“We did not falsely advertise”: Conference group rejects claims of fake endorsements

A conference organiser has rejected accusations of deceptive conduct over its claims of partnerships with two prominent medical societies for an upcoming Sydney rheumatology conference.

Last week the limbic revealed how the India-based company Conference Series was advertising the New Zealand Orthopaedic Association (NZOA) and European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (EFORT) as “media partners” for its 11th World Congress on Rheumatology, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, to be staged in July in Sydney. Both organisations told the limbic they were not involved with the event and their logos had been used without consent.

The term ‘media partnership’ commonly refers to an exclusive agreement between an organisation and selected media that brings mutually beneficial publicity.

However, Conference Series says it adopted the term after NZOA and EFORT had listed the Sydney conference on their events calendar.

“We did not falsely advertise about our conference, we have added New Zealand Orthopedic Association and European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (EFORT) as a media partner after our event got listed in their event calendar,” an unnamed ‘program co-ordinator’ said in an emailed response to the limbic’s enquiries.

“Later we got request from them to remove their profiles from the site so we have removed.”

The 11th World Congress on Rheumatology, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine is billed as a two day event to feature “presentations delivered by eminent scientists from all over the world” – although no names are listed on the “tentative program” – and costs USD $899 for early rate registration.

It’s one of more than 40 conferences the company is planning for Australia this year.

Conference Series is part of the OMICS Group, which was recently banned by a US Court from engaging in deceptive claims about its medical conferences, after a preliminary finding that the company was advertising the involvement of prominent academics without their consent.

The civil case is being brought by the US Federal Trade Commission, which alleges that the company, its subsidiaries, and director Srinubabu Gedela, used “unfair and deceptive practices” as a predatory publisher and conference organiser, costing consumers over $26 million.

While the case was expected to go to trial, FTC senior staff attorney Gregory Ashe told the limbic the commission is in the process of preparing a motion to the court “where we will argue that the evidence is so overwhelming that there is no need for a trial and the court can enter final judgment based on the current evidentiary record”.

Conference Series has already been the subject of at least two complaints to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission including one over an endocrinology conference staged in Melbourne last year.

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