June 15, 2024

In 2021, online game accent producer Razer introduced its plans to launch a masks that folks might put on to assist cease the unfold of covid-19 throughout the top of the (ongoing) pandemic. Now, nearly three years later, the corporate owes the Federal Commerce Fee over $1 million in fines attributable to “misrepresenting” the masks’s N-95 certification.

Let’s make a journey down reminiscence lane. However not the great one with cute fences and beautiful timber. As a substitute, we’re heading down a darkish, nasty reminiscence lane to recollect the state of the world in October 2021. The pandemic was raging, folks had been dying, and most folk had been determined for a very good masks or any method to shield themselves and others from the virus.

It was at this level that Razer—an organization identified for making keyboards and different gaming gear lined in RGB lights—launched its personal protecting masks, the Zephyr Masks. It featured replaceable filters, a transparent plastic entrance so you’ll be able to see folks’s mouths, and, sure, RGB lights. Initially, Razer reportedly marketed the masks as being N-95 licensed. Nevertheless, in line with individuals who checked out the masks firsthand, that wasn’t true. Razer did, ultimately, cease advertising and marketing the masks as N95-certified, however the injury was performed. And now the corporate owes over $1 million in fines for its harmful blunder.

On April 29, the FTC posted a press launch confirming that Razer’s $100 Zephyr masks was by no means submitted for testing to the FDA or the Nationwide Institute for Occupational Security and Well being. It was additionally by no means formally licensed as an N95 masks, a high-quality classification that comes with strict necessities that the masks didn’t meet. The FTC additionally believes the corporate participated in “false promoting” and solely stopped falsely claiming the masks was N95-grade following “adverse press protection and client outrage.”

“These companies falsely claimed, within the midst of a worldwide pandemic, that their face masks was the equal of an N95 licensed respirator,” stated Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Shopper Safety, “The FTC will proceed to carry accountable companies that use false and unsubstantiated claims to focus on shoppers who’re making selections about their well being and security.”

As defined within the press launch:

The [FTC/Justice Department] criticism alleges that the defendants misrepresented the Razer Zephyr as an N95-equivalent masks that met requirements established by NIOSH, the company that approves N95 respirators. By definition, N95 respirators should filter at the very least 95 p.c of ambient air particles between .1 and .3 micrometers in dimension, with even greater filtration ranges for bigger particles. Whereas respirators and masks are designed for various functions, N95 respirators are steadily known as N95 masks.

Regardless of the N95-related claims the defendants made of their adverts, Razer by no means submitted a facemask to NIOSH for approval for any sort of certification and NIOSH accordingly by no means licensed any model of the Zephyr masks as an N95 respirator. The defendants additionally by no means sought or obtained permission from NIOSH to make use of the time period N95 in advertising and marketing and promoting its merchandise. Accordingly, the defendants by no means had the required approval to promote the Zephyr as an N95 facemask.

On account of all this, the FTC has slapped Razer with a $100,000 civil penalty and can be forcing the corporate to pay the USA $1,071,254.33, which is the amount of cash Razer introduced in from promoting the Zephyr masks. The FTC will present full refunds to all shoppers who bought the masks.

Additionally, the FTC and US Govt. are banning Razer from “making, with out prior FDA approval, any claims that any [Razer] product prevents or reduces the chance of an infection with, or transmission of, the covid-19 virus; reduces the severity or period of covid-19; or in any other case, cures, mitigates, or treats COVID-19.”

You’d assume that looks like one thing the federal government shouldn’t have to inform a online game peripheral maker, however apparently, in 2024, that’s not the case. Bizarre stuff.