BHL Bogen

BHL Bogen
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Department of Justice investigates airlines for collusion

Did some airlines collude to keep the airfare and their profits up? Did they possibly slow down their growth and try to avoid a prize competition on certain flight routes, which were already operated by competitors?

The Department of Justice started an investigation against unnamed airlines. The government also requested information from some airlines for an antitrust investigation after a series of big mergers since 2008. At this moment there is no official statement about the involved airlines of the collusion investigation. The main carrier at the Charlotte Douglas International. Airport American Airlines, did not answer a request by the Charlotte Business Journal on this topic on July 2, 2015.

The former assistant US-Attorney John Teakell said, a lot of times there is a civil action to obtain fines and monetary penalties in the beginning. Depending on the behavior of the parties a criminal case could not be precluded. But at this point it is too soon to assess the government's evidence or even the possible penalties in this case.

With this news the shares of the major American airlines dropped over night by more than four percent.

We will keep you informed.

A "too late" does not exist in in murder cases

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the End of World War II and also the Nuremburg Trials. In these trials high ranked Nazi war criminals were charged for actions in the Second World War and the Holocaust. Goering was one of the most famous defendants, but for the rest of the world it was unsatisfying as the leading architects and executors of the Holocaust were either dead (like Himmler or Hitler) or in hiding (like Eichmann or Mengele). The Holocaust and the horror of the concentration camps are still relevant today, as marked by the ongoing trial against Oskar Groening, one of the last living pieces of the Nazi mechanism which killed millions of Jews.  

Dr. Christoph Rueckel, who is Of Counsel Attorney for BridgehouseLaw LLP, is representing two of the Jewish victims. The trial is currently taking place in Luneburg, Germany and is expected to run for at least the remainder of this year. Dr. Rueckel is questioning Groening's role, describing him as "unemotional and without remorse."  

While Oskar Groening was no Eichmann or Hess, he was nevertheless part of the machine. He was responsible for collecting the money of the prisoners and preparing it to be shipped to Germany. He joined the SS when he was just 19 years old.  

The SS, abbreviated for Schutzstaffel (German: "Protective Echelon"), the black-uniformed elite corps and self-described "political soldiers" of the Nazi Party. SS men were schooled in racial hatred and admonished to harden their hearts to human suffering. During World War II the SS carried out massive executions of political opponents, Roma (Gypsies), Jews, Polish leaders, communist authorities, partisan resisters, and Russian prisoners of war. Following the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Allies, the SS was declared a criminal organization by the Allied Tribunal in Nurenberg in 1946.  

After two years of training Groening was ordered to work in Auschwitz, where he was assigned to Inmate Money Administration. He worked in Auschwitz for 2 years, first in the office, then at the ramp which led to the gas chambers. He witnessed the death of 300,000 people and like most, he remained passive. As he witnessed more and more cruelty, he requested a transfer, which was granted in 1944. The war ended and he subsequently settled into his new life. He became an accountant and lived quietly for the next 40 years. Groening could have faded away into obscurity, but for his recent involvement opposing the Holocaust denial movement in 2005. Groening chose to write a memoir and participate in a BBC documentary to attest to the atrocities he witnessed at Auschwitz. As a result, Groening's own admissions have reignited these issues and he is now facing prosecution for his participation.

It might be the last Auschwitz trial, we will see or one of the last eye witness reports we will hear. And so far the trial has had its moments, even though the health of Mr. Groening is slowing down the trial. Even though Mr. Groening has acknowledged his moral guilt and admitted that he knew Jews were being sent to the gas chambers, he is downplaying his role as a concentration camp bookkeeper by insisting that there is no blood on hands. He sorted through and organized the luggage of the Jews that were led from the train straight to the gas chambers. He made sure that their money, jewelry and other valuables were forwarded to Berlin. In light of these actions, the Plaintiffs in the Luneberg trial are alleging that Groening's work supported the systematic killing of hundreds of thousands of Jews. Several contemporary witnesses have described their experiences in Auschwitz. There are 49 joint plaintiffs, most of which either had been in Auschwitz or had family lose their lives in the camps. The most notable witness has been Eva Kor, who has been criticized for forgiving Mr. Groening. She and her twin sister were in Auschwitz. She survived the experiments at the hands of the infamous Dr. Mengele and has spent most of her life as a speaker and activist educating about the Holocaust. She embraced Mr. Groening and explained the necessity to forgive and to educate together, victim and perpetrator, about the Holocaust. Other plaintiffs take the trial as a chance to tell their story again, most are not as forgiving as Ms. Kor.  

Mr. Groening's case not only revives searing questions about individual guilt for Nazi crimes but also highlights the decades of legal inaction over Auschwitz, where an estimated 1.1 million people were killed. About 6,500 members of the SS worked at the camp; only 49 have been convicted of war crimes.If found guilty, Groening faces a maximum possible sentence of 15 years in prison.  

"It is an important point in looking at genocidal acts which happen today - that perpetrators perhaps do get taken to court," Christoph Heubner, of the International Auschwitz Committee in Berlin, said in an interview before the trial. "Even when it is 70 years too late, it is a lingering, lasting signal."

The Supreme Court Tears Abercrombie & Fitch's Dress Code

On June 1, 2015 in an 8-1 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Samantha Eluf, a female applicant who had been denied a job at Abercrombie & Fitch due to wearing her headscarf, or hijab, in an interview. Ms. Eluf had originally been awarded $20,000 by a jury, but was overturned by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which reasoned Ms. Eluf never disclosed that she wore the headscarf for religious purposes.

