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13.10.2015

Federal Court of Justice: Quality control is not sufficient for "Made in Germany" marking

In accordance with earlier rulings by various Higher Regional Courts, the Federal Court of Justice has ruled that the indication 'Made in Germany' is a statement about the place of production which determines a product's quality and not about the place of quality control.

Federal Court of Justice: Quality control is not sufficient for "Made in Germany" marking.

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The case concerned the Medical Devices Act, but can also be transferred to other industrial products (BGH, decision of 27 November 2014, Az. I ZR 16/14). It was also made clear that, according to the general opinion of the public, the final packaging, sealing and labelling of a product does not justify marking it with "Made in Germany", even if these downstream work steps are necessary to obtain marketability. It can therefore be assumed that the consumer has been misled if, after a manufacturing process has taken place abroad in Germany, only a subsequent control is carried out, even if this control decides whether the goods - in this case condoms - have the required product characteristics. The BGH's statement is therefore clear and unequivocal: the quality-relevant properties of a product are not created by their control, but by their production.

In its decision, the Federal Court of Justice took into account the fact that packaging, sealing and inspection are usually the prerequisites for placing a product on the market. However, a strict distinction was made between the actual manufacture of the product and the manufacture of marketability, whereby the term "Made in Germany" refers to the actual production process. This is also the case for technical devices such as medical devices, where compliance with legal requirements is necessary for marketability. Random batch testing in a German plant does not serve to create the quality-relevant properties, but rather to subsequently check their presence.

In its decision, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) also addresses the sporadic idea that the claim "Made in Germany" is regarded as a guarantee of compliance with German quality standards or German product safety regulations. Accordingly, it would be important to the consumer that the product responsibility for a product "Made in Germany" consists in the fact that the entrepreneur advertising the product assures and vouches for the quality according to German standards. In the opinion of the BGH, however, such an interpretation is too far removed from the literal sense of the phrase "Made in ...", which clearly refers to a manufacturing process in Germany as Anglicism for "Manufactured in ...".

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