Federal false-advertising law allows competitors (not just consumers claiming loss) to sue companies over allegedly false or unsubstantiated ad claims. Long-established result that will surprise only newcomers: big guys use the law to beat up little guys, as well as each other. “In March, a Supreme Court ruling widened the range of businesses that can sue other companies for false advertising under the federal Lanham Act, by allowing businesses that aren’t direct competitors to pursue claims.” [WSJ via Lexology]
“A woman using a Grand Central Terminal stairwell fell and broke her ankle last year because a spooky advertisement for the [Showtime serial-killer] series startled her, a new lawsuit charges. Ajanaffy Njewadda and her husband, a former Gambian ambassador, are suing the MTA and the cable network, accusing them of placing the ad in a dangerous spot for pedestrians.” [James Fanelli, DNAInfo New York]
Nor, the complaint adds triumphantly, is Chobani yogurt even “made by Greek nationals.” It’s made in New York! Also, it’s too sweet and not very natural. [ABA Journal]
“Law firm apologizes to truckers for ‘serial killer’ ad” [ABA Journal] The San Antonio law firm of Villarreal & Begum had placed the ad in Maxim, but the reaction from truckers was so negative that some sellers yanked the magazine off the stands.
Will China follow the U.S. lead in consumer litigation? The lawsuit’s target, or one of its targets, is former NBA star Yao Ming, who is said to have endorsed fish oil capsules whose benefits were exaggerated. [China Daily via Tyler Cowen]
“From a realtor: ‘Regarding the Metro, I never putting “walk to..” on my listings because when I took my GRI classes they warned us that “walk to” might trigger a complaint of discrimination against people with disabilities.’ Sigh…” — David Bernstein, law professor and author of “You Can’t Say That! The Threat To Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws”
“Even pictures of food [at schools] have to have the federal government’s stamp of approval.” [Scott Shackford, Reason]
P.S. Speaking of marketing and paternalism, here’s Ann Althouse on the latest horrible Mark Bittman column.
“… The FTC regulating it” [Jack Shafer, Reuters]
Jack Shafer has a few thoughts:
Schneiderman mustn’t neglect the product endorsement industry. Do those celebrity endorsers really love the product or service as much as they say they do? … Fake reviews on Yelp, properly considered, are Yelp’s problem, not the state of New York’s. Let the Yelp people clean up the sewer. And the attorney general? Aren’t there any genuine crimes in the state for him to investigate?
That was the title of the talk I gave Friday at a panel on food and product labeling law as part of a stimulating symposium put on by the Vermont Law Review at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vt. I drew on a number of different sources, but especially two relatively recent articles: Omri Ben-Shahar and Curt Schneider, “The Failure of Mandated Disclosure,” U. Penn. Law Review (2011), and Kesten C. Green and J. Scott Armstrong, “Evidence on the Effects of Mandatory Disclaimers in Advertising”, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, Fall 2012. I was able to bring in examples ranging from patent marking law to Prop 65 in California to pharmaceutical patient package inserts, as well as the durable phenomenon of labels, disclosures, and disclaimers going unread even by very sophisticated consumers.
My talk was well received, and I think I might adapt and expand it in future into a full-length speech for audiences on failures of consumer protection law.
According to a math teacher’s calculations, a sample yielded only 1.86 times as much filling between the chocolatey wafers, not “double.” Here’s the report, by Rachel Tepper in Huffington Post. Using comments, who would like to predict whether some law firm will file an intended class action over this problem within the next twelve months, on a scale where zero indicates “completely confident that there will not be such a lawsuit” and 10 indicates “completely confident that there will be”?
Bonus, from the article: “And Mega Stuf Oreos have only 2.86 times the creme in a regular Oreo. The prefix ‘mega’ literally means a factor of one million, which, granted, is impossible to translate to an Oreo. Still, perhaps another name could have sufficed.”
P.S. As a reminder, class action lawyers sued the Subway restaurant chain after it was reported that its “Footlong” sub was actually more like 11 inches long. And a federal judge is reconsidering a recent ruling allowing class action claims to go forward over the appearance on an ingredient list of “evaporated cane juice,” i.e., sugar.
P.P.S. Welcome Digg and Fark readers.
Update: “While I’m not familiar with what was done in the classroom setting, I can confirm for you that our recipe for the Oreo Double Stuf Cookie has double the Stuf, or creme filling, when compared with our base, or original Oreo cookie,” a spokeswoman for Nabisco told ABC News.
“Photographs of infants are to be banned from baby formula packaging under new European Parliament rules.” [Irish Times via Stuttaford]