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© Martin Kieffer - Attorney
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Deceptive Packagings: Legal Situation

2016-06-29 16:10

According to a ruling of the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg deceptive packagings can be misleading as they give consumers a false impression regarding their actual contents (Az: 3 U 207 15).

The German Centre for Protection against unfair Competition had criticized the misleading packaging sizes of a cosmetic manufacturer and sued for an injunction. The OLG Hamburg upheld the case as the court of second instance stating that empty space accounted for almost 43 per cent of the volume of the overall packaging in the case of the products that were the subject of the complaint. It held that even if the capacity of the packaging is indicated on the bottom of the packaging, it was not possible to infer the actual size of the pot in question based on this information. The Court went on to say that an illustration of the container in its original scale on the side of the packaging did equally little to clear up any misconceptions on the part of consumers, with many consumers being unlikely to have noticed this illustration in the first place. Moreover, it was said that consumers are not attuned to this level of disparity between the size of the packaging and the actual contents.

There are other rulings (e.g fresh cheese). German courts have been of the view, that if the empty space accounted for at least 30% the overall packaging is considered  deceptive.

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