Monthly Archives: May 2014

5 Facts About The “Right To Be Forgotten” Ruling

right to be forgotten ruling in EU
Will US defamation victims be able to take advantage of the new EU right to be forgotten ruling?

UPDATE: Google started accepting “right to be forgotten” removal requests. To see if you qualify, get in touch with us today!

The top European Union court announced a landmark ruling that will further the discussion about “right to be forgotten” Internet laws. We’ll explain the meat of the ruling and explore how it could affect online defamation victims.

What Is The Best Way To Get Defamatory Material Removed From The Internet?

The best way to mitigate an online defamation wound is to get the offending material removed from the website on which it sits. But, if you can’t expunge it completely, the (very close) second best option is to get the libelous info erased from search engine databases. That way, if someone pumps your name or business into Google or Yahoo! or Bing, the reputation damaging webpage won’t show up in results.

How Easy Is It To Get Libelous Content Removed From Search Engine Indexes in the United States?

How easy is it to get defamatory content removed from search engine results in the U.S.? It depends on the facts of your situation. It’s possible to get a court order compelling a  search engine to remove material, but in order to do so, one must first prove defamation.

If your lawsuit is in the beginning stages, you can sometimes get a temporary restraining order compelling website operators to remove material during the course of litigation.

How Easy Is It To get Libelous Content Removed From Search Engine Indexes in the European Union?

United States citizens may enjoy more free speech rights than our European counterparts, but their online privacy laws are a whole lot stricter than ours.

In May 2014, the European Court of Justice announced a landmark ruling regarding unflattering search engine content. In 1998, a man living in Spain suffered a reversal of fortune. He has since turned things around for the better. But when you pump his name into Google, his nearly 20-year-old house foreclosure is still front and center.

The man’s woes, though, will soon be over, because the EU Court said Google has to remove the information about his decades-old financial troubles from their index.

The Right to Be Forgotten v. The Right To Erasure

People on the “legal beat” are calling the new European online privacy stance “the right to be forgotten.” Officials in Europe, however, are taking it one step further and calling for a “right to erasure” law, which would allow individuals control over personal online information that is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed.”

Will The EU Right To Be Forgotten Ruling Affect The U.S. Tech Industry?

The EU’s right to be forgotten ruling will cost search engines money – lots of it. Why? They’ll have to implement new procedures to comply with the legal standard, as well as hire a slew of attorneys to focus on related issues.

And there is another concern – censorship. According to the Computer & Communications Industry Association, whose membership ranks include Facebook Inc., Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft, said about the EU right to be forgotten ruling:

“[It] opens the door to large scale private censorship in Europe,” adding that “our concern is it could also be misused by politicians or others with something to hide who could demand to have information taken down.”

Can U.S. Businesses ‘Take Advantage’ of the new EU Right To Be Forgotten?

Are you reading and wondering, “I wonder if I, a U.S. citizen, can somehow make the new EU ruling work for me? There is some unsightly information about me on the Web, and I’d really like it gone.”

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple and depends on whether or not you have any ties to Europe.

If you’re curious if you qualify to take action under the new European “right to be forgotten” standard, contact Kelly / Warner. We’ve successfully handled countless online defamation removal cases. We can help you, too.

Get in touch today to learn more about your legal options regarding the right to be forgotten laws.

Cocktail Waitress Lands Revenge Porn Uppercut on Boxer

revenge porn laws update
Boxer Adrien “The Problem” Broner got himself caught up in a revenge porn lawsuit.

It looks like boxer Adrien “The Problem” Broner can add revenge porn to his already impressive list of – shall we say – ego-fueled displays of pugnacious masculinity. A Nevada waitress and a sex tape anchor this go round.

Lights, Camera, Consensual Sex Tape!

A few months back, Broner, a woman named Andrea Reyes and a third female decided to get it on. Broner asked if he could, ya know, record the event for posterity. According to reports, both the ladies agreed to the ménage à trois, but Reyes only gave her thumbs up on the promise that the tape remain secret. She never, however, got Broner to sign anything to that effect.

