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Waveshield pleads guilty to breaching Fair Trading

Waveshield pleads guilty to breaching Fair Trading Act

A rehearing of a Commerce Commission case against Waveshield (New Zealand) Limited and its director Miles Dixon for falsely claiming that the ‘Wave Shield’ mobile phone radiation protection device blocked up to 97 percent of electromagnetic radiation from the inner ear and had been ‘tested’ and ‘proven’ has resulted in a $4,000 fine.

Judge Noble commented that when a product is being marketed in New Zealand for the first time, a great deal of care is required in ensuring testing is carried out by locals in local conditions to substantiate any claims made about the product.

The Commission’s investigation showed that the radiation protection device would not perform as represented. In the Commission’s view, Waveshield had not taken sufficient steps to check out whether the product would, in fact, work, nor had it made adequate checks on the nature of the testing that had been undertaken on the product before putting it onto the market.

The case was originally heard in July 2003 when Dixon and the company were convicted and fined. That conviction was then set aside when Dixon and the company indicated that they had intended to defend the charges but had failed to attend the original hearing.

The case was reheard in the Christchurch District Court last week. Part way through the defended rehearing, Dixon and the company pleaded guilty to amended charges laid by the Commission under the Fair Trading Act.

Dixon admitted he and the company had no defence to the charges following a letter that had been sent to him by the Commission in October 2002 raising its concerns. Director of Fair Trading Deborah Battell said that despite the fact the Commission had informed Waveshield that its activities risked breaching the Fair Trading Act, it continued to market the device with the original claims.

“The Commission subsequently sought an injunction in the High Court preventing Waveshield from advertising and selling its product,” Ms Battell said.

In the District Court rehearing, Judge Noble commented that he recognised the difficulty regulatory agencies face in policing the internet, and that it was an aggravating factor that Waveshield had continued to market the product after the Commission had made its views clear.

Background In its investigation into the ‘Wave Shield’ mobile phone radiation protection device, the Commerce Commission obtained expert evidence asserting that these types of devices do not provide any significant protection from electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones.

Experts advised that electromagnetic radiation is emitted from the entire body of a mobile phone, in particular the antennae. A small patch of shielding material would not prevent a reduction of up to 97% as claimed, as the radiation waves would simply go around the patch, and would not, in any case, be absorbed only through the inner ear.

The Commission was concerned that the company was not only making false and misleading claims about the efficacy of the product, it was also promoting the fact that the device had been ‘tested’ and is ‘proven’.

The test results posted on the Waveshield website to substantiate the claims made in the advertising were not recognised as scientifically credible by the experts consulted by the Commission.

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