Gennex Media LLC, a customizable product online marketplace, and its sole officer and shareholder Akil Kurji, have agreed to an FTC consent decree resolving allegations the company falsely claimed its Brandnex novelty products were “Made in USA,” “USA MADE,” and “Manufactured Right Here in America!” when, in many instances, they were wholly imported from China. Gennex heavily promoted its products’ domestic origin on social media, declaring they “support USA jobs.” In a unanimous decision, Gennex and its principal were ordered to pay $146,249.24 and were required to cease making claims that its customizable promotional products, including wristbands, lanyards, temporary tattoos, and buttons, are made in America.
Signed into law on December 27, 2020, the Trademark Modernization Act of 2020 (TMA) provides amendments to existing federal trademark law that will assist US retailers and other businesses with branding decisions. Congress passed the TMA as part of the COVID-19 relief and government-funding bill.
Commercial tenants who are unable to pay their rent as a result of COVID-19 shutdown and capacity-limit orders have, thus far, found little relief from courts, who have by and large rejected their common law defenses seeking a discharge of lease obligations. One recent Massachusetts case, however, sides with a commercial tenant, albeit under narrow circumstances, approving of the often-unsuccessful “frustration of purpose” defense.
In response to industry and consumer demand created by the COVID-19 pandemic, ASTM International (ASTM) has released a new voluntary standard for the design, labeling, testing, and performance of face coverings. The new standard, ASTM F3502-21, is the first voluntary standard directed at face coverings and “is intended to establish a national baseline” to allow consumers to make more informed decisions about the face covering products they use.
During his 2020 campaign, now President Biden promised to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, something progressives have long been proposing. The Democratic-held House of Representatives introduced and passed the Raise the Wage Act in 2019, but the bill never reached a vote in the then-GOP controlled Senate.
Despite the uncertainty of 2020, initial public offerings (IPOs) in the US set records in 2020, recording 407 IPOs that raised a total of $145 billion. The 2020 IPO boom more than doubled the 195 IPOs recorded in 2019 that raised a total of $56 billion. Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), which made up 230 IPOs, influenced the bulk of the IPO activity in 2020. Although most of the SPACs have not yet completed their mergers, the completed SPAC mergers in 2020 showed a 41 percent return. Excluding SPACs, traditional IPOs raised $83 billion across 203 issuers, again representing the strongest IPO market in two decades.
While the eleven January recalls are summarized below, this first “Roundup” focuses on the evolving use of cashierless technology and what role it may play in the context of product recalls. Broadly speaking, cashierless technology refers to using technology at brick-and-mortar business locations that allows shoppers to enter the location and purchase consumer products without standing in a checkout line or interacting with a cashier. Rather, cameras and sensors track the products selected and charge the shoppers upon exit.
Disputes between restaurants and third-party food delivery services—such as Grubhub and Uber Eats—have made headlines over recent years. This tension has only been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 was a particularly tough year for restaurants across the country and even tougher in cities like New York where rents are high and state-mandated business closures resulted in significant cuts to already narrow profit margins. However, the same has not been true for third-party food delivery services. In 2020, food delivery apps saw substantial increases in revenues. Uber Eats, for example, reported revenues of $2.51 billion in 2019; that number jumped to approximately $3.5 billion for the first nine months of 2020.
For over 30 years, most district courts throughout the country have used a two-step conditional certification process to govern certification of collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). But in its recent and game-changing opinion, Swales v. KLLM Transport Services, LLC, the Fifth Circuit rejected that two-step process and laid out a stricter framework for FLSA collective actions. This is an important decision for the retail industry, a frequent target of FLSA lawsuits, given the industry’s large workforce. Retailers facing putative FLSA collective actions in the Fifth Circuit (Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi federal courts) will benefit from the increased early scrutiny of certification issues mandated by this decision, and retailers across the country should keep a close watch on whether the Fifth Circuit’s opinion is adopted by other federal courts.
This is an extraordinary and unprecedented time for the retail industry. Our 2020 Retail Industry Year in Review provides an in-depth analysis of the issues and challenges that retailers faced in the past year, and a look ahead at what they can expect in 2021.