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Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

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  #1  
Old 29th March 2012, 09:08 AM
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Default Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

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SportsOneSource are reporting:
Vibrams FiveFingers Sued over Health Claims
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A group of five law firms has filed a class-action suit against Vibram USA Inc and Vibram FiveFingers LLC in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts alleging the company used deceptive statements about the health benefits of barefoot running.
Quote:
The lawsuit asserts that; 1) health benefits claims Vibram FiveFingers has used to promote the shoes are deceptive; 2) that FiveFingers may increase injury risk as compared to running in conventional running shoes, and even when compared to running barefoot; 3) that there are no well-designed scientific studies that support FiveFingers claims.
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Old 29th March 2012, 09:21 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

It was bound to happen. If you make health or medial claims for a product, you had better have the evidence to back it up.

We have already seen Reebok settle with the FTC for $25 million over the health claims they made for their toning shoes. Skechers have set aside $44 million to deal with class action suits and are in discussions with the FTC over the claims they made.

I have said this in several other threads .... look at some recent issues of Runners World. ....look at the advertisements for running shoes. None of the traditional running shoe are making any health/medical/injury claims about their shoes. The only health/medical/injury claims are being made by the minimalist running shoes companies. Claims like "run in our shoes and you will get less injuries"! Not only is their no evidence to support those claims, you only need to get an injury and those companies have left themselves wide open for this exact type of class action!
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Old 29th March 2012, 09:25 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

Yep. Wonder how the five finger zealots will cover this one in their blogs?
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Old 29th March 2012, 09:26 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

Here is a pdf file of the suit:
http://www.universalhub.com/files/vibram-complaint.pdf
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Old 29th March 2012, 09:34 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Spooner View Post
Yep. Wonder how the five finger zealots will cover this one in their blogs?
Runners World have picked up on the story:
Vibram Sued Over FiveFingers Claims.
Reading some of the comments on the story is interesting:
Quote:
I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Irene Davis from the biomechanics lab at Harvard speak about barefoot running, and while she certainly was able to present an evidence-based case for the benefits,
Really? What evidence actually showed barefoot was better? We been around that stump many times.
Quote:
I predict that this will go nowhere
I predict they will settle before trial or that they will loose big time. I also predict the FTC will get involved and they will have to settle with them as well (just look at the Reebok and Skechers settlements mentioned above)
Quote:
Was this suit brought about by competitors, or a few people who tried them out and didn't like them? If the latter is the case, can we get a class action suit for every pair of shoes I tried that didn't work out?
The conspiracy nutters are getting involved. BUT, yes you can take a class action against any of the running shoe companies whose shoes you wore and got and injury PROVIDED that they made health/medical/injury claims for their shoes that are not supported by the evidence.
Quote:
I wonder if I should sue the running store who sold me motion-controlled Asics that resulted in a tibial stress fracture.
Yes, if they made medical claims for the product.
Quote:
This kind of frivolous lawsuit really aggravates me
Ask Reebok about frivolous - they had to settle.

...and it goes on.

But i do agree re the ambulance chasers etc etc
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Old 29th March 2012, 09:37 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

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This is EXACTLY what I predicted.. so many similarities between minimalist and toning.
I ask again.. how the hell did a kayaking shoe suddenly become a marathon running shoe?

The answer.. it never did.. irt was all just marketing shlock. For the Bliase DuBois's of the world.. the companies he attacks.. Nike, adidas, ASICS with their "big bulky shoes" never get sued because we never make statements we can't support, and the consumer, for the vast majority is satisfied the product does what it says it will..

what a joke! The only loser here is the poor buggers who got crippled by the VFF..I am sure VFF have so much cash in the kitty they will laugh at the fine
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Old 29th March 2012, 09:42 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

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Originally Posted by Craig Payne View Post

But i do agree re the ambulance chasers etc etc
Yep, just checked out some of those comments. And I do agree that people who write on blog sites are generally as mad as a box of frogs.
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Old 29th March 2012, 10:26 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

I guess I haven't helped Vibram very much either......

Quote:
Google led me to Podiatry-arena.com and Dr. Kevin Kirby, who teaches biomechanics at the California School of Podiatric Medicine. He’d posted multiple accounts of runners who had developed stress fractures after running in FiveFingers.

