The I. Civil Senate of the Federal Court of Justice, which is responsible for competition law among other things, does not consider the use of the designation "organic mineral water" to be misleading.
The defendant offers a natural mineral water. He describes and advertises this water as "organic mineral water". The plaintiff, the Central Office for Combating Unfair Competition, considers this to be misleading. It believes that the public associates "organic mineral water" with quality characteristics that are already prescribed by law for a natural mineral water and are therefore self-evident.
The Nuremberg-Fürth Regional Court upheld the action for injunctive relief brought by the head office. On appeal by the defendant, the Nuremberg Higher Regional Court dismissed the action with regard to the objectionable use of the term "biomineral water".
The Federal Supreme Court has confirmed the judgement of the Court of Appeal. The public expects a mineral water designated as "organic mineral water" not only to be untreated and free of additives, but also to be significantly below the maximum values provided for natural mineral waters with regard to residues and pollutants. Mineral waters that are significantly below the legal limits differ from mineral waters in which the content of residues and pollutants is close to these values. Whether the mineral water marketed by the defendant met these high purity expectations was not in dispute.
The public also does not expect that the use of "Bio" for mineral waters is subject to legal requirements or is monitored by the state. The fact that the legislator has made a legal provision for the use of "Bio" for agricultural products does not mean that this designation may not be used in the absence of a legal provision. The requirement in the Food Labelling Ordinance to indicate the sales designation "natural mineral water" for the water marketed by the defendant also does not preclude the additional designation as "organic mineral water".
Judgment of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) of September 13, 2012 - I ZR 230/11 - Biomineralwasser
Nuremberg-Fürth Regional Court - Judgment of January 19, 2011 - 3 O 819/10.
Nuremberg Higher Regional Court - Judgment of November 15, 2011 - 3 U 354/11, GRUR-RR 2012, 224
Source: Press release of the BGH
Goldberg Attorneys at Law 2012
Attorney at Law Michael Ullrich, LL.M. (Information Law)
Specialist lawyer for information law