Susan Ross (US)

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NY Court Says No Grand Theft of Stars’ Publicity Rights. What About California?

In July, the Brand Protection Blog reviewed potential “right of publicity” claims that might have been brought by celebrities whose wax “look alikes” appeared in Kanye West’s “Famous” music video. That analysis largely focused on California’s Celebrity Rights Act. A September 1, 2016 ruling from a New York State appeals court may demonstrate important differences … Continue reading

Making us safer, through Brand Protection

What does brand protection have to do with cybersecurity? A study earlier this year demonstrates the connection. The study reviewed domain names for 11 major industrial control system (ICS) vendors.  ICS vendors provide, among other things, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, used in power plants and oil and gas refining.  In other words, these … Continue reading

Social media campaigns and lobbying

GAO finds EPA violated law On December 14, 2015, the General Accounting Office found that a portion of the Environmental Protection Agency’s social media campaign violated federal laws relating to propaganda and anti-lobbying. Because the laws also affect government contractors, the GAO findings may be of interest, especially since they are similar to Federal Trade … Continue reading

DMCA Exemption – vehicle software (Part 5 of 6)

In the sixth triennial proceeding to determine Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) exemptions, the Copyright Office adopted an exemption concerning the electronic control unit (“ECU”) software found in automobiles and agricultural vehicles. The new exemption permits owners to circumvent the technological control measures (TMPs) found in ECU software for the purpose of diagnosing, repairing, and … Continue reading

DMCA exemption for smart TVs (Part 4 of 6)

Today, in our multi-part series on DMCA exemptions, we cover a new exemption concerning “smart TVs”. In addition to the exemptions for jailbreaking devices such as smartphones and tablets that we described in Part 3, of our series, the Copyright Office has also added an exemption for jailbreaking smart TVs. The exemption is a limited … Continue reading

Gobble Inc.’s (not so) “eco-friendly” claims discontinued

California-based meal delivery service Gobble Inc. made some changes to its advertising, just in time for Thanksgiving. On November 18, 2015, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureau announced that Gobble agreed to discontinue certain “eco-friendly” claims made regarding its packaging materials and business. As part of the NAD’s ongoing … Continue reading

DMCA Non-Infringement of Copyright: Cars, Devices, and the Internet of Things (Part 1)

On October 25, 2015, the U.S. Copyright Office published its sixth set of exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). Our multi-part post will explore practical aspects of these new federal regulations. We will cover topics ranging from education uses of films to medical device software to “jailbreaking” smartphones and tablets to the Internet … Continue reading

Will the leap second affect your sweepstakes?

On June 30, 2015, the world will once again experience a “leap second,” where one second is added to the clock.  As a result, there will actually be civilian clocks reading 23:59:60 on that day.  (Leap second has no impact on atomic clocks and anything that uses atomic clocks, like GPS.) How could the addition … Continue reading

Don’t tell bloggers about NAD wins

If a company sues a competitor about an advertisement that the company believes is false or misleading about the company’s product, a court victory is frequently cause for a press release, as well as announcements on social media and to bloggers.  When the complaint is made to the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council … Continue reading

FTC and presumption of consumer reliance

Question: What’s the difference between US$600,000 and US$14 million in a contempt action? Answer: Presumption of consumer reliance, according to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Federal Trade Commission v. BlueHippo Funding, LLC. The case began in 2003, when BlueHippo first began marketing computers and electronic products to consumers regardless of their credit history. … Continue reading

Olympic Games, your brand, and online security

For brand owners, the Olympic games can be an opportunity to showcase their goods and services to a worldwide audience. The top-tier sponsors pay substantial sums to reach that global audience, who may be watching the games at the time most convenient to their local time zones. That 24/7 demand calls for web sites and … Continue reading

80 million smiles for copyright owners

Brand owners and copyright owners found 80 million reasons to smile on December 3, 2013. On that day, online movie and TV streaming site Hotfile has agreed to pay $80 million to movie and TV studios to settle a two-year-old copyright infringement lawsuit. The Hollywood Reporter (Dec. 3, 2013). Hotfile is an offshore, online storage … Continue reading

Cross-border lessons in combating misleading advertising

Protecting consumers from false and misleading advertising is a key enforcement priority for both Canada’s Competition Bureau and the United States Federal Trade Commission. The Bureau’s most recent case, against two of Canada’s leading furniture and appliance retailers, demonstrates the increasing importance of ensuring clear and accurate advertising. The case draws on a theory relied … Continue reading

Build-A-Bear website, social media and COPPA

Many brand owners use their websites to promote their goods and services, as well as to promote their brands. Brand owners also frequently use social media to promote their brands. Indeed, it’s common for a website to include links to social media platforms such as Twitter and Pinterest. But if your site is directed to children, … Continue reading

Are infringements of IP rights on the horizon with the advent of 3D printers?

When web sites first started to proliferate, owners of intellectual property like music, photos, films, and other visual arts became concerned with the ease of copying their IP. A similar situation is starting to arise for patent, copyright, and trademark owners with the advent of three-dimensional printing (“3D printing”). For those who think 3D printing … Continue reading

"As clear and as manifest as the nose in a man’s face"

So said Robert Burton almost 400 years ago, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff recently made similar comments with respect to online advertising disclosures. On March 12, 2013, the FTC staff issued “.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising” updated guidelines relating to disclosures made by mobile and other online advertisers. … Continue reading

Mobile Apps, Children, and an $800,000 Settlement

Many brand owners would like to build brand awareness and loyalty among young people, even if these minors are not yet able to purchase the branded good or service. One way companies seek to engage the younger generation is by offering brand specific applications (“apps”) for smartphones and other mobile devices. On February 8, 2013, … Continue reading

Big Score for NFL Brand Owners: U.S. Seizes Fake NFL Merchandise and Websites Before Super Bowl

“Operation Red Zone” may sound like something from an NFL team playbook, but on January 31, 2013, the results of this sting operation were announced by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, which teamed up with the NFL, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, PayPal, and … Continue reading

Cyber Monday is a "Banner" Day for 132 Sites Selling Counterfeit Goods

Brand owners look forward to Cyber Monday with high hopes of strong online sales. Cyber Monday can also be extremely lucrative for counterfeiters. This year, however, dozens of counterfeiters received an unwelcome surprise. The Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) directorate of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agency, worked with the European Police Office (Europol), … Continue reading

Branding and “Cause” Marketing

“A company’s or charity’s brand is its most valuable asset.” So said the New York Attorney General (“NYAG”) on October 18, in a guidance document (“the Guidance”) relating to companies that support charities by promising donations from the sale of their products or use of their services—called “cause” marketing. See NYAG Website and Oct. 18 … Continue reading