BRUSSELS (Reuters) - British company Dyson, which makes bagless vacuum cleaners, has succeeded in overturning a European Union law on energy efficiency labelling after a five-year battle, with Europe’s second highest court backing its argument that the legislation discriminated against its products.
The Luxembourg-based General Court on Thursday reversed a 2015 ruling, which rejected Dyson’s challenge to the law, and scrapped the labelling regulation.
The requirements were introduced by the European Commission in September 2014 to inform consumers of energy efficiency levels and cleaning performance of vacuum cleaners, among other items. The goal was to prevent energy waste, reduce fuel bills and cut carbon emissions.
Dyson in 2013 challenged the proposed rules, which apply in all of the 28 EU countries, saying the labelling requirements on vacuum cleaners discriminated against its particular technology and misled customers about the efficiency of some vacuum cleaners, particularly those with bags.
It said the rules unfairly benefited its German rivals.
The General Court agreed with the company’s arguments and scrapped the regulation, saying that the EU executive’s testing method failed to comply with key elements of the directive.
The move came after the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) last year ordered the lower tribunal to re-examine the case following an appeal by Dyson.
“Tests of a vacuum cleaner’s energy efficiency carried out with an empty receptacle do not reflect conditions as close as possible to actual conditions of use,” judges said.
The ruling means that companies will not be required to display energy efficiency labels on their products, but will still have to comply with eco-design rules designed to cut energy and resource consumption.
The Commission, which can appeal the case at the ECJ but only on points of law, said it would study the ruling before deciding on the next step.
“This judgement does not put into question the effectiveness of EU energy efficiency policy in general or the important contribution it makes on meeting European Union efficiency targets,” Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen told reporters.
Dyson welcomed the judgement.
“We have been arguing consistently that the Commission committed two legal violations to the detriment of European consumers and Dyson,” the company said in a statement.
European Parliament lawmaker Ashley Fox urged the EU executive to refine its testing process.
“The Commission must now urgently design new tests that properly inform shoppers, promote a reduction in energy use and are fair to innovative entrepreneurs like Mr Dyson,” he said, referring to British inventor James Dyson, the founder of Dyson.
Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, additional reporting by Paul Sandle and Alistair Smout in London; Editing by Kirsten Donovan