As we pointed out in a previous blog post, deceptive marketing is one of the anti-competitive activities investigated by the Competition Bureau. This includes false or misleading representations made online through outlets such as online advertisements and blogs.
Businesses which maintain a blog or advertise online should keep in mind the following guidelines provided by the Competition Bureau:
- Any information required to avoid false or misleading representations should be provided clearly and conspicuously.
- If a disclaimer is required with respect to a particular representation, it should be found close to the representation, where possible. When this is not possible, consumers should be made aware of the existence of the disclaimer and be encouraged to read the disclaimer – this can be done through visual cues, for example. The need to use attention grabbing graphics or to repeat the disclaimer should be considered. Finally, it is important to remember that the disclaimer should be viewable across technologies.
- Consider whether there are any disclosures required to paint a clear and honest picture. For example, do you have a relationship to the product you are blogging about which, in the interest of full disclosure, the public should be advised about?
- Be careful not to create the wrong impression as to the nature of your business.For a more detailed review of the application of the Competition Act to representations on the Internet, please review the Enforcement Guideline published by the Competition Bureau.Overall, businesses must be aware that consequences can accompany false representations made over the internet and that these consequences are not limited to within Canada.
Representations made over the internet can be seen all over the world. As such, a Canadian company making false or misleading representations risks incurring liability in other jurisdictions, making it that much more important to think before you write.