Vic­tory for Dyson in bat­tle over la­belling

Western Daily Press - - News - JOSIE CLARKE news@west­erndai­ly­

TECH­NOL­OGY com­pany Dyson has won a bat­tle with the Euro­pean courts over en­ergy la­belling laws for vac­uum clean­ers af­ter the Gen­eral Court up­held its ar­gu­ment that ef­fi­ciency tests car­ried out on empty ma­chines did not re­flect con­di­tions as close as pos­si­ble to real-life use.

The Gen­eral Court rul­ing an­nuls the reg­u­la­tion on the en­ergy la­belling of vac­uum clean­ers, but the la­bel will re­main in force for a min­i­mum of two months and 10 days to al­low time for ap­peal.

Dyson, which has its head­quar­ters in Malmes­bury, Wilt­shire, said the rul­ing was “wel­come news and a win for con­sumers across Europe”.

All vac­uum clean­ers sold in the EU have been sub­ject to en­ergy la­belling re­quire­ments since Septem­ber 2014, aimed at in­form­ing con­sumers about their ef­fi­ciency based on test­ing that takes place when the ma­chine is empty of dust.

But Dyson, best known for its bag­less vac­uum cleaner, has long ar­gued that mod­els us­ing bags and fil­ters to sep­a­rate dust from the air­flow can be­come clogged, of­ten lead­ing to loss of suc­tion and mean­ing a con­sumer could buy an A-rated ma­chine that drops to G-grade ef­fi­ciency as it is used in the home.

The com­pany’s le­gal ac­tion be­gan in 2013 when it brought a case against the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion to the EU Gen­eral Court ar­gu­ing that, to re­flect a con­sumer’s real-life ex­pe­ri­ence of a prod­uct, per­for­mance must be tested in re­al­world con­di­tions us­ing dust.

In November 2015, the Gen­eral Court dis­missed Dyson’s claims and as­serted that dust-loaded test­ing was not re­li­able or “re­pro­ducible” and there­fore could not be adopted.

The court also ruled out Dyson’s claim that the cur­rent reg­u­la­tions “dis­crim­i­nate” in favour of bagged vac­uum clean­ers

yson ap­pealed over the judg­ment at the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice in Jan­uary 2016, and in May last year the court up­held the ap­peal in part and sent the case back to the Gen­eral Court for it to make a new assess­ment.

The ECJ backed the com­pany’s claims that tests were avail­able to mea­sure a vac­uum’s per­for­mance when full and said tests should “mea­sure the per­for­mance of vac­uum clean­ers in con­di­tions as close as pos­si­ble to ac­tual con­di­tions of use”.

A Dyson spokes­woman said: “This is wel­come news and a win for con­sumers across Europe. We have been ar­gu­ing con­sis­tently that the Com­mis­sion com­mit­ted two le­gal vi­o­la­tions to the detri­ment of Euro­pean con­sumers and Dyson.

“The lab tests for the en­ergy la­bel do not re­flect real use as EU law re­quires they must, and the EU la­bel fla­grantly dis­crim­i­nated against a spe­cific tech­nol­ogy – Dyson’s patented cy­clone.

“This ben­e­fited tra­di­tional, pre­dom­i­nantly Ger­man, man­u­fac­tur­ers who lob­bied se­nior Com­mis­sion of­fi­cials. Some man­u­fac­tur­ers have ac­tively ex­ploited the reg­u­la­tion by us­ing low mo­tor power when in the test state, but then us­ing tech­nol­ogy to in­crease mo­tor power au­to­mat­i­cally when the ma­chine fills with dust – thus ap­pear­ing more ef­fi­cient.

“This de­feat soft­ware al­lows them to cir­cum­vent the spirit of the reg­u­la­tion, which the Euro­pean Court con­sid­ers to be ac­cept­able be­cause it com­plies with the let­ter of the law.

“In th­ese days of Diesel­gate, it is es­sen­tial con­sumers can trust what man­u­fac­tur­ers say about their prod­ucts. But the Com­mis­sion en­dorsed a mea­sure that al­lowed Dyson com­peti­tors to game the sys­tem.

It is es­sen­tial con­sumers

can trust what man­u­fac­tur­ers say about their prod­ucts DYSON SPOKES­WOMAN

“The le­gal process has been long, dis­tract­ing and ex­pen­sive, with the odds stacked against us. Most busi­nesses sim­ply do not have the re­sources to fight reg­u­la­tions of this na­ture. It is ap­palling that this il­le­gal and fun­da­men­tally an­ti­com­pet­i­tive be­hav­iour has been en­dorsed for so long.”

The de­ci­sion is sep­a­rate to a rul­ing by the ECJ in July that re­jected Dyson’s claim that con­sumers should have in­for­ma­tion about the test­ing con­di­tions be­hind vac­uum cleaner en­ergy clas­si­fi­ca­tion la­bels.

The ECJ ruled that not pro­vid­ing cus­tomers with the in­for­ma­tion does not con­sti­tute a “mis­lead­ing omis­sion”.

Dyson had ar­gued that com­peti­tor BSH, which owns Bosch and Siemens, was mis­lead­ing con­sumers by not in­di­cat­ing that en­ergy per­for­mance tests were car­ried out with empty bags.

The ECJ said rules did not per­mit ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing in­for- ma­tion re­lat­ing to the test con­di­tions, to be added to the en­ergy ef­fi­ciency la­bel.

How­ever, it also said that ad­di­tional la­bels or the sym­bols dis­played by BSH on the pack­ag­ing of its vac­uum clean­ers “do not sat­isfy the re­quire­ments of the di­rec­tive”.

Sir James Dyson, founder of Dyson Ltd, with one of his com­pany’s vac­uum clean­ers

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