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Staying litigation-safe with advertising claims

Once you launch your business, you'll probably want to drum up more customers on a regular basis. That involves advertising and marketing, which you have to ensure is in line with legal requirements. It can be difficult to know where the lines are and how you can create enticing marketing campaigns without making what might be seen as false or unlawful claims. This is why working with a business law professional to vet new campaigns can be a good idea.

The law requires that all advertisers engage in truth in advertising, which means any claims you make about your product or service must be truthful. You can't say a certain medicine cures a disease, for example, because that is very difficult to prove and likely isn't true. That's why many of the antibacterial soaps are marketed as killing only 99.9 percent of bacteria. The 0.1 percent is a litigation safeguard.

Certain specialty products come with even more rules. For example, there are additional legal and agency requirements that govern health claims, and you can't promote a product as organic without meeting certain federal standards. Even marketing something as "Made in the USA" comes with some legal requirements. Certain types of products must include labeling that says exactly what components or ingredients are made in the country.

Other laws govern how you market your products and services over the phone and via the internet, and failure to comply with these laws not only lands you in regulatory trouble. It could also be bad for your brand reputation, as breaking advertising laws makes your company look untrustworthy. Working to keep all your business practices within the law helps boost your brand's reputation and saves you a great deal of hassle.

Source: Federal Trade Comission, "Advertising and Marketing," accessed Sep. 09, 2016

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