Provisions of the Civil Code
In addition to provisions of trademark law and the law of distinctive signs in a narrow sense, the general clause of the law against unfair competition, as well as the provisions of the Civil Code regarding torts and the provision for protection of name rights, may be employed in order to prevent the wrongful use of domain names.
While the German Unfair Competition Act does not substantially extend the scope of protection granted to trademarks and distinctive signs, and while its prerequisites are somewhat restrictive inasfar as use in commerce and common field of activities are concerned, the protection granted under the provisions of the Civil Code is broader in principle;
in particular, these provisions may also be invoked when the sign is not used in commerce (as, for instance, in the case of defamatory statements made in chat-groups within the Usenet).
The provision on protection for name rights of the German Civil Code also protects the names of cities and other geographic entities. In addition, it can be invoked in favor of trade names. As this is a provision with a rather broad, general-clause-like character, the German Civil Code in some respect may constitute a more appropriate basis for solution of conflicts between domain names and trade names than the provisions of trademark law proper. However, the risk that protection will be granted in an overly generous manner should not be neglected.