SEMA eNews Vol. 14, No. 26, June 30, 2011

German Court Upholds Consumer Right to Customize

In a closely watched case, a German court has for the second time in two years sided with a consumer who sued for the right to install aftermarket carbon-fiber wheels on his motorcycle. The Southern German state of Baden-Württemberg denied the consumer an operating license due to the addition of Dymag aftermarket wheels—a product that was already popular throughout Europe, having been used without problems in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands for a number of years.

The courts cited newly enhanced European Union (EU) mutual-recognition regulations that limit the ability of the 27 EU countries from banning products already legally sold in one or more other EU countries. The only exception is in cases where local officials can prove a safety concern—a prerequisite for the denial of products cross-border. The court noted that the local government did not have a justification in denying an operating license to the consumer, noting, “The long-lasting, unproblematic and accident-free use in Great Britain and the Netherlands in public road traffic and at international motorcycle racing makes such proof unlikely.”

The European Tuning Organization (ETO)—a pan-European coalition of specialty-equipment associations of which SEMA is a member—has been a strong proponent of the enhanced European regulations.

“This court case is important; the wheels were clearly safe having been used in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands for many years,” said ETO President Renato Gallo. “Additional testing or the outright denial of specialty products will do nothing to improve safety but will deny German consumers access to safe, popular products enjoyed worldwide. The free flow of goods throughout Europe might indeed become a reality once local governments understand that they don’t have the right to impose technical barriers without a proven need for such limitations.”

For more information, contact Linda Spencer at lindas@sema.org.

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