Body building firm here flexes muscles in court

Thermo-Life founder and bodybuilder Ron Kramer used to own a Gold’s Gym but then entered the body-building/energy supplement industry in 1998, growing a company that holds a couple dozen patents and sells its products worldwide. (Special to AFN)

An Ahwatukee-based international developer of nitrate technology in dietary supplements has filed federal lawsuits against two rivals, claiming both are selling products laced with illegal drugs.

ThermoLife International is suing Aesthetic Distribution, also called Olympus Labs, and Sparta Nutrition and alleging that both have a history of selling illegal steroids.

In the two lawsuits, ThermoLife contends both companies are unfairly and illegally competing with it by falsely describing their products as dietary supplements and infringing on its own genuine array of patents by misleading and false advertising.

ThermoLife was founded in 1998 by bodybuilder Ron Kramer, who had previously operated a Gold’s Gym in California. The company holds 23 distinct patents on its “innovative development and use of ingredients in dietary supplements and products,” according to court papers.

It also says that 16 of those patents are for its use of nitrates and nitrites “for increasing athletic performance and increasing endurance.” Nitrate supplements reduce oxygen consumption during exercise and enhance tolerance and performance, according to the company.

“With few exceptions, anytime an amino acid is combined with nitrate(s) and sold and marketed to consumers in a dietary supplement, that product relies on ThermoLife’s patented technology,” the company said. “ThermoLife’s patented creatine nitrate has proven exceedingly popular in the dietary supplement market. Creatine is sold in many forms and for decades has been used to promote muscle mass in individuals.”

Neither of the companies sued by ThermoLife have filed responses to the lawsuits, filed in Arizona federal court because both defendants market their products nationwide.

In its suit against New Jersey-based Olympus, ThermoLife says it “got its start in the dietary supplement industry by selling dietary supplements that included illegal synthetic amphetamine-like drug ingredients.

“Olympus’ advertising repeatedly touts the company’s history of selling illegal supplements, and even goes as far as to boast that it was the first company to bring ‘J.Regia’ to the market.

“J. Regia is an abbreviation for ‘Juglans regia,’ which is used as a botanical cover for the drug compound known as DMHA, a synthetic amphetamine-like stimulant that the FDA approved for use as a drug in 1946, and is illegal for sale in dietary supplements,” the suit alleges.

Moreover, the suit alleges, “Olympus also lies to consumers about many of the other ingredients in its products.

“Many of Olympus’ products list natural botanical ingredients on the label, like Juglans Regia extract or Eria Jarensis extract. However, instead of the natural botanical ingredient listed on the label, Olympus’ products do not include these plant extracts,” it says. Instead, the extracts are synthetic compounds manufactured in China.

ThermoLife contends that Olympus “falsely marketed and falsely patented its products” by claiming to have patents that don’t exist.

In all, it alleges, “Olympus’ advertising statements are provably false and Olympus is fully aware that its advertising statements are false.”

ThermoLife is suing both companies partly because it is competing illegally, according to court filings.

Stating that all Olympus’ claims “are blatant lies,” ThermoLife charges, “Olympus is simply unable to compete in the marketplace fairly; its continued and repeated willful false advertising must cease.”

“In competition with ThermoLife, Olympus is willfully and intentionally misleading consumers into purchasing Olympus’ falsely advertised, falsely marked, misbranded, and adulterated products. Olympus’ ill-gotten profits must be disgorged,” the company states.

No federal law exists that requires dietary supplements to pass the rigorous testing that the Food and Drug Administration conducts for prescription and other drugs.

However, Congress has outlawed the use of various ingredients in dietary supplements and has listed a variety of requirements that supplements must meet before they can be legally sold.

The FDA has found nearly 300 fraudulent products promoted mainly for weight loss, sexual enhancement and bodybuilding that contain hidden or deceptively labeled ingredients.

In the suit against Sparta Nutrition, a Florida company, ThermoLife says the firm’s two leading products, Kraken and Hydra Shred, until recently contain illegal meth-like stimulants and that they were reformulated with at least one “unproven, falsely marketed and falsely advertised” ingredient.

“Sparta Nutrition is now continuing to unfairly compete with ThermoLife by selling products that contain an unproven and untested ingredient yet claiming the ingredient is supplied in a ‘clinical dose’ which Sparta falsely claims is in its marketing is ‘patented’ and on its labels as ‘patent pending,’” the company alleges.

Even though Sparta reformulated some of its supplements, Thermo Life contends that its “new sports nutrition products also include drugs, this time an unsafe synthetic amphetamine like drug ingredient that is illegal for use.”

ThermoLife also has accused Sparta of infringing on its patents, adding that it intends to file a second lawsuit involving that allegation.

It also claims that Kraken and Hydra Shred “contain a drug that has serious side effects and/or poses a significant risk even when taken by healthy individuals.

“Sparta Nutrition’s entire marketing strategy for Kraken centers on the fact that Kraken was ‘hardcore’ and ‘stimulant laden.’ Sparta Nutrition claimed that Kraken was ‘the most hardcore, stimulant loaded, balanced preworkout in the industry.’ Sparta Nutrition’s advertising even includes a warning to consumers: ‘WARNING: this ain’t for the faint at heart. Seize your glory.’”

 

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