Günter Freiherr von Gravenreuth

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Günter Werner Freiherr von Gravenreuth (born July 12, 1948 in Munich ; † February 22, 2010 there ; born Günter Werner Dörr ) was a German lawyer and publisher . He gained widespread notoriety through controversial warnings that he used against copyright and trademark violations. He was also the author of several legal publications in the field of industrial property protection .


Günter Freiherr von Gravenreuth, son of Ernst Ludwig Dorr (1921-1987) and Herta Amalie Baroness von Gravenreuth (1917-1985), learned of the profession until 1966 Technical draftsman , then graduated from the Munich Technical College , a 1973 mechanical engineering -Studies as Diploma Engineer (FH) and from 1973 to 1978 studied law at LMU Munich . He became a member of the KBSt.V. Rhaetia Munich and did his first IT training, in which he instructed a CDC Cyber ​​175 with COBOL programs, punched into punch cards . As a law clerk , he was the Federal Patent Court , in a brand chamber of the District Court in Munich as well as in one on patents specialized firm operates.

He was admitted to the bar in 1981 and initially worked for a patent and law firm in Munich and then at a patent and law firm in Freising . From 1985 he was self-employed , since 1987 with his own law firm. His main areas of activity were IT law , Internet law , copyright and industrial property rights .

After Gravenreuth had been convicted of committed fraud and was therefore due to serve a 14-month prison sentence, he committed suicide on February 22, 2010 with his firearm. In his farewell letter sent by email, he justified this with family, financial and health problems.


As early as the 1980s, Gravenreuth gave computer magazines repeated interviews on the subject of the so-called “ pirated copies ” and pursued Asterix - plagiarism in which unlicensed drawings from Asterix volumes were provided with new texts in the speech bubbles, for example in a satirical way against nuclear power ( Asterix and the nuclear power plant ), to protest against the retrofitting ( Asterix in bombastic mood ) or against the " Runway West " ( Asterix in the hut village ). Exchange ads from comic book collectors were searched and requests for these comics were sent to alternative bookstores. Providers of these booklets received warnings. He filed a criminal complaint against the organizer of the Cologne comic exchange day because a participant at this event offered appropriate booklets and the organizer knew this.

The members of the Cracker group Radwar, who were active on the home computer Commodore C64 , were followed by Gravenreuth in the mid-1980s. Invitations from Gravenreuth to the cracker group's parties resulted in a kind of love-hate relationship between the software pirates and the lawyer.

Gravenreuth became known when at the end of 1992 one of his test customers sent the so-called “Tanja letters” (under the pseudonym “Tanja Nolte-Berndel” and a few other female pseudonyms such as Tamara) to classified ads that appeared suspicious in computer magazines, in which mostly private individuals advertised. Sometimes these letters were even accompanied by a photo (from a picture agency) of the supposedly 15-year-old writer. The allegedly underage girl wrote to the target person with the following content: New games are also too expensive for her, which is why she is looking for swap partners. You should send her a list of the software to be exchanged, she would then send hers and tell them which games she had to surrender. If someone who was contacted in this way responded to the alleged young person's request to replace the software, he was warned, if necessary also reported, for a violation of copyright law if he responded accordingly. A few cases also led to house searches . Critics accused Gravenreuth of having asked those who had been admonished to commit the crimes themselves; however, this allegation was not confirmed by the courts. The court also did not follow the defendant's attorneys, who argued that piracy had not actually taken place and that Freiherr von Gravenreuth had no way of knowing whether the original games should not be legitimately swapped.

Later his name appeared again and again in connection with warnings in which he mainly enforced claims from the area of trademark law and industrial property protection . The substantive and formal justification was in individual cases controversial among lawyers. Among other things, this applied to the cases of the brands “Rainbow”, “Triton”, “Ballermann” and “Explorer”. In addition to large companies, these warnings also affected many individual people and smaller companies who, ignorant of their own legal position, often in doubt, decided to avoid a legal dispute with an uncertain outcome and to settle the claims raised as part of the warning. Gravenreuth stopped selling a Linux distribution from SuSE because of a trademark infringement by means of an injunction .

Among other things, Gravenreuth appeared as a lawyer for the Ratinger company Symikron, which, as the owner of the “Explorer” brand, warned numerous website operators who used the term “Explorer” on their pages. In defending the "Explorer" brand is dispensed came to inconsistencies regarding a plurality of employees and managers of the Symikron GmbH insurance under penalty of perjury . The District Court of Munich I stated in the judgment of June 19, 1996 - 7 HKO 11205/96 that it did not consider this to be credible. It was later alleged in lawsuits that Microsoft had concluded a license agreement with Symikron for the use of the name “Explorer” for the file manager and browser contained in Windows . However, the German Patent and Trademark Office had the “Explorer” trademark, owned by Symikron, deleted because of bad faith .

In connection with the federal election in 2002 , Günter von Gravenreuth made headlines with warnings and - if no cease and desist statements were made - also legal proceedings regarding e-cards against parties such as the SPD, FDP, PDS, DVU, the Greens and The Republicans. They participated in the sending of unsolicited advertising e-mails via e-cards.