When I contacted him, he said he and his colleagues had seen “a rash” of injuries from people running barefoot or in minimal shoes. He has called on Christopher McDougall, author of the 2009 bestseller Born to Run, which became the doctrine of barefoot running, and Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman, a human evolutionary biologist whose research on barefoot running has added momentum to the fad, to stop advocating minimal running for the masses.

“This is definitely not for the majority of runners,” Kirby said. “The Vibram FiveFingers are boat shoes; they were never meant for running, and it seems like there’s a strong correlation [between] running with them and stress fractures. They should be banned from being marketed to runners, because they are causing injuries – not preventing them.”
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/heal..._crazy/?page=1
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Old 29th March 2012, 11:38 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

did no one else find this funny ?

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five law firms has filed a class-action suit
5 law firms suing VFF

small things I guess
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Old 29th March 2012, 11:56 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

Here is a posting I made on November 9, 2010 from the thread Vibram FiveFingers Cause Metatarsal Stress Fractures

Quote:
Some new information on this subject:

1. I was interviewed by a reporter for a large east coast newspaper a few weeks ago for an article that he is planning to write on Vibram FiveFingers causing metatarsal stress fractures. The reporter, himself, got a metatarsal stress fracture from running in the shoes.

2. I have information that a law firm in New York City is investigating filing a class-action lawsuit against Vibram for the metatarsal stress fractures that are occuring with their FiveFinger shoes.

Very interesting.
I guess the attorney that contacted me wanting me to be an expert in their class action suit against Vibram finally found someone else to help them out.
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  #12  
Old 29th March 2012, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

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Originally Posted by Kevin Kirby View Post
I guess the attorney that contacted me wanting me to be an expert in the case finally found someone else to be their expert against Vibram.
Why did you turn it down?
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  #13  
Old 29th March 2012, 12:02 PM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

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Originally Posted by Simon Spooner View Post
Why did you turn it down?
I just wasn't interested in getting involved. Never been a big fan of lawyers (way too many of them here in the USA) or lawsuits...but it is interesting to watch these things from the sidelines as a casual observer of the legal system at work.

However, I do have some pretty good lawyer jokes that I can tell the next time we see each other...
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Old 29th March 2012, 03:10 PM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

Interesting following the development of this story. I have seen about 6 blog posts on this so far and did not think that the coverage of the story was that one-sided. Only just now has a "mainstream" media organosation had something on it:

The Boston Globe: Concord maker of FiveFingers running shoe faces suit over health claims

The 'blogsphere' (including us here at Podiatry Arena) were on to this story 6-8hrs ahead of the mainstream media...... things are changing.

I did pick this comment from that story:
Quote:
“And there is ample evidence that training without shoes allows you to run faster and farther with fewer injuries,” the company says on its website.
I would love to know what evidence that they think they are referring to re "fewer injuries".
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Old 29th March 2012, 03:50 PM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

Here is more from the blogosphere:
Quote:
Meanwhile, just think of all the "conventional" footwear out there making claims to fix your stride, overpronation, underpronation, etc. Are they subject to this sort of scrutiny? Should there be a class action suit against footwear manufacturers at large for impacting one's natural biological machinery?
Source
....but the "conventional" footwear makers have not been making health/medical claims about their shoes.
Reading the comments on that blog, its clear that most are just not getting what this is about.

At least one of the comments got it right:
Quote:
Unfortunately since there isn't "sufficient research" for a more natural/barefoot style of running, I can understand a judge leaning toward the plaintiffs in the suit.
I wish someone could explain to me what the evidence is that Vibram thinks actually supports them.
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Old 29th March 2012, 09:29 PM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

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Originally Posted by Craig Payne View Post
At least one of the comments got it right:I wish someone could explain to me what the evidence is that Vibram thinks actually supports them.
Here are Vibram's sources:

Chris McDougall and "Born to Run" (a man that complained about Nike throughout his book but decided to run in a pair of thick-soled, heavily cushioned Nike Pegasus for his 50 mile run)

Daniel Lieberman (his Harvard website and all of his "running biomechanics research" is sponsored by Vibram)

Nick Campitelli, DPM (medical consultant for Vibram and his Podiatry Today blog on the "10 Myths of Barefoot Running")

They should do quite well in court.....