So what did Broner do? Oh, he posted the threesome online for all his fans to see. Now, Reyes is suing and the other woman is staying very quiet (though, she may not be able to stay sidelined if she’s subpoenaed). Reyes contends that the unauthorized release of the tape “caused irreparable injury … and has forever defined the manner in which [the woman] will be viewed by individuals with whom she comes in contact.”

Sex Tapes Leads To Revenge Porn Lawsuit

Reyes threw down a barrel of torts in her sports defamation / revenge porn lawsuit against Broner, including:

  1. Breach of Contract
  2. Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealings in Contract
  3. Breach of Good Faith and Fair Dealing in Tort
  4. Negligence
  5. Public Disclosure of Private Facts
  6. Appropriation/Right to Privacy
  7. Intentional infliction of emotional distress
  8. Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

Will Broner’s Sexcapade Partner Win This Revenge Porn Lawsuit?

What are Reyes’ chances of winning this lawsuit? It depends. If she can somehow prove she and Broner struck a verbal agreement (i.e., the other participant heard the agreement and submits an affidavit of that fact, or declares such in a deposition), then Reyes will most probably emerge victorious in this revenge porn legal bout.

That said, good money is on it settling this suit out of court. Why? For one, Reyes isn’t asking for a boat-load of cash. She only requested a reasonable – for this situation — $30,000. Considering Broner’s bank account is about $500,000 fatter thanks to the Molina purse, there’s a good chance he’ll just settle to make this go away.

So, what can we take away from this sports defamation / revenge porn case?

First. If you want to agree to a sex tape, but don’t want it hitting the Internet, get your partner to sign an agreement to that effect ahead of time.

On the flip side, if your partner makes you sign a privacy agreement before bumping uglies on camera, and you violate it, prepare to be sued – and lose!

Speak With A Revenge Porn Attorney

Are you suffering through a revenge porn situation? Several states have already passed anti-revenge porn laws – and many more are on the way. Regardless of whether or not your state has a revenge porn law yet, in certain situations, you can get prurient material removed from the Internet without the help of a dedicated revenge porn law.

Contact Kelly / Warner today to learn more about your revenge porn legal options.

Doctor Defamation Case Study: Requested Review /= Defamation

Doctor Defamation Attorney May this doctor defamation tale serve as a cautionary one. The lesson? Don’t sue for defamation over a situation you initiated.

Acrimonious Doctor Departure Results In AAR

Back in 2003, a doctor locked heads with administrators at his medical facility. Ultimately, the doctor quit instead of dealing with the office tension. Deciphering from available documents, he received a severance package on departure.

Immediately after the doctor peaced-out, administrators – in accordance with the facility’s operating procedures – submitted an Adverse Action Report about the acrimonious ending of the doctor’s and hospital’s professional relationship.

Doctor Requests AAR Removal; Denied; Requests Investigation

Fast forward to 2011. The doctor contacted the hospital requesting removal of the AAR. Presumably, the virtual demerit wasn’t exactly doing wonders for his career.

But alas, the hospital refused.

Undeterred, the doctor went directly to HHS – the company that maintains the AAR database – about removing the AAR.

Now, HHS won’t just remove something because a doctor wants them to; instead, staff members investigate each situation. In this instance, an HHS representative contacted the hospital and asked for a recounting of the events that led to the doctor’s unceremonious departure.

Doctor Unhappy With HHS Investigation Results Sues For Defamation

The hospital complied and related “the sequence of events” to HHS. In the end, the Adverse Action Report stayed put. So, the doctor filed a defamation lawsuit, arguing that the revelation of his situation to HHS constituted defamation.

Judge Rules In Favor Of Hospital

The court, however, wasn’t feeling the doctor’s argument. The judge reasoned that the doctor, technically, requested an investigation; as such, he has no right to financial damages over the information uncovered in said inquiry.

Doctors Do Win Defamation Lawsuits Involving Negative Reviews

Does this mean that every doctor defamation lawsuit centering around a review will turn out the same? Absolutely not. In fact, in this case, it sounds like the hospital told the truth. If the hospital had lied, however, the outcome would have been different.

