Written by: Halka Jaklová
Photo by: René Jakl
Deceptive advertising involves the dissemination of information about one’s own or another’s company, products, or performance that could evoke a false idea, thereby causing an advantage for such company in economic competition to the detriment of other competitors or consumers.
This method of unfair competition is governed primarily by § 45 of the Commercial Code, which says that the advertisement in question need not be intended to mislead. Information on another’s company or products and performance comes into consideration especially at advertising agencies, the press, radio and television, as well as among merchants who play a role in their suppliers’ advertising activities. Written or spoken statements in the press, in images, photographs, on the radio or television or other media are considered as dissemination of information. Even true information can be deceptive if, under certain circumstances or deviations in communication, it can lead people astray. In practice, this often occurs when a producer advertises an ordinary fact as if it were a special offer (i.e., claims about a special two-year warranty, which is in fact a state regulation). A common type of deceptive advertising that indicates hidden advertising is the so-called advertorial, wherein an ad treated as a journalistic report, included in a non-advertising part of a newspaper or magazine and not clearly marked as advertising.
Means for protecting against deceptive advertising are governed by § 53-55 of the Commercial Code (detailed in the May 2004 issue). We also find deceptive advertising in Law No. 634/1992 Coll., on consumer protection, as amended. § 8 of this law prohibits deceiving consumers by stating untrue or exaggerated information or suppressing information about actual characteristics of products or services, and § 12 points out deception in connection with stating prices and evoking the impression that a price is lower than it actually is. The law relates to public institutions, and the only sanctions are fines. If you have problems with advertising you can also contact the Council for Advertising, which issued the Principles of Ethical Advertising Practices in the Czech Republic and settles disputes relating to behavior at variance with Law No. 40/1995 Coll., on advertising regulation. It also issues specialized judgments. This entire issue is governed in the EC by Guideline No. 84/450/EEC, on deceptive advertising.
This article was prepared in cooperation with attorney-at-law Mgr. Tomáš Krejčí.