For some reason, this whole Vibram Class Action Lawsuit scenario puts a big smile on my face.
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Old 29th March 2012, 10:41 PM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

I have been following comments on blogs throughout the day on this as the story develops. Here some observations:

- most making comments are not getting it. The basis of the case is the medial/health/injury claims made by Vibram and the lack of evidence to support the claims (this is where Reebok and Skechers got busted - see above)

- many people are calling for a class action against the traditional running shoes companies. They still not getting it either, as these companies are not making health/medical/injury claims (check the claims in adverts in running magazines and see who is actually making the claims)

- many still do not get it regarding the evidence. Unfortunately for Vibram the extent of the evidence is probably what Kevin mentioned above ... ie there is no evidence!

- the whole thing has brought the tin foil hat wearing brigade out en masse

- the very same people who where cheering on the action and FTC settlement regarding the Reebok toning shoes are now the ones whinging about this Vibram one !!! ... don't figure that its frivolous when its against Vibram, but its not frivolous when its against Reebok!

- many are making claims that this case is like the spilt hot coffee case against McDonalds - they just showing their ignorance of the facts in that case.

- I think the whole thing is stupid. Reebok, Skechers and Vibram (and McDonalds!) should NEVER be facing these claims (despite that lack of evidence for the claims they are making and probably should not have been making anyway!) ... where does personal responsibility end? .... if you want to wear those shoes, you need to take personal responsibility.

- In Australia and the United Kingdom, there are advertising standards authorities and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (Australia) that complaints can be made about claims being made for products in adverts. If the complaints are upheld, they then get told to stop making the claims. End of story. No law suits. No multi-million $ settlements --- unless they fail to comply. (nothing to do with running shoes, but this is how the Circulation Booster got dinged in Australia and the UK)
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Old 30th March 2012, 03:10 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

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Originally Posted by Craig Payne View Post
- In Australia and the United Kingdom, there are advertising standards authorities and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (Australia) that complaints can be made about claims being made for products in adverts. If the complaints are upheld, they then get told to stop making the claims. End of story. No law suits. No multi-million $ settlements --- unless they fail to comply. (nothing to do with running shoes, but this is how the Circulation Booster got dinged in Australia and the UK)
Australia also has the ACCC who a couple of days ago told Apple to stop advertising the new iPad as a G4 in Australia, because it doesn't connect to any Aus G4 network. This lead tonApple offering refunds to anyone mislead, but may require Apple to put stickers on all of the new iPad boxes
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Old 30th March 2012, 05:51 PM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

More from the mainstream media, this time the Daily Mail:
Bizarre 'FiveFingers' running shoes loved by the A-list are sued over claims that they 'increase injury risk'
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Old 31st March 2012, 11:19 PM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

The Sports Scientists blog has weighed in with a detailed and useful analysis:
http://www.sportsscientists.com/2012...danger-of.html

They too, note the lack of evidence that Vibram falsely claims exists.
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Old 2nd April 2012, 02:21 PM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Payne View Post
- I think the whole thing is stupid. Reebok, Skechers and Vibram (and McDonalds!) should NEVER be facing these claims (despite that lack of evidence for the claims they are making and probably should not have been making anyway!) ... where does personal responsibility end? .... if you want to wear those shoes, you need to take personal responsibility.
Craig, excellent point. Earlier today I mentioned to a running friend that whenever something requires common sense to stay safe, it just isn't going to happen. There are going to be people that all of a sudden decide to get off the couch after never running before in their lives, throw on a pair of VFF's and run in them everyday on pavement with poor form and ignore the inevitable pain warnings.

For the past 2 yrs I have been doing roughly 25% of my running in VFF or an avg of a couple runs per week. I don't wear them because I want to be more protected from injury, because I think I'll run faster in them or that I'll develop better form or stronger feet. I wear them because I simply derive joy out of the running experience they provide me.

People can grunt and groan about this shoe vs that shoe, traditional shoes vs minimal shoes. Who cares? I think Vibram Fivefingers are an absolute joy to run in.

I don't care if they were initially designed for ballroom dancing, fly fishing, to take a shower in or boat shoes. For me, it is simply about the experience they provide while running on natural trails. I have learned long ago that I could run 100 miles non stop in anything that fit my foot properly and I proved it to myself in a pair of Rockport casual shoes in the mountains of Colorado.

I fully recognize that overdoing anything when it comes to running introduces risk of injury. Unfortunately, the general public needs to be protected against it's own stupidity when it even comes to footwear selection.

