free weather app "DWD WarnWetter-App" of the German Weather Service (DWD) is illegal under competition law. The action had been brought by WetterOnline Meterologische Dienstleistungen GmbH (plaintiff) against the Federal Republic of Germany (defendant). The court ruled that the defendant must refrain from offering a weather app that not only provides information about official warnings, but general information about the weather.

Since June 2015, the DWD has been offering a weather app called "DWD WarnWetter-App" in various app stores free of charge and without advertising. In terms of content, the DWD partly uses its own data, and partly purchases satellite images and lightning data externally. The plaintiff offers metereological services on its website and with the "WetterOnline App". The app of the plaintiff can be used either free of charge and financed by advertising or as a "Pro" version against payment.

The Board ruled that the plaintiff had a claim for injunctive relief against the defendant under competition law (Sections 8 ( 1), ( 3), 3 ( 1), ( 3a) UWG). The judgment states the following in justification: The offering of the app is a commercial act within the meaning of competition law because the defendant, as a public authority, offers services to citizens in competition with private providers. In this respect, the defendant is not acting in a sovereign capacity, but as a commercial enterprise. In this respect, it is irrelevant that the DWD's app is offered free of charge, because by offering this app, the DWD promotes its own company, increases its awareness and reputation on the market of weather service providers and thus its market power. The offer of the DWD app violates Section 6 ( 2) sentence 1 DWDG. According to this provision, the DWD has to demand remuneration for its services, unless - as in this case - individual exceptions regulated by law are relevant. In this respect, it is above all decisive that the app not only provides information about official warnings of the DWD, but also comprehensive information about the weather. Even after the amendment of the DWDG this year, the DWD is not permitted to offer a free weather app.

The defendant can appeal against today's judgement within one month.

Reference: 16 O 21/16 - Bonn Regional Court


Source: Press release of the LG Bonn


GoldbergUllrich Attorneys at Law 2017

Attorney at Law Michael Ullrich, LL.M. (Information Law)

Specialist lawyer for information technology law