Antitrust Law Source

NAD shoots down Bowflex’s claims of dramatic weight loss as unsupported; disclaimer not enough

Nautilus’s Bowflex TreadClimber just became the latest example of enforcement action against a health and fitness product by the National Advertising Division (NAD), a voluntary advertising self-regulatory body administered by the Better Business Bureau. More specifically, the NAD determined that Nautilus could not support its claim that one could lose substantial weight solely by using its product.

The TreadClimber combines the movements of a treadmill, a stepper and an elliptical machine. The television advertisement for the product, which featured the slogan “all you have to do is walk,” included a section where a man and two women discussed their substantial weight loss (60, 110, and 130 lbs), which was reinforced with visual images (such as picture of a woman when she was substantially heavier). It also discussed the mechanism of the TreadClimber with the claim that it could “burn up to two and a half times the calories of a treadmill in as little as 30 minutes three times a week.”

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FTC revises HSR and interlocking directorate thresholds

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the annual changes to the notification thresholds for filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act (HSR), as well as certain other values under the HSR rules. As background, the HSR Act requires that acquisitions of voting securities or assets that exceed certain thresholds be disclosed to U.S. antitrust authorities for review before they can be completed. The “size-of-transaction threshold” requires that the transaction exceeds a certain value. Under certain circumstances, the parties involved also have to exceed “size-of-person thresholds.” This year’s values, which are adjusted annually based on changes in the GNP, take effect on Feb. 27, 2017. The FTC also adjusted the safe harbor thresholds that govern interlocking directorates in competing companies. Continue Reading

2016 antitrust developments: Foreshadowing 2017?

It’s that time of year again, when we reflect on what happened during the prior year and prepare for another one. Let’s take a moment to look at some trending antitrust topics from 2016, and take a stab at what we believe will be some of the hottest trending topics in antitrust law going forward.

Auto parts stalled?

While the gush of new cases has slowed to a trickle, it is remarkable to note that new cases are indeed still being filed – the most recent of which was filed in November 2016. Perhaps more remarkable than new cases however, is the glacial pace at which they appear to be moving. In fact, recent settlement filings indicate that the lead case – which is currently set for a class certification hearing in 2018, may settle completely, leaving the first class decision in those cases even farther out, despite the cases already passing their sixth birthday. Continue Reading

National Advertising Division recommends that Shark Tank product discontinue representations

The National Advertising Division (NAD), a voluntary advertising self-regulatory body administered by the Better Business Bureau, just dealt a major blow to the Pavlok Aversion Therapy wristband by recommending that it discontinue numerous unsupported claims as a violation of false advertising laws. Pavlok has said it will accept the recommendations.

Pavlok, a product by the Behavioral Technology Group, first entered the public’s general consciousness after being featured on “Shark Tank” this past May. (It did not get a deal, and involved a rather testy exchange between show stalwarts Kevin O’Leary and Mark Cuban, and the contestant.) In essence, Pavlok is a wristband that, with the press of a button, delivers an electric shock to the wearer. The product is based on behavioral conditioning first demonstrated by Ivan Pavlov (hence the product’s name). The theory is that if the wearer voluntarily delivers an electric shock to himself whenever he engages in a habit he wants to break (consuming sugar, smoking, nail-biting, etc.), then eventually he will associate the habit with a shock and will subconsciously stop the habit. Continue Reading