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Austria: Consumer Protection

(Feb. 2, 2008) On November 13, 2007, Austria enacted a major reform of its Act Against Unfair Competition (UWG-Novelle 2007, BUNDESGESETZBLATT no. 79/2007), which implements the European Union Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council Concerning Unfair Business-to-Consumer Commercial Practices (2005 OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION (L 149) [May 11, 2005]). Austria chose to place the content of the Directive in the Austrian Act Against Unfair Competition, rather than in the Austrian Consumer Protection Act, because the same unfair business practices that hurt consumers also hurt competitors. In keeping with the requirements of the Directive, however, the Austrian Act Against Unfair Competition now differentiates the remedies that are available to consumers and competitors (A. Wiebe, Umsetzung der Geschäftspraktikenrichtlinie, JURISTISCHE BLÄTTER 69 (2007)). The Act, as required by the Directive, contains a catalog of "per se" prohibitions and two general clauses, one prohibiting "aggressive business practices" and the other prohibiting "misleading business practices." It remains to be seen to what extent the new Austrian law will change the highly developed domestic case law on unfair competition (S. Fehringer, Die Umsetzung der Richtlinie, MEDIEN UND RECHT 115 (2007)).