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Len Gordon, chair of Venable’s Advertising and Marketing Group, is a skilled litigator who leverages his significant experience working for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help protect his clients’ interests and guide their business activity. Len regularly represents companies and individuals in investigations and litigation with the FTC, state attorneys general, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Len also represents clients in business-to-business and class action litigation involving both consumer protection and antitrust issues. He also counsels clients on antitrust, advertising, and marketing compliance issues.

Late last week, the California attorney general released Frequently Asked Questions regarding California’s “Honest Pricing Law” or “Hidden Fees Statute,” which will take effect July 1, 2024. The law is anticipated to have a sizeable impact, given its breadth, and will vastly change how businesses disclose the price of their goods and services to the public. When “advertising, displaying, or offering” a price, the law requires businesses to include all required fees and charges other than certain government taxes and shipping costs.

The Advertised Price Is a Single Price, No Exceptions

The FAQs make clear that the intent of the law is to force businesses to display a single price that includes all required fees and charges that a consumer would pay at the end of the transaction. This is similar to the Federal Trade Commission’s Proposed Rule that businesses display the “Total Price” for goods and services.Continue Reading California Releases FAQs on Complying with Impending Drip Pricing Law

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) agreed this week to cooperate and coordinate consumer protection efforts in enforcing the FCC’s reinstated “net neutrality” rules. The agencies stated in a Memorandum of Understanding that they will share legal, technical, and investigative expertise and experience in enforcing the rules.

The reinstated rules, adopted on April 25, formally reclassify internet service providers’ broadband services as “Telecommunications Services” under Title II of the Communications Act, rather than as a less-regulated Title I “Information service.” With this change in status, the FCC also reinstates specific proscriptive rules against blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid preference for certain network traffic, and re-adopts a “general conduct” standard barring unreasonable interference with consumers or providers that provide content and services.Continue Reading FCC and FTC to Cooperate in Enforcing Reinstated Net Neutrality Rules

It’s not often we see defendants win a resounding victory against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and/or state attorneys general, especially after trial. But a recent opinion out of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania provides us with just that. On March 29, 2024 the court issued a 55-page opinion following a 15-day bench trial on the FTC and Pennsylvania attorney general’s claims against American Future Systems, Inc. and its two co-defendants, finding in favor of the defendants on all six counts.

The FTC and Pennsylvania AG challenged telemarketing for print publications, claiming defendants deliberately misled consumers when defendants:Continue Reading Telemarketing Trial: Defendant Sweeps All Six Claims Against the FTC and Pennsylvania AG

In February 2024, a New York federal jury returned a split verdict in the New York attorney general’s lengthy battle against Quincy Bioscience, finding that certain of Quincy’s efficacy and establishment claims for a dietary supplement called Prevagen were materially misleading. Quincy advertises that Prevagen improves memory through an active ingredient derived from jellyfish.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the New York AG jointly brought the case against Quincy in 2017, alleging its marketing of Prevagen was unfair, deceptive, or false advertising in violation of Sections 5 and 12 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, and New York General Business Law Sections 349 and 350, and for repeated fraudulent acts under New York Executive Law section 63(12). The New York AG sought injunctive relief and restitution from Quincy, and the FTC sought injunctive relief. The FTC’s claim is still pending and was not a part of the New York jury trial. The FTC/AG tag team has become common after the AMG decision, and the FTC recently discussed this in its report to Congress on cooperation with AGs.Continue Reading Unraveling a Tangled Net of Claims: Jury Split on a Jellyfish-Derived Supplement Product

Historically, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has touted self-regulation as integral to consumer protection. This has included encouraging industries to work with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in developing a self-regulatory body that can promote industry-wide policies and heightened compliance. However, late last month, the FTC criticized guidance promulgated by a self-regulatory body calling into question how much the current FTC values industry self-regulation.  