Similarly, Abercrombie & Fitch tried to argue it did not know the headscarf was worn for religious reasons and instead the company declined to hire Ms. Eluf because her headscarf did not match the company "dress code." Justice Scalia, writing for the Court, stated that there was ample evidence that Abercrombie & Fitch at least suspected that Ms. Eluf wore the headscarf for religious reasons. He went on to argue that by not hiring her, the company was motivated to avoid accommodating her religious practices.

The Supreme Court further expressed that Ms. Eluf was not required to make a specific request for religious accommodation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Contrastly, Justice Scalia said, "Title VII forbids adverse employment decisions made with a forbidden motive. He continued, "An employer may not make an applicant's religious practice confirmed, or otherwise, a factor in employment decisions."

The decision has been remanded to the Court of Appeals for further consideration. However, with the Supreme Court's ruling, it seems very likely that Ms. Eluff will prevail.

For further information on the story, please see the links below:

Das Bundesministerium für Inneres meldet sich im Streit um DFB-Adler zu Wort

Die juristische Auseinandersetzung zwischen dem Deutschen Fussball Bund (DFB) und der Warenhauskette Real um den Markenschutz für den DFB-Adler geht in die nächste Runde. Dazu schaltet sich jetzt sogar der Bundesinnenminister Thomas de Maiziere in die Debatte ein.

Wie bereits im Newsletter August 2014 berichtet, hat Real zur vergangenen Fußball-Weltmeisterschaft verschiedene Produkte mit Adler-Symbol verkauft, deren Design dem DFB-Logo verblüffend ähnlich sah. Daraus folgte eine rechtliche Auseinandersetzung zwischen dem Fussballbund und der Metro-Tochter. Der DFB hat im vergangenen Jahr eine einstweilige Verfügung gegen Real erwirkt und damit eine weitere Verwendung des Adler-Symbols durch Real vorerst gestoppt. Denn der Verband hatte sich zuvor das eigene Logo mit Adler und Deutschland-Schriftzug als Wort-Bild-Marke rechtlich schützen lassen. Die Real-Anwälte entgegneten, der DFB verwende in seinem Logo den Bundesadler als Hoheitssymbol der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, dessen Nutzung nicht als Marke beschränkt werden darf und setzte sich damit gegen die Verfügung zur Wehr. Laut F.A.Z. ist dieser Rechtsstreit momentan beim Landgericht München anhängig. Zudem hat Real beim Deutschen Patent- und Markenamt (DPMA) die Löschung der DFB-Marke beantragt.

Die deutschen Gerichte sind im Sinne der Gewaltenteilung selbstredend völlig unabhängig. Das DPMA ist die Zentralbehörde auf dem Gebiet des gewerblichen Rechtsschutzes in Deutschland und dem Bundesministerium der Justiz nachgeordnet. Nichtsdestotrotz hat sich der Bundesinnenminister Thomas de Maiziere berufen gefühlt, sich an der vorliegende Thematik zu beteiligen. Auf vorherige Bitte des DFB-Präsidenten Wolfgang Niersbach hatte er schriftlich bestätigt, dass der DFB nicht den Bundesadler in seinem Logo verwende. Außerdem erklärte er, dass sein Ministerium durch die DFB-Marke keine Verletzung von Hoheitszeichen sehe und mit der Verwendung des DFB-Adlers einverstanden sei.

Sofern das Bundesministerium für Inneres (BMI) überhaupt zur Bewertung von Hoheitszeichen befugt ist, stellt deren markenrechtliche Einschätzung jedoch eine relativ offensichtliche Überschreitung ihrer Zuständigkeit dar. Denn sofern ein Gericht eine solche juristische Einschätzung eines Ministeriums benötigen würde, liegt sicherlich eine entsprechende Anfrage beim Justizministerium auf der Hand. Zumindest über die bestehende Zuständigkeit des BMI in sportlichen Belangen geht diese juristische Thematik jedoch wohl weit hinaus. Deshalb bleibt vielmehr zu hinterfragen, warum sich das BMI durch den Fussballverband instrumentalisieren lies, in ein laufendes Gerichtsverfahren einzugreifen und mehrfach öffentlich Druck auf das Landgericht München sowie die DPMA ausgeübt hat. Sicherlich sollte dadurch der größte deutsche Verband des Breitensports Fussball und damit auch das Aushängeschild des deutschen Sports unterstützt werden, um einen positiven Ausgang zu bewirken. Denn ohne markenrechtlichen Schutz dürften dem Verband zukünftig wesentliche Einnahmen von Ausrüstern wie Adidas und weiteren Sponsoren fehlen. Bevor der Steuerzahler - wohl auch zu Lasten des BMI-Budgets - dann einspringen müsste, um Projekte wie zum Beispiel die DFB-Akademie in Frankfurt mit Baukosten jenseits von 50 Mio Euro zu realisieren, könnte man aus Sicht des Ministeriums dazu neigen, vorher öffentlich etwas Druck aufzubauen und Einfluss zu nehmen. Insbesondere vor diesem politischen Hintergrund bleibt die Entscheidung über den vorliegenden Rechtsstreit spannend. Wir werden Sie auf dem Laufenden halten.