Technology is becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives and undoubtedly companies are seeking related IP protection. It was recently reported that Coupons.com has released its KitchMe app, which works in conjunction with Google Glass. Now, cooks can be sent shopping lists and recipes with step-by-step instructions by merely looking at available ingredients in their kitchens. Technology is certainly converging with our everyday lives. Here’s another head spinner. Yesterday, it was reported that during a press conference, David Marcus, President of PayPal, discussed the issues associated with trying to pay for things in space. As companies like Virgin and SpaceX are forging ahead to make space tourism a reality, companies are apparently thinking about how to pay for services rendered in space. Indeed, PayPal is allegedly developing “PayPal Galactic” as a vehicle to buy things while in outer space. It will be interesting to see how it tries to implement and protect this technology as there are no IP addresses in space. These advancements are truly amazing.
As I tell my kids, it doesn’t matter what everyone else on the playground is doing, if you get caught, there may be serious consequences for you. The FTC takes the same approach when reviewing substantiation for companies’ claims. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is advertising in the industry. The FTC will want to see what substantiation you have for your claims. Here are six issues that I commonly saw with studies relied upon by companies:
- The study is on animals and not humans. It is difficult to convince regulators that results shown for mice necessarily translate to humans.
- The study is on humans, but does not involve the audience that the advertising targets. For example, the claims in the advertising pertain to ordinary people gaining muscle and the study shows an increase of muscle mass for burn victims, who inherently recover faster and achieve quicker results than ordinary individuals due to their pre-existing condition.
- The study is on the correct audience. However, the product-at-issue does not have anywhere close to the amount of the active ingredient in it as was used in the study. Sometimes the differences can be orders of magnitude.
- The study is not on your product, but just on an ingredient in your product. As many products also have other ingredients, it will not be uncommon for regulators to inquire about whether any beneficial results may be offset by any potentially negative effects of the other ingredients.
- The advertising promises instant results and the study involved weeks of use before any results were achieved. For example, the study is based on six weeks of use and the advertising promises “immediate” or “instant” results.
- The study does not follow generally accepted scientific protocols. For example, no control group or placebo was used in the study, thereby making the results inherently suspect.