Are you guilty of false advertising?

Do you own a business? Do you advertise on the internet, on the radio, television, or in print?

If so, are you telling the truth about your products and/or services? If not, BEWARE! A competitor or a consumer can possibly sue you for making false and misleading statements about your wares. And, not only can you be sued in state court for making false and misleading statements about your products and services, but you can be dragged into federal court, too. Think I’m lying? Think again!

What is False Advertising?

The general rule of law advertising law under the Lanham Act provides that, to establish a claim for false advertisement, a plaintiff (the one filing the lawsuit) must show that the statement is false, either by proving that the advertising is “literally false”, or that if even the statement is literally true, that customers are likely to be confused or deceived.

In a 2009 case, Enfamil, the maker of baby formula, was found liable for false advertising, when it sent out mailers claiming that the generic store-brand formulas were nutritionally inferior. A federal court found that Enfamil crossed the line. It never ends well when companies try to exaggerate the benefit of their products or stretch the truth about their competitors.

While companies like Red Bull have offered a large payout ($13 million) to damaged consumers, the FTC can also issue fines when it deems it necessary. In fact, the largest fine ($2 million) in relation to false advertising occurred in late 2018, when the FTC fined Marketing Architects, a firm in Main, for misleading advertising regarding a weight loss product.

Key takeaways:

1. Be truthful when talking about your products/services.
2. Avoid bad-mouthing your competitors.
3. Avoid intentionally trying to confuse your customers about the quality of your products/services.
4. Don’t make claims that can be scientifically proven wrong.
5. Be careful of what your tag line says – it could be misleading.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect YOU and YOUR Business! Join the conversation on www.facebook.com/Francineward!

Francine D. Ward
Attorney-At-Law, Author, Speaker

Follow Francine:

Don’t miss Francine’s Latest Blogs:

  • Common Contract Mistakes
    How we use Contracts. Common Mistakes relating to contracts. Not only are contracts an important part of doing business, they are an important part of everyday life. In this post, […]
  • Timeshare in a Trust
    Should You Leave Your Timeshare in Your Trust? Timeshare in a trust. Do you own a timeshare? Over the past few decades owning a timeshare has become a popular investment. […]
  • Capital Gains. What is Capital Gains?
    What is Capital Gains? This post will provide a Capital Gains 101 overview. There are many special rules that apply to how you acquire your capital assets, how long you […]
  • Do Domestic Partners Have Legal Rights?
    Do domestic partners have legal rights? Sadly, very few to no rights as compared to married couples when it comes to estate planning.
  • Personal Inventory
    It’s an esteemable act to see yourself clearly. It’s easy to be grateful when you receive compliments because they validate who we are and who we want to be. Positive […]