In 2007 he failed with several applications, such as an injunction , against the taz . In the 15 O 346/06 proceedings, his claim failed because, in the opinion of the Berlin Regional Court, the user of the double opt-in process cannot be expected to rule out the possibility of misuse in each individual case. In the same year, he failed against at least one other company before the Munich District Court, also with an injunction against the dispatch of opt-in confirmations.

In the IT scene and among other lawyers, Gravenreuth had vehement critics who, in some cases, engaged in bitter disputes with him in various discussion forums. In one of the most famous German forums, the Heise Forum, he was given a “virtual ban ” and after signing a declaration of cease and desist he was no longer allowed to post there. The counterclaim in this process in which it came to linking private imagery, lost Heise before the Higher Regional Court of Munich.

After a similar ban, he successfully complained back to another forum.

From 1988 to 2005 Gravenreuth worked with Bernhard Syndikus . Both appeared as Frr. v. Gravenreuth & Syndikus Rechtsanwälte . In 2005, Syndikus left the firm.


Because of forgery in 60 cases Günter Freiherr von Gravenreuth was convicted in 2000 in Munich to pay a fine.

Gravenreuth was finally sentenced on April 16, 2008 by the Munich Regional Court (after an agreement ) to a prison sentence of eleven months, which consisted of the suspended sentences of two first-instance judgments for infidelity of six (originally nine) months and seven months. The first instance judgments found that Gravenreuth had illegally withheld client funds in 2002 and incorporated them into his own assets. The shortening of one of the previous convictions by three months and the total penalty, which was less than twelve months, were of interest to Gravenreuth with regard to the further exercise of the profession, since a conviction to a prison sentence of at least one year would have appeared to him as unworthy within the meaning of § 7 No. 5 BRAO so that the admission as a lawyer would have to be revoked according to § 14 Abs. 1 BRAO.

On September 10, 2007, Günter von Gravenreuth was sentenced by the Berlin-Tiergarten District Court to a prison sentence of six months without parole for attempted fraud . The verdict came after he had seized the taz's internet domain name and tried to auction it , stating that he had not received the money demanded in it after an injunction against the taz. The taz then filed a criminal complaint. The payment of the money demanded in the order could be proven by a fax which was found during a search in Gravenreuth's office. According to his statement, Gravenreuth was not aware of this fax, and he tried to excuse himself with "lack of legal knowledge" and the "chaos in his office". The chairman stated in her judgment that "the general public must be protected from Gravenreuth". Due to the previous verdict on forgery of documents, the verdict fell without parole. Gravenreuth lay vocation one. On September 17, 2008, Gravenreuth was sentenced to 14 months' imprisonment without parole. The verdict was on attempted fraud, the previous conviction in the proceedings of April 16, 2008 for breach of trust was included in the assessment of the sentence. The lawyer of Gravenreuth appealed against the judgment revision one. The Munich Public Prosecutor's Office initiated legal proceedings against Gravenreuth (see also the information on BRAO above).

The appeal was rejected by judgment of February 2, 2009. The higher court in Berlin judged the criminal act of Gravenreuths as an accomplished fraud, not just an attempt. So Gravenreuth should have served a 14-month prison sentence. Gravenreuth received a reprieve until February 2010 because he claimed the time needed to dissolve his law firm. However, he did not appear at the start of detention and evaded arrest by suicide .

Change of family name

Günter Freiherr von Gravenreuth was born as Günter Dörr . In the course of the liberalization of the German naming law , his parents changed the married name to his mother's maiden name. On June 24, 1980, he joined this decision himself. From a legal point of view, this name change is retroactive ( ex tunc ): From a legal point of view, he had his surname Freiherr von Gravenreuth , which was subsequently adopted , from birth.

Gravenreuth failed before the Munich I Regional Court with the attempt to ban the use of his maiden name in an Internet forum.


Articles and contributions (excerpt)

  • Right to cease and desist against software copier programs? In: Commercial legal protection and copyright . 1985, p. 504. (A discussion that re-emerged in 2004 with the amended Copyright Act.)
  • Unreported numbers and amount of damage in the area of ​​software piracy. In: Computer and Law . 1986, p. 111.
  • Problems related to mitigating or modifying defective software. In: Operations consultant . 1989, p. 1925.
  • Günter Freiherr von Gravenreuth, Alexander Kleinjung: Are chargeable value-added service numbers permitted within the framework of the provider identification according to § 6 TDG? . In: JurPC . Web doc. 273/2003, paras. 1–22 ( [1] )
  • Open source and foreign code according to mandatory national law. In: JurPC. Web doc. 209/2004, paras. 1–17 ( [2] )


