Misleading adverts for a biological bug killing keyboard violated federal law and earned its maker a six-figure fine.
Claims that the USB keyboard protected users from microbes and bacteria have landed manufacturer Logitech a $261,000 fine, after the US Environmental Protection Agency ruled that Logi's promotional material gave a misleading impression to users.
“Unverified public health claims can lead people to believe they are protected from disease-causing organisms when, in fact, they are not,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest.
The silver compound used by Logitech in their computer mice and keyboards is considered to be a preservative rather than actively anti-microbial – in that it protects the material of the product against mould and mildew. It does not necessarily follow that users of the keyboard are fully protected from microbes. The suggestion that it does protect individuals in such a manner is a public health claim, and making unsubstantiated public health claims is an offence.
The practice seems to be a common one. The Environmental Protection Agency bemoaned the proliferation of products that claimed to protect their users against bacteria, fungi and viruses: "In many cases, these products have made public health claims that extend beyond the protection of the article itself."
Manufacturers are allowed to claim that anti-mould preservatives in the product make for fresher and more pleasing surface. So don't go thinking that any science in your keyboard will stop you getting E coli. It's a keyboard, not soap.
View the EPA's policy on Pesticide Registration here (10-page PDF/26.6KB). ®