Companies Advised to Be Cautious in “Green” Product Descriptions

Winston & Strawn partner Neal Marder, an attorney with extensive experience defending groups against class action lawsuits, notes that “greenwashing” is an upcoming trend as more and more companies make false or misleading claims about their products’ environmental friendliness. As companies attempt to capitalize on consumers’ growing interest in earth-friendly products and services, Neal Marder advises businesses to be careful in choosing words and symbols to describe their products that will not mislead consumers and prompt a successful class-action lawsuit.

Two recent cases litigated in California illustrate the importance of properly representing a product’s “green” features. In Koh v. SC Johnson & Son, Inc., a judge concluded that a “seal of approval” label with a green background highlighting “Greenlist ingredients” on Windex products could lead a consumer to believe the cleaners were endorsed by a third party. The plaintiff has been certified for a class action lawsuit. In another case involving Fiji bottled water, a judge ruled that a plain “green drop” symbol on water bottles was not enough to suggest that an outside group approved the product’s environmentally friendly features.

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