On July 1, 2019, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued an opinion letter regarding permissible rounding practices under the Service Contract Act (“SCA”).  Although the SCA governs government contractors, the DOL’s guidance is nevertheless helpful to retailers because the SCA incorporates Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) rounding principles, which are applicable to them.

Continue Reading Latest DOL Guidance Sanctions Rounding Practices

The Federal Trade Commission has stepped up enforcement of the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 (CRFA) which prohibits companies from barring honest consumer reviews of their products and services. While enforcement of the CRFA was initially slow, that changed this year.

Continue Reading Thinking About Restricting Online Reviews? FTC: Think Again

With summer in full swing, several U.S. senators have taken a public step to focus the CPSC’s efforts on dangers at the beach. Airborne umbrellas have become a serious hazard to beachgoers. In fact, CPSC data indicates that there have been over 31,000 beach umbrella-related injuries from 2008 to 2017, including the death of a vacationer after she was struck in the torso and killed by a rogue umbrella in Virginia Beach in 2016. In an unusual move, four senators recently issued a letter urging the CPSC to be more proactive about addressing the dangers posed by beach umbrellas. The senators requested more detailed information about umbrella-related injuries, asked about safety standards to prevent such injuries, and encouraged the creation of a public safety campaign to educate the public about the dangers of beach umbrellas.

Continue Reading Recall Roundup: July

Bankruptcy filings of big box retailers such as Sears, Shopko and Charming Charlie have left landlords with difficult space to fill, especially at a time when few retailers are looking to expand and open new brick-and-mortar stores. Charming Charlie will close all of its 261 stores in 2019 (35 of which are located in Texas) while Sears announced 80 new store closures at the beginning of 2019 in addition to the 220 store closures it announced last year. Sears owned 687 stores at the time it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last October. In March, Shopko announced that it would close all of its 370 stores in connection with its bankruptcy filing at the beginning of this year. With other big box retailers including David’s Bridal and Bon-Ton both trying to hold onto their retail stores despite entering Chapter 11 protection, there is uncertainty as to how much empty space landlords will be left to fill. Due to the current state of the retail market, landlords may need to get creative in order to lease important anchor tenant space left empty by these recent bankruptcy filings.

Continue Reading Thinking Outside the (Big) Box

The National Advertising Division (NAD) affirmed that Reckitt Benckiser, Inc.’s claim of “#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand” for its Resolve Carpet Cleaner product line is supported by the appropriate underlying unit sales data. Responding to a challenge brought by BISSELL Homecare, Inc., NAD noted that Reckitt Benckiser’s “#1 Brand” claim is properly understood to mean that the brand itself, rather than any specific product, holds the highest market share in its relevant category. To that, Nielsen tracking data for units of products sold to consumers in the “carpet cleaning brand” category supports Reckitt Benckiser’s “#1 Brand” sales superiority claim for the Resolve products. Still, NAD noted that Reckitt Benckiser fails to properly identify the time period and scope for the relevant data in its disclaimer. Reckitt Benckiser has agreed to comply with NAD’s recommendation of a modified disclaimer in the future use of its “#1 Brand” claim.

Continue Reading Be My #1 – NAD Scrutinizing Top Ratings Claims

The balance of power at the CPSC will shift after Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle’s surprising announcement that she will leave the CPSC this fall. Buerkle has served as a CPSC Commissioner for six years and the Acting Chairman of the agency for almost half that time. President Trump has nominated Buerkle to be the permanent Chairman three times (2017, 2018, and 2019), but each time the Senate failed to vote on her nomination. Buerkle announced she is withdrawing her 2019 nomination to become the permanent Chairman and to serve an additional seven-year term. She will continue as Acting Chairman until September 30 and will complete the remainder of her term as Commissioner until October 27. She says that afterward, she will “pursue new opportunities that will allow me to continue my life’s work of advocacy and public service as well as spend more time with my six children and eighteen grandchildren.”

Continue Reading Recall Roundup: June

Many retailers use bonus programs to incentivize employee performance. With respect to bonuses paid to non-exempt employees (i.e., those employees who are entitled to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act), the retailer must then determine whether it owes additional overtime on the incentive bonus.

Continue Reading Must a Retailer Pay Additional Overtime on Incentive Bonuses Paid to Non-exempt Employees? DOL Opinion Letter Says, “It Depends”

Anyone who uses a mobile device knows there are times when hands-free is a necessity. Enter National Products, Inc., a US maker of RAM® Mounts for securely mounting electronic devices—including phones, tablets, laptops and radar detectors—in cars, trucks, bikes and boats, among other vehicles.

Continue Reading “Mounting” an Offense in the ITC to Stop Foreign Knockoffs at the Border

The FTC and the FDA jointly sent warning letters to four manufacturers of flavored e-liquid products, citing the absence of particular disclosures in paid social media endorsements as potentially in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the FTC Act.

Continue Reading FTC and FDA Warn e-Liquid Companies to Disclose Hazards and Connections

Social media can be a minefield of intellectual property issues. The hashtag, for example, began as a searching tool, but now has evolved into its own form of communication. And if a hashtag can include a trademark or otherwise represent a brand, when can you use someone else’s trademark in a hashtag?

Continue Reading District Court Finds Use of Third-Party Hashtags Created Implied Association