Photo of Shahin O. Rothermel

Shahin Rothermel is an experienced counselor and defender who helps advertisers, retailers, merchants, and marketers advance their business goals while reducing legal and regulatory risks. Shahin provides clients with up-to-date, practical insights into the constantly evolving advertising, marketing, and e-commerce regulations, which allows her clients to make informed decisions. She has achieved successful resolutions, dismissals, and full walkaways in court, saving clients millions of dollars. She takes a pragmatic approach as a counselor, considering the implications of her advice for her clients' marketing campaigns and their bottom lines.

On January 29, 2024, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. introduced the Do Not Disturb Act, a bill that would amend the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and “fix” the Supreme Court’s ruling in Duguid that limited the definition of “automatic telephone dialing system” (ATDS).

Robocalls, the New ATDS

The bill would delete the term “automatic telephone dialing system” from the TCPA and would instead replace it with “robocalls.” The bill defines “robocalls” as calls and text messages sent using equipment that makes calls or sends text messages to stored telephone numbers or telephone numbers generated by a random or sequential number generator, or using an artificial or prerecorded voice or an artificially generated message.Continue Reading New Bill to Modernize the TCPA Would Significantly Expand Potential Liability

Episode 4 of the Ad Law Tool Kit Show, “Lead Generation,” is now available. Listen here, or search for it in your favorite podcast player.

In the realm of lead generation and performance-based customer acquisition, pursuing profits carries significant legal risks. In this episode, I talk to Venable partners Jonathan Pompan and Ari Rothman to talk about how advertisers should heed crucial best practices to mitigate these risks.

Venable’s Ad Law Tool Kit Show will help you and your organization identify and avoid potentially problematic advertising practices. Over the course of 12 episodes, we examine the increasingly complex regulatory landscape that governs the promotion of goods and services—from negative option marketing to copyright protection and influencer endorsements.Continue Reading Listen to Episode 4 of Venable’s Ad Law Tool Kit Show – “Lead Generation”

Last month, New York quietly proposed a bill intended to protect children from advertising of unhealthy foods and the “disastrous health outcomes that follow the overconsumption of these products,” suggesting that such marketing is “inherently misleading.” While the law’s stated goal is to protect children from these negative health consequences, the law goes much further and would open the floodgates to litigation.

The law would expand New York’s Agricultural and Markets Law to state “[a]n advertisement concerning a food or food product shall not be false or misleading in any particular” and require courts to give special consideration to advertising directed at a child.

However, it would also amend New York GBL 350, New York’s general false advertising statute, by requiring courts to consider specific additional factors when determining whether any advertising is false or misleading. Specifically, a court would need to consider under GBL 350 such factors as “whether the advertisement targets a consumer who is reasonably unable to protect their interests because of their age, physical infirmity, ignorance, illiteracy, inability to understand the language of an agreement, or similar factor.”Continue Reading New York Proposes Bill Targeting Unhealthy Food Advertising to Children, with Broader Implications

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 the authors of this chapter dive deeper into the issue of negative option and continuity marketing in this week’s episode.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), state attorneys general, and class action plaintiffs continue to scrutinize negative option and continuity offers. Negative option marketing can include pre-notification negative option plans, continuity programs, automatic renewals, and free-to-pay (or discounted price-to-pay) conversions.

The key to success in avoiding investigations and liability can be as simple as making clear and complete disclosures (prominent, clearly explained, and placed where they will be read and where consumers’ attention is focused); obtaining consumers’ express, informed affirmative consent to the negative option offer; providing a simple cancellation mechanism; sending post-order confirmations and renewal reminders; and ensuring that refunds and cancellations are processed in accordance with disclosed policies.Continue Reading Negative Option and Continuity Marketing: An Excerpt from the Advertising Law Tool Kit

Episode 2 of the Ad Law Tool Kit Show, “Marketing FDA-Regulated Products,” is now available. Listen here, or search for it in your favorite podcast player.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the marketing of a lot of things we use every day—dietary supplements, cosmetics, and medical devices. But their regulatory classification isn’t always clear, leading to confusion for marketers.

