Doctor’s dot

An English „Doctor of Philosophy“ of „Vision Sciences“ has become familiar with the pitfalls in the Austrian legislation on academic degrees.

§ 88. of the Federal Act on the Organisation of Universities and their Studies (Universities Act 2002 – UG) provides that persons who have been awarded an academic degree by a recognised domestic or foreign post-secondary educational institution shall be entitled to use this degree in the form set down in the document of award, also abbreviated, and the academic degree may be used with a gender-inclusive suffix.

The above mentioned Doctor, (according to his degree abbreviated as “Dr”) used the “Dr” (without dot) and the German translation of Doctor, “Doktor” plus the German abbreviation “Dr.” (with dot) on his website as an optician: “Dr G*** Optometrist”

He was sued by the chamber of phycisians and lost: It is forbidden to use translation of foreign titles in the course of Austrian business as he did: Doktor and Dr. are therefore taboo for “our” optician. But not only:

The Doctor was also forbidden to use his foreign Dr (without dot) in a context that could be qualified to mislead the public. The Supreme Court acknowledged that a significant part of the Austrian public understands the indication “Dr G**** Optometrist” as an indication to a physician and not to an optician. The use of “Dr” in the context of “Optometrist” therefore was considered misleading. The optician has to add a clarification that excludes the risk of confusion with a physician.

It is to be noted: The same considerations are to be made when Austrian academics use their title.

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