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Legal Requirements for “Made in Germany”


Guido

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You see cheap violins with “Made In Germany” on the label. Assuming this is legit, it seems hard to reconcile with an hourly rate of income in Germany north of a few cents.

How does this work?

Obviously “Made in Germany” allows for prefabricated imported parts or materials in the final product; but where does one draw the line?

Is it determined by a share of value added in Germany, say, more than 50%?

Then of course you can buy finished violins from China for $200, set them up for $400, and sell them for $600. Voila, enough value added in a Germany to label the product “Made in Germany”.

Just a guess, anyone knows?

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Though I cannot answer specifically for Germany, this issue crops up in most nations.

I believe there was a time here, when if what was considered 55% of the cost of entire product, was incurred here, it could legally be called made in…

But that 55% could include the design and manufacture of branded packaging, pamphlets, website, instructions, accessories, distribution etc.

So from a legal standpoint, the actual item people were buying, could have been made, or partially made in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico, or the moon. But as more than 50% of the whole cost was reached in another country, it could legally be called made in…

This is nothing new, it has been going on for decades. At best, it is very misleading, and at worst outright lies.

It highlights the psychological aspects of a need for a product to be made in a particular country, in the belief that represents better quality, heritage etc. Most consumers have no clue on how the world of commerce operates, so it is an easy ruse to keep going.

In the string world, at the lower to mid level, I’m sure this practice is rife. With many instruments being made by cnc, it is just a matter of sending the files, to whichever country has the ability to make things cheapest.
As an example, it might be more cost effective, to have the violins made in Romania on cnc, with the Romanian workshop supplying the materials too.
Then import these, to say Germany, for example, spray them with lacquer, set them up, put it in fancy box with a silk blanket, brochure, Larsen strings… 

Or maybe a case, where the shell, cover, handle, hinges, bow holders, straps, are all made in China, but the interior lining, lock, and final assembly, packaging, are done elsewhere. 
That could be enough to tip the cost over the threshold, et voila, ‘made’ in Germany/USA/France/Italy.

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Made in China sounds cheap, made in Germany sounds more expensive. It all depends on quality of materials, workmanship and end control. In Italy there is a town with a majority of Chinese inhabitants, all working in fashion workshops, to be able to justify the label "Made in Italy", people are willing to pay more for!

 

 

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I bet there are some rules but there are always those who find a way arount them... Like dairy/meat producers within EU have to show their "seal" with registration number and country on each product which we found very helpful in finding what we are actually buying especially when produced under other wholesaler brand but lately I've seen meat with our flags all over, clearly visible correct "seal" of Slovak producer but in tiny letters you read "breeded in Ukraine / packed in Ukraine" ... I guess the mother company is in Slovakia but they built an operation abroad and still can mark it as slovak product.

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1 hour ago, Wood Butcher said:

...It highlights the psychological aspects of a need for a product to be made in a particular country, in the belief that represents better quality, heritage etc....

I think that laws requiring the labelling of imported products with their countries of origin are more rooted in government import tax revenue collection than in any psychological need.

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1 hour ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I think that laws requiring the labelling of imported products with their countries of origin are more rooted in government import tax revenue collection than in any psychological need.

A good, but inaccurate, guess.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Made_in_Germany  Protection of domestic industries was more influential than either.

The current state of German origin markings is uncertain.  German customs uses one set of "strict" rules for customs charges, but the legality of stamping "Made In Germany" on a product by companies in Germany is determined by the German courts, rather than by legislation.  The requirements are quite liberal, compared, for instance, to what "Swiss Made" means.  https://www.made-in-germany-portal.com/made-in-germany-requirements/     :)

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1 hour ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I think that laws requiring the labelling of imported products with their countries of origin are more rooted in government import tax revenue collection than in any psychological need.

I think the taxation is a different issue altogether.

In the context of what I believe the OP was asking, the origins of a product are deliberately blurred, to give consumers an impression that it is better.

