Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law


Marike Vermeer


The Internet offers companies, including small businesses, the chance to operate in a worldwide market. Recognition of the Internet as a commercial communication medium has stimulated many companies to experiment with new ways of marketing through web sites and e-mail. Let us take as a sample case a small Italian olive oil company selling its olive oil through the Internet to the entire world, and let us assume that this company is called Carbonara Olive Oil SpA. This article discusses how Carbonara can use the Internet in its search for new customers, and how that use might constitute an act of unfair competition in some jurisdictions. In such a situation, how will the problems of private international law affect the resulting litigation? This article focuses on the question of the applicable law, and does so solely from a European point of view. The reasons for this viewpoint are the company is established in Italy, the recent European Directive for electronic commerce, and the author's background is European. The article also considers whether the European Directive brings about the necessary solutions or creates further uncertainty.