Quarterly Cleantech Update: Green Marketing, "Greenwashing," and False Advertising

Morrison & Foerster LLP

With increasing concern over issues such as global warming, skyrocketing gas prices, sustainability, and other human impacts on natural resources, consumers are, more than ever, considering the environmental impacts of products and services when making purchasing decisions. The result has

been thousands of marketing claims touting the environmental attributes of their products and services, labeling them “carbon-eutral,”

“sustainable,” “environmentally friendly,” “green,” or

otherwise. While many companies legitimately market the environmental attributes of their products and services, others (intentionally or not) engage in deceptive or misleading marketing efforts, often

referred to as “greenwashing.”


“Greenwashing” is generally viewed as the use of marketing claims or statements — whether words, names, seals, or other symbols — that deceive or mislead consumers as to the environmental benefits or attributes of a company’s product or service, or, more broadly, as to the company’s

environmental practices as a whole. For example, where a company broadly claims on a package that its product is “environmentally friendly,” “sustainable,” or “green” (to name a few), but lacks technical substantiation for such a claim or fails to help put the claim into context by limiting it to specific attributes, that company may be engaged in “greenwashing.”

These types of “greenwashing” statements can expose companies to liability under various federal and state laws, including the Federal Trade Commission Act (the “FTC Act”), the Lanham Act, and certain state consumer protection statutes. Overly broad claims about a company’s environmental practices can also run afoul of securities laws and regulations.

Please see full legal update for more information.

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Morrison & Foerster LLP

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