In 2023, the BBB National Programs’ Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC), a self-regulatory agency for multilevel marketers (MLMs) and their members, released a guidance document on the use of Income Disclosure Statements (IDS). The purpose of IDS is to give prospective members information on the amount of income they can expect to earn in a business. Although these disclosures are not mandatory, if issued, they must comply with FTC regulations, as they are considered advertisements.Continue Reading Not So Fast: FTC Letter Rebukes Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council Guidance

Join us as we spotlight select chapters of Venable’s popular Advertising Law Tool Kit, which helps marketing teams navigate their organization’s legal risk. Click here to download the entire Tool Kit, and tune in to the Ad Law Tool Kit Show podcast, to hear an author of this chapter dive deeper into state AG inquiries in this week’s episode.


State attorneys general (AGs) are the chief legal officers of their states or territories and can bring actions to protect the “public interest” in almost any area of law. They represent the state government and the general public and have broad jurisdiction over everything from public corruption to consumer protection.Continue Reading State Attorney General Inquiries: An Excerpt from the Advertising Law Tool Kit

Episode 11 of the Ad Law Tool Kit Show, “State Attorney General Investigations,” is now available. Listen here, or search for it in your favorite podcast player.

State attorneys general (AGs) are the chief legal officers of their states, and their areas of concern are vast. Aggressive enforcement against telemarking, debt relief, privacy violations, and charity fraud can generate goodwill with an AG’s state residents. Compliance with laws, prompt complaint resolution, and proactive engagement with AGs are crucial.

In this episode, I talk to former Venable partner Alex Megaris about how businesses facing AG inquiries should retain documents, negotiate confidentiality agreements, and focus efforts on smaller AG committees in multi-state actions to manage these probes effectively.Continue Reading Listen to Episode 11 of Venable’s Ad Law Tool Kit Show – “State Attorney General Investigations”

Venable’s Advertising and Marketing Group hosted its 10th Advertising Law Symposium on March 21 in Washington, DC. The group welcomed in-house counsel, advertising executives, and marketing professionals for a full day of sessions on the latest developments in advertising law and what to watch for soon.

Here are some highlights:

Patchwork of Privacy Laws Makes Compliance a Challenge

Frequent data breaches and incidents like the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal have increased criticism of the United States’ approach to regulating privacy through a patchwork of federal and state laws and industry self-regulatory codes. But even harsh critiques have not been enough to spur Congress to pass a preemptive privacy law that would supersede the jumble of state laws and regulations and streamline things. Partner Rob Hartwell and associate Allie Monticollo said marketers and advertisers should watch what’s happening in the states and mitigate risk accordingly.Continue Reading Event in Review: 10th Advertising Law Symposium

Episode 9 of the Ad Law Tool Kit Show, “Copyright Counseling and Protection,” is now available. Listen here, or search for it in your favorite podcast player.

Maintaining a robust copyright portfolio is crucial for brand owners. Copyright is a universe almost as big as Marvel’s, covering materials from ad copy to music and social media posts.

In this episode, I talk to Venable partner Justin Pierce about how it’s vital to secure ownership rights through agreements, clear third-party content, register copyrights, and have work-for-hire contracts. Staying updated on copyright trends and checking insurance coverage are essential for comprehensive copyright protection.Continue Reading Listen to Episode 9 of Venable’s Ad Law Tool Kit Show—”Copyright Counseling and Protection”

In late January, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Justice Department (DOJ) announced a collaborative effort to update their instructions regarding preservation of electronic communications to targets of pre-litigation information requests in antitrust investigations. The agencies’ new instruction makes clear that targets must preserve ephemeral messages and threatens civil or criminal sanctions for failure to do so.

A number of popular messaging platforms—both text and email—allow users to send messages that are erased and permanently disappear either immediately or shortly after the recipient reads the message. SnapChat and Slack are common examples of apps that give users the option of ephemeral messaging. Some of these apps use end-to-end encryption to prevent third-party providers from accessing the communications. For example, Signal and Proton Mail are prevalent messaging and email platforms used for their ephemeral messaging capabilities.Continue Reading The FTC’s and DOJ’s New Magic Act: Vanished Messages Will Reappear in Discovery