Tennant Granted Injunction Against German Rival
Golden Valley-based Tennant Company announced Tuesday that it has been granted an interim injunction against German competitor Alfred KÅ rcher GmbH & Company, which in September filed lawsuits against Tennant, claiming that the Minnesota company has made false and misleading advertising claims about its ec-H20 water-based cleaning technology.
Tennant spokeswoman Kathryn Lovik told Twin Cities Business that KÅ rcher recently stated publicly that Tennant has changed its advertising claims for its ec-H2O technology as a result of the lawsuits. The injunction granted by the regional court in Cologne, Germany, prohibits KÅ rcher from making such claims going forward. KÅ rcher must also remove all such statements from the Internet.
Lovik said that Tennant has “evolved its advertising based on what works in the marketplace” and that the changes had “absolutely no connection” to the lawsuits.
Tennant's ec-H2O technology is designed to electrically convert ordinary tap water into a powerful detergent that cleans effectively, saves money, and reduces environmental impact compared to traditional floor-cleaning chemicals and methods. But KÅ rcher-which filed its lawsuits in Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom-claims the technology doesn't work. At the time the lawsuits were filed, KÅ rcher CEO Hartmut Jenner described Tennant's claims about its ec-H20 as “misleading and totally untenable scientifically.”
Lovik said that Tennant initially sent KÅ rcher a cease-and-desist letter, asking it to stop stating that Tennant changed its advertising claims about the technology because of the lawsuits. When KÅ rcher refused Tennant's request, Tennant sought an injunction in court.
“We are pleased with the court's actions to halt the spread of disparaging statements by a competitor,” Tennant President and CEO Chris Killingstad said in a statement. “We stand behind our ec-H2O technology and the many benefits that ec-H2O provides customers worldwide.”
Tennant said that failing to adhere to the injunction could cost KÅ rcher up to about $327,000 in fines.
KÅ rcher, which does business in 50 countries, sells scrubber-driers-which it defines as cleaning machines for wet cleaning of hard floors. They spread cleaning fluid, scrub floors with it, and then vacuum the dirty water.
Tennant called KÅ rcher's accusations “baseless” and said that in addition to its customers testing the ec-H2O technology and approving it “with their purchases and with their public statements,” several independent third parties have tested it and confirmed its effectiveness.
Tennant expects that the Cologne regional court will, by the end of April, appoint a third party “expert” to test the ec-H20 technology and evaluate Tennant's advertising claims.