A product labeled “Made in Germany” must be essentially made in Germany, ruled the Higher Regional Court (OLG) of Dusseldorf, Germany (OLG Dusseldorf, case I-20 U 110/10).
Emphasizing the country of origin raises the consumer´s expectation that all pieces of the product are made in that particular country. If a product comprises numerous pieces, it is doubtful whether the requirements such as certain percentages of production rates (chamber of commerce says 45%) or provisions of the customs code of import (the essential processing step defines the country of origin) must be met with all parts of the product. The Court rules that not the rules set up by the chamber of commerce or customs, but the customer´s expectations are of vital importance for the country of origin. As long as advertising emphasizes on “Made in Germany” as a substantial characteristic of the product, the consumer is likely to understand that the place of origin is the outstanding difference compared to similar products. Therefore the consumer expects that the emphasized country of origin applies to all pieces of the product. The consumer´s motivation deciding for a product made in Germany is not necessarily based on certain commitments to quality, it may also be a commitment to concern about jobs or other.
Background of the case was a lawsuit against a manufacturer of cutlery who advertised his product as “Made in Germany” although the raw knives, forks and spoons were manufactured in China and the cutlery was only polished in Germany. The manufacturer pointed out that that the polishing process of the knives was a major criterion of quality. The Court approved sentence from the District Court (LG) of Dusseldorf regarding the advertising “Made in Germany” on the packaging to be misleading for the consumer. The quality and the high standard of hygiene were not sufficient to claim “Made in Germany” for cutlery which is essentially made in Asia.