The FTC has announced that it will host a workshop on July 16, 2019, called Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions, aimed at examining manufacturer restrictions on consumer and third-party product repairs and the extent to which such restrictions implicate consumer protection. The announcement lists covered topics, including the interplay between repair restrictions and consumer protection laws like those in the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act; the impact of repair restrictions on extended warranties and service agreements; the types of repair reductions in the United States and extent to which these restrictions are used; and consumers’ understanding about the existence and effects of repair restrictions, among other subjects.

Continue Reading FTC Announces July 2019 Repair Restrictions Workshop, Solicits Research and Comments

With the partial federal government shutdown over, the CPSC appears to be quickly returning to normal—it issued 18 recalls in this month. The agency also took an unusual and noteworthy step by issuing notice that the CPSC would regard clothing storage units that do not meet the industry standard designed to reduce tip-over events to have a defect which could present a substantial product hazard.

Continue Reading Recall Roundup: February

On March 4, the FTC published the revised Hart-Scott-Rodino (“HSR”) thresholds in the Federal Register. Retail (or other) companies contemplating mergers or acquisitions need to be aware of the new thresholds. Companies may need to file with the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice if the value of the deal exceeds $90 million. The revised thresholds will apply to all transactions closed on or after April 3, 2019.

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On February 25, the National Advertising Division (“NAD”) referred Nectar Sleep’s “Limited Offer: $125 Off + 2 Free Pillows” claim to the FTC after the advertiser declined to participate in the NAD’s self-regulatory process. The complaint was brought to the NAD’s attention by challenger Tuft & Needle, LLC, who alleged that Nectar’s offer was always available to consumers, and therefore was not a “limited” offer. The challenger also complained that Nectar’s pillows are not independently offered for sale and therefore should not be advertised as “free.” NAD requested substantiation from the advertiser but did not receive a substantive response from Nectar.

On February 26, the FTC announced a settlement with a weight-loss pill company that is alleged to have purchased 5-star Amazon reviews from a third party. The settlement includes a judgment of  $12.8 million (which will be suspended upon payment of $50,000 to the FTC and payment of outstanding taxes), and ongoing compliance requirements for 10 years. Notably, the settlement also requires the company to have competent and reliable scientific evidence substantiating any appetite suppressant, weight loss, “blocks fat,” or disease-treatment claims in the form of human clinical testing supporting the claims. This is the FTC’s first case challenging fake reviews purchased by a marketer and posted to an independent retail site.

While footwear may not appear to be fertile ground for new inventions, many shoe makers have been granted patent protection for the technologies that go into their products. Sometimes, those inventions are rolled out with little fanfare. Others are, literally, flashy.

Continue Reading Stride Rite Turns Out the Lights on Competitors’ Light-Up Footwear Patents

Activist investors continue to make liberal use of the SEC’s Rule 14a-8 to submit proposals for inclusion in company proxy statements. One of the most important shareholder trends to emerge from 2018 is the increasing involvement and support of large institutional investors in certain campaigns. Crisis management was one area in particular that institutional investors prioritized and sought disclosure on in 2018. Highly charged current events such as the MeToo Movement, the opioid crisis and the debate over gun safety, for example, have led shareholders at some of the largest retailers and manufacturers to urge greater disclosure on the reputational risks of these issues.

Continue Reading Recent Trends in Shareholder Proposals

As reported on the Privacy & Information Security Law Blog on February 8, 2019, the European Commission has issued an EU-wide recall of the Safe-KID-One children’s smartwatch marketed by ENOX Group over concerns that the device leaves data such as location history, phone and serial numbers vulnerable to hacking and alteration.

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In a challenge brought by Aquasana, Inc., the NAD determined that Advanced Purification Engineering Corp. (APEC), a manufacturer of water filtration systems, was not responsible for substantiating or correcting “Made in USA” claims made in customer reviews posted on third-party sites.

Continue Reading NAD Finds Responsibility for “Made In USA” Does Not Extend to Third-Party Customer Reviews

The partial federal government shutdown forced the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC” or “Commission”) along with other agencies to close for 35 days. In fact, the last recall on the Commission’s website is dated December 20, 2018—two days before the unprecedented shutdown began.

Continue Reading Recall Roundup: January