Archived — Competition Bureau wins court order against chimney products company

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Tribunal upholds the constitutionality of Competition Act requirement to have performance claims based on adequate and proper tests.

OTTAWA, February 11, 2008 – The Competition Bureau announced today that the Competition Tribunal ordered Imperial Brush Co. Ltd. and Kel Kem Ltd. (carrying on business as Imperial Manufacturing Group) to stop making claims that its chimney cleaning and conditioner products reduce creosote or prevent chimney fires.

The Tribunal further dismissed Imperial Manufacturing Group (IMG)’s challenge that the Competition Act’s adequate and proper testing provision infringes on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Bureau argued, and the judge agreed, that the objective of this provision is to protect consumers from the harm caused by unsubstantiated claims about the performance of a product and promote accuracy of marketplace information. The judge also noted that accurate consumer information benefits not only consumers but also businesses selling competing products.

“It is important for consumers to be able to trust that the products they purchase have been properly tested to perform as claimed. This is especially true with products that are intended to make homes safer,” said Andrea Rosen, Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Competition Bureau. “Advertisers have a legal obligation to ensure that consumers are not misled when making their purchasing decisions.”

The Tribunal ruled that IMG contravened the Act by making performance claims relating to its chimney cleaning and creosote conditioner products which were not supported by adequate and proper tests. IMG has been ordered by the court to stop making these claims on the labels and in advertising material for its products. In addition, IMG was ordered to pay a $25,000 administrative monetary penalty.

The Tribunal will, in the near future, consider submissions from each party as to the terms of a public notice, product recall/withdrawal and/or change in packaging and the proper award of costs.

The products in question are marketed under the names: the Supersweep Chimney Cleaning Log, the Imperial Chimney Cleaning Log, the Kel Kem Chimney Creosote Cleaner, and the Kel Kem Creosote Conditioner. These products are sold across Canada at major home improvement retailers and hardware stores.

The unsupported claims suggested the products would:

  • Clean chimneys or assist in cleaning chimneys;
  • reduce, remove, condition or otherwise affect creosote;
  • prevent, eliminate or otherwise affect chimney fires;
  • help eliminate dangerous creosote in a chimney;
  • reduce hard or glazed creosote to an ash;
  • inhibit the rate of creosote build-up and react with most chimney deposits to reduce their adhesiveness;
  • be non-corrosive; and
  • be non-toxic.

The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency. It contributes to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice.

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