Dana
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Old 3rd April 2012, 12:01 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

Craig

What is your opinion on this by ASICS for example? Do you think this can be supported by a credible evidence base and do you think this is acceptable advertising?

Regards

Paul

http://www.asics.co.uk/running/produ...l-excel33-men/

The new GEL-EXCEL33 offers protection, flexibility, comfort and support in a more natural, stripped-back shoe. Perfect for serious runners, it has been designed to work with your foot, enhancing natural motion at every point in the stride. At the core of the shoe is the revolutionary Propulsion Trusstic™. It mimics the plantar fascia in the arch of your foot, harnessing your foot’s energy to propel you forward. The full-length Guidance Line™ also promotes a more efficient run, encouraging optimum foot positioning from foot-down to toe-off. A lower, more flexible midsole gives you a more natural road feel and running experience, while a10mm heel drop puts you in the best biomechanical position for your foot. This lightweight approach doesn’t compromise on support or durability. The GEL™ Cushioning System, Personal Heel Fit and durable sole ensure that your foot stays protected, without adding any unnecessary weight to the shoe
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Old 3rd April 2012, 12:21 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

Its just marketing spin - nothing wrong with that; no evidence is needed to support it.

With Vibram (and the Reebok & Skechers toning shoes), they were making specific health benefits for their products, which is problematic.

I have the some recent issues of Runners World (Australian edition) in front of me. Here are claims made by the traditional running shoes:
Brooks: "Float like a...."
Saucony: (all about the change from 8mm to 10 mm heel differential, but no health/medical/injury claims made from the change)
Minzuno: "stabilizes and assist motion"
Colombia: eg "designed to neutralize pronation" ... (but no linking it to injury)
Puma: "FaasFoam technology"
Reebok: "try the shoe with the energy boost"

Here are the claims made by the minimalist companies:
Altra: "designed to reduce injury"
Vivobarefoot: paraphrasing "run in these shoes and get less injuries"

Which group are setting themselves up for an investigation by advertising authorities or a class action if the claims they make for the product do not eventuate?
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Old 3rd April 2012, 10:51 AM
Paul TG Paul TG is offline
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

Craig

Thanks for the comment, I'm just wondering though how suggesting for example that 'a 10mm heel drop puts you in the best biomechanical position for your foot or that the trusstic mimics the pl fascia function or that the shoe enhances natural motion at every stride is credibly supportable when every runner by ASIC's own admission is different and there is no evidence that a 10mm heel drop is actually the best biomechanical position (whatever that actually means). Is this not a case of a company suggesting improved biomechanical function which indirectly hints at less injury and better performance for the user, presumbaly because alternatively poor mechanical function might be associated by the public as likely to increase the risk of injury

Do you think that would also hold true for an OTC foot support that claimed to enhance natural foot motion and put your foot in the best biomechanical position? Thanks

Paul
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Old 3rd April 2012, 11:29 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

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Originally Posted by Paul TG View Post
I'm just wondering though how suggesting for example that 'a 10mm heel drop puts you in the best biomechanical position for your foot or that the trusstic mimics the pl fascia function or that the shoe enhances natural motion at every stride is credibly supportable when every runner by ASIC's own admission is different and there is no evidence that a 10mm heel drop is actually the best biomechanical position (whatever that actually means).
I agree, I am not aware of any research that supports that. I am aware of a lot of comments from the designers with several different companies that their own internal testing shows that the majority of runners prefer 10mm (though Saucony have just gone to 8mm). I am sure we would all agree that it is incumbent on the companies to produce research on this, but its not a legal or advertising standards authority issue if they don't.
Quote:
Is this not a case of a company suggesting improved biomechanical function which indirectly hints at less injury and better performance for the user, presumbaly because alternatively poor mechanical function might be associated by the public as likely to increase the risk of injury
The difference is that they are not explicitly claiming the injury reduction or less injuries. This is where Vibram will probably slip up (and Reebok got busted and Skechers probably going to get busted)
Quote:
Do you think that would also hold true for an OTC foot support that claimed to enhance natural foot motion and put your foot in the best biomechanical position?
Probably, but its just marketing hype and not a specific and explicit "if you wear this, you will get less injuries" claim.
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Old 5th April 2012, 12:21 AM
Blaise Dubois Blaise Dubois is offline
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

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Originally Posted by toomoon View Post
I ask again.. how the hell did a kayaking shoe suddenly become a marathon running shoe?
Hey mate,
What an ASICS Cumulus or Nimbus have good for running? A height heel?, cushioning? some technologies to control the motion of the foot?
Can you explain... because me I'm running in flat shoes and I'm doing boat and kayaking with my BBS of ASICS

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Originally Posted by toomoon View Post
For the Bliase DuBois's of the world.. the companies he attacks.. Nike, adidas, ASICS with their "big bulky shoes" never get sued because we never make statements we can't support, and the consumer, for the vast majority is satisfied the product does what it says it will..
I loving ASICS Piranha... but the retailer told me that is only for skinny fast runner that compete...

