Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main's decision on company's climate neutral claims regarding frozen croquettes
Jurisdiction: Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main
Side A: Centre for Protection against Unfair Competition (Ngo)
Side B: Anonymous Party (Corporation)
Core objectives: Whether the climate-neutrality statements advertised on product packaging constitute misleading corporate practices
SummaryThe Centre for Protection against Unfair Competition filed a claim in the Regional Court of Frankfurt a.M. against a company for its advertising on the packaging of frozen croquettes on the basis of § 5 para. 1 of the Act against Unfair Competition, arguing that it was misleading. The advertising claims were ‘100 % climate neutral’ and ‘the world’s first 100 % climate-neutral potato specialist. From the potato field to the retailer’s freezer shelf.’ On their website, the defendant clarified the statement as follows: ‘Being a climate-neutral company means that we try to avoid and reduce CO2-emissions. We offset the rest of our emissions by promoting projects that support renewable energy, energy efficiency and many other CO2-related issues.’
The Regional Court confirmed the misleading nature of the claim and found a breach of § 5 para. 1 of the Act against Unfair Competition, referring to the strict standard for environment-related advertising claims. It stated that not only had the defendant used the buzzword ‘climate neutrality’ but they had also made further statements which left the consumers with the impression that the production and distribution occurred entirely without CO2-emissions. However, this was inaccurate, as CO2 had been emitted in the process. The Court considered it irrelevant that the emissions had been compensated and that this was disclosed on the company’s website, as the consumer did not have this information at the time of the purchase decision.
This judgment was appealed. The oral proceedings took place before the Higher Regional Court Frankfurt in 2017 and the defendant ultimately withdrew their appeal. The dates of the appeal and hearing are unknown.