Competition

Court rules on the use of the slogan “Made in Germany”

Does your business use the slogan “Made in Germany” to advertise its products? A German court has ruled that it is misleading to use of the slogan “Made in Germany” where products are predominantly produced in another country (OLG Hamm 20.11.2012 – Az. I – 4 U 95/12).

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A German court has held that in order to use the phrase “Made in Germany” to advertise products, the majority of the production process must take place in Germany.

The dispute arose between two condom producers. The claimant believed that its competitor was breaching German competition law by printing the slogan “Made in Germany” on the packaging of condoms which were manufactured in other countries.

The defendant argued that the use of the slogan was justified as some production steps, including processing (specifically the application of lubricant to the finished condom), packaging and sealing, were undertaken in Germany.

Misleading advertising

The Regional Appeal Court of Hamm took the view that the use of the words “Made in Germany” gave consumers the impression that the majority of the manufacturing process took place in Germany. The German court held that the use of the phrase did not reflect reality as the application of lubricant, packaging and sealing had nothing to do with the actual manufacturing and production of the condoms.

The court ordered an injunction on the grounds that the use of the phrase amounted to misleading advertising and a breach of German competition law under § 5(1)(1) Unfair Competition Act.

Marketing products “Made in Germany”

Companies wishing to use the slogan “Made in Germany” to advertise their products in the future should ensure that all relevant steps in the production process occur in Germany. Where products are produced in other countries but marketed as being “Made in Germany”, competitors will be entitled to send competition infringement warning letters and bring a court action for breaching German competition law.

Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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