347.685.9913

DLG@DigitalLawGroup.com

LinkedIN

Phillips & Sutherland, LLP

Digital Law Group Blog

Battling another kind of “fake news”

When it comes to product reviews on Amazon or other marketplaces, it can be nearly impossible to distinguish legitimate product reviews from those paid for by a product marketer. Fake reviews have been a pretty standard marketing tool for some time; with product owners paying companies to post rave reviews of its product and poor reviews of competing goods. Fake reviews are so ubiquitous that, according to Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot, a site that flushes out fake reviews, up to 70% of reviews on Amazon are fake. This staggering figure is perhaps why...

Continue reading

Stolen on Kickstarter

Many inventors turn to funding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo to get backing for their patent-pending products. While hundreds of thousands of innovative products have come to life with the support of crowdfunding sites, making it such an attractive option for cash-strapped inventors, there are those who have become victims of fast-acting counterfeit and knockoff artists. Steve Suddell, inventor of the "Neck Hammock," raised just over $200k on Kickstarter. He was on cloud nine - for about a minute. A week later, he began receiving angry emails from backers stating that his product was being sold...

Continue reading

Inventors beware: invention promoters may not be out to “help” you

Unless you are a caveman, you have most likely seen InventHelp's commercials featuring celebrities such as George Foreman encouraging amateur inventors to call his friends at InventHelp. You know the pitch: "Do you have an idea for a new product or invention? How do I get my idea in front of companies? How do I get a patent?" For answers to these questions, you should call an intellectual property lawyer - not some paid celebrity's "friends" at an invention promotion company. Though not all are bad actors, many invention promotion companies (and consultants) have been...

Continue reading

What a bunch of turkeys!

Impulse-buying millennials spent approximately $482 million on counterfeit products last year on Black Friday. This year, the trend is set to continue as it is predicted that one-in-four will purchase counterfeit items due to the buyer's inability to spot counterfeiters and the marketplace's laissez-faire attitude toward counterfeit sellers online. Considering that this year's online holiday spending is predicted to exceed $124 billion from November - December (with over $23 billion from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday alone!), it is imperative that buyers beware, and that product marketers actively police their online listings; lest their sales and reputations get gobbled up by...

Continue reading

How U.S. subsidies aid Chinese counterfeiters

The Universal Postal Union treaty (UPU) is a United Nations agreement that was established in 1874 and sets shipping rates between 192 member countries. In 1969, in an effort to boost economic growth, the UPU set lower shipping rates for small parcels (4.4lbs and under) mailed from developing countries. While this move by the UPU was clearly well-intentioned, it has not been reassessed in several decades. As a result, despite being the world's second largest economy, China is still listed as a "developing country" and thus benefits from unreasonably low shipping rates - to the detriment of...

Continue reading

A Counterfeiting Operation Ripped Off 2 Inventors. Then They Fought Back, and Won.

*The following was written by Michael Kaplan and appeared in the July issue of Entrepreneur* On Valentine's Day in 2015, Natasha Ruckel and her husband, Fred, were sitting in their living room in Gilboa, N.Y. Natasha was improvising on the piano, and Fred was listening while messing around with the couple's cat, Yoda. Fred noticed a ripple in the living room rug, forming a half circle on one side. Again and again he tossed toys into the ripple and a delighted Yoda darted in and out. Natasha looked up from her playing. "That's when we came up with the idea for...

Continue reading

U.S., EU File IP Complaints Against China With the WTO

On March 23, the United States – through the World Trade Organization (WTO) – filed a “Request for Consultations” with the government of China concerning its technology and trade practices that are harming the IP rights of U.S. companies and innovators who enter into joint ventures with Chinese companies. The U.S. claimed that the Chinese measures are inconsistent with multiple articles of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). The TRIPS Agreement, of which China is a member, sets out the minimum standards of intellectual property protection to be provided by each member. In its Request for...

Continue reading

That Bites: “Aromaflage” Owner Settles False Advertising Claims

On May 3, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that Mikey & Momo, Inc., owner of "Aromaflage" perfumes and scented candles, agreed to settle charges that it used deceptive claims to sell its alleged mosquito-repelling products. According the FTC, the products, marketed as "fragrance with function," lack any scientific evidence to support their insect-repellant claims. According to their marketing materials, the elegantly packaged products sold by several retailers including Dillard's, Overstock.com and Anthropologie, were "tested in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia as well as the finest locations in the Caribbean, Hamptons, and cottage country in the peak...

Continue reading

‘BOGO’ Refunds Commence in Allstar’s Snuggie Settlement

On March 12, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began mailing refund checks totaling some $7.2 million to more than 218,000 consumers who purchased products from Allstar Marketing Group LLC that included an offer for a free product in connection with those purchases. The refunds, averaging $33 per consumer, are a result of an investigation by the New York State Office of the Attorney General and a subsequent 2015 settlement with the FTC. Allstar is alleged to have violated multiple consumer protection laws by its deceptive advertising practices involving products including, among others: Snuggie, Perfect Bacon Bowl, Magic Mesh Door, Perfect Brownie...

Continue reading