The immunities of States and international organisations

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Database of the CAHDI "The immunities of States and international organisations" - contribution of Austria - Jurisprudence of 10/05/1950

Hoffmann Dralle (individual) v. Czechoslovakia (State)


Supreme Court (Oberster Gerichtshof)

Date of the decision, of the judgment


Points of law

Pursuant to international and Austrian law, foreign States are exempted from Austrian jurisdiction only in relation to acts of a ius imperii character.

Summary of the case

The appellant (Mr. Hoffmann) was the representative in Austria of the German firm of G. Dralle which owned certain trade marks registered in Austria and which were applied to goods manufactured by them and offered for sale by the appellant in Austria. A branch office of the Hamburg firm in Bohemia was the owner of the mentioned trade marks registered in the Austrian register. In 1945 the branch office was nationalized. The nationalized firm requested the appellant’s customers in Austria not to offer for sale under the mentioned trade marks any of the goods supplied by the appellant.

Mr. Hoffmann applied for an injunction to restrain the Czechoslovak firm (the respondent) from using the mentioned trade marks in Austria.

The respondent claimed to be immune from Austrian jurisdiction and to be entitled in any case to use the trademarks concerned.

The Supreme Court stated that the question whether a foreign State can be subject to jurisdiction of another State has not been answered in a uniform manner by Austrian and foreign courts. Some countries stuck to the concept of absolute immunity others only in the context of acts of ius imperii character. Thus there was no generally accepted rule in international law establishing the concept of absolute immunity of foreign States.

The Supreme Court stated further that in the present case the respondent’s claim to immunity concerned commercial and not political activities of a foreign sovereign State and thus the respondent was subject to Austrian jurisdiction. The Czechoslovak nationalization decree was only valid in the territory of Czechoslovakia and had no extraterritorial effect. Accordingly the respondent was not entitled to use trademarks owned by its predecessor in Austria.

The Supreme Court decided that in result the appellant was entitled to an injunction restraining the respondent from using the trade marks in Austrian territory.


No. 1Ob167/49 and 1Ob171/1950; Austrian legal information system (see: - Rechtsinformationssystem – Judikatur Justiz (OGH); see as well: Grotius International Law Reports Volume 17 p. 155.

Additional information (explanations, notes, etc.)

Similar decisions:1Ob622/49; 1Ob130/50; 2Ob21/48; 2Ob448/50;1Ob264/52; 2Ob243/60; 5Ob343/62;5Ob56/70;3Ob38/86;9ObA170/89;9ObA244/90; 7Ob627/91; 1Ob28/92; 1Ob100/98g; 8ObA201/00t; 4Ob97/01w.