Use a product made of leather

Frequent warning subject: Calling artificial leather as leather - when can the term “leather” be used?

irrvideo-xKvE7zEHeHk In particular, protective covers or bags for cell phones, smartphones or tablets are often labeled with the term “leather”. If this designation is incorrect, i.e. if the product is not made of leather, the provider is acting in an anti-competitive manner. This is a very common subject of a warning letter. We observe corresponding warnings in particular on eBay and Amazon.

In the event that the product consists of artificial leather, the fact that the term “leather” is represented in isolation, for example by using the term “artificial leather” or “PU leather”, is problematic. The search engine on the corresponding platform, be it eBay or Amazon, would display this product if only "leather" was searched for.

If the product is actually not made of leather, there is competition law misleading on which the warning person then bases his warning.

The designation "textile leather" is also a warning reason. The use of this term was warned in the past by the Association of the German Leather Industry.

Is it leather or is it synthetic leather?

Artificial leather or "PU leather" may not be called leather. However, it is often not entirely clear when there is actually no leather. From our consulting practice, we are well aware of cases in which the offer of a leather product was warned with the claim that it was artificial leather. In fact, this was not the case.

The designation regulation RAL060A2 “Differentiation of the term leather from other materials” defines which material can basically be designated as “leather”.

As a result, only one material may be designated as leather, real leather or with an expression that, according to the public perception, refers to leather or a type of leather, when offered or sold

  • the unsplit
  • split animal skin or the fur is produced by tanning while preserving the grown fibers in their natural interweaving.

Leather with surface covering

In our opinion, the term “PU leather” is unclear in this context.

The RAL agreement stipulates that leather with a surface covering made of plastic, foil or lacquer may be designated as leather if the applied layer is not thicker than 0.15 mm.

The RAL agreement also distinguishes coated leather from this. For leather or split leather, where the surface coating applied to the outside does not exceed a third of the total thickness of the product, but which is 0.15 mm thick, the designation "coated leather" or "patent leather" is to be used at least according to the specifications of the RAL “If it is a leather with a mirror-like surface. The surface reference must not exceed a third of the total thickness.

At least this is provided for in the RAL agreement. The bottom line is what the target audience (i.e. the buyer) understands by the respective term.

The use of the term “leather” for products made from leather and other materials

If an item is only partially made of leather, combinations of words with the word “leather” to designate the product are only permitted if the leather is the predominant component and is the most important component for the functional properties. Under no circumstances should the impression be given that all parts are made of leather.

If it is not leather, use the term artificial leather

If a product is actually not made of leather, especially not taking into account the above-mentioned requirements, this should also be clearly indicated, for example by the word "artificial leather".

It always becomes problematic when the word "leather" is used in isolation on the one hand in an article description and on the other hand there is a clarification somewhere that it is then only "artificial leather".

Bags and covers for cell phones, smartphones and tablets are often made of coated leather. It is recommended that retailers check which term may be used taking into account the actual properties of the product.

A warning of the misleading term “leather” is far-reaching, especially for offers on the Amazon platform, since here there is only limited influence on how the actually used item description (ASIN) is actually designed.

We advise you.

Status: 26.06.2015

Your contact: Lawyer Johannes Richard, Rostock

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