What Is Considered Lying Under US Defamation Law?

What constitutes lying? Clearly, a false statement of fact is a lie. Additionally, under United States defamation law, there are two other actionable categories of falsity – defamation by omission and defamation by implication.

Speak With A Doctor Defamation Lawyer Today

If you are a doctor, surgeon, nurse or another type of medical professional in need of defamation legal advice, get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law today. We enjoy an excellent rating by independent lawyer review association, Martindale-Hubble; plus, founding partner Aaron Kelly also has a perfect rating on consumer Internet lawyer review website, AVVO.

Don’t wait. In many cases, doctor defamation problems can be solved quickly – especially in instances of online review sites.

Get in touch with the doctor defamation legal team at Kelly / Warner Law today. You have more legal options than you realize.

Will Revenge Porn Become Illegal Worlwide Within A Year?

revenge porn laws update
Revenge Porn Has Gone Viral and Politicians Worldwide Are Eager To Make New Laws

To use the parlance of our time: anti-Revenge porn laws have gone viral. Most states in the union have a revenge porn bill in the conception-to-ratification new law pipeline, and now it looks like Japan and Canada are getting in on the revenge porn bill action.

Quickly, Refresh My Memory, What Is Revenge Porn?

Revenge porn is the hot Internet law topic du jour. So, what is it? Basically, it describes the act of jilted ex-lovers posting private sans raiment selfies of former paramours online — without said paramours consent or knowledge.

In some instances, images or videos are used to humiliate or destroy professional reputations. In other instances, less stable – often dangerous — people use the threat of revenge porn to blackmail partners into continuing a bad relationship.

Is Revenge Porn Legal In The United States?

Last year, in response to the question: “Is revenge porn legal in the United States?” I would have said, “Yes.” But now, not so much. In just a few scant months, most states have, at the very least, begun drafting anti-revenge porn legislation. Some legislators – like Arizona and California — have already passed bills criminalizing revenge porn.

Go here to get a state-by-state rundown of revenge porn laws.

U.S. National Revenge Porn Law? A Prediction.

You heard it here first: Within two years, revenge porn will be illegal in all 50 states and U.S. territories. Why commit to such a bold prediction? Bi-partisan support for revenge porn laws is unusually strong, and it provides politicians an easy way to “reach across the aisle.” Brass tacks, save for some arguably legitimate (albeit perhaps only theoretically) libertarian objections, revenge porn is an effective vehicle for politicians to garner support. And hey, why not. Anti-revenge-porn laws are probably a good thing, so long as they don’t inadvertently trample free speech rights.

Japan’s New Public Push For Revenge Porn Legislation

Approximately 300 cases involving explicit photos or videos of minors were reported last year by Japan’s National Police Agency — a distressing 30 percent increase from 2012.

The significant increase in Japanese revenge porn cases has prompted legislators there to draft a law criminalizing the act. The current political makeup of the Japanese Parliament, though, is not what one could call “copacetic,” and analysts predict it will take years to pass a bill that all parties can agree on. (Hmmmmmm, sound familiar?)

Junko Mihara, the current secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, was asked to comment on the seriousness of these incidents, and he said that revenge porn is nothing less than “… sexual violence and an offense that could very well haunt its victims for the rest of their lives.”

Canada Revenge

The public face of Canada’s C-13 Act, or Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, is cyberbullying. But now interested parties speculate that the new law could be amended to cover revenge porn, too.

Bill C-13 has several distinct components. Aside from provisions dealing with cyber-sexual assault, the bill contains elements that are troubling to privacy advocates. It allows, for example, the police to request information about any person from any company or Internet service provider — without warrants nor customer consent.

Advocates argue that C-13 is not the ideal way to combat cyber-bullying, but some think it’s the perfect tool to use against revenge porn.

Speak With A Revenge Porn Lawyer

If you are dealing with a revenge porn situation and looking to take legal action, get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law today.

FTC Fines Snapchat For Being Loosey-Goosey With Data

app disclosure legalities
Snapchat and the FTC had a disagreement over proper disclosures.

