Marketer Required to Have Competent and Reliable Scientific Evidence
Prince Lionheart, Inc., a manufacturer of baby products, and its president, Thomas E. McConnell, have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that they disseminated unsubstantiated claims for the “Love Bug”– a device designed to clip onto a baby stroller. The proposed consent agreement to settle the charges requires the respondents to have competent and reliable substantiation for any claim about the benefits, performance, or efficacy of any consumer electronic product they market.
Prince Lionheart, a California-based company, sold an electronic mosquito repellant device called the “Love Bug.” The device is battery operated, looks like a toy, and is designed to clip onto a stroller or baby carrier. The product was sold primarily through catalogs and baby products stores. In their advertisements, the respondents claimed that the “Love Bug” device repels mosquitoes by electronically duplicating the wingbeat of the dragonfly, provides an effective alternative to chemical mosquito repellants, and helps protect against the West Nile virus.
In their advertising for the “Love Bug,” the respondents made statements such as:
- “Love Bug repels mosquitoes by electronically duplicating the wingbeat of the dragonfly – the mosquito’s mortal enemy!”
- “Love Bug is as effective as costly sprays or lotions but without the mess and potential danger to infants with skin sensitive to strong chemicals.”
- “Helps protect your Baby from WEST NILE VIRUS!”
The proposed consent agreement announced today for public comment prohibits the respondents from making false or unsubstantiated claims that any electronic mosquito repellant product using sonic or ultrasonic technology:
- Repels mosquitoes from a baby or any person;
- Is an effective alternative to chemical repellants; or
- Protects babies or other persons from contracting the West Nile virus.
The consent agreement also requires the respondents to have adequate substantiation for any claim about the benefits, performance, or efficacy of any consumer electronic product they market. In addition, the settlement requires the respondents to send a copy of the order, together with a notification letter, to catalogs and other wholesale/retail sellers that have purchased the “Love Bug” since January 1, 2002.
Further information about effective mosquito repellents and protection against the West Nile virus is available on the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov.
The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent agreement for public comment was 5-0. The FTC will publish an announcement regarding the agreement in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through July 21, 2004, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. Comments should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, Room H-159, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form near the end of the public comment period be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.
Copies of the complaint, proposed consent agreement, and an analysis of the agreement to aid in public comment 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 Matter No. 032-3245)
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