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What are deceptive trade practices?

As a business owner, one of your greatest fears can be a consumer lawsuit. By taking precautions and ensuring you adhere to the letter of the law, you can avoid a number of lawsuits for defective products, unfair trade practices, false advertising and more. Yet the slightest slip in how you represent your business and your products to Ohio consumers can lead to a suit for deceptive trade practices. So just what are deceptive trade practices, and how can you avoid falling foul of them?

The FTC defines deceptive trade practices as any business practice that misleads consumers, whether intentionally or otherwise. A consumer can say that a practice was misleading regardless of your intent, and if the consumer's interpretation can be considered reasonable and is upheld by a court of law, then the misleading practice is considered deceptive.

This can include a deceptive representation of a product or service, an omission of details impacting consumer purchase, or otherwise misleading practice that has a material impact on the consumer. Deceptive trade practices can range from false claims about the functionality of a product to not disclosing statutes of limitations on services.

One of the best ways to avoid falling foul of deceptive practices is to ensure your legal department conducts a thorough review of all advertising, websites, product branding materials, instruction manuals and any other media that may describe or depict your products or services. Your legal team can inform you of any liability in regards to U.S. trade and consumer protection law.

This is an educational and reference blog post, and should not be used as legal advice.

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