The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) last week agreed to settle charges levied against the marketers of Infinity and Olympus Pro brand trampolines. Those charges asserted that the marketers, under the guise of a variety of fake business names and review organizations, directed visitors to fictitious websites containing biased reviews that were actually written by one of the marketers who failed to disclose his interested status in the company. Additionally, the logos from numerous fake independent review entities (e.g., “Trampoline Safety of America”) were also posted prominently throughout the websites, and when clicked, would bring users to pages containing “expert reviews,” allegedly misleading the users about the quality and safety of the trampolines for sale.

The settlement order bars the marketers from continuing to assert the claims alleged in the FTC’s complaint and requires that they clearly and conspicuously disclose any “unexpected connection[s]” between any endorsements available on the websites and the members or affiliates of the company. Additionally, the order requires that any reviews made by members of the company for its products or competing products clearly and conspicuously disclose the interested connection.

TAKEAWAY: Reviews or statements made about a product by its marketers must clearly and conspicuously disclose any connection that the marketer may have in the sales of the product. Additionally, marketers should only use the real logos of actual independent review entities that have provided actual independent reviews of a product.