Just to refresh your mind (question I ask you in another post)
Q (Blaise Dubois): Do the shoes sold by ASICS prevent from injuries? A (Simon Baretold): Yes absolutely!

Be careful Siman
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Old 5th April 2012, 12:54 AM
Blaise Dubois Blaise Dubois is offline
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

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Craig

What is your opinion on this by ASICS for example? Do you think this can be supported by a credible evidence base and do you think this is acceptable advertising?

http://www.asics.co.uk/running/produ...l-excel33-men/

The new GEL-EXCEL33 offers protection, flexibility, comfort and support in a more natural, stripped-back shoe. Perfect for serious runners, it has been designed to work with your foot, enhancing natural motion at every point in the stride. At the core of the shoe is the revolutionary Propulsion Trusstic™. It mimics the plantar fascia in the arch of your foot, harnessing your foot’s energy to propel you forward. The full-length Guidance Line™ also promotes a more efficient run, encouraging optimum foot positioning from foot-down to toe-off. A lower, more flexible midsole gives you a more natural road feel and running experience, while a10mm heel drop puts you in the best biomechanical position for your foot. This lightweight approach doesn’t compromise on support or durability. The GEL™ Cushioning System, Personal Heel Fit and durable sole ensure that your foot stays protected, without adding any unnecessary weight to the shoe
All these terms are used in order to confuse the reader-runner-retailer... to let him hope that the shoes are decreasing injuries. No study, therefore not clear statement. but confusing information spread around the world... for the runners and the retailers that repeat often in their words (and believe it) that moderne shoes prevent injuries. Finally everybody is fooled...

In a recent presentation of Simon Bartold (international research co-ordinator for Asics) he present to all the independent canadian retailers that running shoes made by ASICS was preventing injuries (presenting the study of Kingchinton)... no questions from the audience... just believe that it was true... and repeat that to thousands of runners for most of them. Moreover he defend that in a blog...

In a recent post, Simon Bartold answers to one of my question... Q (Blaise Dubois): Do the shoes sold by ASICS prevent from injuries? A (Simon Bartold): Yes absolutely... (He retract after and tell me that it was just a personal opinion)

So even if ASICS have very good "politicians" to calculate how to say thing and make term appealing, the result for me is the same... it's marketing based on nothing scientific except hopes ...
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Old 5th April 2012, 08:20 AM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

Vibram have responded with a statement as reported by Sporting Goods Intelligence :
Quote:
In a statement, the Italian company and its U.S. subsidiary based in Massachusetts, said it intends to “fully defend” the March 21 federal lawsuit by a Florida woman that charges Vibram with deceptive advertising under Florida and Massachusetts law.

Vibram, citing advice from its attorneys, said it has decided "not to litigate the case in the press at this time"
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Old 5th April 2012, 12:48 PM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

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said it intends to “fully defend”
Thats what Reebok were saying right up until they settled for $25 million and what Skechers are saying, yet they have set aside $44 million in their financial accounts for it!
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Old 5th April 2012, 02:46 PM
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Default Re: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims

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Vibram have responded with a statement as reported by Sporting Goods Intelligence :
I can not track down the full statement from Vibram and can only get snippets reported by others. Here is more from the "statement", reported by SportsOneSource:
Quote:
"For years now, consumers, amateur athletes, and even professional athletes using FiveFingers have chosen to share their success stories with the broader community. As a result, Vibram has seen an enthusiastic and health-conscious fan base grow and flourish.

"As with any innovation that ignores conventional thinking, there will always be some skepticism. Vibram's FiveFingers footwear is no different. While surprised by this action, Vibram intends to fully defend the lawsuit. Under the advice of our attorneys, Vibram has decided not to litigate the case in the press at this time, and we cannot comment further on the specific allegations made in the complaint.
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