 

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9 hours ago, Violadamore said:

The requirements are quite liberal, compared, for instance, to what "Swiss Made" means.  https://www.made-in-germany-portal.com/made-in-germany-requirements/     :)

This. It's the page I was about to point to. I'm sure Google Translated will do an ok job on it, but for a high-level summary, multiple aspects are taken into account:

  • whether the product is developed and designed in Germany (by a German company, presumably)
  • whether it is assembled in Germany, specifically, in its final form
  • whether the bulk of the value creation happens in Germany 

So yes, I believe it would be completely unsurprising for any but the naive Germans that a violin that is put together from parts ("boxes", necks/scrolls, fingerboards, plus of course fittings) made in Romania or China or elsewhere, then varnished in Germany, by a qualified luthier who works for a business registered in Germany, is a Made in Germany product. (Which I believe the cheaper German violins and cellos are).  

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Lol Beeple (Charleston NC USA) created and auctioned off an NFT of his artwork for $69M, so there's an American product for you.  The national economy is only interested in upper tier products, like AI, weapons, and financial products so get with the program.  The peasant economy of the lower tier is only allowed to exist because it's parasitized by upper-tier businesses like MicroSoft, the Insurance Industry, Real Estate, and a few others.  It doesn't produce much that isn't an upper tier imperative except for its own use, there's not enough to export.

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1 hour ago, pyrola_asarifolia said:

This. It's the page I was about to point to. I'm sure Google Translated will do an ok job on it, but for a high-level summary, multiple aspects are taken into account:

  • whether the product is developed and designed in Germany (by a German company, presumably)
  • whether it is assembled in Germany, specifically, in its final form
  • whether the bulk of the value creation happens in Germany 

So yes, I believe it would be completely unsurprising for any but the naive Germans that a violin that is put together from parts ("boxes", necks/scrolls, fingerboards, plus of course fittings) made in Romania or China or elsewhere, then varnished in Germany, by a qualified luthier who works for a business registered in Germany, is a Made in Germany product. (Which I believe the cheaper German violins and cellos are).  

Well, I suppose that’s still the rosy picture. As with my opening example, a violin maker could buy $200 violins from China, just set them up (cost $400). And export the whole product all over the world as Made in Germany. No need to assemble or varnish anything.

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19 minutes ago, Guido said:

Well, I suppose that’s still the rosy picture. As with my opening example, a violin maker could buy $200 violins from China, just set them up (cost $400). And export the whole product all over the world as Made in Germany. No need to assemble or varnish anything.

Well, you ask where the threshold is, and in a system under the rule of law, such thresholds are determined by courts, as the page notes. There are also websites that review the relevant legislation, obviously written in turgid German legalese.

I'm not a lawyer, and don't know at all whether there has been a judgement by a German court regarding violins or even musical instruments. This page https://www.it-recht-kanzlei.de/made-in-germany.html explains first that early jurisprudence on the matter (from the 70s) quickly agreed that requiring every single step in the manufacturing process to have been executed in the labeled region/location (whichever that is - "Made in Germany" is just one example among many possible regional provenance labels) would be too high a threshold. (And this fits my intuition of common sense - just about any manufactured good or work of art may use components that have been manufactured elsewhere.

The page then homes in on the principle that seems to be the consensus more or less: "... sei mit Blick auf die deutschen Produkten entgegengebrachte Wertschätzung vernünftigerweise zu erwarten, dass der maßgebliche Herstellungsvorgang, bei dem die Ware die bestimmenden Eigenschaften erhalte, die für die Wertschätzung des Verkehrs im Vordergrund stehen, auf einer deutschen Leistung beruht ", rough translation, that for something to receive the positive recognition of a german-made product "it can be reasonably expected that the essential production process, in which the good receives its characteristic properties that are relevant for its trade valuation [not just monetary? unclear...], relies on a german effort". So to me,  just buying a mass-produced foreign instrument and slapping strings, pegs and a tailpiece on it does not sound like it reaches this standard. Even setting it up ... dunno, I'm skeptical! Re-grading it, putting it together, varnishing plus making it playable? More like it?  As long as a judge or jury hasn't looked at the minutiae we can only guess. 

