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Thread: Can you make any claim you want about a product you're giving awayrather than selling

  1. #1
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    Can you make any claim you want about a product you're giving awayrather than selling

    It occurred to me that if you were selling a product claiming it cured an illness, you couldn't make just any claim you wanted, but I wondered if you could legally make any claim you wanted if you were giving said product away for free.

    Obviously there are different rules for different countries, but I just wondered.
    Formerly Frog march..............

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    If you read the site below you'll notice that "for sale" is not mentioned.

    https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/medi...th-advertising

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    The UK's Advertising Standards Authority has a similar role, ensuring that ads are "legal, decent, honest and truthful". (Unless they are political adverts, for some reason.) It doesn't matter whether the ad is for a product or service for sale or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    The UK's Advertising Standards Authority has a similar role, ensuring that ads are "legal, decent, honest and truthful". (Unless they are political adverts, for some reason.) It doesn't matter whether the ad is for a product or service for sale or not.
    And I'm sure conmen in the UK ignore that rule whenever they can, same as in the US. Some people work so hard at avoiding working for a living.

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    G'morning Chief.

    One of the sayings I learned in the Navy was "some people will step over a dollar to steal a dime".

    Due of course to there being an actual thrill to stealing stuff for some people, but that's another discussion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    If you read the site below you'll notice that "for sale" is not mentioned.

    https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/medi...th-advertising
    But most of the laws themselves do actually use the word "commerce."

    I don't think the question is whether you're charging a price for this specific product, but rather whether you're disseminating the product as part of a business.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeanF View Post
    But most of the laws themselves do actually use the word "commerce."

    I don't think the question is whether you're charging a price for this specific product, but rather whether you're disseminating the product as part of a business.
    I thought that was obvious...

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    yes, it would be different, I thought, if you were just giving away a freebe as part of a business model, but if it was a not for profit organisation, I thought it might be different.

    Say a NPO wanted to give away bottles of pills that they said could give you the ability to fly, for example, as long as the pills weren't dangerous, I wondered if they would be doing something illegal...I gather a lot of books make wild claims about what the information inside could do for you, and they actually sell those.
    Formerly Frog march..............

    She was only a farmer's daughter, but she was outstanding in her field.

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    In the UK, rules on advertising apply to everyone (except political parties). So even if you as a private individual take out an advert that says something that is illegal or is dishonest then that advert can be banned.

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    I'm not ready to come back, but this is near and dear to the heart. The rules are highly variable and contradictory across countries. But generally, it would be a bad idea to give flawed advice on a product's usage or make unsubstantiated claims. In the US, that even goes down to bloggers.

    I take ads for my website, but refuse anything remotely health related. It isn't just a legal thing, I don't want to promise results I can't ensure which is pretty much impossible for your health. It's one thing for me to give a way a book or product, it is another to say you'll get a benefit from it.
    Solfe, Dominus Maris Pavos.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudskipper View Post
    yes, it would be different, I thought, if you were just giving away a freebe as part of a business model, but if it was a not for profit organisation, I thought it might be different.

    Say a NPO wanted to give away bottles of pills that they said could give you the ability to fly, for example, as long as the pills weren't dangerous, I wondered if they would be doing something illegal...I gather a lot of books make wild claims about what the information inside could do for you, and they actually sell those.
    No rationally run business is going to run expenses that don't help their bottom line. The give-aways would count as advertising, right down to the company name on the bottle. So it's part of their business model and liable to the rules.

  12. #12
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    In the UK, the relevant laws apply to marketing and advertising, and say that these must be:

    an accurate description of the product or service
    legal
    decent
    truthful
    honest
    socially responsible (not encouraging illegal, unsafe or anti-social behaviour)
    So it seems that simply by drawing attention to your product in an untruthful way you'd be breaking the law, whether or not you were selling it.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2017-Oct-02 at 09:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudskipper View Post
    It occurred to me that if you were selling a product claiming it cured an illness, you couldn't make just any claim you wanted, but I wondered if you could legally make any claim you wanted if you were giving said product away for free.

