As part of the FTC’s continuing work to stop deceptive advertising, the agency filed a complaint charging that since 2008, Lights of America, Inc. has overstated the light output and life expectancy of its LED bulbs on packages and in brochures. The agency also charges that Lights of America misled consumers about how the brightness of its LED bulbs compares to traditional incandescent lights.
At this year's Strategies in Light conference FTC's Hampton Newsome spoke about the FTC's activities to protect consumers against claims of false advertising. As part of this activity, the FTC will soon introduce lamp labels that emphasize lumens, not watts for all lamp types including LEDs.
The FTC alleges that in many instances, Lights of America’s LED bulbs produced significantly less light, as measured in lumens, than the company claimed in its promotional materials. For example, one bulb was promoted as producing 90 lm, but Lights of America’s own tests showed it produced only 43 lm.
Also, in many cases, Lights of America deceptively compared the brightness of its LED light bulbs with incandescent bulbs, the FTC alleges. For example, the firm claimed that one of its LED lantern bulbs could replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb. However, while the typical 40-watt incandescent bulb produces about 400 lm, the Lights of America LED bulb produced only 74 lm.
Moreover, the FTC complaint states that in many instances, Lights of America’s LED bulbs would not last as long as the company’s promotional materials said they would. In one case, for example, the firm said that one of its LED recessed bulbs would last 30,000 hours. Independent tests, however, showed that the bulb would not last as long as claimed because it lost 80 percent of its light output after only 1,000 hours.
The FTC complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California on September 7, 2010 against Lights of America, Inc., as well as principals Usman Vakil and Farooq Vakil. The FTC points out that the complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law.
In filing the complaint, the FTC is seeking a permanent injunction to stop the defendants’ allegedly illegal conduct, as well as monetary redress for consumers who bought the deceptively labeled products.