This past week, several regulatory and self-regulatory actions made headlines that affect the retail industry.

FTC Regulatory Reforms

Last week, the FTC announced certain regulatory changes, and is seeking input on several of its rules, including:

  • Picture Tube Rule: The Picture Tube Rule, which was initiated in 1966 and last amended in 1994, requires manufacturers to base television screen size representations on the dimensions of the actual, viewable area (unless an alternative method of measurement is disclosed clearly and conspicuously). The FTC is reviewing whether the rule is still necessary, particularly in light of changes in television technology. The FTC is currently seeking comments.
  • Textile Rules: The FTC proposes to eliminate certain provisions of its Textile Labeling Rules, which requires marketers to attach labels to textile products disclosing the manufacturer or marketer name, country where the product was processed or manufactured, and the generic names and percentages by weight of fibers in the product. The FTC is currently seeking comments on the proposal.
  • Energy Labeling Rule: The FTC proposes to eliminate provisions of its Energy Labeling Rule, which requires yellow EnergyGuide labels on certain appliances to help consumers compare models. Specifically, the changes eliminate obsolete marketing requirements for plumbing products, exempt certain ceiling fans from labeling requirements and update labels to cover electric instantaneous water heaters. The FTC sought public comment in September 2016.
  • CAN-SPAM Rule: The FTC is seeking public comment on its rule implementing the CAN-SPAM Act. The Act requires that commercial email contain accurate subject and header lines, identify itself as an advertisement, include a valid physical address and offer email recipients a method to opt out of future messages.

Verizon Fios Advertising Referred to FTC and FCC for Further Review

The NAD referred advertising claims made by Verizon Communications, Inc. to the FTC and FCC after Verizon declined to participate in a NAD proceeding. The challenged claims include “Fastest Internet Available” and “Fastest Most Reliable Internet Available,” among others. The claims were challenged by Comcast Cable Communications.

Aldi Discontinues Claims and Appeals NAD Decision

The NAD has recommended that Aldi, Inc. discontinue certain pricing claims made in print and YouTube advertising. The claims include comparing prices for Aldi’s private label products to name-brand products sold by competitors. While Aldi agreed to discontinue the challenged claims, it plans to appeal the NAD’s jurisdiction over advertising that Aldi asserted was local in scope.

NAD Recommends ViewSonic Corp. Discontinue Comparative Claims

NAD has recommended that ViewSonic Corporation discontinue certain comparative claims related to color accuracy made for the company’s 1-chip DLP digital projectors. Despite its recommendation, the NAD found that ViewSonic could support versions of the claims in a stand-alone context. The claims were challenged by ViewSonic’s competitor for digital projectors, Epson America Inc.