A lawsuit has been brought over Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) and protein spiking allegations involving Muscleology Sports Nutrition’s protein supplement, Nitro-Pro.
The lawsuit alleges that Muscleology and its owner Mushtaq Hussain were engaged in a scheme to defraud Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals out of sales and profits though Muscleology’s infringement of Hi-Tech’s NitroPro® trademark. The lawsuit alleges that Muscleology and Hussain conducted fraudulent activities and deceived consumers as to the Nitro-Pro product’s content, quality, characteristics, and/or ingredients, and caused and enabled consumers to purchase Muscleology’s Nitro-Pro product instead of Hi-Tech’s NitroPro® product.
The lawsuit’s allegations include that Muscleology’s label makes misleading claims about its protein content. For example, the labeling claims that the product contains 30 grams of protein per serving; however, this figure allegedly also includes the non-protein amino acid, Taurine and; and the non-amino acid compound, Creatine Monohydrate. According to the lawsuit, testing reveals that the actual content per serving of whey protein is 7.53 grams (25% of label claim) once protein-spiking agents are eliminated.
The lawsuit also alleges, “In furtherance of this scheme, Muscleology used the Internet to disseminate its false product claims to consumers across the United States, and to enable consumers to purchase Muscleology’s Nitro-Pro product online. It also used the U.S. Mail and/or other interstate carriers to ship Nitro-Pro, the product bearing the infringing mark, to consumers throughout the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1341. The suit further alleges, “Defendants have conspired to conduct and participate in the conduct of the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity. That conduct constitutes conspiracy to violate Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) 18 U.S.C. Section 1962(c), in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1962(d).” Passed the year after The Godfather was published, RICO is part of a 1970 law designed to allows plaintiffs to bring civil lawsuits against organizations whose members allegedly committed crimes.
Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals lawsuit alleges that Muscleology and Hussain’s Nitro-Pro Whey Protein does not contain the quantity of protein as claimed on the product’s label, and also alleges the use of non-protein ingredients in protein supplement products due to a process known as “protein-spiking.” These ingredients are added to increase a protein product’s nitrogen content while allowing the manufacturer to save on protein manufacturing costs. A popularly used protein content test uses nitrogen as a measure of protein; therefore, protein spiking serves to fool consumers into believing they are receiving more whey protein than is actually contained in the product.