Internet

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Austria: Constitutional Court upholds ban on 'best price' clauses for online hotel booking portals

Effecitve by January 1, 2017, an amendment to the Austrian Unfair Competition Act (UWG) introduced a ban on 'best price' clauses for hotel booking portals. These clauses were qualified as an agressive business practice. According to such clauses, a hotel operator who wanted to sell rooms through online portals had to accept not to offer these rooms for a lower price or at more favourable conditions though any other distribution channel including the hotel's own website.

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Germany: operator of a hotel review website not liable for insulting postings

The plaintiff, a hotel company, sued the operator of a hotel review website over a posting which alledged that in the plaintiff's hotel the guests got "only bed bugs for the EUR 37,50 paid per night". The defendant's website offers the opportunity to post hotel reviews and rate hotels. A special software is scanning the postings for potential insult or defamation. Postings which are not blocked by this software get published automatically. Upon plaintiff's complaint, the defendant immediately removed the posting but refused to sign a cease and desist declaration.

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CJEU: computerised booking systems must, from the outset, indicate the final price of each flight ticket

The German Federal Union of Consumer Organisations and Associations was challenging before the German courts the way in which air fares were presented in Air Berlin’s computerised booking system, as configured in November 2008: Once the date and airports of departure and arrival had been selected, the booking system displayed a table of possible connections. The final price per person, however, was indicated only for the connection pre-selected by Air Berlin or clicked on by the customer, and not for every connection shown.

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USA: new DOT web page on Passenger Cruise Ship Information

To assist cruise ship passengers, the U.S. Department of Transportation has set up a web page sharing information and resources provided by other Federal agencies. The information covers "Consumer Assistance", "Vessel Safety", "Cruise Line Incident Reporting Statistics" and "Criminal Activity Prevention and Response Guide (Security Guide)". The new web page is available at http://www.dot.gov/mission/safety/passenger-cruise-ship-information.

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German Supreme Court (BGH) asks CJEU for preliminary ruling in air ticket pricing case

According to Article 23(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community, air fares and air rates available to the general public shall include the applicable conditions when offered or published in any form, including on the Internet, for air services from an airport located in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies.

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UK: Office of Fair Trading consults on amendments to proposed hotel online booking commitments

On Dec. 20, 2013, the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) opened a consultation on revised commitments proposed by Booking.com B.V. (Booking.com), Expedia Inc (Expedia) and InterContinental Hotels Group plc (IHG) designed to address competition concerns in relation to the online offering of room-only hotel accommodation bookings by online travel agents (OTAs).

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European Court of Human Rights affirms internet news portal's liability for offensive online comments of its readers about a ferry company

In January 2006, Delfi AS, a public limited company registered in Estonia and owner of one of the largest internet news sites in the country, published an article on its webpage about a ferry company. It discussed the company’s decision to change the route its ferries took to certain islands. This had caused ice to break where ice roads could have been made in the near future. As a result, the opening of these roads – a cheaper and faster connection to the islands compared to the ferry services – was postponed for several weeks.

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USA: Appelate court decides on angry passenger's Facebook and Twitter posts about an airline employee

An operations agent employed by Southwest Airlines brought an action against a passenger for posting allegedly false and defamatory statements on Twitter and Facebook regarding actions taken by agent when passenger attempted to board a flight. The plaintiff alledged that the defendant knowingly and intentionally, or in the alternative, with reckless disregard for the veracity of her statements had stated that she had been treated in a very impolite way when she wnated to board the aircraft togehter with her four-year-old daughter.

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USA: “dirtiest hotel in America” not defamatory

In 2011, TripAdvisor rated Grand Resort Hotel and Convention Center in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee number one on its list of the “Dirtiest Hotels in America.” Grand Resort’s sole proprietor filed suit against TripAdvisor, alleging claims of defamation, false-light invasion of privacy, tortious interference with prospective business relationships and trade libel/injurious falsehood.  The district court granted TripAdvisor’s motion to dismiss, finding the list to be protected opinion and therefore not capable of being defamatory. The U.S.

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USA: DOT releases guidance for Internet flight-search tools

According to an article published in "Travel Pulse", the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released a guidance document for travel agencies that operate Internet flight-search tools on how these agencies should disclose the carriers they do not market in their search results. In particular, DOT will consider it an unfair practice to simply report that “no flight exists that matches” the consumer’s criteria, when in reality the flight does exist, but the agency does not offer it. DOT has provided a 90-day window, starting Aug.

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