 

ETA: There are multiple examples on the page, which I didn't deeply read. But one is about cutlery sets that were mostly produced in Germany, but the knives were produced in China, then polished in Germany using German machines. The jurisprudence came down on the side of this being misleading (so MiG doesn't apply). Similarly, apparently Made in Germany condoms, which were produced in China but then in Germany were split into two sub-types, moist and dry, and then the moist ones would be moistened in Germany, cannot have the label. 

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On 11/21/2023 at 1:06 PM, Wood Butcher said:

 

In the string world, at the lower to mid level, I’m sure this practice is rife. With many instruments being made by cnc, it is just a matter of sending the files, to whichever country has the ability to make things cheapest.
 

 time when labels will mention "Made by Master German CNC" is not come yet despite German CNC are probably the best ones !

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14 hours ago, pyrola_asarifolia said:

Well, you ask where the threshold is, and in a system under the rule of law, such thresholds are determined by courts, as the page notes. There are also websites that review the relevant legislation, obviously written in turgid German legalese.

I'm not a lawyer, and don't know at all whether there has been a judgement by a German court regarding violins or even musical instruments. This page https://www.it-recht-kanzlei.de/made-in-germany.html explains first that early jurisprudence on the matter (from the 70s) quickly agreed that requiring every single step in the manufacturing process to have been executed in the labeled region/location (whichever that is - "Made in Germany" is just one example among many possible regional provenance labels) would be too high a threshold. (And this fits my intuition of common sense - just about any manufactured good or work of art may use components that have been manufactured elsewhere.

The page then homes in on the principle that seems to be the consensus more or less: "... sei mit Blick auf die deutschen Produkten entgegengebrachte Wertschätzung vernünftigerweise zu erwarten, dass der maßgebliche Herstellungsvorgang, bei dem die Ware die bestimmenden Eigenschaften erhalte, die für die Wertschätzung des Verkehrs im Vordergrund stehen, auf einer deutschen Leistung beruht ", rough translation, that for something to receive the positive recognition of a german-made product "it can be reasonably expected that the essential production process, in which the good receives its characteristic properties that are relevant for its trade valuation [not just monetary? unclear...], relies on a german effort". So to me,  just buying a mass-produced foreign instrument and slapping strings, pegs and a tailpiece on it does not sound like it reaches this standard. Even setting it up ... dunno, I'm skeptical! Re-grading it, putting it together, varnishing plus making it playable? More like it?  As long as a judge or jury hasn't looked at the minutiae we can only guess. 

 

ETA: There are multiple examples on the page, which I didn't deeply read. But one is about cutlery sets that were mostly produced in Germany, but the knives were produced in China, then polished in Germany using German machines. The jurisprudence came down on the side of this being misleading (so MiG doesn't apply). Similarly, apparently Made in Germany condoms, which were produced in China but then in Germany were split into two sub-types, moist and dry, and then the moist ones would be moistened in Germany, cannot have the label. 

If you read the section "V. Ergänzende quantitative Bewertungskriterien?", both German Customs regulations, and a recommendation from the IHK [Chamber of Industry and Commerce] give 45% value added in Germany as justification for "Made In Germany".  While that definition has not been examined by a court yet, and the law firm warns against depending on it, IMHO somebody is almost certain to be using it, figuring that it's OK until they get caught, and that if it goes to court, they probably have a 50% chance of getting it approved, so why not?  :lol:  I'll note that the 45% formulation could arguably cover the sort of violin finishing that we have been discussing.   :)

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First of all... there is no such thing (at least there shouldn't be) as Made i n Germany. ...It's Made in EU. :)
Secondly... the above speculations are for 'ordinary eaters'. It is for them that standards and regulations are produced that have nothing to do with reality.
Violin? If they are sold by a well-known trading company, this is the only indicator of quality. You will still look at the type of wood (European or Siberian...), etc.
There is a well-known shop in Poland selling string instruments called 'Henglewski'... and it offers violins that do not have the Made in China mark but come from there. They are not expensive, they are configured by Henglewski employees... and there is a chance that they are a 'decent' violin for 400 Euro.
To sum up - I would buy a Chinese violin from Martin S.'s store, but if I bought directly from China, I would have concerns. And that's why the country of origin is not important to me.

