This week, the FTC announced that the marketers of a low-level light therapy device called Willow Curve will need to stop making alleged deceptive claims that the device can treat chronic, severe pain and associated inflammation. In the complaint, the FTC alleged that the marketers of Willow Curve promoted the device nationwide since 2014 and touted it as a “smart” device “clinically proven” although they lack scientific evidence to support those claims.
The defendants falsely claimed that the curved device that emits infrared and invisible light was approved by the FDA to diagnose and treat chronic, severe pain and reduce inflammation. Their marketing campaign included the use of deceptive “native” ads designed to appear to be independent journalistic content.
The FTC also alleged that the defendants lied that the Willow Curve comes with a “risk free money back guarantee”. This wasn’t the case since consumers who returned the device were required to pay shipping and handled costs. Many didn’t receive a refund at all or had to wait a year or longer to get a refund.
The complaint names Michigan-based Physicians Technology LLC, Willow Labs LLC, and owners Dr. Ronald Shapiro and David Sutton as defendants. The purposes settlement order bars the deceptive refund and native advertising techniques. It also prohibits the defendants from providing other means to engage in the same illegal conduct that the order prohibits.
The order imposes a $22 million judgment against the defendants. However, that will be partially suspended after Shapiro and Sutton pay $200,000 each based on their ability to pay. Physicians Technology LLC is a Michigan corporation with its principal place of business located at 23 East Front Street Suite 200 in Monroe, Michigan.
Willow Labs LLC’s place of business is 747 South Monroe Street in Monroe, Michigan. Despite the complaint, Willow Curve is still available on Amazon but the deceptive claims have been removed.