Snapchat, a messaging app for mobile devices, entered into a consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission for supposedly misleading users about data collection and inter-device privacy. The FTC won. You can avoid the same outcome by making sure your apps and websites have the proper legal disclosures.

Reminder: The Internet is not as lawless as it used to be.

Snapchat — the app that deletes user messages, photos, and videos within seconds of being opened — was an instant success. But the FTC claims that Snapchat failed to inform said users that other people can save their snaps — perhaps the exact opposite of what people expected.

Why Did The FTC Go After Snapchat? (Answer: Playing Fast and Loose With Customer Data Without Proper Disclosures)

iOS7 Bug

Although users are able to take screenshots of a “snap,” the user who sent the message are supposed to be notified of this. Snapchat backed up this claim, but the Federal Trade Commission reported that recipients with Apple devices running iOS 7 can exploit the app to avoid screenshot detection. Considering iOS 7 launched last summer, this has been an ongoing issue.

Encryption Issue

The FTC also reported that Snapchat stores videos on recipients’ devices without encryption, meaning the videos can be accessed even after “disappearing” on the Snapchat application.

Successful Hacker Breach

On top of all that, Snapchat reportedly failed to secure their users’ information. In January, hackers got a hold of over 4.6 snapchat profiles and snagged a whole lot of valuable consumer data. To make matters more complicated for the app company, before the breach, security experts warned Snapchat that the application could be exploited, but the company, allegedly, did little about it.

Android Issue

iOS users weren’t the only affected people. Android Snapchaters’ locations were also transmitted to the Snapchat servers, even though the company claimed it didn’t collect any information from users.

Snapchat Got The Same “Sweetheart” Punishment As Facebook Did For Beacon

Like Facebook before them, part of Snapchat’s FTC agreement requires the app company to implement a 20-year privacy monitoring program, which will be overseen by an external privacy expert.
The FTC warned Snapchat that violation of the agreement will result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000 for each offense. Snapchat has since fixed the alleged issues, reporting that “we continue to invest heavily in security and countermeasures to prevent abuse.”

FTC Unfair and Deceptive Marketing Lawyer

If you or your company is in trouble with the FTC, and you’re in need of legal counsel, get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law. Founding partner Aaron Kelly has worked on many, many FTC cases. His track record is great and he knows the best approach to take when dealing with FTC-related lawsuits.

Get in touch today to learn more about your legal options.

The CFPB Is About To Make Things Easier For Finance Firms

finane law news online privacy
The CFPB is looking to make things easier for finance firms that don’t share data.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is ready to ease up on certain Gramm-Leach-Bliley online privacy rules for financial institutions that stop sharing customer data with third-party vendors.

The current rule: financial institutions that share customer data with third-party vendors must send annual hard-copy mailers (via snail mail) explaining which third-party vendors partner with your financial institution. The mailer is also supposed to include information on how customers can opt-out of certain 3-party sharing relationships.

Experts predict that the CFPB’s proposed online privacy policy option will save the industry $17 million in administrative costs annually. After all, snail mail ain’t cheap.

Of the proposal, CFPB director Richard Cordray said:

“Consumers need clear information about how their personal information is being used by financial institutions. This proposal would make it easier for consumers to find and access privacy policies, while also making it cheaper for industry to provide disclosures.”

“If an institution shares data with unaffiliated third parties in a way that triggers customers’ right to opt out of such sharing,then that institution generally would not be allowed to use the alternative delivery method.”

This proposal is not a done deal. In fact, it’s only the beginning. The bureau is currently accepting comments on the proposal, after which they will review the submissions and consider any necessary proposal changes.

Kelly / Warner Law works with all manners of finance firms – from individual Forex traders to small credit unions. If you’re a finance firm or business looking for legal counsel, get in touch.

Business Defamation: Employer v. Employee

employer v employee defamation
A company sued an ex-employee for defamation — and it looks like the business may win the case.

Recently, a salesman sued his company for unlawful termination. He didn’t get far; the judge dismissed his case. It didn’t end there, though, because the salesman’s former employer turned around and counter-sued for defamation. What did the salesman say that prompted his former bosses to file a slander suit?

