In a judgment of 17 May 2018, case no. 6 U 3815/17 (“Judgment”), the Court of Appeal Munich (Oberlandesgericht München – “Court of Appeal”) held that online retailers are required to indicate a precise delivery time on their website where consumers purchase products. A ‘coming soon’ notice is insufficient, even where the relevant product has not yet been released. The Judgment was published on 9 July 2018 by the German consumer protection association Verbraucherzentrale Nordrhein-Westfalen, which had initiated the court proceedings (“Plaintiff”). The Plaintiff’s accompanying press release of 9 July 2018 can be found here (in the German language).
In 2016, the Plaintiff initiated court proceedings against a major German online retailer (“Defendant”). The Defendant had offered on its website to customers a new smartphone that had not yet been released by the manufacturer, placing the following notice on its website: “The item will be available soon. Secure your device now!” (Original German wording: “Der Artikel ist bald verfügbar. Sichern Sie sich jetzt Ihr Exemplar!”).
In its first instance judgment of 17 October 2017, case no. 33 O 20488/16 (“First Instance Judgment”), the District Court Munich I (Landgericht München I) held that the Defendant was in breach of its statutory information obligations on distance selling contracts under the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch – “BGB”).