Current developments in European Shopper Regulation: Unintentionally changing into an obvious producer

AG Campos Sánchez-Bordona elaborated as we speak on the notion of a producer beneath the Product Legal responsibility Directive (Directive 85/374) within the case Ford Italia (C-157/23). A client on this case bought a Ford Mondeo automobile from Stracciari, Ford’s seller in Italy. The automobile itself was manufactured by Ford WAG, a German firm, which used one other firm, belonging to the identical firm group, – Ford Italia – to distribute it to Stracciari. After the patron was concerned in a site visitors accident, throughout which the airbag didn’t work, they introduced a declare towards the vendor – Stracciari, and Ford Italia. The latter claimed their ‘provider’ standing and recognized Ford WAG because the producer. Nonetheless, Italian courts allotted producer’s legal responsibility to Ford Italia within the instances earlier than them in each situations. 

As AG Campos Sánchez-Bordona additionally agrees right here with, utilizing Artwork. 3(1) PLD that’s contemplating Ford Italia as an ‘obvious producer’ as an alternative of Artwork. 3(3) PLD, which solely permits to carry the provider liable if they didn’t well timed determine the producer, is what the CJEU ought to contemplate right here. The referred query asks then whether or not if the provider has not bodily positioned its personal title, dealer mark or different distinguishing function on the patron product, they could possibly be held liable as a producer on the bottom that they share in complete or partly the identical title, dealer mark or different distinguishing function because the producer. How broad then is the idea of an ‘obvious producer’?

AG Campos Sánchez-Bordona advises the CJEU to think about that within the given case not solely the producer and the provider share the identical title (which permits the provider, Ford Italia, to boost client confidence, profiting from the popularity of Ford model – para 39) , however that additionally they belong to the identical group of corporations, working beneath the identical emblem (para 50), and that the automobile bears the commerce mark the characterises each corporations. As such, the patron may have thought-about Ford Italia as presenting itself as a producer, which may result in their legal responsibility beneath the PLD. ‘(…) the patron can’t be anticipated to find, by his or her personal means, who the (precise) producer is, the place that producer is distinct from the provider which presents itself with these traits.” (para 41). This in accordance with AG Campos Sánchez-Bordona may result in to joint and several other legal responsibility of precise producer and obvious producer (para 48).

The AG Campos Sánchez-Bordona attracts parallels to the latest Fennia v Philips case (C-264/21 – with our remark), nonetheless, in that case each Saeco and Phillips names have been positioned on the patron product, which made the reference to the ‘obvious producer’ simpler. The second invoked case, O’Byrne (C-127/04), made it simpler to think about as a producer one other firm, a distributor, belonging to the identical firm group. Nonetheless, there, the excellence with the present case was that in O’Byrne the precise producer may not have been sued, as a result of cut-off dates having handed. 

As AG Campos Sánchez-Bordona mentions in para 31 the given case requires cautious weighing of the patron safety pursuits, which the broader interpretation of the notion gives, towards pursuits of merchants concerned within the manufacturing and provide chain. 

I’m not totally satisfied whether or not within the present case the latter mustn’t have prevailed. Contemplating that the provider, Ford Italia, promptly recognized the precise producer, plainly the patron pursuits may have been protected by nationwide procedural legal guidelines permitting both including to the process one other celebration (Ford WAG) or elevating a brand new declare towards them. Nonetheless, holding the provider liable as an obvious producer beneath the circumstances of this case might expose suppliers to claims they haven’t accounted for both by insurance coverage or of their B2B agreements inside the manufacturing and provide chain. Let’s have a look at what the CJEU decides on this case.

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