“I got fired for not taking clients to strip clubs!”

Employer v. Employee Business Defamation Lawsuit Over Stripper Allegations

Now, let us abandon naivety; salespeople have been known to close a deal – or a lifetime’s worth – over ribs and, errrr, racks. But the p-rn industry aside, few U.S. companies would welcome accusations of prurient activity on company time. That, however, is supposedly what Michael Vackar did to Superior Supply & Steel (“Superior”).

So, the company filed a business defamation lawsuit against him.

Defendant’s Attorney Made The Stripper Comment On ‘Behalf’ Of His Client, But His Client Is Still Considered The Proper Defendant

Reports on the case are vague, but from what I can decipher, the stripper accusations came about thanks to a post-lawsuit press conference held by Vackar’s attorney in which he blamed his client’s ouster on Vackar’s Puritan-like refusal to take clients to Gentlemen’s Clubs.

Company Insists Salesman Fired For Shady Expense Reports And Nothing More

Spokespeople for Superior, however, say Vackar got fired for one reason and one reason only — shady expense reports. Four of them, to be precise. To bolster its claim, the company submitted several affidavits from current employees affirming that Superior has never, never, ever told a salesperson to entertain clients at a strip club. Executives also point to the company handbook, which files strip clubs on the naughty page.

Judge Sides With Business In Defamation Suit Initial Proceedings

Vackar’s attorneys tried to get the employee defamation case dismissed, but the presiding judge sided with Superior, saying, “Sanctions are warranted.” He reasoned:

“Superior has submitted uncontroverted evidence that at least some of what Vackar’s counsel told the media was false.”

and

“There are no witnesses who support Vackar’s version of events, although Vackar, through counsel, stated that there were ‘certainly’ multiple witnesses to Superior’s demand that sales representatives take clients to strip clubs, obtain sexual favors for the clients, and videotape them for blackmail. All the witness affidavits and declarations are to the contrary.”

Defamation Law Is All That Matters In This Case; As such: Advantage Business

Some of you out there are reading this and thinking, “Yeah right. The company probably made a few employees lie about the alleged purity of Superior corporate culture – and now the ‘little guy’ unfairly loses again for telling the truth.”

And you know what? You may very well be right. Or, you could be 100% wrong. Either way, it does not matter. What matters is the law – and this is a straightforward employer v. employee defamation case.

Truth =/ Winning

To be blunt, businesses can sometimes win a defamation lawsuit even if a truthful statement is at issue. (Note: We are NOT saying that Superior is lying in any way shape or form; we’re just stating a fact about the law, separate from the Superior case.)

Bottom line: Superior has “proof” that Vackar made a false statement of fact about the company’s professional ethics. As such, their chances of winning this business defamation case are greatly improved.

Contact A Business Defamation Lawyer

This business defamation case is just beginning. Bookmark this page if you’re interested in the outcome.

If your business is embattled by a slander or libel situation – and you’re ready to fix the problem instead of letting it fester – get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law today. We have successfully handled many business defamation lawsuits involving former employees. Our legal motto is “quickly, discreetly and fiercely” – we know what to do to fix your issue, and we know trade libel law — like Michelangelo knew painting.

Pick up the phone and get in touch today, to make your business defamation situation go away.

Online Contest Legalities: FTC Makes New Rule. Know It Or Get Fined.

First: If you’re an online marketer, and you haven’t seen W1A — hunt down one episode (at least) and watch. Next: Why am I talking about an obscure British television show on the website of an online marketing law firm in Arizona?

(Wouldn’t you like to know. So, keep reading!)

The arid-humor spin-off to Twenty Twelve, W1A is a workplace mockumentary (think The Office) set at the BBC.

Subplot B:  The BBC partners with Siobhan Sharpe — of Perfect Curve PR — for a digital re-brand of the iconic media outlet. (Meet the fictional and satirically hysterical Siobhan in the video to your right.) In one scene, the Perfect Curve team deduces that since it is 2014, “everything” needs to be “app-y,” and that in order for “anything” to be properly “app-y,” it must have as few words and letters as possible.

