Regional Court of Düsseldorf's decision on climate neutral claims regarding candles
Jurisdiction: Regional Court of Düsseldorf
Side A: Anonymous party
Side B: Anonymous Party
Core objectives: Whether a candle producer's advertising on 'climate neutral candles' is a misleading commercial practice
SummaryA candle-manufacturer was sued by a competitor due to their advertisement in a newspaper, containing the following wording: ‘Climate neutral candles: […] All candles produced by [defendant] are climate neutral. [Defendant] strives for Zero CO2 emissions and consistently ensures climate-neutrality in their company, especially through the offset of CO2 emissions.’ The plaintiff argued that this claim was misleading and breached § 5 para. 1 of the Act against Unfair Competition.
The Regional Court of Düsseldorf confirmed the misleading nature of the claim. It held that from a consumer’s point of view it was not out of question that there existed new materials or combustion techniques without CO2 emissions and that it was precisely for this reason that the defendant’s candles differed from other candles. But in the present case, the defendant had not explained that the candles previously described as climate-neutral were in principle interchangeable because the company was committed to environmental protection and sustainability. Thus, the product-related statement was misleading. The Regional Court reiterated that environment-related advertising claims were subject to strict requirements which can only be fulfilled if the product characteristics are clearly separated from the corporate philosophy. This had not been done in the present case – in a misleading manner. Ultimately, it held that the description of the candles as ‘climate neutral’ was misleading because CO2 was released when the candles were burned.