The City of Munich has decided to take legal action against the organizers of "Oktoberfest goes Dubai" by issuing a warning after media reported about an alleged relocation of the Munich Oktoberfestto Dubai.
As already reported before, officials have decided earlier this month to cancel the official Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, for the second time in a row because of the “precarious situation” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (inside.beer, 3.5.2021) The term Oktoberfest is a protected trademark both in Germany and in Europe, and the city of Munich, as the organizer of the festival, owns all rights to the name for selected product categories. (inside.beer, 8.10.2020)
The Oktoberfest is by far the largest public festival in the world. It attracts every year more than 6 million visitors that consume nearly 80,000 hectoliters of beer during a period of 16 days. All around the world there are unofficial offshoots of the Oktoberfest, with the Oktoberfest in Blumenau, Brazil and the Oktoberfest in Kitchener–Waterloo, Ontario, Canada being the biggest.
With its move the City of Munich is to avoid the incorrect impression that the Oktoberfest is moving to Dubai this year. However, by referring to the term "Oktoberfest," the organizers of this event are aiming to do just that. The esteem shown to the Munich original is thereby exploited in an unfair manner, according to the city officials. This concerns the often clearly intended association with the original Munich Oktoberfest, for example on the website of the organizers, in their advertising materials or through the specially created logo.
The organizers deliberately use the association with the Munich Wiesn in images, moving images, text and the layout of their materials, thus insinuating that the Oktoberfest is moving to Dubai in the second year of its cancellation. The success of this strategy is demonstrated by the large number of articles and features in all media that have carried this intended message in text and moving images, claiming that the Munich Oktoberfest will be held in Dubai as a substitute in 2021 or that it has been moved to the desert by the Emirate of Dubai as a whole.
The city is therefore demanding a cease-and-desist declaration from the organizers, in which they agree not to use the name Oktoberfest Munich to advertise their event in the future. In coordination with the commissioned law firm Pinsent Masons, the city is relying on relevant provisions in the Unfair Competition Act (UWG) and the Trademark Act (MarkenG).
Due to the Corona pandemic, the Oktoberfest cannot take place at its traditional location on the Theresienwiese for the second time in a row. This difficult decision, announced by Bavarian Prime Minister Dr. Markus Söder and Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter on May 3, has far-reaching economic consequences for Munich.
Clemens Baumgärtner, the Labor and Economic Affairs Officer responsible for the Oktoberfest, said: "From the point of view of the City of Munich, it is appalling that third parties are taking the cancellation as an opportunity to enrich themselves by exploiting the worldwide good reputation of the Oktoberfest and suggesting that there is a connection between the original and the event in Dubai. It is therefore in the public interest for the city to take legal action against such unfair and unlawful conduct. The aim of our legal action is to protect the worldwide good reputation of the Munich Oktoberfest. The Oktoberfest is a cultural asset that has been cultivated for over 200 years. The city organizes this distinctive festival at great financial and organizational expense and will therefore do everything in its power to protect the Oktoberfest as a unique and original Munich event."