When doing any business make sure all corners are covered. Many times, there are several areas of law that pertain to one transaction, product, service or just one type of business action in general. In 2010, The North Face got popped with a fine of more than $500,000 over Anti-microbial Claims. Accordingly, the manufacturer of North Face sports apparel made unsubstantiated public health claims that their athletic shoes provided “antimicrobial protection” and inhibited the growth of “disease causing bacteria.” This same promotion was also used in another company’s advertising material for head phones. None of the marketing directors were likely aware that those claims made in connection with the sales, advertising, and distribution of these consumer products violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  Nor is it likely that they knew their companies would be subject to a $7,500.00 fine for each sale of one of the products.

Additionally, their in-house lawyers were probably not aware that the EPA regulates pesticide claims connected with the retail sale and distribution of consumer articles and products if the advertising relies on public sanitizing and antimicrobial/antibacterial claims. However, as part of American legal policy, ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Business owners and companies that decide to branch out into a new area of production or commerce needs to make sure all corners are covered. Sometimes, in-house attorneys may not have as wide a spectrum of practice as other outside firms that specialize in a certain area of law. It is always best to consult other attorneys, get an outside opinion before investing heavily in a new product, service or advertising scheme in order prevent violating the law.

Ashley Spencer is a licensed attorney with The Spencer Law Firm.  The information in this blog is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of this legal subject. Readers with legal problems should consult an attorney for advice on their particular situation. The Harris County Bar Association may refer you to an attorney for legal consultation. Please email or call the Harris County Bar Association at (713) 236-8000.

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