Hungary updates

Competition & Antitrust

Contributed by Schoenherr
HCA imposes record fine on Booking.com for unfair commercial practices
  • Hungary
  • 02 July 2020

The Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) recently imposed a record fine on Booking.com BV for undertaking unfair commercial practices by misleadingly advertising certain hotel rooms with "free cancellation" and engaging in pressure selling. Although a surprise for many industry players, this decision aligns with the HCA's tendency to impose significantly higher fines in unfair commercial practice cases compared with previous years.

Upcoming amendments to Competition Act
  • Hungary
  • 21 May 2020

Parliament recently adopted a new act to ensure that the Competition Act fully complies with EU Directive 2019/1/EU (ECN+ Directive). The Hungarian legislature has chosen to apply most of the ECN+ Directive rules to all antitrust proceedings (ie, regardless of whether they are conducted under Hungarian or EU law). However, in certain cases, the scope of the new provisions will be limited to proceedings on an EU legal basis.

COVID-19: competition law considerations for businesses
  • Hungary
  • 07 May 2020

The government recently declared a state of emergency in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic and issued a special legal order. To date, no provision has been adopted under the special legal order allowing for a special exemption from the rules of competition law. Affected undertakings must therefore continue to pay attention to competition compliance. This article aims to help companies meet these requirements in view of the European Competition Network's recommendations.

Increased fines – HCA targets telecom companies
  • Hungary
  • 12 March 2020

In the past three months, three telecom giants received unexpectedly heavy fines from the Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) in consumer protection cases. In 2019 the HCA imposed more fines in total for unfair commercial practices against consumers than in cartel cases and, on the basis of its recent decisions, it looks likely to do the same in 2020. These recent decisions also show that repeated infringements are now subject to a stricter assessment.

Rising focus on HCA settlement proceedings – case law round-up
  • Hungary
  • 19 December 2019

Since 1 July 2014, companies have been able to initiate settlement proceedings with the Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA). Recent case law suggests that the HCA has aimed to foster cooperation between itself and market participants and is striving for cooperation even when market participants allegedly commit grave infringements of competition rule commitments.


Employment & Immigration

Contributed by Schoenherr
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.

Employment contracts and COVID-19
  • Hungary
  • 06 May 2020

COVID-19 has created completely new challenges in the employment sector. As there is significant uncertainty and a need for detailed information about the situation, this article provides a timeline of employment-related measures that have been introduced to combat COVID-19 in Hungary.

COVID-19 and new employment measures
  • Hungary
  • 15 April 2020

The appearance and spread of COVID-19 in Hungary has made extraordinary measures necessary. The government has declared a state of emergency and new measures have been adopted. This article summarises the key information for employers with regard to COVID-19.


Intellectual Property

Contributed by Danubia Patent and Law Office LLC
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.

Procedural law trumps substantive law: Aldi fails to prove use of mark
  • Hungary
  • 16 March 2020

In a recent trademark opposition case, Aldi – one of the biggest supermarket chains in Hungary – was unable to prove use of its mark in Hungary because it filed evidence of use only in Spain and the United Kingdom. Further, the evidence that Aldi did file was insufficient. As neither the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office nor the Metropolitan Tribunal can undertake an investigation ex officio, neither entity explicitly examined Aldi's reputation in Hungary, despite the fact that they were likely well aware of it.

Appreciation of likelihood of confusion
  • Hungary
  • 02 March 2020

A recent Metropolitan Tribunal ruling serves as a useful reminder that decisions on likelihood of confusion always contain subjective elements. Quoting European Court of Justice case law, the tribunal appreciated the degree of distinctiveness and danger of confusion in the case at hand, but not the elements of the two opposed marks.


Litigation

Contributed by SMARTLEGAL Schmidt & Partners
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.

Optional jurisdictional clauses: limited effect in Hungary?
  • Hungary
  • 10 March 2020

Can a party commence litigation in Hungary despite a jurisdictional agreement in favour of a court of a non-EU state which is optional for one of the parties? The Supreme Court recently answered this question in a case which highlights the negative effects of such asymmetric choice-of-court agreements.

Penalty claim without prior reservation? Supreme Court confirms estoppel-based practice
  • Hungary
  • 18 February 2020

Is a penalty for delayed performance enforceable if the purchaser fails to reserve its rights immediately? Or is enforceability excluded only if the purchaser expressly waives its right? This article analyses the Supreme Court's judgment in a recent construction dispute, in which the court appears to have maintained its estoppel-based practice despite recent legislative changes.