PS: :) They are commenting on one of the previous entries... the violin comes from the country where the last configuration was made :).

There is also an interesting example from the USA. Fender has two factories. In the USA and Mexico. The instruments are correctly marked with the country of production. Some cost 500 dollars (Mexico), and American ones, e.g. 2,000. Do you know what the difference is? In both factories, 80% of employees are 'Mexican', at least - by origin. The factory in the USA has old machines, the factory in Mexico is new (Ensanada) and has new machines... but in the USA they use better components (mainly wood), in Mexico the wood is poor and the bodies are often glued from several pieces. I will also mention that the management and quality control in both factories are American.
PS: and if we add 'AI' to this, we will indeed write Made in Saturn soon.

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1 hour ago, Renegade said:

First of all... there is no such thing (at least there shouldn't be) as Made i n Germany. ...It's Made in EU. :)
Secondly... the above speculations are for 'ordinary eaters'. It is for them that standards and regulations are produced that have nothing to do with reality.
Violin? If they are sold by a well-known trading company, this is the only indicator of quality. You will still look at the type of wood (European or Siberian...), etc.
There is a well-known shop in Poland selling string instruments called 'Henglewski'... and it offers violins that do not have the Made in China mark but come from there. They are not expensive, they are configured by Henglewski employees... and there is a chance that they are a 'decent' violin for 400 Euro.
 

 

Are you saying the Klaus Heffler made in germany violin I bought in 'Henglewski' is in reality made in China :( ?

https://www.instagram.com/klaus.heffler/?hl=en    Is this fake account with fake photos and information too? :(

Can't access Klaus Heffler official website www.streichinstrumente-heffler.de to check the violin prices, it says "Access Denied". Maybe it doesn't allow in people with non-german IP. Is there anyone here from germany here that can access it? I'm not well familiar with using VPNs.

Would most expensive Klaus Heffler violin for 6,898.19 Euro be also made in China? https://www.thomann.de/gb/klaus_heffler_cremonese_master_violin_4_4.htm?shp=eyJjb3VudHJ5IjoiZ2IiLCJjdXJyZW5jeSI6NCwibGFuZ3VhZ2UiOjJ9&reload=1

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50 minutes ago, Pianootaku said:

Are you saying the Klaus Heffler made in germany violin I bought in 'Henglewski' is in reality made in China :( ?

https://www.instagram.com/klaus.heffler/?hl=en    Is this fake account with fake photos and information too? :(

Can't access Klaus Heffler official website www.streichinstrumente-heffler.de to check the violin prices, it says "Access Denied". Maybe it doesn't allow in people with non-german IP. Is there anyone here from germany here that can access it? I'm not well familiar with using VPNs.

Would most expensive Klaus Heffler violin for 6,898.19 Euro be also made in China? https://www.thomann.de/gb/klaus_heffler_cremonese_master_violin_4_4.htm?shp=eyJjb3VudHJ5IjoiZ2IiLCJjdXJyZW5jeSI6NCwibGFuZ3VhZ2UiOjJ9&reload=1

Absolutely NOT. I respect the Henglewski company very much, and like many companies, they have a wide range of products. In this there is a violin that can be bought for 400/500 Euro. There are resale offers for this violin (FB, Ebay...) for about PLN 2,000 (up to EUR 400). They are offered as a 'Henglewski' violin. Mr. Henglewski is a luthier and his violins are for sale - made by him. There are also models you write about - Klaus Heffler. It also offers original antique violins.
I wrote about cheaper violins available from the Henglewski company. They are cleaned, painted, adjusted, etc... only then are they sold. A good school violin at a good price.

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9 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

Yes, would make a great label. "CNC'd in Germany, using genuine tungsten carbide. Powered by German electricity" :D

and ecological :)

PS: The current situation (e.g. spreading work across different countries... norms and disregarding them, etc.) reminds me more and more of the 'system of modern dutzenware'.

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