A Boston business litigation lawsuit has been filed against the maker of a new shoe that promises a host of health benefits that some say are overinflated.
Our Boston business attorneys understand that the class action civil suit is asking for $5 million in damages.
This case illustrates how crucial it is for a company to work with an experienced attorney on any marketing campaigns, or when dealing with protecting trade secrets, to help ensure that these type of issues aren’t going to crop up later.
Of course, business owners believe in the products they are selling and are excited about sharing them with consumers. However, businesses need to be careful not to make over-arching claims. Most businesses see the sole purpose of advertising as to sell products. But a carefully-worded marketing campaign can help to ensure that you will avoid costly business litigation in the future.
According to The Boston Globe, Vibram USA Inc. and Vibram FiveFingers LLC, which is based in Concord, is accused of claiming health benefits that weren’t really true.
The shoes have become a nationwide phenomenon. They feature a snug covering for each of the five toes, as opposed to the full closed-toe of most running shoes. They are marketed as “natural,” “minimalist” or “barefoot” shoes, designed for a running experience that is supposed to feel more as if you are running with no shoes at all. As a result, the company says, not only will your running performance improve, the claim is that it is better for your body – your joints and feet – as well.
Plaintiffs are alleging that not only do the shoes not provide the health benefits claimed, but that they may even increase the risk of injury, as compared to the more standard running shoe.
The lawsuit stems from a study that was recently published by the American Council on Exercise. Essentially, the researchers set out to look at how the five-toed running shoes compared with the more traditional running shoes, which are designed as closed from heel-to-toe. What they found was this: The five-toed shoes have resulted in a number of high-impact injuries for a large number of runners. Researchers did note that runners who changed the way they ran, or their form, were less likely to suffer from injuries.
Those who filed the lawsuit did concede that the marketing campaign for the shoemaker advises runners who are using the shoes for the first time to take it slowly, and ease into their use. The company’s website offers training tips on how to do this. The website also says that it may take up to a year to become fully accustomed to this new style of running.
However, the plaintiffs allege that not only were they prone to injuries while running in the shoes, but that the company’s claim that using the shoe was essentially akin to running barefoot is false.
The suit indicates it represents some 100 people, through five different law firms.