6/16/2008Pennsylvania Attorney General Bans PhotoBlocker
Marketer of sprays and plate covers intended to defeat photo enforcement forced to stop doing business in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett announced Friday that the most prominent marketer of products designed to thwart photo enforcement has agreed to stop doing business in the state. Corbett had threatened legal action against Innovative Media Inc, the Harrisburg company most famous for selling "PhotoBlocker" spray that claimed to overexpose license plate photographs and defeat lucrative red light camera and speed camera programs throughout the country. According to Corbett, the sprays and reflective plate covers sold on Innovative Media's website were dubious both in terms of effectiveness and legality.
"The www.PhantomPlate.com website includes dramatic claims such as 'no more red light camera tickets' and 'make your car invisible to traffic cameras,' without clearly explaining that the use of these products violates Pennsylvania law," Corbett said. "The website also makes questionable claims about the effectiveness of the products; confusing statements about testing done by various news agencies and police departments; [and] inaccurate information about patents for these products."
Corbett's court filing explained that the PhantomPlate website had described its products as undetectable to the naked eye and therefore fully legal. The actual plate covers, however, were shipped with a different disclaimer stating, "Your state may prohibit its use on public roads or restrict its use to novelty plates, show car use or off-road areas only." Corbett found this deceptive.
Corbett also cited last year's Discovery Channel episode of Mythbusters where photoblocking sprays and plate covers failed to defeat the latest in speed camera technology from ATS, an automated ticketing company tied with Redflex for the most cameras installed in the US. Other independent tests have shown the covers, not sprays, may help slightly in marginal situations against older technology.
Corbett also found that the "patent pending" claims throughout the PhantomPlate website were untrue. Patent applications made in 2003 and 2004 had since lapsed due to inactivity.
According to the settlement terms, Innovative Media agreed to pay a fine of $20,000 that goes to expanding the budget of the attorney general's office and a $5000 fine to the state treasury. The PhantomPlate website has been updated to limit the prior sweeping claims of effectiveness and legality. The site, without explanation, no longer allows consumers to ship products to Pennsylvania.
View the full settlement document in a 500k PDF file at the source link below.