If and how to restrict the distribution of bot-programs for online-games – The “World of Warcraft II” Decision, Germany
Bot-programs autonomously perform certain tasks in a computer game without requiring any interaction with a human user.
The defendant distributed bot-programs for World of Warcraft online and used the term “World of Warcraft bot” and “WOW bot” for its offerings on its Internet website. By using the defendant’s bot-programs, the user did not have to perform time-consuming and “easy” tasks on its own as all the other players had to do. Instead, he skipped game levels to a more advanced level.
Furthermore, the court ruled that the use of the terms “World of Warcraft bot” and “WOW bot” on the Internet page of the defendant infringed the trademarks “WORLD OF WARCRAFT” and “WOW” of the claimant (Art. 9 para 1 lit. b EUTMR). The use of a third-party trademark as part of an own identification is a use of the trademark in the sense of Art. 9. Such use was not exempted as the mere identification of goods (Art. 12 lit c EUTMR) as the use here did not comply with honest practices in commercial matters. Instead, the defendant misused the claimant´s trademarks for its unlawful offering of bot-programs.
By Dr. Julia Goetz and Klaus Schubert