Well, let’s just say that the latest FTC announcement would short-circuit Siobhan and co., because the commission wants social media marketers — and contest participants — to start using MORE WORDS!

No, let me rephrase that. The Federal Trade Commission now wants businesses to jump through wildfire when disclosing social media contests. Hashtags need not apply.

Does participating in a Pinterest competition constitute a product endorsement? The FTC sure seems to think so.

The FTC recently weighed in on hashtag use and whether it’s a sufficient endorsement disclosure method for social media contests. This is a bit of a shocking stance. After all, what are contest operators supposed to do – especially when many social media platforms don’t physically lend themselves to long disclosures? How can you fit a full contest disclosure in a 140-character tweet?

Seriously, this latest move by the FTC has us scratching our heads and throwing serious side-eye in the direction of Washington, D.C.

Pinterest Contest Leads To FTC Censure For Cole Haan

Shoemaker, Cole Haan, decided to stage a social media contest. The shoe company’s marketers went with a Pinterest plan. Customers posted photos of Cole Haan shoes in various locales (think gnome around the world – but with shoes). The most creative entry won a $1,000 bounty.

Well, let me tell you: the FTC was none too pleased with ole’ Cole Hann’s online contest. In fact, the FTC deemed the shoe company deceptive for not having participants properly disclose the potential to win cash-money for their arguably creepy ghost-foot pics.

What Is The FTC Trying To Do With This Latest Online Contest Decision? Will It Handicap Small Businesses?

The Godfather of all things online marketing, Eric Goldman, explained why this social media contest decision should have us all shaking our heads. “It’s part of the whole phenomenon of the FTC thinking that it can police inauthentic content online,” he succinctly explained. “What is the FTC’s ultimate message to online marketers and contest operators? You’re responsible for your brand’s fans’ online activities?” he concluded.

Bottom Legal Line For Online Contests

If you plan to do an online or social media contest, make sure to instruct participants to post sufficient disclosures with their entries — or YOU may end up paying the price…literally.

Speak With An Online Contest Lawyer

Are you planning an online contest? Wondering if it’s legal? Get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law today to find out. Our firm has successfully helped countless online contest operators – we can do the same for you.

Let’s talk soon about the legalities of your online contest.

Did The FTC Just Make Website Terms & Conditions Mandatory?

website terms and conditions requiredReed Morgan wrote an interesting article for Law360 regarding the FTC’s recent investigation into — and complaint against — JERK LLC. Ultimately, and smartly, he questioned if the commission’s decision inadvertently launched a new era of federally mandated website terms and conditions.

What Is JERK.COM And Why Did The FTC Go After It?

A revenge site that charged people to delete profiles, Jerk.com is one of the more “successful” online “reputation revenge” sites. According to Jerk’s marketing materials, the millions of profiles on its platform were put there by other people — not the site operators.

FTC Says Site Operators Created The Profiles Themselves

But the FTC thinks the Jerk execs created the majority of the profiles on the site. How did they get the information? By culling data from social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter.

FTC Says “Nah-Ah” To Profile Removal Extortion

The FTC doesn’t like extortion – especially extortion based on made-up facts. So, to punish, it slapped JERK with a deceptive marketing fine. According to the consumer watchdog commission:

“[JERK.COM] populated or caused to be populated the content on the vast majority of Jerk profiles by taking information from Facebook in violation of Facebook’s policies.”

Reed explains the significance of this FTC statement thusly (excerpts):

The fact that the information was pulled from Facebook in violation of Facebook’s policies does not seem to be material — let alone essential — to the deceptiveness allegation. Nonetheless, the complaint only alleges that “the representation [regarding the source of the content] was, and is, false or misleading” after stating that Jerk took information from Facebook in violation of Facebook’s policies.

The FTC is breaking new ground here. Jerk is not the first time the FTC has brought a case based (in part) on an alleged violation of another company’s terms or policies, but it is the first time the FTC has alleged that the violation of another company’s terms or policies can be part of a violation of Section 5 in its own right.

