Hungary updates

Competition & Antitrust

Contributed by Schoenherr
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.

More pressure selling in hotel booking sector – cooperation with HCA prevents substantial fine
  • Hungary
  • 29 October 2020

Following the first market study in the consumer protection field in 2019 relating to the application of digital comparison tools, the Hungarian Competition Authority did not hesitate to apply its findings in practice. In early 2020 it imposed a record fine on Booking.com BV for unfair commercial practices. This has now been followed by a decision that Szallas.hu, the biggest local market player and a main competitor of Booking.com, engaged in unfair practices. However, this time, no fine was imposed.


Employment & Immigration

Contributed by Schoenherr
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?

Legal implications of remote working – opportunity or threat?
  • Hungary
  • 20 May 2020

What seemed hardly imaginable months ago has become a reality as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic: sizeable teams in various companies had to switch to remote working within a few days and have now been working remotely for several weeks. This article highlights some of the legal challenges caused by the sudden introduction of remote working.


Intellectual Property

Contributed by Danubia Patent and Law Office LLC
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.

Hungarian authorities deem device mark SPIRIT to be misleading
  • Hungary
  • 03 August 2020

The Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO) recently issued ex officio a provisional refusal to register the international device mark SPIRIT in Hungary, holding that it was misleading because the word 'spirit' means alcohol, whereas the goods in Class 32 include mineral water, beer and soft drinks, which are not hard liquors. The Metropolitan Tribunal subsequently confirmed the HIPO's conclusion.

Protectability of foreign word combinations
  • Hungary
  • 13 July 2020

Hungarian case law frequently discusses the protectability of foreign word combinations. In a recent case, the authorities found that the international mark DRIVE PILOT did not meet the protection requirements. The decisions reflected established case law on the right to refuse protection for an international word mark in Hungary where the words are understood by the average Hungarian consumer and are descriptive.


Litigation

Contributed by SMARTLEGAL Schmidt & Partners
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.

Supreme Court rules on whether legal successors can be sued at place of performance of contract
  • Hungary
  • 21 July 2020

Due to the protective measures of the EU Recast Brussels I Regulation, persons domiciled in an EU member state can be sued in another member state only in limited cases. One of these exceptions is the jurisdiction granted by the regulation to the courts of the place of the performance of a contract. However, does this exception apply in cases of legal succession or subrogation? The Supreme Court recently addressed this issue, although its decision is doubtful for several reasons.

Common law on horizon? New law reforming litigation enters into force
  • Hungary
  • 19 May 2020

While COVID-19 has been dominating the headlines, a new act, which entered into force on 1 April 2020 and fundamentally reforms the role of judge-made law in Hungary, has received less attention. This article examines why this landmark bill was passed, the extent to which it means the adoption of common law and what its potential impact will be on litigation in Hungary.

Supreme Court judgment: choice of law by conduct in litigation?
  • Hungary
  • 07 April 2020

Can parties' conduct during litigation amount to an implied choice-of-law agreement based on EU Regulation 593/2008? This article analyses a recent Supreme Court judgment concerning this question. The court's decision indicates a shift from the well-settled case law concerning the conclusion of contracts by conduct.