The Federal Trade Commission has charged that Smart Inventions, Inc., a California-based direct response TV company, and its Chief Operating Officer, Jon D. Nokes, made false and unsubstantiated claims that a product called “Biotape” can treat or cure severe pain. The FTC complaint, filed in the Central District of California, also alleges that the defendants falsely claimed Biotape is superior to commonly available over-the-counter analgesics and topical creams and ointments in treating pain. The defendants advertised Biotape, which resembles electrical tape, primarily through a 30-minute infomercial that aired nationally on various cable stations, including Women’s Entertainment, The Discovery Channel, and the Inspirational Network. Darrell Stoddard – who developed Biotape and is featured in the infomercial along with the infomercial host Kevin Trudeau – also is named as a defendant.
The infomercial sold Biotape in conjunction with Stoddard’s book, “Pain Free for Life.” A sheet of 10 adhesive Biotape strips costs approximately $10. The infomercial directed consumers to apply Biotape to the parts of their bodies where they experience pain. Biotape was purported to contain a “space age conductive mylar that connects the broken circuits that cause the pain.” The FTC complaint alleges that the defendants have falsely and without substantiation claimed that Biotape: (1) significantly and permanently relieves severe pain caused by surgical procedures, arthritis, migraines, and other serious conditions; and (2) is superior to other products and treatments, such as over-the-counter analgesics and topical creams and ointments, in eliminating or relieving severe pain.
In a separate action filed by the Commission in June 2003, the FTC previously sued
Trudeau for his role in making false or unsubstantiated pain-relief claims in the Biotape infomercial, charging that such claims violated a 1998 federal district court order. This contempt action against Trudeau is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, on June 18, 2004.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.
Copies of the complaint are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.).
(FTC File No. 032-3197)
(Civil Action No. CV04-4431 MM(ex))