Gonzalo E. Mon

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In February, we posted that the California Attorney General and state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson had announced a bill that would have materially expanded legal exposure for businesses under the CCPA. The most concerning parts of the bill were the attempts to expand the private right of action to cover privacy practices, while simultaneously removing companies’ rights to cure violations before facing a suit. Private Right of Action:  The enacted CCPA includes a private right of…
The Consumer Review Fairness Act was enacted in 2016 to protect consumers’ ability to share their opinions about businesses. In general, the law prohibits companies from using form contracts that: (a) prohibit or restrict consumers from reviewing a business’ goods, services, or conduct; (b) impose penalties or fees on consumers for those reviews; or (c) requires consumers to give up their intellectual property rights in the content of those reviews. Last week, the FTC announced…
The line between what’s an objective claim (which does require proof) and puffery (which does not require proof) isn’t always clear, and reasonable minds can differ as to on which side of the line a claim belongs. When the Eighth Circuit held in 2004 that “America’s Favorite Pasta” was puffery, many people were surprised and wondered how the NAD would have decided that case. Now, in a case involving Goya’s “Puerto Rico’s favorite pasta” tagline,…
This week, the FTC announced a settlement with UrthBox and its president that addresses two topics that we frequently cover on this blog: (1) free trials; and (2) incentivized reviews. Free Trial The FTC alleged that Urthbox offered a “free” trial of its snack boxes for a nominal shipping and handling fee. For some consumers, the trial came with unexpected costs. Unless they took steps to cancel before the end of the trial, consumers were…
This week, the FTC announced its first case involving fake reviews on an independent website. Cure Encapsulations sells a weight-loss product exclusively on Amazon. When the company wanted to boost its sales, its owner turned to Amazon Verified Reviews (or “AVR,” for short), a website that offers Amazon sellers services designed to “push your product towards the top” using “verified” product reviews that will “help your product rank better in the internal search engine.” In…
Last week, the California Assembly’s Standing Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection held a hearing to discuss the California Consumer Privacy Act. While many panelists from the private sector pointed out problems with the law, a few panelists defended the law, and some suggested that it didn’t go far enough. For example, Stacey Schesser, the Supervising Deputy Attorney General for the Privacy Unit in the Consumer Law Section of the Office of the California Attorney…
We frequently get questions about whether companies can be held liable for claims that appear in consumer reviews. Although it’s clear that there are instances in which a company can be held liable if it has a connection to the person who wrote the review, it has been less clear to what extent a company can be held liable for content in independent reviews. A new NAD decision sheds some light on where the line…
In the world of social media, a person’s power is often measured in terms of followers. Because more followers generally means more reach, companies who engage influencers often base their compensation on this metric. But follower counts may not always be what they seem. According to a New York Times report last year, influencers can buy fake followers (who are often bots) from companies like Devumi. This week, the New York Attorney General announced a…
The recent Netflix and Hulu documentaries about the Fyre Festival have thrust the failed event back into the spotlight. That was a few scandals ago, so for those of you who don’t remember it, here’s a short recap. Billy MacFarland and Ja Rule wanted to host a luxury festival on a deserted island. They found an island that belonged to Pablo Escobar, and secured a lease on the condition that they wouldn’t mention the drug…
Subscription plans that automatically renew at the end of a term are becoming more popular with companies. They’re also getting more scrutiny from regulators. As we’ve posted before, some states regulate how these plans can be structured, and there have been both lawsuits and regulatory investigations targeting companies that have failed to comply. This week, Washington, DC joined the crowd by enacting a new law governing automatic renewals. The law requires businesses that sell goods…