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BVA goes to court

The latest issue of the magazine "aktiv Radfahren" confused readers and manufacturers, which had participated in the ExtraEnergy 2009 Test. ExtraEnergy president Hannes Neupert clarified his position on the site, but the issue took an unexpected turn and ExtraEnergy landed in court. After the court case, Hannes Neupert clarifies one more time. 
 

 
After publication of my first statement on the test reports in "aktiv Radfahren", chief editor Daniel Fikuart told me per telephone the magazine had started its own bike test parallel to the ExtraEnergy test six weeks before the print deadline of the contentious issue.
The instruction to conduct the test had come from Johannes (Hans) Fink, managing director of the F.G.H. MediaWerke GmbH (Fikuart's principal for the freelance editorial work). Mr. Fink prohibited Fikuart to tell me about the test and threatened tough sanctions if he did, although Fink knew the test would violate the joint agreement of November 2008, which stated "aktiv Radfahren" may not conduct its own pedelec and e-bike tests.
Despite feelings of guilt, Daniel Fikuart followed the instructions of his principal, decided to play his cards close to the chest and to turn his back on the joint agreement. I never imagined this to be possible, since I had worked with Daniel Fikuart for more than 10 years, and we always dealt with one another openly and trustingly.
An invitation to participate in the „aktiv Radfahren” test was sent to manufacturers on 25 May by advertising sales head Michael Wagner brought the plans of the editorial team to my attention. I pointed out to Daniel Fikuart that ExtraEnergy would, under the circumstances, have to withdraw from the joint issue, to prevent damage to ExtraEnergy's image. Even during that telephone conversation, Daniel Fikuart failed to mention that he had been conducting a parallel test for weeks already. Discussions with and e-mails to Mr. Kaiser, head of the publisher BVA, achieved nothing and both sets of test reports were published in the same issue of the magazine.
Due to the fact that information was withheld, I calculated the test times available for individual bikes in the magazine's test too tight. I would like to apologize for this faulty information - also to the editorial team of the ExtraEnergy portal - and publish the delivery times, as mentioned by Daniel Fikuart in an e-mail dated 8 July 2009, herewith to set the record straight:
"Delivery times:
5.5.2009: Delivery of 2 x Sachs – in other words, five, full weeks before editorial deadline; to be handed to test riders on 8.6.2009, after photos had been taken.
28.5./29.5.2009: Delivery of other bikes, among others, from Falter, Winora, Union, Raleigh, Bechle – more than two weeks before editorial deadline; to be handed to test riders for Whitsun long weekend. Some of pictures were taken after the test, to avoid disruption of the testing procedure.
3.6.2009: Winora second bike
4.6.2009: Batavus
5.6.2009: Reflex (2 bikes) and Panther - also over 8 test days left to editorial deadline and 10 days before the print deadline.
ATTENTION. An important note: For the sake of the credibility of the test times, the second Reflex bike was not tested by the editorial team and remained untouched in the "aktiv Radfahrer" test cellar.”
On 10 July Daniel Fikuart wrote an e-mail to the participants of the test. In this e-mail he accused ExtraEnergy of writing "massive untruths" although he himself had caused ExtraEnergy to anticipate faulty facts by deliberately withholding significant information.
Under the title "Rosenkrieg unter E-Bike-Vorreitern", a somewhat milder version was published on the bicycle industry insider website Velobiz.de.
Apparently, the BVA believed the testimony of Johannes Fink, because it commissioned a lawyer to introduce legal proceedings against ExtraEnergy.
Telefax on this issue dated 16 July 2009
Legal subpoena
On 28 July 2009 BVA filed an application for an injunction against ExtraEnergy in the district court in Bielefeld.
Regarding the point that the magazine allowed itself to be bribed, I would only like to mention at this point that ExtraEnergy had received an invoice for 15.708 Euro for the publication of the test reports in the latest issue of "aktiv Radfahren". For the special edition "E-Motion", which appeared in 2008, an even bigger amount was paid by ExtraEnergy.
In addition, I would like to point to the fact - without passing a judgement - that the German Press Council had reprimanded "aktiv Radfahren" for surreptitious advertising in its special issue "RadParadiese 2007".
Look at: Press statement of the German Press Council of 8 June 2007
Court hearing ends in settlement
The district court in Bielefeld decided about the application for an injunction on 6 August 2009. The parties agreed to settle, which was the sensible way to go, in my opinion, while the legal dispute could in that way be contained to a single court session and ExtraEnergy be freed up to focus on the actual purpose of the association. As part of the settlement, a few paragraphs were removed from the first statement published on 3 July 2009.
Record of the hearing
Statement 1 Part of 3 July 2009
Statement 2 Part of 9 July 2009


Copy: Hannes Neupert
Translation: Christophel Volschenk
Published in German: 6 August 2009
Published in English: 10 August 2009
Last updated: 14 August 2009

 

 

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