Sydney, Nov 14: In a groundbreaking development for the Australian cosmetic industry, self-proclaimed cosmetic chemist Ross Macdougald, alongside his controlled companies Plant Extracts Pty Ltd and Biologi Pty Ltd, has admitted to engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct.
The recent Federal Court proceedings unveiled a series of misleading representations about their products, resulting in expedited orders made on Oct 19, and an initial judgment published on Oct 23.
The Federal Court found Macdougald knowingly involved in Plant Extracts and Biologi’s conduct that breached the Australian Consumer Law, misleading both customers and potential customers.
As a consequence, the Court issued permanent restraints on Plant Extracts and Biologi, preventing them from engaging in conduct subject to eight separate corrective notices since 2016.
Justice Downes, in making the corrective advertising orders on Oct 23, expressed concern about third parties being misled and emphasized the urgency of issuing injunctions and corrective advertising immediately.
Plant Extracts, founded in 2016, manufactures botanical extracts as ingredients for cosmetic brands, including Biologi.
Biologi, established by Ross Macdougald in 2017, is a consumer skincare brand that directly sells plant extracts manufactured by Plant Extracts to consumers, stockists, and through various distribution channels in Australia and internationally.
Native Extracts Pty Ltd, a leading Australian manufacturer incorporated in 2012, distanced itself from Macdougald in 2016.
Lisa Carroll, Director of Native Extracts Pty Ltd, welcomed the Court’s judgment as a significant step towards transparency and integrity for the cosmetics industry.
The proceedings, initiated by Native Extracts Pty Ltd and related parties in July 2020, alleged breaches of contract, restraint of trade, directors’ duties, obligations of confidence, copyright infringement, and misleading and deceptive conduct under the Australian Consumer Law.
The corrective advertisements, ordered by the Federal Court, compel Ross Macdougald, Plant Extracts, and Biologi to rectify misleading claims dating back to 2016.
These include modifying certificates of analysis, falsely representing organic certification, and making unsubstantiated claims about product ingredients and benefits.
Carroll stressed the far-reaching impact of misleading representations, not only on the cosmetic ingredient supply chain but also on retail customers globally.
She emphasized the alarming proliferation of misinformation across social media channels and the industry at large.
With the Court’s final judgment pending, this case stands as a critical moment for the industry, underscoring the importance of upholding the integrity of the Australian Cosmetic industry.
Native Extracts Pty Ltd took a firm stance to protect its business and inform others misled by the defendants, ultimately working towards safeguarding the interests of consumers.
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