A federal judge gave preliminary approval to a settlement in a multi-district class action suit against Gillette, accusing the company of misstating the efficacy of its M3 Power Razor in ads. Gillette agreed to pay $7.5 million. The settlement involves multiple lawsuits filed in 2005 in both the United States and Canada that were consolidated in Massachusetts federal court.

Introduced in May 2004 by Gillette, the M3 Power Razor was touted by the company as “revolutionary,” according to the plaintiff’s complaint. It included a battery-powered feature that caused the razor to oscillate, creating what Gillette described as “micro-pulses,” which the company claimed in its advertising raised hair up and away from the skin, resulting in a closer shave. But the complaint alleged that independent testing demonstrated Gillette’s claims were baseless and that the company knew its advertising campaign was deceptive.

“Indeed, Gillette’s chief scientist advised Gillette’s in-house legal counsel and other high-level Gillette employees that the marketing campaign was inaccurate,” according to the complaint. The suit alleged violations of state deceptive trade practices statutes, deceptive advertising laws, and consumer fraud statutes, as well as negligent and intentional misrepresentation, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment.

Under the terms of the settlement, Gillette denied the plaintiffs’ allegations but chose to settle to avoid further expensive and protracted litigation. Gillette will pay $7.5 million into a settlement fund; class members may receive a refund, rebate, or a replacement razor. A final approval hearing is set for March 2011.

To read the complaint in In re M3 Power Razor, click here.

To read the settlement agreement, click here.

Why it matters: The class action suit was not the only legal action taken against Gillette over its M3 Power Razor advertising campaign. A German court enjoined the company from making claims about its “micro-pulse” in that country. And before the class action suit was filed, Schick filed a false advertising suit against Gillette in a federal court in Connecticut regarding the same claims. Schick obtained a preliminary injunction against Gillette. Gillette was ordered to stop making the claims in all advertising and to remove the claims from all packaging. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips represented Schick in the litigation.