November 8, 2023

Harness IP Team Secures False Advertising and Unfair Competition Jury Verdict

On November 1, 2023, Harness IP attorneys Glenn Forbis and Jeremiah Foley secured a jury verdict in favor of MacuHealth LP against Vision Elements, Inc. for false advertising and unfair competition.

The case, MacuHealth LP v. Vision Elements, Inc., which involved claims under the Federal Lanham Act and Florida common law, was heard in the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington and the jury rendered a clear decision in favor of MacuHealth.

MacuHealth filed its lawsuit in early 2022, alleging that Vision Elements published false claims that its dietary supplement product, Early Defense, was made without the use of class 2 solvents, such as hexane, methanol and acetone, and that no such solvents remained in the final product. Vision Elements published such false claims as a focal point of all its promotional materials, including comparative advertising pieces directly comparing its product to MacuHealth’s.

MacuHealth presented to the court residual solvent testing results from three different independent laboratories showing the presence of hexane, methanol and acetone in the Vision Elements product.

The court issued a summary judgment opinion in June 2023, finding that:

  • Vision Elements made claims about its Early Defense product that were “literally false.”
  • “Vision Elements’ false claims were material to consumers’ purchasing decisions.”
  • “Vision Elements should have known its solvents claims were false.”
  • “Vision Elements did not exercise the reasonable care or investigation required under Florida law.”
  • Vision Elements’ false claims “were intended to induce consumers to purchase Early Defense.”

The jury this week was left to decide whether MacuHealth had been or was likely to be “injured” by Vision Elements’ false advertising and returned a verdict in favor of MacuHealth.

“We are pleased that the court and jury recognized the importance of ensuring that published claims about dietary supplements are truthful and not misleading, which is important not only to competitors like MacuHealth, but also to the consumers and patients who use that information to choose the best products available on the market,” Forbis and Foley said.