DSSRC Administrative Closure #148
The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (“DSSRC”) contacted a direct selling company (the “Company”) regarding three Facebook posts communicated by Company salesforce members that referenced serious health-related conditions that purportedly could be addressed by use of the Company’s products.
The first post stated that the Company’s products can effectively “fight COVID-19” The second two Facebook posts indicated that the Company’s products may be able to treat a number of health-related conditions including cancer, heart disease, blood clots and strokes.
The Company informed DSSRC that the three posts originated outside of the US (two from the Philippines and one from Canada) and that all three salesforce members had been inactive for some time. Accordingly, the Company advised DSSRC that it instructed its Compliance Team to suspend each of these accounts and continue their attempts to reach these individuals in an effort to have these posts removed. The Company also attempted to contact Facebook to have the posts removed based upon trademark infringement. The Company provided DSSRC with Facebook’s response to its request. Regrettably, Facebook stated that after review of the request it was not clear that the reported content infringed on the Company’s trademark rights and that it could not ascertain how consumers would be confused as to the posts’ source, sponsorship or affiliation. As such, Facebook declined to act on the Company’s request. Notwithstanding, the Company advised DSSRC that it would continue to submit further requests to enforce its intellectual property rights with the platform.
As DSSRC has noted in several previous inquiries, once a direct selling company learns that an inactive salesforce member has disseminated a post that includes language not authorized by the Company, the Company should make a bona fide, good faith effort to contact the individual to request that the improper claim be removed. DSSRC also recommends that the Company take additional steps to remove such claims from the marketplace including utilizing the mechanism that websites and social media platforms may have for removal of trademark or copyright violations. If the subject claim by a former salesforce member occurs on a platform without a reporting mechanism, DSSRC recommends that the Company should also contact the platform in writing and request removal of the subject claim or post.
Based upon the information provided by the Company, DSSRC determined that the Company has demonstrated that it has made a good faith effort to address the concerns of DSSRC to effectuate the removal of the three Facebook posts that were disseminated by former salesforce members located outside of the United States. As a result of these efforts, DSSRC has administratively closed its inquiry.
Based upon the Company’s prompt, good faith actions to address the concerns of DSSRC, DSSRC administratively closed this inquiry.
(closed on 3/16/2021)