Nike has applied to the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn a California Supreme Court ruling that held that Nike could be sued for making false statements in advertising campaigns. the state court ruled 4-3 that a plaintiff had the right to sue Nike for statements the company made in press releases, letters to newspapers and other media outlets, disputing accusations of sweatshop conditions, in the case where those statements are false. (Source: San Franscisco Chronicle staff report 10/16/02).
The truth of Nike's claims that workers are well treated has never been at issue. Those claims are false, as truthful claims are not subject to the statute. Nike's rather breathtaking assertion is that regulating speech contrary to truth violates Nike's right of free speech. Nike further claims that the California courts ruling inhibits its right to engage in political discourse.
The California courts opinion states that the ruling "in no way prohibits any business enterprise from speaking out on issues of public importance or from vigorously defending its own labor practices. It means only that when a business enterprise -- to promote and defend its sales and profits -- makes factual representations it must speak truthfully ... Commercial speech that is false or misleading receives no protection under the First Amendment." (Source: Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP).
Because of the ruling, Nike announced it would not be issuing its annual "corporate responsibility" report, which discusses labor practices and which could make Nike further liable under the California court ruling. One may reasonably conclude then, that the report contained false claims of "corporate responsibility."