Business Blog

It's all about the order

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  Law enforcers often ask themselves a similar question:  “If a lawsuit reaches final judgment without concrete protections in place for the future, does it have any impact?”  That explains the FTC’s keen interest in remedies with the teeth necessary to do the job.  Simply put, when it comes to consumer protection, it’s all about the order.

Shedding light on lumens

You use them everyday at home and at the office, they’re within an arm’s reach of where you’re sitting — and they’re undergoing the most profound change since the days of Thomas Edison.  Any guesses?

Light bulbs.

Around the world in shady ways

Yes, it’s a global marketplace, but geography still matters. Misrepresentations about where a company is based can have significant implications for buyers. That’s the message of an FTC settlement announced today against a California online retailer that allegedly deceived British consumers into thinking it was a “hometown operation” by falsely using a .co.uk website.

What the headline giveth

If you work in the telecommunications field, you’ll want to follow the FTC’s pending lawsuit against Millennium Telecard. But even if telecom isn’t your line, the case illustrates a key principle of FTC advertising law: “What the headline giveth, the fine print cannot taketh away.”

“Find ‘em, list ‘em, and make money”? Not so fast, say the FTC and Colorado AG

You run a successful business or maybe you work with some of the top companies in the country. A friend or relative is struggling to climb out of a financial hole. They ask for advice about a can’t-miss “wealth-building program.” Do them a favor and suggest they apply the brakes before shelling out a penny.

Time to kick the tires on the FTC’s Alternative Fuels Rule

We’re still waiting for George Jetson’s promised jetpacks, but car buyers have started to see transportation options not available just a few years ago.  That’s one reason the FTC has begun a review the Alternative Fuels Rule and seeks your input about the rule’s costs, benefits, and regulatory and economic impact.

Dot Com 2.0 (Does anybody say 2.0 anymore?)

Where were you in 2000?  Tooling around on your scooter listening to CDs by Destiny’s Child, ‘N Sync, and Creed?  Joining the 50 million Americans who watched the latest TV sensation “Survivor”?  Grateful the Y2K bug didn’t send us back to the Stone Age?  Reading Dot Com Disclosures:  Information About Online Advertising, the FTC’s first guidance document on how federal advertising laws apply to advertising and sales on the Internet?

Free means free, says the FTC

You can swim freestyle.  You can work freelance.  And there are those among us who still hold up lighters and yell “Play Free Bird.”  But for marketers, one thing you can’t do is advertise a product as free and then bill customers’ credit cards — not once and certainly not over and over and over again.

Six myths about filing comments with the FTC

You’ve seen the sentence when the FTC announces that it’s thinking about putting a new rule in place or changing what’s already on the books: “Interested parties are invited to submit comments. . . .”.  The alphabet soup of the administrative process can be a bit daunting at first: ANPR (Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), FRN (Federal Register Notice), CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), SBP (Statement of Basis and Purpose). When it comes to the rulemaking process at the FTC, here are six common myths — and the straight scoop.

Is everything COPPA-setic on your site?

For some businesses, virtual worlds aren’t on their radar screen.  They have their hands full with this one, thanks.  But for more and more people — including kids — online virtual worlds have become a central place for gaming and other activities.  As the FTC’s recent $3 million settlement with Playdom and Howard Marks demonstrates, companies with an online presence need to take care to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the

Marketing food to kids: Continuing the conversation

By now, you’ve had a chance to read the proposed voluntary principles published on April 28, 2011, by the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children.  Made up of representatives from the FTC, FDA, USDA, and CDC, the group issued a draft calling on the food industry voluntarily to step up its efforts to improve the nutritional quality of foods they market directly to kids ages 2 to 17.  The proposal — which isn’t a regulation — suggests ways to strengthen the voluntary efforts that are already underway.

Nitro in the trunk?

The French movie classic “The Wages of Fear” — remade in 1977 as “The Sorcerer” by American director William Friedkin — was a taut thriller about a team of toughs transporting a payload of volatile nitroglycerine to a remote location in South America.  They meet with hazards along the way:  a rope bridge hanging by a thread over a flood-swollen river, a boulder blocking a twisted mountain path, and a stretch of road so pot-holed it’s called “The Washboard.”

Taken aback by a hack attack?

Busy business executives and the attorneys who represent them need to unwind now and then.  If PlayStation is your diversion-of-choice — or the choice of family members — you’ve probably heard the news that Sony’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity service were hacked and that user data may have been compromised.  It’s not clear right now what info was stolen, but the services held user IDs and passwords, email addresses, birth dates, street addresses, credit card numbers, expiration dates, and payment histories.  Are you taking steps to reduce the risk of ID theft as a result of the hack? 

Food for thought

When browsing for a riveting read at the local bookstore, you might pick up a John Grisham or dive into a Stieg Larsson.  Unlike those best sellers, one author’s name that might not jump off the jacket is “Interagency Working Group.”  But in the case of the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children’s hot-off-the-presses Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts (try tweeting that) you really can’t judge a book by its cover.

Debt Collection 2.0

Cell phones, email, social media, auto-dialers, databases, and payment portals.  This ain’t your Father’s debt collection business.  That’s why an April 28, 2011, FTC workshop, Debt Collection 2.0:  Protecting Consumers as Technologies Change, will focus on the impact developments like these are having on the consumer debt collection system.  As the agenda shows, the conversation will center on how technologies affect debt collectors’ compliance with the law and the consumer protection concerns these new methods

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