FTC Will Continue to Monitor Sports Equipment Concussion Protection Claims
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) testified before Congress about its efforts to ensure the accuracy of concussion protection claims made in connection with sporting equipment. Richard Cleland, Assistant Director for Advertising Practices in FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, testified before a Congressional Subcommittee and outlined efforts the agency has taken.
As concussion awareness has grown, manufacturers have increasingly been making claims about the concussion protection ability of their products. “Given the dangers that concussions pose for young athletes engaged in sports, it is essential that advertising for products claiming to reduce the risk of this injury be truthful and substantiated,” Cleland said.
The FTC pointed out its August 2012 settlement with Brain-Pad, Inc., a company that produces and sells mouth guards. According to the FTC, Brain-Pad was claiming that its mouth guards reduced the risk of concussions without a reasonable basis for those claims, and that they had falsely claimed there were scientific studies proving those claims. When the settlement order became final in November 2012, the FTC sent out warning letters to 18 other sporting equipment manufacturers. The letters advised those companies of the settlement and warned them about potential deceptive claims they may be making.
The FTC also discussed its investigations into concussion reduction claims made by Riddell Sports Group, Inc., Shcutt Sports Inc., and Xenith, LLC. Those investigations were closed without formal action after all three discontinued potentially misleading claims they were making.
Going forward the FTC says it will continue to monitor concussion protection claims made by marketers to ensure they are not misleading consumers. It plans on taking these actions in a balanced and careful manner so it will not discourage scientific research or hinder new product and technological developments.