Hungary updates

Competition & Antitrust

Contributed by Schoenherr
Spar will create opportunities for local small producers as redress for abuse of significant market power
  • Hungary
  • 28 January 2021

The Hungarian Competition Authority's (HCA's) recent decision in an abuse of significant market power case against Spar has created a forward-looking solution which is unprecedented in such cases. As a proactive reparation for the competition infringement and in order to avoid an HCA fine, the supermarket chain will develop a new regional supply system. The programme will have a budget of HUF1.7 billion and will not only improve small producers' sales opportunities, but also create new jobs.

Future Hungarian 'superbank' exempted from merger control scrutiny
  • Hungary
  • 14 January 2021

The planned merger of three banks into a new Hungarian bank holding (a so-called 'superbank') was announced in Spring 2020. Normally, such a merger would require competition authority approval. However, the government has issued a decree exempting the superbank's merger from competition scrutiny. The government held that the measure was required from a public interest standpoint in order to boost the Hungarian financial sector's competitiveness.

Compliance and competition enforcement in sales and promotions – where does Black Friday guide us?
  • Hungary
  • 10 December 2020

The Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) is one of the few competition enforcers in Europe with a prominent consumer protection enforcement practice. The HCA's holiday sales practice has tremendous potential to aid companies which aim to throw large-scale sales but at the same time intend to avoid large-scale fines. This article distils the HCA's recent practice into clear guidelines in order to assist companies with any sales or promotional campaigns.

HCA receives boost in enforcement against large retail chains
  • Hungary
  • 03 December 2020

In 2015 the Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) imposed a staggering fine on Auchan for abusing its significant market power. The HUF1,06 billion (approximately €3 million) fine is the highest ever imposed by the authority for the infringement of the Trade Act. Although the decision is from 2015, the Hungarian courts have only now put an end to the judicial review. The Supreme Court recently upheld the HCA's decision in its entirety.

Investigation into TikTok – HCA takes on the tech world
  • Hungary
  • 12 November 2020

The Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) recently initiated an investigation into TikTok, the popular social media platform. TikTok's capacity to generate vast amounts of consumer data and shower its users with ads has already sounded several alarm bells as regulators attempt to make sense of the phenomena that is digitalisation. The HCA took the initiative to scrutinise the platform with a focus on consumer protection.


Employment & Immigration

Contributed by Schoenherr
New labour inspection rules enter into force
  • Hungary
  • 17 March 2021

The new Act on Labour Inspection, Employment Services and Grants recently entered into force, replacing the old Act on Labour Inspection. While the new act contains similar rules, there are some novelties. This article summarises what employers and employees need to know.

Limited stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions: what are you allowed to do?
  • Hungary
  • 02 December 2020

As of 4 November 2020 and 11 November 2020, the government introduced new COVID-19 restrictions, including the limited order to stay at home between 8:00pm and 5:00am. The law treats employment and business-related travel as a key exception from the rules. Thus, for business purposes, not only is cross-border travelling allowed, but so is travelling during curfew hours.

COVID-19 travel restrictions are back
  • Hungary
  • 14 October 2020

Pursuant to Government Decree 408/2020 (VIII 30), Hungary closed its borders to non-Hungarian citizens as of 1 September 2020. The new rules abolish the tricolour system of green, yellow and red countries and qualify virtually all countries as red. Reclosing Hungary's borders appears to be a straightforward measure to fight the pandemic on the one hand, but on the other, there is a risk of going against the European Union's basic principle of free movement. But is that the case here?

Access to employee emails – enhanced authority control
  • Hungary
  • 12 August 2020

More than two years after the EU General Data Protection Regulation's entry into force, employers' access to employee email accounts still raises several questions. This has been highlighted by three recent cases in which the Hungarian Data Protection Authority imposed fines on employers in connection with their access to employee mailboxes. This article summarises the legal situation regarding professional email accounts and sets out the key takeaways from the authority's decisions.

Travel restrictions are back
  • Hungary
  • 29 July 2020

Following a few weeks of travel restrictions easing, the government has adopted new rules for travellers to Hungary in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new rules apply to travellers with private passports; therefore, freight traffic is exempt. Do holiday bookings and business trips need to be put on hold yet again?


