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Under Armour Lawsuit Claims Performance Tech ‘No More Effective Than a Placebo’

Under Armour is facing off against parties who claim its products’ purported benefits are bogus.

On Monday, the Baltimore-based athleticwear giant was hit with a proposed class action lawsuit alleging that UA Rush—a suite of training apparel launched in April last year—failed to live up to performance claims.

The line, made with fabrics that Under Armour said were infused with thermo-reactive minerals designed to trap body heat and recycle it into infrared energy, was designed to help athletes train longer and harder by directing that energy back into the body.

But the lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York by Spencer Sheehan of Sheehan & Associates law firm on behalf of New York resident and Under Armour consumer Jonathan Dill, stated that the company’s claims about the UA Rush products were false, and that the plaintiff did not experience any of the advertised benefits.

Under Armour’s global websites represented the products’ capabilities as being dependent on far-infrared radiation (FIR). However, the suit alleged, “Between the three types of infrared radiation, FIR is the least capable of penetrating human tissue and dissipating heat.”

“Though the Product claims to have the ability to ‘recycle[d] energy,’ this is misleading because all bodies at temperatures above absolute zero emit energy, or ‘heat,’” the lawsuit stated, adding, “Far-infrared radiation is no different from ordinary heat energy radiated by all objects.”

Ultimately, the suit claimed, “Plaintiff used the Product but did not receive the effects and benefits claimed and in no way was he able to recover quicker or exercise longer relative to other athletic clothes.”

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Prior to launching the UA Rush line last year, Under Armour had worked with responsive textile manufacturer Celliant on infrared technology-infused fabrics for more than two years. The company debuted a recovery garment with NFL superstar quarterback Tom Brady that featured an infrared lining in 2017 as a precursor to the expanded UA Rush collection of performance shorts, leggings and tops for men and women. Celliant’s infrared textiles went through nine clinical trials on their way to being certified by the FDA as medical devices and general wellness products.

But more than a year after its debut on the market, Dill’s lawsuit alleged that the product “is no more effective than a placebo.”

Under Armour’s “branding, marketing and packaging of the Product is designed to—and does—deceive, mislead, and defraud plaintiff and consumers,” it stated, adding that the athletic giant “sold more of the Product and at higher prices than it would have in the absence of this misconduct, resulting in additional profits at the expense of consumers.”

Under Armour did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While the UA Rush line appears to have missed the mark with at least one disgruntled shopper, the performance wear brand’s mask innovation struck gold this spring through the significant performance claim that it can contain the spread of the coronavirus.

In June, the company’s Sportsmask—a reusable, water-resistant face mask designed for breathability during exercise—sold out less than an hour after its debut on Under Armour’s site. The company characterized the pandemic-inspired product as the “first of its kind,” adding that the mask’s design reduces the spread of respiratory droplets, while a moldable nose bridge helps keep airflow away from the eyes, mitigating the pesky problem of foggy glasses or goggles.

What’s more, the mask’s inner layer, which is made with its proprietary UA Iso-Chill cooling fabric, is treated with a non-metal anti-microbial technology called PROTX2 that inhibits the growth of pathogens.

Intelligent Fabric Technologies, the innovation’s maker, claimed that the agent “decreases bacterial and viral loads on soft and hard surfaces, reducing the chance of transference to patients or other surfaces.” The group said that lab testing showed evidence of the solution’s efficacy against the viral strain that causes Covid-19, though it is currently under review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to confirm that claim.