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What You Can’t Say or Do when Advertising your Products or Services

What You Can’t Say or Do when Advertising your Products or Services

June 30, 2017

The measures which your business must take to ensure compliance with Myanmar law does not end with incorporation. In fact, the Consumer Protection Law, read with the recent Competition Law (effective February 2017) mean that you must now take additional precautions to ensure that your day to day business advertising and marketing are up to scratch.   

Whilst advertising and marketing are just one facet of Myanmar competition law, failing to comply with the relevant provisions can land your business in hot water. If your business is not careful you run the risk of fines as well as criminal sanctions under the Competition Law.  

Apart from these penalties your business could stand to suffer damage to its commercial reputation for failing to take a few easy, yet important safeguards to ensure that your advertising policy is aligned with both the Consumer Protection Law and the Competition Law.   

In this client briefing note we set out several measures which your business can take today in order to reduce exposure to liability under the above laws. However, this briefing note is intended to provide you with some useful illustrative points and is not intended to be a comprehensive briefing on the subject. Whilst reference is made to both the Consumer Protection Law and the Competition Law, there are other sources which are not explored in this briefing note.                         

In what way does the law regulate your advertising?

Firstly, the laws are concerned with both the substance and form of your business advertising and marketing. The laws require that the mode of advertising, such as the packaging on products, logos and slogans are correct and not in any way deceptive.

Secondly, the laws require that all information pertaining to price, quantity and the warranty period are true and correct. 

Thirdly, the laws prohibit an entrepreneur from engaging in advertising which does not inform consumers of the risk, if any, of using the good or service to which the advertisement relates.   

Accordingly, any discrepancy in the accuracy of product information, or, any advertisement which offends against the above principles, is enough to trigger sanction under the law. However, there has been very little, if any, litigation based on advertisements but that is unsurprising since the laws are new.

What is the next step?

With the Competition Law recently becoming effective, businesses should waste no time in revising their advertising and marketing policies and bringing them up to speed. Below we set out a table of actions which your business can take to guide you in the right direction.

What you need to be aware of:Explanation:
Direct comparative adverts and reputation– Directly comparing the goods or services with those of other businesses is dangerous territory.
– Focus on the product’s own merits. Myanmar law does not allow much in terms of comparisons with your competitors. In case of doubt, retain legal advice.
Information, slogans and claims to be proven – Always be aware of slogans or the names appearing on your goods and ensure that they are not deceptive or misleading against your customers.
– You innovation will be rewarded but the law won’t tolerate piggybacking off a competitor’s slogan, logo etc.
– Do check to make sure that your business logo or any slogan you use is lawfully registered.
Do not imitate– Whilst the Consumer Protection legislation does not define what amounts to imitative advertising – it is best to be creative and original in your approach.
– If in doubt, retain legal advice.
Safety first– Always make sure that any risks associated with using your products are adequately set out in the advertisement.
– Informing consumers of risks in your products is not only good ethics but a requirement under the Consumer Protection Law as well.
Sources of quotes are helpful– Always insist that you are aware of the sources of information, which you use in your advertising.
– Remember, even if you use quotes, always be able to point to where you obtained that information.
– Never handle information which you suspect to be sensitive or a trade secret. 

Keeping the above points in mind will allow you to conduct the advertising and marketing related aspects of your business lawfully and without risk of attracting liability under the Consumer Protection and / or the Competition Law