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 headshot

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

Follow Francine:


Don’t miss Francine’s Latest Blogs:

  • Book Contracts: How to Get Published
    If you find a publisher without an agent, have a book attorney or book lawyer review the agreement BEFORE you sign it … Leverage is the key to getting what … Read more
  • Online Wills and Trusts
    Something new on the market that has constantly come up due to the fear of CoVID-19 is the legality of online wills, whether on a web site or on a … Read more
  • CoVID-19 Virus. Esteemable Acts
    Right now, we are living in desperate times. The CoVID-19 virus has hit our nation hard. Schools are shutting down, layoffs are happening, and the future is starting to seem … Read more
  • CoVID-19
    CoVID-19. Coronavirus. The flu-like virus that no one quite expected to take over the Spring of 2020. It started in China, and now it's taking America to the societal cleaners. … Read more
  • 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 … Read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!