Licensing dispute at the German branch of Gault&Millau

Licensing dispute at the German branch of Gault&Millau

AThere will also be a German edition of the Gault&Millau wine and gourmet guide in the future. The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court has rejected the allegations of the French parent company, which has been owned by Russian investors since 2019 (ref. I-20 W 3/24). Gault&Millau had revoked the license of the German branch Henris Edition and wanted to ensure that it was no longer allowed to publish restaurant guides under the brand name.

The German edition uses “a rating system and business practices that in no way reflect the standards, ethics and values ​​that our brand has stood for since its inception,” said the French gourmet guide. However, Gault&Millau had officially terminated the underlying contract for Germany without notice due to alleged outstanding license payments and several breaches of contract, the Higher Regional Court informed FAZ upon request. For this reason, the parent company revoked the sublicense for Germany.

Criticism of point awarding

The German licensee is the only branch in the world that does not use the French points system, but instead awards colored chef’s hats in red and black, with red standing for outstanding restaurants. Gault&Millau, on the other hand, judges according to the French school grading system of 0 to 20 points. Grades are usually awarded from 11 points (“average cuisine”) up to 19.5 points (“highest grade for the world’s best restaurants”). The maximum rating of 20 points has only been awarded twice since its inception.

The licensors are said to have terminated their collaboration with Henris Edition in November. This is the “direct consequence of a payment default and the violation of further contractual obligations”. Hans Fink, the German editor of the Gourmet Guide since 2020, rejects the allegations against “Welt”: “We have paid the German license in full until 2025 – an effort for us as a small publisher.” Fink sees the allegations from France as damaging to his reputation. The Munich publisher took over the license from Burda Media in 2022.

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