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KEYCODE BAYER #40

July 2001

BAYER CORPORATION attacks critical coverage

New website: www.CBGnetwork.org

The Leverkusen-based company, Bayer AG, has forced the Coalition against BAYER-Dangers (Coordination gegen BAYER-Gefahren e.V. or CBG) to remove their homepage from the internet by threatening them with heavy court costs. The CBG had registered a domain and had oriented the name to be similar to other group names such as Germanwatch, AOLwatch, and Human Rights Watch. The Bayer AG has taken legal action to apparently avoid confusion – despite the homepage’s unequivocally critical orientation.

The company also forced the group to cancel the related trademark by threatening them with a second court case. The CBG had already successfully registered the aforementioned name with the Munich Patent Office. Bayer has assessed the amount of the controversies to be 250,000 DM (110.000 US$) each, which would have led to the CBG having to pay over 100,000 DM in court costs. The honorary association therefore had no other choice but to concede by canceling the trademark and homepage.

The Patent Office’s copyright investigation had reviewed whether there was any danger of confusion as a result of the copyrighted trademark and had determined that there was none. Bayer’s arguments are also ignoring a recent court decision that declared that a domain name cannot be viewed separately from the contents of a homepage.

Axel Köhler-Schnura had the following to say about the issue: “Bayer’s behavior in this issue, which is clearly directed towards the network’s economic ruin is clearly an attack on democratic principles and freedom of opinion. The company is obviously afraid of a public discussion and has instead chosen repression and the power of money”. According to Köhler-Schnura, the association does not want to waste its energy on legal hair-splitting on letters, but instead chooses to continue to publicize the company’s role in causing environmental damage, maintaining worker exploitation and endangering human health throughout the world.

The Bayer Group’s attempts to prohibit the CBG from criticizing the company on the Internet have failed. You can now find all of the network’s information and publications at . However, the proceedings have already used up an exorbitant amount of money, which could threaten the group’s existence. The CBG is therefore urgently asking its supporters for more financial backing against the expensive legal attacks. Please show your support and transfer money to the following German bank account:

Oekobank, account number 17 96 12, bank routing number (BLZ) 500 901 00

In addition, the CBG is asking associated groups to stage protests against this attack at the Bayer headquarters. An initial attempt by Bayer to silence the group was rejected by the Bundesverfassungsgericht (German Federal Constitutional Court) in 1992. The CBG has been campaigning against the questionable practices of Bayer’s international operations for over 20 years.