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Rostbratwurst: Why the Nuremberg Bratwurst is the subject of the court case

Rostbratwurst: Why the Nuremberg Bratwurst is the subject of the court case
Rostbratwurst: Why the Nuremberg Bratwurst is the subject of the court case

The Nuremberg Bratwurst Protection Association is suing at the Munich Regional Court against copies of the regional brand. What sounds like a joke is actually not funny at all – especially not for Rainer Heimler, who heads the protection association.

Mr. Heimler, how often do you eat Nuremberg Grilled sausage?
I could eat it every day, if you ask me. For me, it’s simply the only really delicious bratwurst. Otherwise, I don’t eat any bratwurst, only Nuremberg bratwurst, because they’re so spicy. Because they’re so crispy and so tasty.

This is probably why you are the chairman of the Nuremberg Bratwurst Protection Association. How did that come about?
In 1998, we founded our association together with the city of Nuremberg. The city is not only a founding member, but is still a member of our association today. Other founding members are the butchers’ guild in Nuremberg and the four large manufacturers from Nuremberg who produce Nuremberg bratwurst in their factories. At the beginning, I was the second chairman of the association.

Rainer Heimler is a lawyer in Fürth. He is also a founding member of the Nuremberg Bratwurst Protection Association and has been its chairman since 2014.

To person

Rainer Heimler is a lawyer in Fürth. He is also a founding member of the Nuremberg Bratwurst Protection Association and has been its chairman since 2014.

What was the purpose of the association?
In our association, the artisan butchers are also represented through membership in the guild. Together, we pursued the goal of initiating a process to achieve protection of the Nuremberg Bratwurst. This goal was achieved in 2003 when we received EU-wide protection for the Nuremberg Bratwurst. This means that only products that are produced in the city of Nuremberg and correspond to the recipe deposited with the EU Commission may be called “Nuremberg Rostbratwurst” or “Nuremberg Bratwurst”. In 2022, the European Court of Justice extended the protection of geographical indications beyond their name to characteristic appearance features of the protected product.

What does a typical Nuremberg sausage look like?
A typical feature of the Nuremberg sausage that was included in its protection is its size. According to the protected recipe and the EU regulation, a Nuremberg bratwurst must not weigh more than 25 grams. The “casing” can only ever be a sheep’s casing. Therefore, a Nuremberg bratwurst is always between seven and nine centimeters long. Combined with the weight standard, this also results in a specific diameter, similar to a caliber.

Do you consciously always say “sausage” or is “sausage” also okay?
Please never say Würstchen, it always means Nürnberger Rostbratwürste or Nürnberger Bratwürste, but never Würtchen or Würstel or anything like that. That is not right.

In addition to the name and appearance, you are now also trying to ban products that even resemble Nuremberg bratwurst.
The current legal dispute in Munich concerns sausages made by one manufacturer that are called “mini bratwursts”. A clear violation of the protection of Nuremberg sausages occurs when a name refers to Nuremberg, for example the word “Nuremberg”, “Nuremberg style” or a Nuremberg castle silhouette. However, the manufacturers are careful to avoid this because they know it is not permitted. Now we are trying to clarify whether the principles established by the European Court of Justice in a ruling on cheese also apply to the characteristic of Nuremberg sausages – their small size. This is a test case, not a small dispute with a specific manufacturer.

Who are the companies that are so vehemently opposed to copies of their sausages?
Every butcher or manufacturer, whether small, medium or large, has the right to become a member of our association, as is expressly stated in the new version of the EU regulation. Our members include butchers within the guild and many large manufacturers, but not all. The number of butcher shops is unfortunately decreasing and traditions are being lost. Our main concern is to continue the tradition that is the prerequisite for the protection of the Nuremberg sausage. Our aim is to maintain and, if possible, strengthen protection in order to preserve the sausage as a cultural asset, not just as an economic asset.

What happens if someone wrongfully calls their sausages “Nuremberg”?
In the more than 20 years that the protection has existed, it has become common knowledge that the name “Nürnberger Bratwurst/Nürnberger Rostbratwurst” cannot be used for other products. Violations are relatively rare and we only pursue them immediately with severe warnings if they are significant. In the case of minor violations, we inform the businesses concerned – for example a small butcher in northern or southwestern Germany – and ask them to investigate and correct the situation. There are no fees and we do not need a lawyer because we handle this ourselves. There is often understanding because these are often small businesses that do not always know the specific rules.

Source: Stern

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