Mosaic Brands has paid $266,400 in penalties, after the ACCC issued two Infringement notices relating to alleged false or misleading representations made by Mosaic Brands in promoting a face mask on its Autograph Fashion brand website and a hot water bottle on its Katies brand website.
On 18 August 2021, amid on-going public concern about COVID-19, Mosaic Brands advertised a KN95 mask for sale on its Autograph Fashion website. The mask was prominently described as “FDA AND CE APPROVED” in the product title. It is alleged that as a result Mosaic Brands falsely represented that the KN95 Mask product was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (USA) and Conformitè Europëenne (EU), when in fact it was not.
On 26 August 2021, Mosaic Brands also promoted a McGloin’s-branded hot water bottle for sale on its Katies brand website, making alleged false and misleading statements that the water bottles had been “ACCC Approved”, when this was not true. The ACCC does not endorse or approve any products.
“We were very concerned about the type of representations being made by Mosaic Brands,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said.
“Making false representations about the approval or endorsement of a product by any government authority misleads consumers and is likely to erode public trust in government authorities and certification marks.”
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“These penalties are a warning to all businesses that making false or misleading representations about government approval for their products can lead to ACCC enforcement action, with serious consequences including penalties,” Ms Carver said.
No consumer orders were made via Mosaic Brands’ websites for either of these products.
This ACCC enforcement action follows previous penalties paid by Mosaic Brands after it admitted making false or misleading claims about hand sanitiser and face mask products on its brand websites during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In May 2021, Mosaic Brands paid penalties totalling $630,000 after the ACCC issued five infringement notices in respect of those admitted false representations. At that time, Mosaic Brands also entered into a three-year court-enforceable undertaking which included committing to a refund scheme and implementation of a consumer law compliance program.
Mosaic Brands Limited is an ASX listed company (ASX: MOZ) which owns nine Australian clothing brands: Autograph Fashion, Beme, Crossroads, Katies, Millers, Noni B, Rivers, Rockmans and W. Lane.
Each of its brands operates a website which sells a range of goods including clothing and homewares and is viewed by a large number of consumers.
Mosaic Brands also operates around 1,100 brick‑and-mortar stores nationally.
‘FDA’ stands for the US Food and Drug Administration. The FDA does not directly certify face masks. Masks which have been tested against the US N95 respirator standard by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) may affix NIOSH testing and certification markings on the product and product packaging.
‘CE’ stands for Conformité Européenne (literally, ‘European Conformity’). By placing the CE marking on a product, a manufacturer declares that the product meets all the European legal requirements for CE marking and indicates that the product has been assessed to meet high safety, health, and environmental protection requirements.