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FTC Releases Guidance for Influencers

On Tuesday, the FTC released a set of guidelines for online influencers dictating when and how influencers must disclose sponsorships to their followers. The guidelines, available here, break down disclosure requirements and provide tips for influencers on how to avoid deceptive advertising. In general, the guidelines largely reflect what the industry has gleaned from FTC … Continue Reading

USDA Issues Highly Anticipated Interim Domestic Hemp Production Rule

On October 29, 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) released its highly anticipated interim final rule establishing rules and regulations for domestic hemp production. These interim regulations were required by the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill), which tasked the USDA with promulgating a regulatory framework for hemp production in the United … Continue Reading

Aloe Vera Supplement Marketer Feels the Burn After FTC Settlement Over Company’s Misleading Health Claims

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced its settlement with a Florida-based marketer and seller of aloe vera-based supplements over allegations that it deceived consumers in claiming that its products were effective treatments for a range of conditions affecting seniors, such as chronic pain, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, and acid reflux. According to the FTC’s … Continue Reading

Website and Its Operator Settle FTC Charges They Sold Fake Indicators of Social Media Influence

Devumi, LLC (“Devumi”) and its owner and CEO, German Calas, Jr. (“Calas”) have agreed to settle the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) complaint alleging that Devumi and Calas engaged in deceptive online marketing tactics in violation of the FTC Act. In this first-ever type of complaint, the FTC alleges that Devumi and Calas sold fake indicators … Continue Reading

FTC Obtains Temporary Restraining Order To Halt Company’s “Misleading” and “Bogus” Real Estate Seminars

Earlier this month, a federal court entered a temporary restraining order against a Utah-based business, which the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection (“DCP”) alleged used deceptive promises of big profits to lure consumers into real estate seminars costing thousands of dollars. According to the complaint filed by the FTC … Continue Reading

The FDA and FTC Join Forces in Issuing Warning Letter to CBD Product Company

On October 22, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) issued a public statement regarding a joint warning letter sent to Rooted Apothecary, LLC, a Florida-based company, for unlawfully marketing several of its products containing cannabidiol (“CBD”). The warning letter indicated that Rooted Apothecary, LLC was illegally marketing … Continue Reading

Internet Marketers Settle FTC Allegations They Deceived Consumers With False Claims of Free Trial Offers and Unauthorized Continuity Plans

Apex Capital Group, LLC – including its two principals Philip Peikos and David Barnett – and the twelve (12) entities it controlled (collectively, “Apex Capital”) have agreed to two separate court orders settling the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) allegations related to Apex Capital’s operation of a multi-national scheme to defraud consumers through free trial and … Continue Reading

FTC Settles with Beauty Brand Over False “Organic” and “Vegan” Claims

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a $1.76 million settlement with Truly Organic, Inc. and its CEO over allegations that the company’s personal care products advertised as “100% organic” were anything but. According to the FTC’s complaint, since at least 2015, the company advertised a range of personal care products including body washes, … Continue Reading

FTC Issues Warning Letters to Three CBD Companies

This week, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) sent warning letters to three companies that sell cannabidiol (“CBD”) products regarding the health claims found in the companies’ advertisements. The companies sold a variety of products containing CBD, including oils, tinctures, capsules, creams, and “gummies.” Each company claimed that its CBD products can prevent, treat, or cure … Continue Reading

FTC Announces Two More Actions Enforcing The Consumer Review Fairness Act

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced two new actions under the Consumer Review Fairness Act (“CRFA”) against companies that allegedly used non-disparagement provisions in consumer “form contracts” in connection with their respective services to rent properties. These two actions follow the FTC’s inaugural CRFA actions against three companies last month, which we previously … Continue Reading

FTC Continues Enforcement Against Deceptive “Free” Trials and Negative Option Plans

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced settlements with operators of a worldwide negative option scam, in which online marketers deceptively advertised “risk free” trial offers of its products, but charged consumers full price for the trial products and automatically enrolled them in negative-option continuity plans without their knowledge or consent. As we previously … Continue Reading

FTC and Law Enforcement Partners Join Forces To Wring Out Illegal Robocalls

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and its law enforcement partners announced their joint crackdown on illegal robocalls entitled, “Operation Call it Quits.” The operation is part of the FTC’s ongoing effort to stop the “universally loathed pre-recorded telemarking calls.” “Operation Call it Quits” includes 94 enforcement actions targeting operations around the country that … Continue Reading