    Obviously there are different rules for different countries, but I just wondered.
    I'll only speak for the US, and one aspect of this, and even then I'm guessing a little.

    Let's take the case that you are not a business, you are not doing this for sale or profit or for any personal gain or benefit. You are giving away your magic pills and you claim they cure cancer or enable you to fly. I'll even add that you REALLY believe these pills could do so. I strongly suspect that you could still be held liable for any harm that might come to someone you give the pills to. For example, if you gave them your flying pills and they jumped off a building and killed themselves, you might be charged with negligent homicide.

    Negligent homicide is a much lower intent crime and is used as a charge when one person causes the death of another through criminal negligence. The charge does not involve premeditation, but focuses on what the defendant should have known and the risks associated with what he did know.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I'll only speak for the US, and one aspect of this, and even then I'm guessing a little.

    Let's take the case that you are not a business, you are not doing this for sale or profit or for any personal gain or benefit. You are giving away your magic pills and you claim they cure cancer or enable you to fly. I'll even add that you REALLY believe these pills could do so. I strongly suspect that you could still be held liable for any harm that might come to someone you give the pills to. For example, if you gave them your flying pills and they jumped off a building and killed themselves, you might be charged with negligent homicide.
    yes, and with the case of cancer curing pills I guess the person may take them rather than seeking conventional medical help.
    Formerly Frog march..............

    She was only a farmer's daughter, but she was outstanding in her field.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudskipper View Post
    yes, and with the case of cancer curing pills I guess the person may take them rather than seeking conventional medical help.
    Oh, Big Pharma got to you too?

    (Just kidding.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I'll only speak for the US, and one aspect of this, and even then I'm guessing a little.

    Let's take the case that you are not a business, you are not doing this for sale or profit or for any personal gain or benefit. You are giving away your magic pills and you claim they cure cancer or enable you to fly. I'll even add that you REALLY believe these pills could do so. I strongly suspect that you could still be held liable for any harm that might come to someone you give the pills to. For example, if you gave them your flying pills and they jumped off a building and killed themselves, you might be charged with negligent homicide.
    Maybe the law is tougher in the UK but you would need to have evidence to support any such claims. You can't just say it because you believe it to be true. Ads are fairly regularly withdrawn because the ASA doesn't believe the evidence is convincing. So herbal and homeopathic remedies, for example, can't make any claims for beneficial effects. The might say things like "some people take them if they have a broken leg", instead.

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    There are words: you must not say cure but you can say treat and you can use anecdotes like it worked for me. Cure is a very high standard with peer reviewed publication etc. The FDA goes after cure claims quite aggressively and I don't think the payment is the main issue.
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    There are words: you must not say cure but you can say treat and you can use anecdotes like it worked for me. Cure is a very high standard with peer reviewed publication etc. The FDA goes after cure claims quite aggressively and I don't think the payment is the main issue.
    No thread on advertising and contracts is complete without trotting out Carbolic Smoke Ball Company which is still English law 125 years on. It isn't binding in these airts but is regularly quoted with approval.

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    I sometimes get calls telling me about a free service a company is offering. I ask them why they're cold-calling someone on the do not call list.

    "But this is free!"

    "And you expect absolutely no financial gain of any kind as a result of this call no matter how immediate or delayed?"

    "CLICK!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    I sometimes get calls telling me about a free service a company is offering. I ask them why they're cold-calling someone on the do not call list.
    The way round the law in the UK is to claim it is a marketing survey (which for reasons that a re beyond me, are excluded from the Do No Call law). The "survey" questions are then things like "Would you be interested in buying a product that ..."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    The way round the law in the UK is to claim it is a marketing survey (which for reasons that a re beyond me, are excluded from the Do No Call law). The "survey" questions are then things like "Would you be interested in buying a product that ..."
    Do you have anything like "NOMOROBO" there? Most of my calls are one ring.

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    Advertisers have learned to mislead without making false statements. It's become an art form.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    Do you have anything like "NOMOROBO" there? Most of my calls are one ring.
    Robocalls are illegal in the UK. We also have "do not call" lists which generally work well. I get virtually no calls from anyone on one landline though the other sometimes gets robocalls from overseas.

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