The FTC recently settled its claims that Nonprofit Management LLC's environmental certification program, "Tested Green," was false and deceptive. For example, the Tested Green website contained claims that the certification was "endorsed by the National Green Business Association and the National Association of Government Contractors," but the FTC alleged that both business are owned and operated by Nonprofit Management. The FTC's complaint further alleged that every person that applied for the Tested Green Certification and paid the required amounts were given a Tested Green Certification without any scrutiny, testing, or evaluation of the applicants' green activities. The FTC also alleged that the respondents' Tested Green Certification falsely represented that the certification had been independently and objectively evaluated. The proposed settlement prohibits the respondents from engaging in the challenged conduct, including misrepresenting: the fact that, or degree to which, respondents evaluated a product or service based on its environmental benefits or attributes; that respondents have the appropriate expertise to conduct such an evaluation; the number of certifications issued; and that a product or service is endorsed by an independent person or organization.
TIP: Take care before applying for "green" certifications from unknown third parties. Potential liability could flow to the advertiser for using a "green" certification from a third party where it is clear that there were no standards or legitimate requirements in place to receive such a certification. Additionally, be sure to discuss the risks with your counsel before creating your own green certification program.