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Advertising Law Blog

The Advertising Law Blog provides commentary and news on developing legal issues in advertising, promotional marketing, Internet, and privacy law. This blog is sponsored by the Advertising, Marketing & Promotions group at Olshan. The practice is geared to servicing the needs of the advertising, promotional marketing, and digital industries with a commitment to providing personal, efficient and effective legal service.

Class Action Accuses Amazon Prime of “Dark Patterns”

* Taylor Lodise is a law clerk in the Litigation practice group.

On November 9, 2022, amidst ongoing investigations by the FTC regarding “dark patterns” that Amazon allegedly employed to discourage subscribers from canceling their Amazon Prime memberships, a class-action lawsuit named Amazon as a defendant. The lawsuit was filed in United States District Court for the Western District of Washington and is styled Dorobiala v. Amazon.com, Inc. Read More ›

Authority of Consumer Finance Protection Board Is Now Less Certain

Federal Court rules CFPB funding mechanism is unconstitutional Read More ›

FTC Seeks Comments on “Junk Fees” – Signaling a Renewed Focus on Supplemental Fees

On October 20, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for a rule that would seek to address so called “junk fees” – unnecessary, unavoidable, or surprise charges that inflate costs while adding little to no value to consumers. Read More ›

FTC Reaches $100 Million Settlement With Vonage Over Subscription Practices

Internet phone service provider, Vonage, has agreed to pay $100 million to settle the Federal Trade Commission’s charges that it imposed fees and made it difficult for subscribers to cancel their service. Specifically, the FTC alleged that Vonage implemented “dark patterns” to create obstacles for subscribers looking to cancel their services, often resulting in consumers being charged even after they had requested cancellation. This settlement highlights the FTC’s continued focus on “dark pattern” marketing techniques, particularly as they are applied to cancellation of automatically renewing subscription arrangements. Read More ›

TCPA Judgment of $925 Million Reversed over Fairness Considerations

This is the second ruling of this type in two months

A concept that we explored in a recent article – the reduction of massive class-action awards based on fairness concerns – appears to be picking up judicial steam. In August 2022, a Northern District of California court reduced statutory damages in a consumer class action from the $91.4 million to just $8.3 million plus pre-judgment interest. That case is Montera v. Premier Nutrition Corp. The basis for lowering damages in the face of the requirements of the New York statute at issue was a 1919 Supreme Court ruling which authorized courts to set aside judgments based on statutory penalties that are “wholly disproportionate to the offense and obviously unreasonable.” Read More ›

Kim Kardashian to pay $1.26 Million towards “Unlawful Touting” SEC Charges

* Rachel Gold is a law clerk in the Corporate/Securities Law practice group.

Following up on its action against other celebrities who have promoted crypto investments without disclosing their compensation interest, the Securities and Exchange Commissions (“SEC”) announced “unlawful touting” charges and Order against reality star Kim Kardashian for promoting a cryptocurrency on social media without acknowledging that she was being compensated for the post. This enforcement action is a reminder that it is not just the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) who is enforcing compensation disclosures on social media. Read More ›

Ninth Circuit Issues Pro-Plaintiff Ruling in Do-Not-Call Suit

Dual-purpose phones can qualify as “residential” numbers to support a TCPA action

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and its regulations prohibit calls and text messages to residential telephone subscribers who have registered their phone numbers on the national do-not-call list maintained by the federal government. While business lines are not eligible to be registered on the national do-not-call list, in practice there is nothing that bars such registration. As a result, TCPA litigation sometimes requires a determination as to whether a phone line is used for residential or business purposes. This issue arises more frequently in the current gig-economy era, because many cell phone owners use their devices for both personal and business purposes. Read More ›

103 Year-Old Supreme Court Precedent Cited to Reduce Damages in Class Action from $91.4 Million to $12.8 Million

* Taylor Lodise is a law clerk in the Litigation practice group.

In one of several related class-action lawsuits against the maker of a drink marketed under the brand name Joint Juice, Chief Judge Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court, Northern District of California, applied case law from 103 years ago to reduce statutory damages in a consumer class action from the $91.4 million seemingly required by a New York statute to just $8.3 million plus pre-judgment interest of $4.5 million. The August ruling was based on Fourteenth Amendment due process protections as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the 1919 case St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway Co. v. Williams (“St. Louis”). Read More ›

Panera Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Misleading Subscription Program

* Rachel Gold is a law clerk in the Corporate/Securities Law practice group.

Panera Bread Company (“Panera”) is facing a class action lawsuit that alleges its Unlimited Sip Club (“Club”) is in fact not so unlimited. According to Panera’s own promotional materials, the Club is a refill program where members pay $10.99 per month for access to lemonade, soda, coffee, and tea drinks of “any size” at “any time.” Read More ›

FTC and Six States Sue Roomster for Fake Listings and Reviews

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), along with six states, filed a lawsuit against housing rental listing platform, Roomster Corp. (“Roomster”), its co-founders, John Shriber and Roman Zaks, and the principal of a related app that provided allegedly fake reviews, Jonathan Martinez. The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, alleges that the defendants used fake reviews to entice consumers to join and pay for access to its platform. The lawsuit is a reminder that federal and state regulators are increasingly focused on the legitimacy of consumer reviews, particularly given their impact on purchasing decisions.   Read More ›

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