“Puffery” is the term often used in the law to describe bragging, particularly in the context of selling a product or service. The definition lies somewhere between basic claims about qualities and outright lies. In a publicly traded company, puffery that puffs a little too much can lead to liability for securities fraud. The question posed by the article is, when does puffery cease to be bragging and transform into fraud?
This article by
TELG principal Adam Augustine Carter and TELG managing principal R. Scott Oswald was published by The Corporate Counselor on May 1, 2015. The full article is available as a PDF on our site.
The Greatest Article Ever Written on Puffery!
There is a moment in the modern Christmas film classic “Elf” in which the titular character, a full-grown man who believes himself to be an elf from the North Pole, enters a seemingly run-of-the-mill coffee shop in New York City after passing what most would consider a forgettable neon sign on the facade of an equally forgettable storefront boasting “world’s best cup of coffee.” The “elf” runs into the shop and excitedly shouts to everyone in the shop, “You did it! Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee! Great job everybody!” The employees and patrons in the shop simply gaze at the display of enthusiasm with befuddled expressions.
Although this moment in the film is likely intended to show the viewer the comic extent of the character’s naiveté, it perhaps unwittingly provides a perfect demonstration of the precarious relationship between a company’s boasting and the potential impact on those to whom it crows.
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