National activewear retailer Lorna Jane and its founder will face court over a range of leggings and sports tops it claimed could protect its wearer from spreading the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on Monday it had instituted proceedings against the popular brand in the Federal Court, alleging the claims were false and misleading and in breach of consumer law.
Lorna Jane released its ‘Anti-virus Activewear’ range in July, saying it was sprayed with a substance called ‘LJ Shield’ which provided protection against viruses and pathogens, such as COVID-19.
The brand promoted the range with slogans such as “Cure for the Spread of COVID-19? Lorna Jane Thinks So”, and claimed that by wearing the clothing customers were “completely eliminating the possibility of spreading any deadly viruses”.
The ACCC alleges the claims were untrue and says Lorna Jane had done no testing to back them up. It alleges company founder Lorna Jane Clarkson was knowingly involved in the alleged conduct via claims she made in a media release and Instagram video promoting the range.
“We allege that the statements made by Lorna Jane gave the impression that the COVID-19 claims were based on scientific or technological evidence when this was not the case,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
“It is particularly concerning that allegedly misleading claims that Lorna Jane’s LJ Shield Activewear could eliminate the spread of COVID-19 were made at a time when there was fear about a second wave emerging in Australia, especially in Victoria, and all Australians were concerned about being exposed to the virus.”
The majority of Lorna Jane’s claims about the activewear were removed in mid-July after the company was dealt a $40,000 infringement penalty by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, with the range re-branded as ‘anti-bacterial’.
At the time, a spokesperson for the company defended the range and said it was “not trying to profiteer” from COVID-19 and that it didn’t want to mislead customers.
However, the ACCC alleges the range was still sold until at least November with garment tags that claimed the clothing would permanently protect the wearer from pathogens.
Cure for the Spread of COVID-19? Lorna Jane Thinks So.A slogan used by Lorna Jane when promoting the range
“We are particularly concerned about this because consumers often trust well-known brands and assume that their marketing claims are backed up by solid evidence,” Mr Court said.
In a statement, a spokesperson said Lorna Jane was aware the ACCC had commenced proceedings against the company and Ms Clarkson was “disappointed” by the move.
“We have assisted the commission in its investigations to date and are extremely disappointed that the commissioner has decided to start court action. We will be defending ourselves in the Federal Court against the commission’s allegations,” the spokesperson said.
The ACCC is seeking declarations, penalties, injunctions, corrective notices and an order to implement a compliance program.
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Source: Thanks smh.com