Technology & E-Commerce

For the past few years, retailers have been confronted with a tidal wave of litigation alleging that their websites are inaccessible in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Indeed, in 2018 alone, one analysis determined that there were at least 2,258 web accessibility cases filed in federal court, a 177 percent increase from the previous year. Of these cases, a total of 1,564—over 69 percent—were filed in New York federal courts by just a handful of lawyers, including Jeffrey Gottlieb, Bradley Marks, C.K. Lee, Joseph Mizrahi, Jonathan Shalom and Doug Lipsky, with a surge following two unsuccessful motions to dismiss in cases involving Five Guys and Blick Art.
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Ghost kitchens are one of the hottest trends in food. Ghost kitchens (also known as dark kitchens, cloud kitchens, and virtual restaurants, among a slew of other flashy names) are delivery-only restaurants found almost exclusively on food delivery apps like UberEats and Grubhub. Rather than storefronts with dining areas, they usually operate out of existing restaurants, commissary kitchens or food trucks. 
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As reported on Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Privacy & Information Security Law Blog on January 25, 2019, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that an allegation of “actual injury or adverse effect” is not required to establish standing to sue under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.
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On January 7, 2019, California Assemblyman Phil Ting introduced Assembly Bill 161 which would prohibit businesses from providing paper receipts except upon request, citing “significant positive environmental and public health effects.” The goal of the Bill is to reduce consumers’ exposure to chemicals contained on paper receipts, such as BPA, and to reduce the carbon footprint.
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Retail stores and businesses are generally free to develop their own policies regarding acceptance or non-acceptance of certain forms of payment. For years, many small businesses have refused credit card payments entirely or credit card payments for transactions under a certain amount due to high transaction costs. Smaller retailers may also refuse certain brands of credit cards. However, a different trend has emerged in recent years as an increasing number of retailers are refusing to accept cash and instead accepting only credit/debit and smartphone payments.
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On January 17, 2019, Hunton Andrews Kurth’s retail industry team, composed of more than 200 lawyers across practices, released their annual Retail Industry Year in Review publication.
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Brick and mortar retailers are rapidly diversifying checkout and payment methods to combat the erosion of sales to online channels. 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.
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Branded keyword advertising—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. But a recent line of cases concerning branded keyword advertising should be of concern to all online vendors.
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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.
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