Update obligation for digital devices: law is to be voted on

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The grand coalition has agreed on bills “regulating the sale of items with digital elements and other aspects of the sales contract”. Among other things, they provide for additions to the BGB, which oblige the sellers of consumer goods with digital elements to update. The companies have to adapt their general terms and conditions accordingly.

The office of the CDU member of the Bundestag and right-wing politician Jan-Marco Luczak explained to heise online that some minor discrepancies had been cleared up after the first reading of the law in the Bundestag. Now it is late in the session on Thursday in the Bundestag to vote.

According to the template (PDF), around 156,000 companies in Germany are affected by the law, which the Ministry of Justice initiated at the end of 2020, most of them from the automotive industry. There are also suppliers of computers, smartphones, entertainment electronics, smart speakers, cameras, toys, clocks and electrical household appliances.

The seller should be obliged to update as long as “the consumer can expect updates due to the nature and purpose of the thing”; advertising statements, the materials used and the price of the goods could be decisive for this. The template says: “In terms of time, it is assumed in the following that updates must be provided for an average of five years, depending on the type of device.”

With the draft law, the European Sale of Goods Directive is to be implemented at the beginning of 2022. The guideline adopted in 2019 applies to online and traditional retail and extends not only to the actual product, but also to apps that are connected to it from the start. German contract law does not yet contain any special provisions for consumer contracts for digital products; That should change now.

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“Digital elements that have to be permanently available can include traffic data in a navigation system, the cloud connection for a game console or a smartphone app for using various functions in connection with a smartwatch,” says the bill. Sellers must ensure that the digital elements contained in the goods are and remain free of defects during the provision period.


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