(CN) - A magistrate with Europe’s highest court recommended defeat Thursday for Dyson, which brought a challenge in Belgium to how one vacuum-cleaner competitor discloses energy efficiency to customers.
While Dyson sells vacuum cleaners that operate without a dust bag, the competitor BSH Home Appliances sells dust-bag-using vacuums under the trademarks Siemens and Bosch.
Both companies are subject to EU energy-labeling requirements, but Dyson argued that BSH’s labels mislead consumers because of how it conducts energy-efficiency tests.
BSH conducts its energy tests with an empty dust bag, which is exactly how regulators at the European Commission have instructed, but Dyson says that this does not reflect the normal conditions of use.
Once dust fills the pores of the bag during normal use, Dyson says the motor must generate more power to maintain the same suction.
The Commercial Court in Antwerp, Belgium — where Dyson sued BSH — in turn sought guidance from Europe’s highest court, the Court of Justice, about whether the EU directive on unfair commercial practices requires BSH to disclose that the tests were carried out with an empty dust bag.
Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe advised the Luxembourg-based court on Thursday to side with BSH.
Though the opinions of advocates general are not binding on the court, they are taken into consideration when the court begins deliberations.
“In my view, it follows from the foregoing that suppliers and dealers of vacuum cleaners have no leeway whatsoever as to the use and drawing-up of the energy label,” Øe wrote. “Its use is compulsory.”
Øe said the EU Legislature made a deliberate choice in adopting the regulation about not including methodology in the information that should be provided to consumers on the energy label.
“It follows from the foregoing that Regulation No 665/2013 must be interpreted as meaning that it prevents the content or format of the energy label from being altered, particularly for the purpose of specifying the conditions under which the tests that led to the vacuum cleaner’s energy classification were performed,” Øe wrote.
Øe also recommended against the use of supplemental labels, since the point of the directive is to standardize the information.
“Allowing manufacturers or dealers to use supplementary labels which reproduce or clarify the information on the energy label would call in question that standardization,” Øe wrote.
“That is particularly the case since permitting the use of such labels would be likely to create a game of one-upmanship between vacuum cleaner manufacturers, who would be able to adorn their models with a wide range of different supplementary labels, thereby undermining the standardization of information,” he added.
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