FTC Adds Further Factual Details to Complaint in Case Against Lights of America, Inc.

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The Federal Trade Commission has added further factual details to its complaint against a company that allegedly misled consumers by exaggerating the light output and life expectancy of its Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs.

In the FTC’s original complaint against Lights of America, Inc. and its two principals, filed in September 2010, the agency charged that since 2008, Lights of America has overstated the light output and life expectancy of its LED bulbs. The agency also charged that Lights of America misled consumers about how the brightness of its LED bulbs compares to traditional incandescent lights.

At the court’s direction, the FTC’s amended complaint details where and when the challenged claims were made, and alleges that specific testing contradicts many of the defendants’ claims. For example, defendants claimed that certain bulbs lasted 30,000 hours, but U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) testing found that they lost as much as 90 percent of their output after only 1,000 hours. The amended complaint also alleges additional facts to show that the individual defendants controlled the company and knew, or should have known, about the practices the FTC is challenging.

Manufacturers have recently begun selling LED bulbs for household use because they are a higher-efficiency, longer-lasting alternative to incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs. Although the initial price tag may be higher, well-designed and manufactured LED bulbs save on energy costs and last much longer than other types of light bulbs. The LED bulbs marketed by the defendants were sold by retailers throughout the United States and Canada, including Walmart, Costco, Ace Hardware, and Amazon.com.

The Commission vote approving the amended complaint was 5-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on February 4, 2011. (FTC File No. X100048; the staff contact is Gregory J. Madden, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2426. See press release dated September 8, 2010.)

Information for consumers on lighting and energy labeling can be found here.

Copies of the document mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s website at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

(FYI 5.2011.wpd)

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