Green Patent Blog is on vacation.
I am very sad to report that Sarah Tran, a professor at SMU’s Dedman School of Law, passed away on February 28th from complications from leukemia. She was 34 years old.
Significantly for readers of this blog, Sarah was among the first (and few) patent scholars to analyze and critique the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Green Technology Pilot Program, calling for the program to be made either long-term or permanent (see her article, Expediting Innovation, here and my post on an early draft here).
In addition, with Peter Menell, Sarah co-edited a compilation on the interplay of intellectual property, innovation and environmental protection entitled Intellectual Property, Innovation, and the Environment, which comes out later this month in the United States.
On a personal note, I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah and her family when I was in Dallas for a conference a couple of years ago. As I branched out to academic writing and publishing, Sarah was very encouraging and provided valuable advice.
I was glad to have had the opportunity to help her a little bit by recording a guest lecture for one of her classes when she was in the hospital last year.
This is a huge loss for everyone who knew her both personally and professionally; she will be deeply missed (see more on her life here).
Sarah’s family has asked that you consider making a contribution to the fund created to support her two young children, the Tran Children Development Fund.
I’m very pleased to report that Green Patent Blog has been selected as one of the 101 Terrific Sites on Renewable Energy, a list complied by EnvironmentalScienceDegree.com. This is a great honor. The complete list can be found here.
In a previous post, I discussed a greenwashing case against California LED lamp maker Lights of America (LOA).
In that case, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused LOA of making false or misleading statements about its products. The disputed statements allegedly misled consumers about the ability of certain LOA LED lamps to replace incandescents and included false claims of brightness and product life.
In that post I noted that the case was an example of an anti-greenwashing public enforcement action, one of the two primary legal means for combatting alleged greenwashers.
Last month LOA became ensnared in the second type of anti-greenwashing activity, as an individual named Nathaniel Schwartz filed a consumer class action against the company.
The class action complaint (Schwartz-LOA-Complaint), filed in federal court in Los Angeles, cites the same allegedly false advertising claims as the FTC complaint (ftc-lights_of_america_complaint.pdf). Schwartz bolsters his claims with data from testing performed by Lighting Science, Inc. on behalf of LOA and from independent testing by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Specifically, Schwartz accuses LOA of making misleading equivalency claims about how its LED lamps compare with various wattage incandescent bulbs.
According to the complaint, the claims for 20/25 watt replacements and 40/45 watt replacements are false because LOA’s LED lamps produce significantly less light output than a typical incandescent light bulb at those wattages.
Schwartz accuses LOA of continuing to make such equivalency claims even after becoming aware of the DOE test results.
The complaint also alleges that LOA overstated the light output of several products by representing that the LED lamps produce a specific level of light output in lumens when the company’s own tests demonstrated that they produce significantly less light.
Finally, Schwartz accuses LOA of making unsubstantiated claims about the number of hours its LED lamps would last. While LOA claimed that many of its LED recessed lamps will last 20,000 or 30,000 hours, the complaint alleges that the company did not test any of its products to support the lifetime claims and the DOE testing proved the claims to be false.
The complaint lists several California state claims such as false advertising and unfair and deceptive business practices and requests that the court issue an injunction to stop LOA from engaging in the alleged unfair practices.
Schwartz has also requested restitution and disgorgement of all profits LOA made through the alleged unfair practices and says the amount of money at stake in the case is over $5,000,000.