Comparative advertising: European commission's draft directive

Ross L Denton

No European country, apart from the UK, currently allows comparative advertising. So despite the increasingly restrictive flavour of the Commission's successive draft directives on the subject, the effect may be generally to allow comparisons across Europe if they're not misleading and unfair - and not much affect the UK situation. Using competitors' trademarks in comparisons (not permitted in the UK, though the law is being reviewed there) is likely to be prohibited too.

Separately the Council of Europe has rejected a ban on alcohol advertising, though this does not preclude the EC banning alcohol on TV, and the issue of a more general prohibition has certainly not gone away.

The European Commission has unofficially been circulating drafts of a Proposal for a Directive on comparative advertising. The proposal, based on Article 100a of the EEC Treaty, is still in a draft form, and needs to be adopted formally by the EC Commission before it can start its journey through the Community's legislative procedure. From previous drafts it appears to be evolving in a manner which places more and more restrictions on comparative advertising. If adopted by the EC Commission and passed by the Council of Ministers, the Directive would have to be implemented in the Member States by January 1, 1993.