All posts tagged 'Green Guides'

Revisions to the Green Guides: Part III - Insurance Coverage for the Claim

October 24, 2010 16:10
by J. Wylie Donald
If you have been following along with the last two posts, you are now aware of the several ways one can trip up as one attempts to use "green" climate change attributes (specifically, claims regarding renewable energy, carbon offsets or carbon neutrality) to win customers or sell products. And the universe is bigger than simply climate change. The Green Guides promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission, address general environmental benefit claims; biodegrable, recyclable, compostable, refillable and recycled content claims; "ozone-friendly" claims; and claims about source reduction. See 16 C.F.R. § 260.7. There are numerous perils and you would like to think that a misstep in this area would not be without succor. And you would be right (in some circumstances). Included in the general liability policies with which we are all familiar, is coverage for Advertising Injury. As its name implies, it can be a source of coverage for a marketing misstep. Typical insuring language provides that the insurer "will pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of 'personal and advertising injury' to which this insurance applies." ISO CG 00 01 12 07. These policies often also require the insurer to defend the insured against claims asserting advertising injury.   Advertising injury coverage is not triggered by the commonly known "occurrence." Instead, the operative event is an "offense" committed by the insured. These offenses are specifically enumerated in the definition of "personal and advertising injury." Pertinent here is the following offense set forth in the definition: "oral or written publication, in any manner, of material that slanders or libels a person or organization or disparages a person's or organization's goods, products or services." It is easy to understand "oral or written publication," but is a misleading advertisement that does not even mention a competitor's name, a slander, a libel or a disparagement? In a case of first impression in California in 2007, a court of appeals panel found that it could be. Tosoh Set v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., slip op. (Cal. Ct. App., April 30, 2007) Click here . The court found that the "duty to defend was triggered by an allegation that [the insured] falsely claimed it alone had developed the detailed specifications and tolerances required for certain replacement component parts used in semiconductor manufacturing equipment, a statement that disparaged its competitors' products and services by implying they were measurably inferior." It does not require much ingenuity to imagine a claim that a certain item "made with renewable energy" constitutes disparagement of other manufacturers' products that are not so made. Likewise, a claim that a service was carbon neutral, might disparage services that were not. So coverage seems possible.

Climate Change | Renewable Energy

Revisions to the Green Guides: Part II - Carbon Offset Claims

October 21, 2010 06:23
by J. Wylie Donald
We wrote last about the Federal Trade Commission's proposed revisions to the Green Guides (Proposed Revisions to the Green Guides (Oct. 6, 2010 ) click here) and the Guides' proposed new guidance on renewable energy. Today we will address how the Guides intend to treat marketing claims regarding carbon offsets.

Carbon Emissions | Climate Change | Renewable Energy

Revisions to the Green Guides: Part I - Renewable Energy Claims

October 20, 2010 17:58
by J. Wylie Donald
The Federal Trade Commission proposed revisions to its "Green Guides" at the beginning of this month. Proposed Revisions to the Green Guides (Oct. 6, 2010) Click here. The comment period runs through December 10, 2010. Most interesting for readers of this blog are the two new proposed guides directed to renewable energy and carbon offsets, which we discuss below. For those unfamiliar with the Green Guides, they are the guidance provided by the FTC for marketers to assist them in avoiding making misleading environmental claims. First published in 1992, and updated in 1996 and 1998, the Guides provide "1) general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims; 2) how consumers are likely to interpret particular claims and how marketers can substantiate these claims; and 3) how marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers." FTC Press Release (Oct. 6, 2010) Click here. Although the Green Guides are not law, the FTC uses them to determine when to bring enforcement actions. As stated in the regulations: "These guides specifically address the application of Section 5 of the FTC Act to environmental advertising and marketing practices. They provide the basis for voluntary compliance with such laws by members of industry. Conduct inconsistent with the positions articulated in these guides may result in corrective action by the Commission under Section 5 if, after investigation, the Commission has reason to believe that the behavior falls within the scope of conduct declared unlawful by the statute." 16 C.F.R. § 260.1 test ttt

Climate Change | Renewable Energy

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