The Higher Regional Court Stuttgart, Germany passed a consumer-friendly judgment on 18 February 2019 – with far-reaching consequences for any advertising using the GOTS logo and/or name. The appeal decision was passed on a case where a textile printer had purchased blank GOTS certified T-shirts and then printed on them. However, the printer was not GOTS certified. According to the GOTS standard criteria, each processing step must be certified in order to exclude toxic or carcinogenic substances, among other criteria. The printed T-shirt was advertised as a GOTS certified end-product, so the Global Standard non-profit GmbH, the standard setter of GOTS, took legal action.
The judges explicitly pointed out that the GOTS Trademark is regarded as a Quality Mark. Consumers must be able to rely on compliance with the strict requirements of the standard. Printing on a textile would bear the risk that this product would no longer comply with the requirements of GOTS. The reputation of GOTS could thus be weakened or otherwise damaged by further (non-certified) processing which would constitute an infringing activity.
General explanations about GOTS on the defendant’s website did not change this, since the consumer would be given the wrong impression that the products were certified, the judges ruled. “This judgment is groundbreaking. The judges acknowledge the quality promise of a GOTS product to be certified throughout the entire supply chain. This protects the consumers and the companies that act correctly by getting certified,” says Claudia Kersten, GOTS Managing Director.