Intellectual Property

Contributed by Danubia Patent and Law Office LLC
Lack of distinctiveness of word combination
  • Hungary
  • 15 March 2021

The Hungarian Intellectual Property Office recently rejected an application for the combination word mark BEER, BURGER, BARBECUE FESTIVAL, holding that it was descriptive. It referred to the European Court of Justice's Biomild judgment, which held that word combinations which comprise the juxtaposition of several non-distinctive elements remain descriptive and cannot be considered unusual.

Deception and bad faith in trademark applications
  • Hungary
  • 15 February 2021

The Hungarian Intellectual Property Office and the Metropolitan Tribunal recently rejected an application to register the mark VÁSÁRHELYI TERV. The application was found to be deceptive as in 2003 the government had launched a flood protection programme entitled the 'Development of the Vásárhelyi Terv', named after the famous engineer Pál Vásárhelyi. From the warning letters written by the applicant to the state authorities, it was evident that his goal was to hinder the use of his family name.

Non-registrability of descriptive names
  • Hungary
  • 11 January 2021

The Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO) recently rejected the registration of the combination word mark ECUMENICAL WORLDMUSIC FESTIVAL. The HIPO referred to an earlier judgment of the European Court of Justice, which held that the combination of several elements which are not distinctive does not result in a distinctive sign. The Metropolitan Tribunal agreed, holding that the registration of non-Hungarian words must be refused if their Hungarian meaning is not distinctive.

Likelihood of confusion decision draws on ECJ case law
  • Hungary
  • 19 October 2020

The Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO) and the Metropolitan Tribunal recently rejected a word mark application based on European Court of Justice (ECJ) case law. While it seems likely that the HIPO and the Metropolitan Tribunal would have come to the same conclusion without referring to ECJ case law, the guidance was useful for the development of a unified EU doctrine and case law.

Every claim of opposition must be examined
  • Hungary
  • 10 August 2020

The Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO) recently rejected a trademark opposition in respect of the opponent's prior use and registered the disputed mark. However, as the HIPO failed to consider the opponent's arguments concerning copyright infringement, the Metropolitan Tribunal annulled the decision and ordered a new procedure. In the new procedure, the HIPO must examine whether the opponent sufficiently proved the alleged copyright infringement.


Litigation

Contributed by SMARTLEGAL Schmidt & Partners
Can a judicial error create Hungarian jurisdiction if the place of performance is abroad?
  • Hungary
  • 04 May 2021

This article analyses a recent Supreme Court decision concerning the Hungarian courts' jurisdiction in a dispute arising from an international sales contract. Among other things, the court established that in the absence of a domestic place of performance, the Hungarian courts do not have jurisdiction over a dispute arising from an international sales contract.

Excessive res judicata effect – are test cases in danger?
  • Hungary
  • 23 March 2021

The Supreme Court recently concluded that the res judicata effect of a final judgment precludes the claimant from starting new litigation on the same legal grounds for a part of the claim which was not sought in the preceding lawsuit. This judgment is a departure from not only the legal literature, but also case law. It remains to be seen how this judgment will affect party autonomy in civil litigation and test cases.

CCP amendment: fairer balance between form and content
  • Hungary
  • 23 February 2021

The Civil Code of Procedure, which has been criticised for sacrificing fundamental rights to achieve accelerated civil proceedings, has finally been amended by the legislature. The new provisions make first-instance litigation more flexible and simpler for both parties. This article examines the most important changes as of 1 January 2021 and whether a fairer balance between form and content has been reached in civil litigation.

Can judges control excessive terms in lease agreements?
  • Hungary
  • 24 November 2020

Can parties stipulate in a commercial lease that a user charge amounting to three times the monthly rent will apply if the lessee fails to vacate the leased premises? Further, can a judge qualify such an excessive fee as a penalty which the court can reduce? This article analyses a recent Supreme Court decision in order to address these questions.

Does choice of court amount to choice of law?
  • Hungary
  • 06 October 2020

Does commencing litigation in England with regard to a Hungarian project amount to a choice of English law? How much of a role do the parties' procedural actions play in the choice of law applicable to a contract? This article analyses a recent Hungarian Supreme Court judgment which, among other things, addresses the issue of tacit choice of law.