The Carbolic Smoke Ball Company made a product called a smoke ball that it claimed could protect the user from contracting influenza. The smoke ball was a rubber ball with a tube attached. It was filled with carbolic acid (phenol). The tube was then inserted into the user's nose. It was squeezed at the bottom to release the vapours into the nose of the user. This would cause the nose to run, and hopefully flush out the cold. In fact the inflammation caused by the device would have probably increased susceptibility to catching influenza.
100 reward will be paid by the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company to any person who contracts the increasing epidemic influenza, colds or any disease caused by taking cold, after having used the ball three times daily for two weeks according to the printed directions supplied each ball. 1000 is deposited with the Alliance Bank, Regent Street, showing our sincerity in the matter.
The Carbolic Company claimed that there was no enforceable contract between it and the user of the smoke ball on the grounds that there was no acceptance of its offer, because Mrs Carlill had never notified the Company that she accepted its offer, or consideration, since the Company did not receive any benefit from a purchaser's use of the product once the sale had been completed.
The court rejected ...