In this episode, I talk to Venable partner Todd Harrison about how marketers need to understand such regulations to avoid trouble, considering aspects like claims aligning with regulations, social media impact, and necessary FDA clearance for medical devices.Continue Reading Listen to Episode 2 of Venable’s Ad Law Tool Kit Show—“Marketing FDA-Regulated Products”

As we anxiously await the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) update of the Green Guides, advertisers should keep in mind the various “green” state laws that could affect the production and marketing of certain products. For example

Voluntary Carbon Market Disclosures Act (VCMDA)

The VCMDA is a new California law that imposes disclosure requirements on public and private companies of all sizes that:

  • Operate in California and/or make claims in California regarding their climate performance, including claims regarding the achievement of net zero emissions, that the entity (or its product) is carbon neutral and/or does not add net carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, that the entity has made “significant reductions” to its GHG emissions, or similar claims
  • Operate in California and/or make climate-performance claims in California and use or purchase voluntary carbon offsets (VCOs) sold in California
  • Market or sell VCOs in California (regardless of whether they make climate-performance claims)

Continue Reading Making Green Claims? Keep in Mind New State Laws

It’s that time of year again. Regardless of what you call them—subscriptions, negative option programs, automatic renewals, or continuous service offers—states are continuing to enact and enforce new laws with increasingly strict requirements. Many new requirements have come into play since last year, so if you haven’t conducted a checkup recently, now is a great time.Continue Reading Your 2024 Outlook: California’s Enforcement Trends and New State Laws Governing Automatic Renewal Programs

Today we’re excited to announce the launch of Venable’s Ad Law Tool Kit Show, a podcast that will help you and your organization identify and avoid potentially problematic advertising practices.

As hosts of the 12-episode show, we’ll interview our fellow Venable colleagues and examine the increasingly complex regulatory landscape that governs the promotion of goods and services—from negative option marketing to copyright protection and influencer endorsements.

Each week, we’ll bring the firm’s popular Advertising Law Tool Kit to life through the lens of current events. Listen to the trailer here.

Episode 1, “Product Safety and Recalls,” with Melissa Steinman and Erin Maus, will be available Tuesday, January 30. Join us over the coming weeks to hear:Continue Reading Listen to the Ad Law Tool Kit Show – a New Podcast from Venable

Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held its informal hearing on the proposed amendments to the Negative Option Rule. Clearly on display was not only industries’ concern about the impact of the proposed rule, but also concern about the FTC’s haste toward implementing the rule changes.

As a refresher, the FTC generally must promulgate rules under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Federal Trade Commission Improvements Act (Mag-Moss) instead of the less-stringent Administrative Procedures Act. Under Mag-Moss, the FTC must first issue an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) seeking public comment, issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), have reason to believe that the conduct at issue is “prevalent,” conduct informal hearings allowing parties to present their views and finally publish the final rule with a “statement of basis and purpose” accompanying the rule.Continue Reading Unpacking the FTC’s Negative Option Rule Informal Hearing

This week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a Proposed Stipulated Order with lead generator Response Tree LLC and its president, resolving allegations that the company violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and Section 5 of the FTC Act. The complaint alleged that the company operated “consent farm” websites that misled consumers into providing their telephone numbers, falsified lead data, and obtained leads without requisite consent, resulting in unlawful prerecorded calls and calls made to telephone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.

First, the complaint alleges that defendant’s websites duped consumers into providing their telephone numbers by misrepresenting that they were consenting to receive calls about home mortgage financing quotes. According to the complaint, the defendant sold the lead to partners who marketed products or services completely unrelated to home mortgages or lending.Continue Reading FTC Bans Lead Generator from Participating in Robocalls in $7 Million Settlement