Intellectual Property

On November 5, 2019, the United States Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) issued a guide entitled “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers”[1] and a video “Do you endorse things on social media?” to alert influencers to the laws governing endorsement or recommendation of products or services and provide social media influencers with “tips on when and how to make good disclosures.”[2] The FTC’s written guide states that “[a]s an influencer, it’s your responsibility to make these disclosures, to be familiar with the Endorsement Guides, and to comply with laws against deceptive ads.”[3] The guide explains to influencers that disclosures must be made when an influencer has a “material connection,” that is “any financial, employment, personal, a family relationship with a brand” and that receiving “free or discounted products or other perks” requires a disclosure.[4] In addition, the FTC notes that “tags, likes, pins, and similar ways of showing you like a brand or product are endorsements.”[5] The FTC guide also instructs influencers that “[i]f posting from abroad, U.S. law applies if it’s reasonably foreseeable that the post will affect U.S. consumers. Foreign laws might also apply.”[6] The FTC notes that disclosures must be in simple and clear language that is placed “so it’s hard to miss” and should be placed with the endorsement itself. Disclosures that “appear only on an ABOUT ME or profile page, at the end of posts or videos, or anywhere that requires a person to click MORE” will not be sufficient.[7] The FTC gave the following guidance with regard to endorsement posts in photographs, video and live streaming:
Continue Reading FTC’S New “Disclosures 101” Publication And Video Is A Shout Out To Influencers

Sunday Riley launched her skincare firm Sunday Riley Modern Skincare, LLC (“SRMS”) in 2009 and its skincare products, including Good Genes, Power Couple, U.F.O., C.E.O., Luna and Tidal, have enjoyed tremendous success, having been featured, promoted, and sold online through Sephora and its website, www. Sephora.com. On October 21, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a consent order in an action for violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act against Ms. Riley and SRMS for posting false reviews of its Sunday Riley products and falsely representing that the false reviews reflected the opinions of ordinary customers of the products.[1] The FTC’s proposed continuing consent order provides: (1) Riley and SRMS are prohibited from misrepresenting the status of any endorser or person providing a review of a product, including misrepresenting that an endorser or reviewer is an independent or ordinary user of the product; (2) Riley and SRMS are required to clearly disclose any unexpected material connection between SRMS and anyone reviewing a product; (3) Riley and SRMS are required to instruct employees, officers and agents as to their responsibilities for disclosing their connections to SRMS and any Sunday Riley product they endorse and that SRMS obtain signed acknowledgments from any endorser; and (4) Riley and SRMS are required to submit compliance reports to the FTC within one‑year of the order and to create records for twenty years and retain them for five years.[2]
Continue Reading “Good Genes?”: Maybe Not. FTC Takes Action Against Sunday Riley and Sunday Riley Modern Skincare, LLC For Employees False Reviews

UPDATE:  On October 12, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 44 and Governor Newsom stated in social media: “I just signed #AB44 — one of the strongest animal rights laws in US History — making California the first state in the nation to ban new fur sales.” The ban goes into effect in 2023 and fur retailers have more than two years to sell any furs they still have in their inventory.  After the law goes into effect, manufacturers and retailers will face fines of $500 to $1,000 for every violation of the law.

Before the 1849 California Gold Rush, American, English and Russian fur hunters were drawn to Spanish (and then Mexican) California in a California Fur Rush, to exploit its enormous fur resources. Before 1825, these Europeans were drawn to the northern and central California coast to harvest southern sea otters and fur seals, and then to the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta to harvest beaver, river otters, marten, fisher, mink, gray fox, weasels, and harbor seals. It has been said that California’s early fur trade, more than any other single factor, that opened up the West to world trade.
Continue Reading No Future for Fur in the Golden State?

Section 653o of the California Penal Code makes it a misdemeanor to import into the state for commercial purposes, to possess with intent to sell, or sell within the dead body or a product thereof, of a variety of animals. Commencing on January 1, 2020, Section 653o(b)(1) shall make it “unlawful to import into this state for commercial purposes, to possess with an intent to sell, or to sell within the state, the dead body, or any part or product thereof, of a crocodile or alligator.” This bans any shipment of alligator or crocodile into, possession of alligator or crocodile with an intent to sell, or to sell within California. A number of bills to either delay the effectiveness of the law or repeal it recently have been killed or tabled by the California Legislature.
Continue Reading See You Later Alligator? After A While Crocodile? Will Penal Law 653o(b)(1) Take Effect?

In January 2018, Mercedes-Benz began a marketing campaign that included photos of its cars in the Eastern Market in Detroit. The Eastern Market is home to many murals commissioned through the Murals in the Market Festival, some of which were included in the campaign.
Continue Reading Driver’s License: Copyright Infringement in the World of Street Art

On March 4, 2019, the United States Supreme Court held unanimously that “a copyright claimant may commence an infringement suit … when the Copyright Office registers a copyright.” Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wallstreet.com, LLC(Slip. Op. at p. 1 (syllabus)). The Court also held unanimously that, upon registration of the copyright, “a copyright owner can recover for infringement that occurred both before and after registration.” Id. This decision resolves a long-standing circuit split between the application approach, which allowed a copyright owner to sue for infringement upon submission of a copyright application, and the registration approach, which allows an infringement suit to proceed only after the Copyright Office granted the registration.  
Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds that a Copyright Claimant May Commence an Infringement Suit Only After the Copyright Office Registers the Copyright

On November 20, 2018, the United States Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) proposed two FTC consent orders against two Georgia-based companies, Creaxion Corporation (“Creaxion”) and Inside Publications, LLC (“Inside”) and their principals[1] concerning the promotion and advertising of Health Pro Brands, Inc.’s new FIT Organic mosquito repellant during the 2016 Zika virus outbreak and allegations that they had misrepresented paid athletes’ endorsements as independent consumer opinions and commercial advertising as independent journalistic content.[2] The proposed FTC consent orders prohibited Creaxion and Inside from making any false representations in the future and required that they ensure all endorsers disclose all material connections going forward and monitor compliance by any endorsers.
Continue Reading FTC Swats Public Relations Firm and Publisher for Misleading Olympic-Themed Mosquito Repellant Product Endorsements and Native Advertisements

Christie’s made history again last night during its evening sale, An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection, at 20 Rockefeller Center in New York. This time, the history was not in the form of a record-setting sale (though the sale brought in $317.8 million), but as the first major art auction to be recorded by distributed ledger technology. Christie’s teamed with Artory, a company that operates an art-focused, blockchain-based registry, to securely register and track the provenance of over 90 artworks that were offered in the sale.
Continue Reading The Hammer Falls on the First Major Blockchain-based Art Auction

For centuries, artists have been celebrated for pushing boundaries and shaping how society should view art. As members of the audience, we rely on artists to expose us to these unique dimensions of thought and we return the favor by placing value on their creations. For the past twenty years, one anonymous artist has continuously thrilled his audience by publicly displaying his work throughout the streets of major cities. Banksy, as the public knows him, has once again shocked his audience, this time at the Sotheby’s auction of one of his most famous graffiti pieces, “Girl with Balloon.”
Continue Reading “Bank For Your Buck” – The Legal Implications of Banksy’s Destruction of “Girl with Balloon”