Company ‘deceptively and unfairly marketed’ products
From CSP by Hannah Hammond February 10 2023
A federal court ordered HBI International, maker of Raw Organic Hemp rolling papers, to stop selling and distributing certain products after a jury found the company engaged in unfair competition and violated the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The permanent injunction, filed Jan. 31 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, stems from a 2016 lawsuit from Republic Brands, a Glenview, Illinois-based distributor of rolling papers and premium smoking accessories.
Republic Brands claimed HBI “deceptively and unfairly marketed” its Raw Organic Hemp rolling papers and that conduct largely fell within nine topics or categories. Those include HBI marketing its papers as having been made in Alcoy, Spain, and referring to Alcoy as the “birthplace of rolling papers.” HBI affixed an Alcoy stamp to some of its products.
Evidence at trial found, however, that HBI “makes no rolling paper in Alcoy, Spain whatsoever,” a Jan. 19 opinion and order from district judge Thomas Durkin said.
Other claims HBI made regarded the existence of a Raw Foundation, that Raw organic hemp rolling papers are made in eco-friendly and 100% wind powered facilities, that HBI’s CEO and founder Joshua Kesselman invented rolling paper cones and more, court documents show.
According to the court order, by March 2, HBI must stop promoting, selling, distributing, shipping or delivering all Raw Organic Hemp products sold in packaging displaying the nine statements, including the Alcoy stamp. By May 31, it must stop selling the products under its other brands sold in packaging including an Alcoy stamp.
HBI, Phoenix, told the court it will stop making the statements previously indicated, without consenting to a finding that any of the subject statements was false. The company did not respond to a CSP Daily News request for comment.
As of Friday afternoon, HBI International’s website said: “New 2023 website launching March 1.” Existing customers were given an option to log in or call the company. HBI also sells products under brands like Elements, Juicy Jays, Pay-Pay and Skunk.
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