Peters & Peters

German court rules on misleading adverts

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Key facts:

The issue in this case was whether a manufacturer of bin bags could advertise its products with the label “climate-neutral” below its brand name or whether this was a misleading commercial practice or misleading by omission.

In July 2021, the Kiel Regional Court ruled that a company cannot advertise its products with the words “climate-neutral” below its brand name if only a certain product line in the company’s portfolio is climate-neutral. It held that advertising in this way suggested to the average consumer that the company exclusively produced climate-neutral products. The court therefore found that the advertising was misleading under the Act against Unfair Competition. The decision was appealed.

In June 2022, the Schleswig Higher Regional Court overruled the first-instance decision. The court found that the slogan “climate-neutral”, placed near to the company’s logo on packaging, did not suggest that the manufacturer exclusively produced climate-neutral goods. “Climate neutrality” was a clear – and not misleading – statement which meant that the products advertised had a balanced carbon footprint. It did not suggest that CO2 emissions had been avoided completely during the production process.

The court also held that the bin-liner company did not have to include explanatory notes on the packaging about the type and scope of compensatory measures taken by the company. A reference to a website on which further information was held would be sufficient.

Source(s):

Climate Change litigation database

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