Genuine Aspirin: Name “Bayer” means genuine Say “Bayer” — Insist!

In 1971, five law students from George Washington University petitioned the FTC concerning objections to how branded products were marketed. The group, calling itself Students Against Misleading Enterprises (SAME), argued that, “

[a]dvertising should inform consumers, but advertising that makes unsubstantiated claims or that implies superior qualities for products where none have been clinically found to exist denies consumer sovereignty and thwarts the operation of a free-market economy.” The group urged the Commission to adopt a new trade regulation rule barring companies from using unsubstantiated claims or implications in advertising “chemically identical products” and require such products to display a label disclosing that all products in the industry are chemically identical (“For example: ‘All liquid bleaches are chemically identical.’).

Almost ten years later, the FTC settled a case concerning Bayer aspirin. Signaling skepticism of “uniqueness” claims, the agency banned the advertisement of the aspirin without a disclosure of its ingredients and banned representations that it was more efficacious than alternatives with the same ingredients.[1]

[1] In re Dancer-Fitzgerald-Sample, Inc., 96 FTC 1 (1980). The FTC has the power under 15 U.S.C. § 1064 to petition to cancel a trademark if it becomes the generic name for goods or services.