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Made in the USA?

Although we seem to be surrounded by products stamped with "Made in China," many Americans believe that products made in the United States are of higher quality. Additionally, a 2017 survey by Reuters found that nearly 7 in 10 respondents thought it was important to buy American-made, with over 20% of respondents indicating they would be willing to pay up to 10% more for those products. These figures may be even higher now due to the current administration's "America First" policy and goal to increase American manufacturing. As such, it is no surprise that companies want to...

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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...

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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...

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‘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...

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Advertising in a World of PC Police

It seems like every time you turn on the news these days, another company is being accused of racist or sexist advertising material.  Are companies and ad agencies really being that insensitive, or have we, as a society, become a bit thin-skinned; looking to make anything, no matter how trivial, a matter of discrimination?  Either way, in addition to the numerous governmental regulations that product distributors and marketers have to abide by when advertising and labeling a product, the feelings of eggshell consumers are now likely another box that needs to be checked. The Kellogg Company was the latest brand to...

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Bounding into Trouble: Trampoline Review Sites Launch Brothers into FTC Investigation

Trampoline selling brothers, Sonny and Bobby Le, are prohibited from engaging in deceptive marketing practices after sending consumers to "independent" product review sites that were actually owned and operated by the brothers' company. According to the FTC complaint, the brothers advertised and sold Infinity and Olympus Pro trampolines through various websites. These e-commerce websites displayed logos and seals for the Bureau of Trampoline Review, Trampoline Safety of America, and Top Trampoline Review. As a result, consumers were led to believe that these review sites containing ratings based on safety and performance, were comprised of unbiased, expert reviews. In reality, these...

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Truth in Advertising Going to the Dogs?

Last week a class action lawsuit was filed in California against Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, the owners of Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® dog food products for, among other claims, negligent misrepresentation and violations of California's false advertising law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act. According to the complaint, the defendants engaged in deceptive labeling practices by marketing the food as "natural" and containing "no artificial preservatives." The ingredients at the center of the lawsuit are synthetic versions of vitamins B, C and K, as well as caramel color. Although not proven to be harmful, and present in animal and human foods, the ingredients...

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FTC shakeup may be welcome news for online product marketers

The president appears to be making good on his promise to cut government regulations, as the Federal Trade Commission is the latest body to get “Trumped.” Maureen Ohlhausen of the FTC, a critic of government regulation, has been appointed the interim chair by President Trump. She replaces Edith Ramirez who will be resigning today, February 10, 2017. Ohlhausen will be bringing a new focus to the FTC; specifically, an emphasis on pursuing claims based on actual consumer harm, not just whether a regulatory violation occurred. For example, on a recent $2.2M settlement with Vizio regarding the software in...

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Open for Comment: Proposed Revisions to the 1995 Antitrust Guidelines for Licensing Intellectual Property

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) recently released proposed revisions to the 1995 Antitrust Guidelines for Licensing Intellectual Property, and they have invited the public to comment on the proposed changes. The guidelines provide direction on antitrust issues that may arise when licensing intellectual property. The proposed updates to the guidelines embrace three general principles: “For the purpose of antitrust analysis, the Agencies apply the same analysis to conduct involving intellectual property as to conduct involving other forms of property, taking into account the specific characteristics of a particular property right.” “The Agencies do not presume that intellectual...

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Fembots, opiates and federal prison – the latest on FTC consumer protection

Ashley Madison The website whose tagline used to be "Life is short, have an affair" saw many of its users exposed last summer when hackers leaked personal information related to more than 30 million users.  Now, amidst the company's efforts to rebrand, its parent company, Avid Life Media, is facing an FTC probe due to the website's former use of "fembots." The thrust of the investigation is that the company used fake female profiles (fembots) to lure in male customers and artificially inflate the number of female users on the site.  This is not the first time a dating website has been...

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