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Debranding: 20,000 Fritz boxes scrapped after sales ban

After a defeat in court, an online retailer had thousands of Fritz boxes scrapped.

Tausende von Fritzbox-6490-Cable-Routern mussten auf den Schrott.
Thousands of Fritzbox 6490 cable routers had to be thrown away. (Image: AVM)

In the legal dispute over a ban on selling used Fritz boxes, the online retailer Woog Media accepted its defeat in court. “We have withdrawn the appeal and will no longer offer Fritz boxes with updated firmware, since the sales ban is now legally binding,” said company boss Carlo Faber when asked by Techscurry.com . His company had no choice but to “return the routers to our supplier” . The intermediary Lama Vertrieb announced on request from Techscurry.com: “About 20,000 devices have been taken back, these have been scrapped.” Fritzbox manufacturer AVM had enforced the sales ban in court.

Woog Media claims to have bought tens of thousands of retired Fritzbox 6490 Cable routers from the cable network operator Unitymedia and then bought them on with an unbranded Fritz OS. The Munich Regional Court had prohibited this practice in an injunction on February 13, 2020 and confirmed the sales ban in May (Az: file number 17 HK O 1703/20). The dealer now withdrew the previously announced appeal against the judgment.

Woog had originally bought the devices from Düsseldorf distributor Lama Vertrieb, removed the branding and installed a current Fritz OS that was not modified for a specific provider. Users can also use such devices in cable networks after the router is no longer required. The provider Unitymedia, which is now part of Vodafone, has been exchanging the 6490 devices for newer 6591 devices for some time so that users can switch to the new Docsis 3.1 standard. By the time the Munich Regional Court ruled, Woog is said to have sold 10,000 copies. Another 20,000 are said to have been in the dealer’s warehouse.

AVM had shown itself ready to talk to the dealer based in Velbert, North Rhine-Westphalia, regarding the continued use of the devices. “We have a well-functioning refurbishment management,” said spokeswoman Doris Haar. In principle, AVM supports and welcomes the sale of used devices in the private sector. Free support and updates are also offered for these devices. “The judgment only prevents the commercial manipulation of software or hardware,” said Haar.

BGH ruling on Simlock unlocking

In the dispute, AVM relied on the so-called Simlock judgment of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) from 2004 (Az: I ZR 13/02). Accordingly, there is an inadmissible product change if cell phones locked by Simlock are brought into circulation without the consent of the brand owner. The unlocking changes the original software information of the mobile phones, which means a product change.

The regional court has therefore determined that Woog could not refer to the electrical law. This law “primarily aims to avoid waste from electrical and electronic equipment” . The electrical law “does not authorize any third party to infringe on someone else’s trademark rights,” said AVM.

Addendum from September 21, 2020, 12:11 p.m.

AVM did not provide any information as to whether there had been negotiations with the dealers about the continued use of the 20,000 devices. “The judgment of the Munich I Regional Court is final. We do not provide any further information about a possible further exchange with those involved,” said Haar on Monday at the request of Techscurry.com.

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