Gleiss Lutz successfully assists Philip Morris in dispute over Marlboro “MAYBE” campaign

In the legal proceedings with Philip Morris GmbH (PMG), the Munich Administrative Court annulled a prohibition order that had been issued by the Munich District Office against the so-called “MAYBE” campaign for Marlboro cigarettes. The Court based its decision on the contention that the words “Maybe” and “Be”, which were the object of the prohibition, could not on their own be regarded as constituting a special appeal to young people. This means that Philip Morris is permitted to continue its advertising campaign.  

The Munich District Office had issued an order on 8 October 2013 which, at that time, prohibited the general usage of the words “MAYBE” and “BE”, the slogan “Don’t be a Maybe” as well as the image and text motifs used in the Marlboro campaign. In summary proceedings the Administrative Court initially partly annulled the immediate enforcement, especially with respect to the prohibition of the words “MAYBE” and “BE”. The parties then reached a settlement in the second instance according to which PMG was temporarily permitted to continue the campaign with certain restrictions.  

In an amended order issued in April 2015, the underlying images were no longer objected to by the authorities; however, use of the words “MAYBE” and “BE” in certain forms remained prohibited. PMG was successful in its further action against this order: In response to PMG’s action, the Administrative Court today annulled the prohibition order in its entirety.  

Philip Morris GmbH was advised by a team of consisting of the following Gleiss Lutz lawyers: Dr. Andreas Wehlau (lead, partner, intellectual property, Munich), Prof. Dr. Clemens Weidemann, Prof. Dr. Hans Schlarmann (both partners, public law, Stuttgart), Dr. Niels Lutzhöft, Marcel Pemsel and Sophia Ostler (all intellectual property, Munich).