In other words, the FTC’s complaint can be read to suggest that simply using information pulled from Facebook in violation of Facebook’s policies is a deceptive act or practice, without any alleged misrepresentation to Facebook regarding the use of the information.

If the FTC continues to pursue this theory, it would essentially be turning Facebook’s policies into “federal law,” with compliance effectively enforced by the threat of Section 5 enforcement simply for using Facebook content in violation of Facebook’s policies.

Interesting, right? For years, though recommended – especially for legitimate businesses – the Federal Government never required website operators to have terms and conditions (unless the website had a commerce component). This recent ruling, however, could make website terms and conditions de facto mandatory.

Contact An FTC Marketing Attorney

If you need to speak with an FTC attorney who has helped many online businesses in their dealings with the FTC, get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law today.

Public Relations Firms Must Bone Up On FTC Regulations Pronto

PR Firm Lawyer

FTC To PR Firms: “Y’All Are Just As Liable For Deceptive Marketing As Your Clients”

The Federal Trade Commission is on the hunt for public relations firms that are playing fast and loose with marketing disclosure rules. REMEMBER PEOPLE: PR companies can be held just as liable for deceptive and unfair marketing techniques as the firms they represent. Or, in the words of the FTC:

“Any party that actively participates in the marketing of products through paid endorsers, including a public relations firm… has the responsibility to make sure that [all appropriate] disclosures are made.”

PR companies can be held just as liable for deceptive and unfair marketing techniques as the firms they represent.

Deceptive Marketing Legal Advice For PR Firms

This article, on PRWeekUs.com, does a great job of explaining the responsibilities of PR firms when it comes to proper disclosures on pitch and marketing material. You can find the original article here, but to summarize:

  1. Make sure you have “adequate disclosures” in and on all of your marketing materials.
  2. Disclose all material connections not made evident via the ad itself.
  3. Make sure you have back-up proof for any claims made in any marketing or pitch material.
  4. Public relations companies should remind clients to include the appropriate disclosures on everything – including risk information for regulated industries.

Contact A Law Firm That Works With PR Firms

If you are a public relations firm dealing with an online marketing investigation or legal issue, contact Kelly / Warner Law, today. We maintain a dedicated Internet law practice that has helped countless firms navigate unfamiliar legal waters – and we’re champion sailors.
Get in touch today to learn more about legal options for your public relations firm.

Unfair Competition: What Is It?

unfair competition lawyerWhat is unfair competition? Legally speaking, it’s a set of torts dealing with unacceptable marketing techniques that companies use to gain advantage over competitors.

For example:

  • Purposefully spreading negative gossip about your competitor in order to gain an advantage;
  • Posting fake negative reviews of competitors on Internet review websites;
  • Using a competitor’s logo in some way that tricks the consumer;
  • Stealing unauthorized data from an employer or competitor;
  • Profiting off of another person’s or company’s likeness; or
  • Sending misleading e-mails that negatively and unfairly affect a competitors business.

The list above is only a sampling. Basically, anything that has to do with shady business competition falls under “unfair competition” in the eyes of the courts. Generally, though, monopolistic and anti-trust issues don’t fall under the unfair competition legal umbrella.

What Laws Deal With Unfair Competition?

The following U.S. laws address issues related to unfair competition:

  1. Lanham Act
  2. Federal Trade Commission Act
  3. Various State Laws (Varies Depending On Jurisdiction)

What Civil Torts Are Considered Unfair Competition Torts?

Torts that fall under the unfair competition banner:

  • Trademark and Copyright Infringement
  • Rights of Publicity
  • False Advertising
  • “Bait and Switch” Selling Techniques
  • Unauthorized Product Substitution
  • Misappropriation of Trade Secrets and Client Data
  • Breach of Restricted Covenant
  • Trade Libel
  • False Representation (of Products or Services)
  • Tortious Interference

Contact An Unfair Competition Lawyer Today

Kelly / Warner usually works with companies in the tech and Internet marketplace. We have successfully handled countless unfair competition concerns for clients – many of which we cleared up within a few short weeks. If you’re dealing with an unscrupulous competitor and want to take action, get in touch today. We have the answers and legal know-how you need.