Technology & E-Commerce

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

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

A recent Supreme Court ruling regarding sales taxes and new tariffs on Chinese imports instituted by the Trump administration will impact many retailers, which could in turn have an effect on M&A activity in the retail industry. Continue Reading SCOTUS Tax Ruling and New Tariffs Could Affect Retail M&A Activity

As reported on Hunton’s Blockchain Legal Resource blog, in the race to develop blockchain technology, companies are increasingly devoting capital to creating proprietary blockchain solutions. A search of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) as of today returns 355 patent applications that contain either “blockchain” or “distributed ledger” in the abstract. Patents are being filed related to a wide variety of industries and applications, including supply chain management, autonomous deliveries, energy networks, electronic health records, 3D printing, travel itinerary management, data security and securing rights to digital media. Continue Reading Major Companies Are Quietly Amassing Blockchain Patents Across Industries

In a 5-4 decision with major implications for e-commerce retailers, the Supreme Court has closed the “online sales tax loophole” by holding that a state may collect sales tax from out-of-state sellers that do not maintain a physical presence in the state. The decision, South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. et al., No. 17-494, 585 U.S. __ (2018), overturns two prior Supreme Court cases holding that an out-of-state seller’s duty to collect and remit tax to a consumer’s home state depended on whether the seller had a physical presence in that state. The Court found that this “Physical Presence Rule” was inconsistent with “the present realities of the interstate marketplace” and was costing states an estimated $8 to $33 billion in revenue each year. The Court also was persuaded by the notoriously low rate of consumer compliance with use taxes, and by the fact that the state law in question afforded small merchants a “reasonable degree of protection” by applying only to sellers that annually delivered more than $100,000 of goods or services or engaged in 2,000 or more separate transactions for the delivery of goods or services into the state. The dissenting opinion by Chief Justice Roberts insists that Congress, not the courts, should have undertaken the task to overturn the Physical Presence Rule and that the burden of this new tax regime will fall disproportionately on start-ups and small businesses.

On April 10, 2018, SAP announced an updated pricing model to address indirect/digital access to its digital core products—SAP ERP, SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Cloud. In addition, SAP announced that it will separate its license sales department and auditing departments. These moves are in response to intense pressure SAP has experienced from existing and potential customers that culminated last year following (1) the decision rendered in favor of the software giant against one of its customers, where £55 million in damages was alleged by SAP, and (2) its $600 million claim against the world’s largest brewer which was recently reported as having been settled. Continue Reading SAP Announces New Licensing Model to Address “Indirect Access”

E-commerce and online shopping are here to stay, but the explosion of new technology and the number of resources available to facilitate online shopping is an opportunity for retailers to embrace new ideas and concepts that will increase foot traffic to their physical locations. The store-within-a-store concept isn’t new, but the type of store-within-a-store retailers have conventionally seen is changing and bringing in new business. Continue Reading Retailers Should Ensure Flexibility in Lease Agreements for In-Store Partners

Our retail clients are increasingly deploying cloud services solutions to realize cost savings, gain efficiency and enable scalability across numerous functions. In the past year, we have helped our clients deploy dozens of cloud-based point solutions, Enterprise Resource Planning systems and multi-application platforms. And our clients are not alone. One study forecasts that, in 2020, the worldwide public cloud service revenue will be $411.48 billion. However, while the benefits and popularity of cloud services are clear, cloud solutions are not without risks and challenges. Continue Reading Key Issues When Contracting for Cloud Services

As reported on the Hunton Privacy & Information Security Law Blog, on March 8, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (“Ninth Circuit”) reversed a decision from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada. The trial court found that one subclass of plaintiffs in In re Zappos.Com, Inc. Customer Data Security Breach Litigation had not sufficiently alleged injury in fact to establish Article III standing. The opinion focused on consumers who did not allege that any fraudulent charges had been made using their identities, despite hackers accessing their names, account numbers, passwords, email addresses, billing and shipping addresses, telephone numbers, and credit and debit card information in a 2012 data breach.  Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Reverses District Court Decision in Zappos Consumer Data Breach Case