  • The plagiarism from a criminal law perspective . Carl Heymanns Verlag , Cologne 1986, ISBN 3-452-20379-4 .
  • Computer law from AZ . Beck, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-423-05072-1 .
  • Computer viruses and similar software anomalies. Overview and legal classification . Computerlaw-Verlag, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-930082-01-2 .
  • Networks in the mesh of the law. Legal problems when operating or using mailboxes are explained using examples . Computerlaw-Verlag, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-930082-02-0 .
  • Counter-espionage against computer game. Cheerful episodes from the cracker and computer freak scene. Computerlaw-Verlag, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-930082-03-9 .
  • Computer viruses - legal overview and technical basis. Carl Heymanns Verlag, Cologne / Munich 1998, ISBN 978-3-452-23820-7 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Virtual obituary notice. In: gravenreuth.de. February 22, 2010, archived from the original on February 24, 2010 ; accessed on February 22, 2010 : "† February 22, 2010"
  2. a b c Curriculum Vitae ( Memento from July 24, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Andreas Wilkens: Lawyer von Gravenreuth is dead. In: heise.de. February 22, 2010, accessed May 1, 2020 .
  4. Controversial Abmahn lawyer is dead. In: Sueddeutsche.de. February 22, 2010, archived from the original on February 25, 2010 ; accessed on May 1, 2020 .
  5. Nina Job: Suicide: warning lawyer is dead. In: abendzeitung-muenchen.de. February 22, 2010, accessed May 1, 2020 .
  6. Hermann Weiss: Abmahn attorney shoots himself. In: welt.de . February 23, 2010, accessed May 1, 2020 .
  7. ^ Peter Mühlbauer : Günter von Gravenreuth committed suicide. In: Telepolis . Verlag Heinz Heise , February 22, 2010, accessed on May 1, 2020 .
  8. Malte Arnsperger: "Warning lawyer" commits suicide. In: stern.de . February 22, 2010, accessed on May 1, 2020 (collaboration: Ralf Sander).
  9. Dirk Estenfeld: "The story of Tanja N. About the practices of Mr. Gravenreuth". In: Chippie . hr2, October 1, 1994.
  10. Blog entry with graphics of the Tanja letters ( Memento from June 29, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  11. a b Georg Schnurer: Triton: Caution, warning! ( Memento of August 20, 2001 in the Internet Archive ), c't 8/95, p. 26
  12. heise online: OLG Munich: "FTP Explorer" link violates trademark law , August 2, 2001
  13. tecCHANNEL: Available: Gravenreuth stops SuSE Linux , January 9, 2002
  14. Jurawelt.com: LG Munich I: Explorer / Explora ( Memento of the original from October 14, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (Reproduction of the judgment of the Regional Court Munich I from June 19, 1996 - 7 HKO 11205/96) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.jurawelt.com
  15. heise.de: "Explorer" brand deleted due to bad faith. 30 July 2002
  16. forum entry of Heise-editor H. Bleich of 16 January 2006 in Heise Online
  17. ^ Heise online: Court confirms domiciliary rights for forum operators , February 12, 2007
  18. Link to images on the Internet in the context of the legal work of the person depicted. OLG Munich, judgment of June 26, 2007
  19. Regional Court Munich I Az. 12 O 16615/06 - unpublished
  20. a b c the daily newspaper : suspended sentence for von Gravenreuth , article from April 16, 2008
  21. ^ RA Eisenberg: Reasons for the verdict of the LG Berlin with description of the deeds ( Memento from August 3, 2012 in the web archive archive.today )
  22. heise online : Gravenreuth legally sentenced to eleven months probation , report from April 16, 2008
  23. heise.de: Lawyer Gravenreuth sentenced to imprisonment. 12 September 2007
  24. imprisonment for Abmahnanwalt The daily September 11, 2007
  25. ^ Lawyer Gravenreuth sentenced to imprisonment , heise online, September 12, 2007
  26. Spiegel Online: Six months imprisonment for "warning lawyer"
  27. He just didn't stop , interview with Johannes Eisenberg, attorney at taz, Telepolis, September 18, 2007.
  28. "knowingly against the law" ( Memento from 1 February 2009 at the Internet Archive ), Die Tageszeitung, November 6, 2007
  29. Warning attorney sentenced to 14 months in prison without parole , heise online, September 17, 2008
  30. Because of fraud behind bars ( Memento from September 18, 2008 in the Internet Archive ), taz, September 17, 2008
  31. Warning attorney sentenced to prison , Süddeutsche, September 18, 2008
  32. "Abmahn attorney" gets long jail sentence , Welt Online, 18 September 2008
  33. 4. Criminal Senate of the Higher Regional Court in Berlin: Lawyer Gravenreuth sentenced to unconditional imprisonment for fraud to the detriment of the taz . RAe Eisenberg & Dr. King. February 7, 2009. Accessed on February 26, 2018: "If a seizure and transfer order is obtained by means of deception, complete fraud is given with a view to the damage-equivalent financial risk, provided the other requirements of the offense are met."
  34. ^ Warning attorney must be in custody ( memento of February 8, 2009 in the Internet Archive ), taz, February 6, 2009
  35. Gravenreuth is due to begin his custody in February , Telepolis, December 9, 2009
  36. "Abmahn lawyer" commits suicide . In: stern.de . February 22, 2010 ( stern.de [accessed March 8, 2018]).
  37. a b Regional Court Munich I, judgment v. October 25, 2006 - Ref .: 30 O 11973/05 - Domiciliary rights for Internet forums .
  38. Heise online: What was. What will. , February 11, 2001