A public relations company and a publisher have been caught in the FTC’s net after using influencer marketing to help promote an anti-Zika mosquito repellant during the 2016 Brazil Summer Olympics. Continue Reading Publisher and PR Firm Get Bit For Product Endorsements

On October 23, 2018, the SEC Division of Corporation Finance issued Staff Legal Bulletin No. 14J (“SLB 14J”), which reiterated and expounded upon prior guidance regarding when companies may exclude shareholder proposals under the economic relevance exception of Rule 14a-8(i)(5), and the ordinary business exception of Rule 14a-8(i)(7). Continue Reading SEC Provides Additional Guidance on Excluding Shareholder Proposals

October began with a CPSC announcement that a major retailer agreed to pay a $3.85M civil penalty for failing to report that a trash can it sold contained a defect or created an unreasonable risk of serious injury. The retailer sold 367,000 of the trash cans nationwide between December 2013 and May 2015. Allegedly the trash can’s plastic collar may dislodge, exposing a sharp edge and posing a laceration hazard to consumers. The retailer received 92 consumer complaints about this alleged defect but did not immediately notify the CPSC of the defect. The CPSC announced a recall of the trash can in July 2015. In addition to the civil penalty, the retailer agreed to maintain a compliance program and a system of internal controls and procedures to ensure it discloses information to the CPSC in accordance with applicable law. The Commission voted unanimously (4-0) to accept the settlement. Continue Reading Recall Roundup: October

Retailers sued in state court might be pleasantly surprised to learn that the presence of a forum defendant may not always prevent removal to federal court based on diversity of citizenship. A procedural maneuver known as “snap removal” can allow a defendant to remove such a case in certain situations. Although federal district court rulings on the procedure’s validity are divergent, snap removal could gain traction from a recent thumbs up by the Third Circuit. Regardless of the governing precedent, successful snap removal requires constant vigilance, quick action and even a little luck. Continue Reading “Snap” to It When Your Company Is Sued in State Court

This past week, several consumer actions made headlines that affect the retail industry. Continue Reading Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

On August 17, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) voted to adopt amendments to duplicative, overlapping, outdated or superseded disclosure rules for public companies. The new rules take effect on November 5, 2018 and are effective for all SEC filings made on or after that date.  Continue Reading New SEC Disclosure Standards Effective November 5

Brick and mortar retailers are rapidly diversifying checkout and payment methods to combat the erosion of sales to online channels and provide an improved shopping experience for consumers. From self-checkout kiosks, to store-specific mobile applications for payment, scan-as-you-go devices, and even ‘just walk out’ models, retailers are reinventing consumer’s notions of the traditional checkout line by going cashierless. Some estimates predict that these automated technologies could account for 35% of retail sales in the next 20 to 30 years. Continue Reading Lawyering Cashierless Technologies

As reported on the Hunton Employment & Labor Perspectives blog, the NLRB’s Office of the General Counsel (“the General Counsel”) recently issued an internal directive regarding the manner in which NLRB Regions prosecute duty of fair representation charges against unions. Under the National Labor Relations Act, unions have a duty of fair representation to the members of the bargaining unit it represents by engaging in conduct that is not arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith, particularly with regard to the processing of worker grievances. Board law has established (and unions typically offer as a defense) that “mere negligence” alone does not amount to arbitrary conduct that would serve to breach the duty of fair representation. Continue Reading NLRB General Counsel Elevates Standard for Unions’ Duty of Fair Representation

Branded keyword advertising (“BKA”)—bidding for your company’s website to feature prominently near a search engine’s results for branded or trademarked terms—has been around for over a decade. Under this practice, search engines auction off keywords, and the highest bidders receive advertising space adjacent to search results for those terms. Brand owners commonly bid on their own keywords and those of their competitors and related third parties.

Concerns that BKA runs afoul of trademark, false advertising, and unfair and deceptive trade practices laws were largely put to rest in 2013 and 2014, when a wave of court decisions held that, on its face, the practice does not constitute trademark infringement or cause customer confusion. However, a new challenge to BKA emerged earlier this year with the filing of Tichy v. Hyatt Hotels Corp., No. 1:18-cv-01959 (N.D. Ill.). In Tichy, a putative class of online consumers alleges that six major hotel chains violated antitrust laws by conspiring with each other and with third-party online travel agencies like Expedia and Priceline to refrain from bidding on each other’s branded keywords. Continue Reading Exposure for Branded Keyword Advertising in Hospitality and Retail

September ushered in a shift in political power at the CPSC with the confirmation of a new commissioner. In June, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Trump’s nomination of Dana Baiocco—a Republican—to the CPSC. Commissioner Baiocco’s appointment created the potential for a 2-2 voting tie if issues presented to the CPSC give rise to voting along party lines. One CPSC vacancy remained for which President Trump nominated Peter Feldman—another Republican—in June to both complete the remainder of former Commissioner Joe Mohorovic’s term, which expires in October 2019, and to serve a full seven-year term starting in October 2019.  Continue Reading Recall Roundup: September