Molekule Inc. latest competitor to tangle with British behemoth
Sucks to Be Them
For all its high-tech, Britannic cool, Dyson is one of the feistiest brands in the home appliance marketplace.
We’ve been tracking its various brawls for more than two years now, including a series of tussles with upstart American vacuum rival SharkNinja (see here, here and here) in the courts, before the NAD, and before the NARB. Another rival, air-purifier manufacturer Guardian Technologies, also engaged Dyson in a flare-up last year.
And now Dyson’s at it again, this time as challenger, bringing rival Molekule Inc. before NAD over a dizzying set of disputed claims. Molekule is an American air purifier company that seems to echo some of Dyson’s marketing cool, albeit with a dollop of heartwarming backstory. Go check it out.
At the heart of the conflict are two divergent approaches to air purifying technology.
Dyson is all in on High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which it uses in its products; Molekule has heavily invested in Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) filter technology. So when Molekule began making big claims for its products in contrast to HEPA filter performance, Dyson took notice.
Dyson contested several of Molekule’s claims about specific product offerings, including qualitative bioaerosol elimination claims – that PECO “eliminates,” “destroys” or “permanently removes” all indoor air pollution or any specific bioaerosol, for starters, and quantitative claims showing complete bioaerosol elimination. Dyson also took on Molekule’s claim that its PECO products eliminate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – a wide swath of environmental chemicals that may produce eye, nose and throat irritation; nausea; and liver and kidney damage, among other effects.
Finally, Dyson disputed Molekule’s claims regarding its MH1 purifier’s performance in large rooms.
With respect to these claims, NAD ruled “that the evidence provided by the advertiser was insufficiently reliable to provide a reasonable basis for its impactful pollution elimination performance/efficacy claims and recommended that these claims be discontinued.”
Unsurprisingly, Dyson also challenged claims by Molekule that its PECO technology is generally superior to HEPA technology, including taglines such as this one: “Mold and bacteria gather and grow in those HEPA fibers and escape back into the air to continue to do you harm.” Fighting words indeed!
And here, NAD also came down firmly on Dyson’s side, determining that the evidence offered by Molekule “was not sufficient to substantiate claims about . . . Molekule’s comparative superiority claims of PECO versus HEPA (technology or air purifier products as marketed for sale) and recommended they be discontinued.” NAD made similar rulings regarding Dyson’s challenge to Molekule’s allergy and asthma relief claims.
Facing a table of rulings, Molekule went a la carte: It decided to comply with some of the decision and is seeking to appeal the other parts to NARB. Its advertiser’s statement is perhaps one of the most complex we have seen, but in essence, Molekule has agreed to accept NAD’s rulings with respect to the allergy and asthma claims as well as any “quantified” elimination claims. It plans to appeal NAD’s other findings. One interesting aspect of its planned appeal: Molekule is appealing the ruling regarding its comparisons of HEPA and PECO technology because it “did not intend to make claims about specific devices of competitors, particularly those that combine use of HEPA with other technologies. Molekule intended only to explain that its PECO technology destroys pollutants whereas HEPA technology collects pollutants.” It will be interesting to see where NARB draws the line between general technology and specific product claims.