On May 6, 2020, the United States Supreme Court held oral argument in William P. Barr, et al. v. American Association of Political Consultants, et al., No. 19-631 (Nov. 14, 2019). In Barr, the Court was asked to consider the constitutionality of the government debt collection exemption to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Under that exemption, calls placed to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States government are not subject to the TCPA’s autodialing restrictions. The questions before the Court were (1) is the government debt collection exemption unconstitutional under the First Amendment and (2) if so, whether the constitutionality can be addressed by simply severing that exemption from the statute or whether the entire statute should be invalidated. Based on the tone of the oral argument, the tide may be changing for the TCPA.

Continue Reading Have We Seen the End of the TCPA? Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument Regarding the Constitutionality of the TCPA

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on retailers in an already battered industry. Commencing in mid-March, governors from a majority of states issued executive orders requiring nonessential businesses to close to combat the spread of COVID-19. Retailers who rely on foot traffic to support their businesses felt a swift and severe impact. Retailers who recently had filed bankruptcy under chapter 11 had their reorganization efforts disrupted in unprecedented fashion.

Continue Reading Bankruptcies on Ice: Retailers Obtain Further Extensions of Stay Orders Through the End of May

Responding to a challenge from Align Technology, Inc. (Align), maker of Invisalign, the National Advertising Division (NAD) recommended that SmileDirectClub (SDC) modify certain of its comparative advertising claims, while finding that others were sufficiently substantiated.

Continue Reading NAD Recommends SmileDirectClub Straighten Out Some of its Aligner Advertising Claims

Many recent government orders require “nonessential” businesses to close due to COVID-19, resulting in massive financial losses for many retail businesses. The orders also change how “essential” retailers do business. For instance, Miami-Dade County’s mayor issued an executive order requiring people who visit or work at, among other places, grocery stores, restaurants and pharmacies to use face coverings. Los Angeles County issued a similar order. These orders may result in businesses’ turning away noncompliant customers, which will cause further financial harm. Regardless of the jurisdictions where your retail business is located, it is likely that there is a governmental order affecting its operations. Your business is likely sustaining or will sustain substantial losses as a result, and incur additional expenses to comply with evolving requirements and guidelines and in resuming operations as soon as possible.

Continue Reading No Mask, No Service – Evolving COVID-19 Orders May Support Insurance Coverage for Retailers’ Losses

Importers that have suffered “significant financial hardship” due to COVID-19 may qualify for a 90-day pay extension for certain tariffs. On April 19, 2020, following calls for trade liberalization to ease economic pressures, the Trump administration issued an executive order, along with a temporary final rule by the US Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which postpones the time to deposit certain duties, taxes and fees. However, the 90-day pay extension is limited in scope and certain goods are not eligible for the extension.

Continue Reading 90-Day Tariff Relief Provides Retailers with Much-Needed Liquidity

Trade dress, which includes the total look of a product (size, shape, color) is registrable as a trademark if, like a trademark, it identifies the source of a product. Thanks to a recent decision, In re Forney Industries Inc., Appeal No. 2019-1073, by the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (Federal Circuit), it may now be easier for businesses to obtain federal trademark registration for some color-based product packaging trade dress.

Continue Reading Your Color-Based Product Packaging Mark Might Be Protectable Trade Dress

On April 21, the FTC announced a record-setting $9.3 million settlement with online retailer Fashion Nova for violating the decades-old Mail Order Rule by failing to meet advertised shipping times and failing to adequately compensate consumers affected by the delays.

Continue Reading Will It Still be “In” When It Gets Here? Online Fashion Retailer Agrees to Largest Ever Settlement for Slow Deliveries

As reported on the Hunton Employment & Labor Perspectives blog, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued two executive orders to begin the process of reopening businesses in the state. These executive orders, which will go into effect in the coming week, pertain to businesses that provide non-essential retail services, and hospital capacity in the face of COVID-19.

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The COVID-19 pandemic poses unique and novel challenges to publicly-traded retailers, particularly with respect to design and testing of both internal controls over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. We recommend that retailers assess what has changed in the current financial reporting environment, consider whether existing controls are sufficient to prepare financial statements and disclosure documents at the reasonable assurance level, and determine what new controls (if any) are necessary to reduce the risk of errors and fraud.

Continue Reading COVID-19: Considerations for Internal Controls Over Financial Reporting