Few other retail sectors have seen the expansion that dollar stores have in the past decade, not to mention in the chaotic first half of 2020. During a time when other retailers are struggling to stay afloat due to social distancing requirements and widespread economic uncertainty, dollar stores are continuing to increase their physical presence as well as their profits. Dollar stores tend to cluster in either rural areas where access to traditional grocery and retail stores is limited or in underserved urban communities that lack full-service grocery stores.

Continue Reading The Rise of the Dollar Store

Two putative class actions recently filed in the Northern District of California—Ambrose v. Kroger Co. and Nguyen v. Amazon.com, Inc. —preview a new theory of consumer claims relating to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Rather than rely on alleged omissions or representations about health risks, the plaintiffs claim that they relied on marketing statements that indicated the products they purchased (“compostable” disposable dinnerware) were disposable and would completely degrade over time and that the presence of PFAS in the products means those marketing statements were false. That focus on the environmental persistence of PFAS, rather than the substances’ alleged health effects, marks a new approach to PFAS consumer class actions.

Continue Reading Is a Wave of PFAS Consumer Class Actions on the Horizon?

On May 19, 2020, the US Department of Labor (DOL) issued its final rule likely expanding the FLSA’s Section 7(i) overtime exemption for commission-based workers in retail and service industries by withdrawing the long-standing, historical list of businesses that the DOL identified as falling within or outside of what it deemed to be a retail or service establishment.

Under the final rule, which was issued without notice and comment and takes effect immediately, the DOL removes the lists of business with “no retail concept” and that “may be recognized as retail” from the regulations.  This means, that in order in doing so, business establishments that were excluded may now be considered as offering a retail product or service and qualify for the exemption.

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In an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court held in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com that “generic.com” marks may be registered trademarks or service marks when consumers do not perceive them as generic.

Continue Reading Consumer Perception is Key to Registration of Generic “.com” Marks

3M Company (3M) is a leading manufacturer of N95 respirators. According to 3M, medical workers and public-health professionals consider 3M-branded N95 respirators to be “the gold standard.”

Continue Reading Can Trademark Law Combat Price Gouging? 3M is Testing Theories to Protect its Brand

At a June 16, 2020 hearing, the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation considered President Trump’s nomination of Nancy Beck to the CPSC.  In March, Trump announced his nomination of Dr. Beck to be Chairman and Commissioner of the CPSC.  The CPSC currently consists of two Republican appointees and two Democratic appointees with one of the Democratic appointees—Robert Adler—serving as Acting Chairman.  This month’s committee hearing included tough questions from Democrats and Republicans about how Dr. Beck would prevent unauthorized releases of confidential business information held by CPSC – a problem that has plagued the agency recently.  Dr. Beck was also quizzed about her prior experience as the Senior Director for Science Policy at the American Chemistry Council, which is a chemical industry lobbyist group.  Senate Democrats have expressed opposition to Dr. Beck’s confirmation as well as one Senate Republican on the committee – Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).  If every Democrat on the committee plus Senator Capito oppose the nomination, then the committee’s vote count is at a 13-13 tie, signaling that the nomination may not proceed to a full Senate floor vote.

Continue Reading Recall Roundup: June

Due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many San Francisco businesses have closed in order to contain the spread of the pandemic, resulting in declining revenues and widespread business interruption. These economic conditions have led to employee layoffs across San Francisco. As San Francisco employers work to restore their business operations in the wake of COVID-19, they should be aware of new rules that may affect how they rebuild their workforce.

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In April 2020, the National Advertising Division (NAD) rolled out a Fast-Track SWIFT option (“Single Well-defined Issue Fast Track”) for certain cases under review. The new SWIFT track expedites the process for single-issue disputes that do not require complex evidence or argument and meet certain parameters. On June 10, the NAD published its first trio of SWIFT decisions that illustrate what participants can expect from the new process. Continue Reading NAD Unveils its First Three Cases Under New SWIFT Fast-Track Process

One novel feature of the 2020 proxy season has been the surge in virtual shareholder meetings. For example, one provider of virtual meeting services reported four times as many virtual shareholder meetings as last year. Although the rise in virtual meetings this year resulted from safety precautions surrounding COVID-19, after weighing the benefits and becoming more comfortable with conducting business remotely, it is likely that many companies will continue to use virtual shareholder meetings or hybrid in-person and virtual meetings in the future.

Continue Reading Will Virtual Shareholder Meetings Become the New Normal?