The FTC has zero time for homeopathic hyperbole. Called the “Enforcement Policy Statement on Marketing Claims for Over-the-Counter (OTC) Homeopathic Drugs,” the FTC’s latest guidelines address the dos-and-don’ts of homeopathic marketing materials.
After analyzing concerns, the nation’s consumer watchdog averred:
[T]he FTC will hold efficacy and safety claims for OTC homeopathic drugs to the same standard as other products making similar claims. That is, companies must have competent and reliable scientific evidence for health-related claims, including claims that a product can treat specific conditions. The statement describes the type of scientific evidence that the Commission requires of companies making such claims for their products.
Homeopathy Marketing Guidelines: Long History, Little Science
Homeopathy sits at the crossroad between belief and science. A healing methodology dating back to the 18th century, the practice involves micro-doses of symptom-inducing ingredients. Over the past two decades, new age devotees have revived the methodology.
Yet, fringe popularity doesn’t guarantee efficacy; as far as the medical community is concerned, homeopathy falls under the anti-scientific umbrella.
The 18th-century factoid is pivotal in the FTC’s stance on homeopathic marketing. According to the guidelines, commissioners understand that “claims may include additional explanatory information to prevent the claims from being misleading.” In other words, so long as the packaging conveys that “[this claim is] based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts,” then it’s fine. (Sorry. Slapping a Dr. Quinn doppelganger on your label probably won’t cut legal muster.)
Don’t Skirt Homeopathic Marketing Guidelines with Tricky, Verbose Language
The FTC’s announcement also condemns undercutting “a disclosure with additional positive statements or consumer endorsements reinforcing a product’s efficacy.”
“The bottom line, when it comes to FTC marketing compliance,” explained marketing and advertising lawyer Dan Warner, “is to avoid deception; and definitely don’t make unsubstantiated claims.” When asked about the new OTC homeopathic marketing guidelines, Warner explained, “To be fair, the FTC’s latest announcement isn’t necessarily a brand new stance, but a reminder that questionable science shouldn’t be used in promotional materials. Do so, and you risk a big fine.”
Get Help From A Dietary Supplement Marketing Lawyer
If, after reading the FTC’s new homeopathic marketing guidelines, you still have questions, get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law. We regularly perform advertising audits to help clients avoid FTC fines.
Amazon is embracing esports.
On December 2, the online retailer, along with eSports Productions, hosted a casual gaming competition, which live-streamed on Twitch. The occasion marked Amazon’s inaugural foray as tournament host.
The Champions of Fire Invitational: Amazon Esports Casual Gaming Event
Sixteen game streaming celebrities gathered in Vegas for The Champions of Fire Invitational. With $100,000 up for grabs, participants battled in single elimination rounds of Disney Crossy Road, Pac-Man 256, Bloons TD Battles, 8 Ball Pool, and Fruit Ninja.
At Champions, “casual mobile games” took center stage. Aaron Rubenson, director of Amazon’s Appstore, explained:
“Competitive video gaming has seen huge growth, and we see tremendous customer value in expanding the tournament experience to include the casual mobile games played by millions of people today. The Champions of Fire Invitational will see some of the top gaming pros square off in the same fun games our customers can download and enjoy today from the Amazon Appstore.”
Who won the Amazon esports tournament? Find out on the highlights show, coming to a cable station near you, tonight, December 12th.
Amazon Esports Involvement On The Rise
In 2014, Amazon first signaled serious interest in esports by plunking down nearly $1 billion for the online gaming platform, Twitch.
In August 2016, via Twitch, Amazon acquired Curse, a gaming resource platform.
Breakaway — Amazon Game Studio’s first development venture that includes betting features and “deep Twitch integration” — hit digital shelves In September 2016.
Obvious acquisition is obvious: Amazon is making sure its esports foot hole is secure. Smart.
Kelly / Warner Law is a boutique law firm that maintains an esports division. Two of our attorneys work with professional gamers on contract negotiations, sponsorship vetting, team disputes and tournament logistics issues.
This post is about an eBay defamation case currently making its way through the courts. Our firm, Kelly / Warner, doesn’t represent either side. We do, however, help folks in similar situations.
If you’re here to read about a customer review defamation case, keep scrolling. If you’re struggling with an online reputation issue, Kelly / Warner can help. Get in touch today; let’s start weighing your legal options.
Introductions and self-shout-outs aside, without further ado, we present The Case of the eBay Ring Refund…
eBay Defamation Case Study: Unsatisfied Client v. Jeweler
Refund Confusion Results In Legal Tussle
Several months ago, a woman (whom we’ll call “Alice”) bought a ring from an eBay store; she split the purchase between two credit cards.
Unfortunately, Alice decided the ring wasn’t for her and initiated the return process. At first, the jeweler didn’t realize that Alice had used two cards and only refunded one.
That’s when things supposedly took a vengeful turn.
Business Owner Said…
Allegedly, the refund confusion compelled Alice to create a phony Yelp page. But Alice didn’t use her own information. Instead, she purportedly created a fake Yelp page under the jeweler’s name — and for the coup de grâce, littered it with negative reviews, including an accusation of “[stealing] thousands of dollars through this diamond scam.”
No way, insists Alice, who swears she is not the one. In a statement, Alice shared her side of the story:
“[T]here were two other people involved in this dispute with the eBay seller and they were the ones who posted on Yelp and other online sites. I have email evidence that I did not write any of the comments. The plaintiff’s eBay account was shut down due to her misconduct based on eBay’s investigation.”
Reviews Lead To Job Insecurity For Plaintiff and Defendant
The jeweler suffered serious setbacks because of the reviews. Customers canceled orders; eBay removed listings; Intuit even canceled her payment processing account.
Alice didn’t fare any better. You see, for the past decade, she reportedly had worked for the Chamber of Commerce, but lost her job soon after this defamation debacle. Her former employer refused to comment on Alice’s departure, but when asked about the situation, she said, “I am considering filing a countersuit for defamation of character leading to loss of income.”
The Difference Between Bad Reviews and Defamatory Reviews
Judging from online discussions, many people seem to think businesses can sue over negative reviews on sites like (but not limited to) Yelp, eBay, Ripoff Report, and Amazon.
Free Speech is an American solemnity. Since the Founding Fathers distributed The Federalists Papers, our nation has enjoyed a long and storied history of public criticism. Every person on U.S. soil can shout their opinions from the top of Denali or a digital pedestal.
But we can’t publicly lie about a person or business, to the point of material hardship. Ask yourself: What would you do if a customer or colleague spread rumors about your circumstances or business? Would you shrug it off, citing free speech, even if the fib destroyed your livelihood?
Winning an eBay Defamation Case
How can plaintiffs win online review lawsuits? Every case is different, but at the very least, claimants must convince a judge or jury that the defendants:
- Made false statements of fact, which caused material harm to befall the plaintiffs; and
- Acted negligently — or with actual malice — in publishing or broadcasting the declaration.
Considering An eBay Defamation Lawsuit?
Are you weathering a reputation storm? Wondering whether or not you can sue for defamation? Our team regularly assists people overcome reputation challenges.