COLLEN IP, Intellectual Property Law, P.C.
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
Dear Federal Trade Commission: We are submitting our comments on the "Sharing Economy." We have articulated our concerns in the previously published white paper "Branding in the Sharing Economy: Legal Implications for Intellectual Property & Consumer Outreach." Our focus is on existing brands and their adaptation to, and participation in, the sharing economy. In particular, this document explores how existing brands can leverage intellectual property laws to stay relevant in the sharing economy. We predict that trademarks will foster consumer trust and avoid consumer deception. Strong trademark portfolios associated with ethical brands will lead to capture of market share in this economy. In addition, we recognize that reusing and sharing fundamentally disrupt traditional ideas of copyright and patents. Accordingly, we propose systems for intellectual property owners to strengthen their ownership rights and adapt to the changing marketplace. Despite our optimism that intellectual property will clarify communication in the sharing economy, we have concerns that commercial speech may face aggressive regulation if consumers become confused about product and service attributes. Therefore, to assist industry in self-regulation efforts, we investigate limits on commercial speech under existing laws and offer best practices for clear advertising and marketing on new platforms. We firmly believe that the marketplace will reject marketers who either try to dupe consumers or are unclear about their offers. It is our hope to avoid the proliferation of unnecessary regulation that limits commercial speech. Thank you for accepting these comments. A copy of the white paper can also be found online at http://www.collenip.com/whitepaper/Sharing_Economy_White_Paper.pdf. Sincerely, Kyle-Beth Hilfer, Esq.