Vibram Sued Over FiveFingers Claims
Is barefoot running better for you than wearing shoes? Debate or conflicting scientific studies aside, that question may get answered through litigation.Vibram, makers of the popular FiveFingers footwear, is named as the defendant in a class action lawsuit filed in the US District Court in Massachusetts, which alleges that Vibram made deceptive statements about the benefits of running barefoot.
According to Footwear Business Update, the suit states:
"Given that Defendants' advertising and marketing equates barefoot running with running in FiveFingers, Defendants' uniform deceptive statements about barefoot running are also deceptive statements about Five Fingers," alleges the suit.Basically, the lawsuit asserts that the company makes deceptive claims in its advertising, for which there are no credible scientific studies, for financial gain ("unjust enrichment," states the suit), and that the footwear may cause injuries as runners adapt to the barefoot-like shoes.
Here's a link [PDF download] to the 28-page complaint.
That last point is highlighted in the article on Footwear Business Update with the following line, about the lawsuit:
The lawsuit also acknowledges Vibram FiveFingers hangtags advise first-time users to ease into running in the shoes and to visit their website for related natural running and training tips. It also notes that Vibram acknowledges that transitioning to running in its shoes might take some runners more than a year.This a curious addition to the lawsuit, because this is one item we've believed to be well thought out and responsible on the part of Vibram. The brochure that comes with each pair of shoes acknowledges that there is an adaptation period from traditional running shoes to more minimal footwear. And it lays out a conservative plan for making that transition gradually and injury-free. But in light of the other claims, it appears these materials are to be used in support of the plaintiff's claims of deceptive advertising.