‘Buyer beware': how the Federal Trade Commission redefined the word ‘free’

Last month marked the hundredth anniversary of the Federal Trade Commission, the regulatory agency that looks after consumer interests by enforcing truth in advertising laws. Established by the
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Last month marked the 100th anniversary of the Federal Trade Commission, the regulatory agency that looks after consumer interests by enforcing truth in advertising laws. Established by the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, the FTC opened its doors on 16 March 1915, taking the place of the older Bureau of Corporations. The FTC got off to a rocky start. In its early years, it was underfunded, hobbled by in-fighting among the commissioners, and was challenged regarding its mission to combat “unfair methods of competition.” In time, the commissioners came to view deceptive advertising as a means of unfair competition, falsely attracting customers from one’s competitors. But the courts were not always sympathetic to this idea. In 1925, the Third Circuit Court took a caveat emptor approach in the case of John C. Winston Co. v. Federal Trade Commission. The Winston Company offered consumers free encyclopedias but required buyers to pay. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Linguistics

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