Guarantee only for barcoded merchandise

Since the summer of 2009 individual EAN codes have been vulcanized into all Schwalbe Folding, Downhill and Marathon tires. The first tires with damaged codes have now emerged on the market. Dr. Vereina Hoene, Schwalbe´s lawyer specializing in intellectual and industrial property rights in the Commercial Law Practice Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek in Cologne, answers questions about the consequences this could have for the bicycle trade.

Why are Schwalbe tires barcoded?
The barcoding system improves and facilitates quality assurance. In the case of defective lots, recalls of coded tires can be more easily initiated. When handling claims made under warranty and/or guarantee, it is much easier to establish causes in the reduction of quality.

What happens if a barcode is removed?
The barcode is an integral part of the product. Removing it calls for considerable wilful mechanical force and the tire not only looks worn, but is also damaged as a result! The carcass sustains damage and the surface becomes porous which presents a safety hazard. Tires damaged in this way can cause serious accidents, for which the seller of the tire to the consumer is liable. It is also conceivable that this could be deemed a criminal offence on the grounds of attempted grievous bodily harm. After all, the party responsible for the removal of the barcode knowingly accepts the safety risk.
Furthermore, removing the barcode constitutes a trademark infringement which is likewise an offence liable to punishment. Schwalbe has the right to expect its merchandise will be sold in its original state.
It goes without saying that Schwalbe will not assume any guarantee or warranty for tires where the barcode has been removed.

How can bicycle dealers protect themselves against such claims?
By selling only originally packed merchandise with an intact barcode and a full set of operating and fitting instructions.

Can dealers return tires showing a damaged code?
Yes, thats covered by the warranty. The dealer is entitled to return the merchandise to the supplier from whom it was purchased. Anyone selling merchandise that has been tampered with forgoes the right to claim under the warranty and is then personally liable. A dealer would therefore be wise not to take this risk.

What are the consequences of removing the code?
We file an official complaint. After all, it is in the publics interest for the safety of bicycle tires to be guaranteed. Moreover, Schwalbe can prohibit a third party from selling the tires if the condition of the merchandise has been impaired in this way subsequent to having been placed on the market.

Law specialist, Dr. Verena Hoene: "Those selling originally packed merchandise have nothing to worry about."