Do local regulations apply to items from other states (and presumably other countries) that are offered for sale over the Internet? How can one state’s rules be used to affect how a company advertises its goods to the world?
The court in People ex rel. Brown v. Puritec conceded that the state could not require changes to the companies “rest of the world” web site. On the other hand, “technology exists to separate [a] California website from the ROW [rest-of-the-world] website established by [the] company.” Further, the court ruled that the company could “easily structure its websites to inform California customers at the point of sale (the ‘check out’ page of the website) that its devices are not certified by the State of California.”
Puritec is a Nevada company that sells water filters via the Internet. The California Attorney General cited the company for violation of a California law that prohibits “health claims” about the filters without certification from the California Department of Health Services. By regulation, the state agency defined “health claim” to include any claims that the filters “reduces or removes from the water an organic, inorganic or microbiological contaminant, as defined by (1) the State primary drinking water standards from the Health and Safety Code; or (2) the national primary drinking water standards from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act; or (3) Environmental Protection Agency standards.” Puritec challenged the statute as a violation of the “dormant Commerce Clause” and its commercial free speech rights under the First Amendment.