Whether to minimize utility expenses or save the planet, consumers are now more than ever concerned about “going green.” Accordingly, it came as no surprise that South Korean based LG Electronics sought relief in a D.C. court after its refrigerators were stripped of the “Energy Star” label by the U.S. Department of Energy. Often seen on computers, home appliances, and heating and air conditioning units, the “Energy Star” label functions as a stamp of approval from the U.S. Government that a certain product is energy efficient (generally, products displaying the energy star badge use significantly less energy).
Seeking to enjoin (or halt) the removal of the “Energy Star” labels from its refrigerators, LG Electronics filed a motion for preliminary injunction against the Department of Energy. The proposed injunction was based on two primary grounds: 1) that the removal of the “Energy Star” label was procedurally and substantively improper; and 2) that labels’ removal would cause substantial harm to the company’s reputation. The Court, however, was not persuaded, ruling that LG Electronics failed to show the requisite likelihood of success on the merits and irreparable harm. Accordingly, LG Electronics’ injunction was denied, and the company’s refrigerators remain on the market, minus the “Energy Star” stamp of approval.
As the filing of this injunction suggests, the “Energy Star” label is a valuable endorsement in this day in age. And because Masuda Funai’s client base includes a variety of manufacturers and dealers of consumer electronics, appliances, and other goods, this decision and its corresponding facts provide an important framework for maintaining a product line’s “Energy Star” approval and other like endorsements from the U.S. government, trade associations, and other ratings/certification agencies. Synthesizing this recent LG Electronics matter with the firms’ extensive litigation and counseling experience, Masuda Funai is well-equipped to advise its clients and fight in their favor on matters involving product certification and injunctive relief.