Vaping Companies Take a Hit From The FTC and FDA Over Social Media Endorsements

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) issued joint warning letters to four companies that market flavored e-liquid (vaping) products. The letters cite postings by influencers on social media sites endorsing the companies’ products and state that the influencers’ posts failed to include a required nicotine … Continue Reading

FTC Seeks Public Comments to Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced it is seeking public comment on the effectiveness of amendments made by the agency in 2013 to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection (“COPPA”) Rule, and whether additional changes are needed. In connection with this initiative, the FTC will hold a public workshop on October 7, 2019. COPPA … Continue Reading

FTC Announces First Actions Enforcing The Consumer Review Fairness Act

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) issued three separate proposed administrative complaints and orders enforcing the Consumer Review Fairness Act (“CRFA”) – the first enforcement actions since the CRFA went into effect in March 2017. The CRFA prohibits businesses from using “form contract” provisions that bar consumers from writing or posting negative reviews online, … Continue Reading

FTC Settles Case For $25 Million With Dietary Supplement Sellers Over Cognitive Claims

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) settled charges against 12 companies who deceptively marketed “cognitive improvement” supplements by using sham news websites containing false and unsubstantiated efficacy claims, referencing non-existent clinical studies, and advertising fraudulent consumer and celebrity endorsements. According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants falsely claimed that their dietary supplements could enhance … Continue Reading

iSpring Water Settles Case With FTC For “Made In The USA” Claims

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced that it reached a settlement with iSpring Water Systems, LLC for allegedly making false claims that its wholly imported Chinese water filtration systems were made in the U.S.A – in violation of a 2017 FTC consent order. In 2017, the company made certain claims that its water filtration systems … Continue Reading

New York AG Declares War on Fake Followers, Likes, and Online Deception

Earlier this year, the New York Attorney General reached a “precedent-setting” settlement with Devumi LLC, a third-party website, over its sale of fake followers, “likes,” and views to customers on all major social media platforms. Devumi utilized computer-operated “bot” accounts and “sock-puppet accounts” (where an online user pretends to be one or many other people) … Continue Reading

The FTC “Intravenes:” Final Consent Order Approved Against iV Cocktails

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) approved a final consent order settling deceptive advertising charges against A&O Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a iV Bars regarding deceptive and unsupported health claims that iV Bars’ intravenously injected therapy products, or “iV Cocktails,” can safely and effectively prevent and treat such serious diseases as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and cardiovascular … Continue Reading

The FTC Takes a Bite out of Free Trials and Incentivized Reviews

This month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a settlement with San Francisco-based food delivery service UrthBox, Inc. and its principal, Behnam Behrouzi, regarding the company’s failure to adequately disclose key terms of its “free trial” automatic renewal programs and its misrepresentation of customer reviews. According to the FTC’s complaint, from October 2016 to November … Continue Reading

2019 SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contracts MOAs Breathe New Life into Decades-Old Contract

The Joint Policy Committee, LLC (“JPC”) reached an agreement with the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (“SAG-AFTRA”) on the 2019 Commercials Contract and Audio Commercials Contract on April 2, 2019. The deal, led by Reed Smith partner and Chief Negotiator, Stacy Marcus, now moves into its next stages and will be … Continue Reading

Reed Smith to Lead the ANA’s newly formed, Trust Consortium

On March 19, 2019 the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) launched the Trust Consortium. A copy of the press release can be found here. The ANA Trust Consortium is an alliance among ANA members and their partners and a voice for brands on transparency, measurement, auditing, digital fraud, brand safety, and more through ongoing reporting … Continue Reading

FTC Continues Enforcement Actions To Stop Deceptive Free-Trial And Negative Option Schemes

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently filed another case in a series of recent enforcement actions targeting allegedly deceptive online “free-trial” offers that tricked consumers into enrolling in negative option plans. The FTC charged Gopalkrishna Pai and eight (8) companies he owns and operates as a common enterprise with violating the FTC Act and the … Continue Reading

FTC Stops Fake Job Opportunity And Resume Repair Operation

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently charged two companies, Worldwide Executive Job Search Solutions, LLC and PrivateEquityHeadhunters.com and their owner Craig Chrest with violating the FTC Act and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule and swindling hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from consumers for fake job placement and resume repair services. At the FTC’s request … Continue Reading
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