French Court Rules Boycott of SodaStream Illegal

Palestinian Group Wrongly Charged Company With Fraud

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By JTA

Published January 29, 2014.
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A pro-Palestinian group’s campaign to boycott the products of the Israeli SodaStream company violates French law, a Paris court ruled.

The ruling was handed down on Jan. 23 by the French capital’s Tribunal for Grand Instances, which fined the group about $9,000 and ordered it to remove calls to boycott SodaStream and its agents from the group’s website.

The judge made the ruling in a lawsuit that S.A.S OPM France, which represents SodaStream, brought against the France Palestine Solidarity Association last year in connection with a campaign the association launched in 2010 on its website and in local papers in the Nantes region.

It encouraged consumers to boycott SodaStream, a producer of home devices for the production of carbonated water whose factory is based in Maale Adumim in the West Bank, and its French distributor, the Nantes -based OPM firm.

The campaign violated French law because it falsely claimed the company was deceiving customers and was guilty of fraud, read the 10-page ruling, which JTA obtained.

The judge ordered the association to pay OPM about $5,500 and another $3,400 to cover legal costs.

“While this action is legal when it is done in defense of clients, it is illegal when it becomes abusive, notably when it is pursued for ends other than the protection of consumers or disproportionately,” the ruling said.

The campaign included videos placed by the association on YouTube and ads in local papers accusing OPM of defrauding clients. The judge rejected arguments put forth by the pro-Palestinian association that its actions were protected under France’s 1881 law on freedom of the press, saying that the campaign was false and targeted a firm’s commercial interest.

For this reason, it violated France’s tort law, or Article 1382 of the Civil Code, which states that “any loss caused to a person through the behavior of another must be repaired by the person whose fault it was that the loss occurred,” the judge wrote.


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