When it comes to online advertising for electronic appliances, the energy efficiency class must be clearly visible to consumers. That was the verdict of the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) in its ruling of April 6, 2017 (Az.: I ZR 159/16).
According to the latest case law from the Bundesgerichtshof, it is not necessary for the energy efficiency class of an electronic appliance advertised online to be on the same webpage as the price-related advertising, it being possible for the former to be featured on a separate webpage accessible via a link found near the advertisement. However, this is not enough if the link is formulated in a general manner. The BGH clarified that a link such as “Mehr zum Artikel” (More on this item) is not sufficient. We at the commercial law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that the Court went on to say that the reference needs to be clearly identifiable as an indication of the appliance’s energy efficiency class.
In the case in question, a DIY chain had promoted an air conditioning unit on the internet. Below the price quotation was the link “Mehr zum Artikel”. Clicking on this opened up another page with various specifications pertaining to the device, including its energy efficiency class. A consumer protection organization considered this to be insufficient and a violation of the EU regulation pursuant to which the energy efficiency class of an electronic appliance has to be immediately recognizable. It brought a legal action all the way up to the BGH.
Unlike the courts of lower instance, the BGH followed the consumer advocates’ line of reasoning, ruling that it was not the fact that the information concerning the device’s energy efficiency class had to be accessed via a link which constituted a violation of the EU regulation but that the link had been too general in nature and did not clearly indicate to consumers that the information could be found by clicking on the link. The Court held that the energy efficiency class is a key element for consumers in appraising an appliance and thus also in deciding whether or not to purchase the device. The BGH concluded that this practice significantly undermines the interests of the consumer.
Advertising that violates competition law can give rise to formal warnings, damages claims and injunction suits. Lawyers who are versed in the field of competition law can assist companies in fending off or enforcing claims arising from violations of competition law.