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Maine Supplements FTC Weight-Loss Enforcement Action

Marketing Architects, Inc. (“MAI”), an advertising agency specializing in direct response radio and television ads, will pay $2 million in equitable relief to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the Office of the Attorney General of Maine for allegedly creating and disseminating deceptive radio ads for weight-loss products AF Plus and Final Trim. The joint … Continue Reading

Kentucky Fried Justice: Court Dismisses KFC Bucket Dispute

A New York District Court dismissed the complaint of Anna Wurtzburger against fast food staple KFC over the size of KFC’s $20 “fill up” bucket. Wurtzburger alleged she purchased KFC’s “fill up” bucket meal advertised as consisting of “an eight piece bucket of chicken,” relying on the advertisement’s depiction of a bucket that may have … Continue Reading

Reed Smith partner Douglas Wood is honored to be co-chairing the 2018 Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Advertising Law & Public Policy Conference.

The ad industry – and the brands that are its anchors to success – are under attack. Two articles appearing in major publications take publishers, brands and agencies to task on legal issues. Please see the BuzzFeed article and the New York Times article. On the other hand, occasionally there is some good news. Brian Jacobs’ article in … Continue Reading

Court Says Don’t Cry Over Steamed Milk

A federal court granted Starbucks’ motion for summary judgment in a putative class action in which plaintiffs alleged Starbucks underfills lattes and mochas. The plaintiffs alleged that the underfilling of Starbucks drinks was a breach of warranty and constituted unfair competition and false advertising based on three arguments: (1) consumers should receive beverage volume equal … Continue Reading

Class Action Aims to Catch Canned Salmon Manufacturer for False Advertising

A class action complaint was recently filed against Bumble Bee Foods, LLC (“Bumble Bee”), the makers of canned fish and seafood. The false advertising lawsuit stems from the plaintiff’s assertion that Bumble Bee falsely implies its Premium Select Medium Red Smoked Salmon Filets in Oil are high quality, wild-caught, and naturally smoked.  The plaintiffs believe … Continue Reading

Brands Tap Into GM’s In-Vehicle Marketplace Feature

In early December, General Motors Co. (“GM”) unveiled Marketplace, an in-vehicle commerce platform facilitating on-demand goods and services, including the ability to make reservations, order food, and locate the nearest gas station through dashboard screens of eligible Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac vehicles. Brand partners include Dunkin’ Donuts, Wingstop, IHOP, Priceline.com, Parkopedia, and delivery.com. Marketplace … Continue Reading

Judge Hits Ctrl+Alt+Delete on Facebook User Tracking MDL

Judge Edward J. Davila of the Northern District of California recently administered the coup de grâce to an expansive multidistrict litigation over Facebook’s data use policy filed in 2012. The plaintiffs alleged that Facebook’s data use and privacy policy violated the federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Communications Act, California’s Invasion of Privacy Act, California consumer … Continue Reading

Preliminary Injunction Could Hinder Equinox Hotel Opening

Luxury fitness chain Equinox recently announced that it will be debuting its first fitness-oriented hotel in New York City in 2019, with additional sites planned for Los Angeles and other major cities. Certainly aware of this announcement was the San Francisco-based hotel company Equinox Hotel Management Inc., which already has existed in the hotel industry … Continue Reading

U.S. Customs Determines Coffee Bean Country of Origin is Where Roasted

Last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) published its final determination that the country where raw green coffee beans are roasted—not necessarily grown—is their country of origin for the purpose of government procurement.  It based this decision on the grounds that roasting raw green coffee beans renders them “substantially transformed” into a new article … Continue Reading

Just Like Grandma Used to Infringe: Trademark Battle Sparks Over “Nana”

Granny can’t catch a break. In the food and beverage industry, “NANA”-formative trademarks are plentiful.  However, the owner of several such marks has overstepped its bounds, asserts Nana Joe’s LLC in its complaint filed earlier this month in the Eastern District of Texas.  Nana Joe’s makes vegan and gluten free granola products, and has branded … Continue Reading

