Last week marked a double milestone for the FTC: Rebecca Slaughter assumed the role of Acting Chair, and the agency brought its first enforcement action under the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (“BOTS Act”), 15 U.S.C. § 45c(a)(1). Continue Reading FTC Brings First BOTS Act Case Against Online Ticket Brokers
After a hiatus from civil penalties, the CPSC recently announced a $12 million penalty. In November 2017, Walter Kidde Portable Equipment Inc. (“Kiddie”) recalled fire extinguishers for two issues. First, the fire extinguishers could become clogged or require excessive force to discharge. Second, the nozzle of the fire extinguishers could detach. These issues could result in a failure of the fire extinguishers to discharge during a fire emergency. In fact, a 2014 death was reported involving a car fire after emergency responders could not get the fire extinguishers to work. By November 2017, Kiddie had received 391 reports of defects, including one fatality, 16 injuries, and 91 episodes of property damage.
A flurry of asbestos-related activity in the last weeks of 2020 will require the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to devote significant regulatory attention to asbestos in 2021. The incoming Biden Administration will need to address these Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) developments, and the scope of that response will determine whether regulatory implications extend beyond asbestos to other chemical substances. Continue Reading Asbestos Reporting and Regulation to be a TSCA Focal Point for EPA in 2021
The FTC settled charges with mobile advertising company Tapjoy, Inc., on allegations that the company failed to provide promised rewards in exchange for completed activities such as the payment of money, disclosure of sometimes-sensitive personal information, or registration for “free trial” marketing offers. The FTC’s agreement, approved unanimously by the agency’s 5 Commissioners, requires Tapjoy to more conspicuously state the terms of their offers, more closely monitor consumer complaints, and more diligently track advertising partners who deliver (and fail to deliver) promised rewards.
Congress has passed a law mandating nationwide compliance with California’s flammability standard for upholstered furniture. The “COVID-19 Regulatory Relief and Work from Home Safety Act,” included in the massive appropriations bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the President on December 27, 2020, incorporates the provisions previously proposed in the Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act (SOFFA), a bill widely supported by the furniture industry.
Corporate executives are optimistic about M&A activity in 2021, with 53% of U.S. CEOs in a recent PwC survey stating that their companies planned to increase M&A activity in the coming year. Despite the economic challenges faced in 2020, in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, other factors, such as record low interest rates and significant amounts of corporate cash reserves and private equity capital, mean that some strategic and private equity buyers are in a strong position to engage in deal making.
The FTC approved amendments to its Energy Labeling Rule, adding portable air conditioners to the class of appliances requiring yellow EnergyGuide labels effective October 1, 2022, and updating energy efficiency descriptors for central air conditioning units. The vote to approve the Rule was 4-1, with a concurring statement from Commissioner Chopra and a dissent from Commissioner Wilson. These two statements reflect deeply divergent views of the FTC’s role that everyone—not only air conditioner manufacturers—should keep in mind.
The FTC has obtained a $1.2 million settlement in a follow-on action against glue manufacturer Chemence, the largest judgment for a Made in USA the agency has ever imposed. According to the FTC, Chemence violated a 2016 order involving deceptively labeled “Proudly Made in USA” glue products whose inputs were imported. Chemence subsequently provide trade materials claiming its private label glue products were all or virtually all Made in USA when significant proportions of the chemical inputs and overall costs to manufacture the products were attributable to foreign materials. The FTC’s new order prohibits unqualified “Made in USA” claims on Chemence products and requires qualified “Made in USA” claims to conspicuously disclose the origin of the parts and processing of the product. Under the terms of the agreement, Chemence is also required to notify customers and provide compliance reports to the FTC.
The CPSC recently posted guidance on its website for consumer products related to COVID-19, including personal protective equipment. The guidance covers four categories of products: (a) face coverings, (b) gowns, (c) gloves, and (d) disinfectant and cleaning products. The guidance emphasizes that personal protective equipment sold to consumers must comply with all CPSC regulations, which include testing, certification, labeling, and recordkeeping requirements. The guidance drew sharp criticism from CPSC Commissioner Dana Baiocco in a statement: