Bauer Hockey Corp. has agreed to stop claiming its Bauer RE-AKT hockey helmet protects players from concussions after Canada’s Competition Bureau challenged the claim. Under the terms of a consent agreement reached with the Bureau, Bauer also agreed to make a $500,000 donation of equipment to a registered Canadian charity supporting youth participation in sport over the course of five years.
In a statement, Bauer said the Bauer RE-AKT Helmet represented less than 5 percent of Bauer Hockey’s overall hockey helmet unit sales in Canada. Given its disagreement with Bauer Hockey as to the adequacy of its testing, the Bureau requested that Bauer Hockey remove or modify certain existing performance claims in Canada regarding the RE-AKT helmet.
Bauer Hockey said it has devoted significant resources into researching, developing and testing its helmets and the RE-AKT helmet meets all CSA and HECC standards. The Bureau, however, concluded that the testing commissioned and conducted by Bauer Hockey as a basis for certain performance claims related to the RE-AKT hockey helmet did not meet the standard of an “adequate and proper test,” as required by Canada’s Competition Act.
The Bureau did not conclude that Bauer’s advertisements were false or misleading.
A relevant consideration for the Bureau in its evaluation of Bauer’s testing of its RE-AKT helmet was the absence of an established injury threshold for concussions. The CSA is reportedly considering the adoption of a new standard for determining rotational shock absorbing capacity for hockey helmets.
“While we disagree with the Bureau’s conclusions regarding the testing conducted by and on behalf of Bauer Hockey, we look forward to putting this matter behind us and continuing to provide our customers with the best products possible,” said Rich Wuerthele, executive vice president, Bauer Hockey. “We hope that the Bureau’s inquiry and conclusion raises awareness for the need to enhance current standardized testing protocols for helmets.”
In its statement, Canada’s Competition Bureau said, “”The Bureau takes representations to the public about performance claims
that are not based on prior adequate and proper testing very seriously,
particularly when they relate to the health and safety of consumers. I
am pleased that an agreement is in place that will result in the
performance claims being corrected, and that some underprivileged
children will have greater opportunities to participate in sports.”
The Bureau noteed that Bauers advertisements for the RE-AKT helmet contained words, images and videos that the Bureau found created the impression that the product would offer hockey players protection from concussions caused by rotational impacts. Although Bauer had conducted testing on the helmet prior to making the claims, the Bureau concluded that the testing was not adequate and proper to support the marketing claims.
As a result, Bauer has entered into a consent agreement with the Bureau to resolve the matter that requires the company to:
- Donate $500,000 worth of equipment to a charity that supports youth participation in sport;
- Remove or modify the remaining performance claims from all RE-AKT marketing material, including packaging and online advertising;
- Implement an enhanced Corporate Compliance Program, and take steps to ensure retailers do not make the performance claims; and
- Pay $40,000 toward the cost of the Bureaus investigation.
The Bureau noted that Bauer fully cooperated with the Bureaus investigation. The Bureau will continue to monitor the marketplace for any instances of unproven performance claims.
It also offered a number of “Quick Facts” surrounding hockey and concussions:
- Current hockey helmet testing standards are aimed at protecting players from catastrophic brain injuries, such as skull fractures, not concussions.
- The science behind concussions in sports is still in its infancy, and the role that any hockey helmet can play in protecting players from concussions remains unclear.
- Protective equipment is only one of several factors relevant to concussion injuries. Other factors include age, weight, a players strength, location of the impact and whether or not it was anticipated.