Soy Vey! FDA May Revoke Soy’s Heart Health-Claim

The FDA has called into question its health claim finding a link between consumption of soy protein and reduced risk of heart disease. Since 1999, the FDA has allowed manufacturers and advertisers to label soy products with an “authorized” claim of soy’s heart-health benefits.  However, proposed rulemaking may reduce it to a “qualified” claim of … Continue Reading

Montel Williams Aims Pot Shot at Cannabis Trademark Infringers

Talk show host and cannabis mogul Montel Williams recently filed suit against multiple medical marijuana retailers under the Lanham Act and Florida state law for trademark infringement, false advertising, violations of the right to publicity and right to privacy, and unfair business practices. Williams markets a line of medical-grade cannabidiol, or CBD, oils for use … Continue Reading

California Toughens Automatic-Renewal Law

California’s proposed Automatic-Renewal Law (ARL) passed the state Legislature earlier this month, tightening the requirements on companies that sell subscription services with automatically renewing payments to consumers. The new law comes on the heels of a flurry of class actions suits filed under California’s previous ARL enacted in 2010.  The 2010 ARL required auto-renewing consumer … Continue Reading

CARU Refers Dave & Busters Inquiry to FTC

Last month, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (“CARU”) referred claims by Dave & Busters Entertainment, Inc. to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). CARU’s initial inquiry involved Dave & Busters advertising that aired during children’s programming.  The ad started with large text that stated “Free Video Game Play”, and a voiceover said “Dave & Busters has … Continue Reading

Ride Sharing App Lyft Hit With TCPA Claim Based on Marketing Partner

Lyft, Inc. was hit with a putative class action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) this month. The plaintiffs allege that Lyft is liable for text messages sent by Jobcase, Inc., Lyft’s marketing agency. Notably, the plaintiffs believe that Jobcase sent text messages to prospective drivers on behalf of Lyft, including “Maria, START NOW: … Continue Reading

Celebrity Chef Sued By Certification Organization Over “Gluten-Free” Labelling

Last month, gluten intolerance advocacy group Gluten Intolerance Group (“GIG”) sued celebrity chef Jamie Oliver for trademark infringement and unfair business practices under the Lanham Act and state consumer protection laws in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. According to the complaint, GIG is an independent organization that certifies food producers … Continue Reading

Chipped Away: Frito-Lay Removes “All Natural” Label from Products Containing GMOs

The plaintiffs in a five year old consumer class action against Frito-Lay North America and its parent company PepsiCo, Inc. got their wish earlier this month when Frito-Lay agreed to remove the “All Natural” label from its products containing genetically modified organisms (“GMOs”). In July 2012, a proposed class of consumers who purchased Tostitos tortilla … Continue Reading

SCOTUS Denies Review of Indiana Anti-Robocall Law

The U.S. Supreme Court denied nonprofit Patriotic Veterans, Inc.’s petition for review of Indiana’s ban on the use of technology that automatically dials residential phone numbers and plays prerecorded messages. Patriotic Veterans, based in Illinois, uses this “robocall” technology to disseminate pre-recorded messages about political candidates’ positions on issues affecting veterans.  In 2010, however, the … Continue Reading

Ka-pow! 9th Circuit Finds Social Media Gag Order Unconstitutional in COMIC CON Trademark Dispute

In a previous post, we analyzed the battle over the trademark COMIC CON, which is owned by the San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC) but has been used by over 100 other comic book convention organizers.  SDCC brought suit against one of these alleged infringers, Dan Farr Productions, in 2014, but failed to secure summary judgment … Continue Reading

Florida Supreme Court Denies Copyright Protection for Sound Recordings Predating Coverage Under the Federal Copyright Act

In a major victory for media and broadcast entities, the Supreme Court of Florida recently established that Florida law does not recognize exclusive copyright protections for sound recordings that were “fixed” before February 15, 1972. Sound recordings fixed after this date are governed by federal copyright law. This decision arose out of a copyright infringement … Continue Reading
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