UV robots go to court: Clorox, Xenex feuding

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Two major manufacturers of ultraviolet disinfection robots — Xenex Disinfection Services and Clorox — are feuding over claims made in advertisements, resulting in Xenex taking Clorox to court.

Both companies make robots that use ultraviolet light to kill pathogens that are aimed at preventing healthcare-associated infections in patients. But the difference lies in how the robots produce the UV light:

  • Clorox Healthcare Optimum-UV System uses mercury bulbs
  • Xenex "Germ-Zapping Robots" use pulsed xenon gas

The battle between the two companies accelerated in December 2014, when Clorox challenged, before the Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division, certain advertising claims Xenex was making in online, print and social media campaigns.

Clorox took issue with Xenex's claims about its robots' effectiveness in killing pathogens and reducing the risk of HAIs.

After the NAD made an initial inquiry to Xenex about the claims, the company responded, saying the claims would be discontinued "for reasons unrelated to the Clorox challenge," according to a March NAD press release.

"When we looked at the complaints brought by Clorox over specific statements on the Xenex website, we decided to replace those claims objected to by Clorox with more specific language based on recent studies that focus on the science of our technology and our customers' success in reducing their infection rates," said Morris Miller, CEO of Xenex.

Mr. Morris says Clorox subsequently objected to additional statements made by Xenex that were not challenged in the NAD complaint. Clorox allegedly objected to Xenex's statement that the Clorox robot uses bulbs that contain toxic mercury, and that the Xenex robot is faster than mercury UV devices.

"Both statements are accurate," Mr. Miller said.

In response to the new objections from Clorox, Xenex filed a declaratory judgment action against Clorox, asking the court to allow Xenex to state that its robots contain "no toxic mercury" and that it is "faster than competing mercury devices."

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