IntelliGender will pay $10 each to 250,000 women who bought one of its gender testing kits at Walgreen's. The suit claimed that the product is bogus and has a built-in 50 percent success rate purely through chance. In its marketing, IntelliGender promised:
This exciting, revolutionary new formula produces a "dark, smoky green" reaction to the urine of a mother carrying a male baby and an "orange tinted" reaction to the urine of a mother pregnant with a girl.The lawsuit claimed that there is little in women's urine that could be tested to indicate fetal gender:
According to Dr. Jeffrey Ecker, a high-risk obstetrician at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Harvard Medical School professor, "If people ask me, I tell them not to waste their money ... I don't know of anything that would show up in the urine at that point in a pregnancy... that would be useful."Not a Nobel laureate
Nonetheless, 50 percent of IntelliGender's customers walked away pleased with the result, for obvious reasons. (IntelliGender claims it has a greater than 87 percent success rate.)
The settlement sounds good at first: Consumers get $2.5 million, the lawyers get $150,000 for their troubles, and IntelliGender's test is exposed.
But the settlement also allows IntelliGender to stay in business simply because it has changed its web site a little bit. It is no longer claiming that the IntelliGender team includes Nobel Prize winning chemist Sean O'Brien, because O'Brien didn't win the Nobel prize. He was a grad student on the Nobel team of Richard Smalley, who did actually win a Nobel for discovering the "buckyball" form of carbon.
And IntelliGender now has a marvelous new business model: It charges $29.99 for a coin-flip guess on the sex of your baby, and if it's wrong it gives you a $10 refund.