Retail & Consumer Products Law Observer

Retail & Consumer Products Law Observer

Legal Insight for the Retail and Consumer Products Industry

Christopher A. Cole

Christopher A. Cole

Christopher Cole is the co-chair of Crowell & Moring’s Advertising & Product Risk Management Group in the Washington, D.C. office. Chris practices complex commercial litigation and regularly advises regarding the development, substantiation, approval, and defense of advertising campaigns. He frequently represents companies that have complex product development, reputational, and marketing concerns that require overlapping and multifaceted solutions, not only in court, but also before federal regulatory agencies. In this work, he has represented some of the world’s leading companies in industries such as food and beverages, media and telecommunications, and consumer products. Chris also regularly appears before the National Advertising Division (NAD), where he has achieved some of the most notable results for his clients in that forum over the last decade. Chris has successfully litigated many other types of cases, including patent, copyright, unfair competition, consumer class actions, general commercial litigation, and government enforcement proceedings.

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Is the Cambridge Analytica Scandal a Watershed Moment for the Ad-Funded Internet?

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management
The news that Cambridge Analytica, the shadowy, digital political consultancy, may have misused user data obtained from Facebook is reverberating throughout Washington and foreign capitals. The immediate fallout has been calls for Congressional and federal investigations into what happened. The Federal Trade Commission has taken the unusual step of publicly announcing a “non-public” investigation into… Continue Reading

“Do Not Resuscitate”: Lessons for Advertisers

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management
The DNR Tattoo Last week, the Associated Press reported the fascinating story of an unconscious man admitted in acute distress to Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital. The words “Do Not Resuscitate” were tattooed across his upper chest, where one would see them before engaging in chest compressions. He carried no identification, so the medical staff could… Continue Reading

Subverting Democracy, Advertising, and the Economy Through Bots

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management
The word “bot” is a double-entendre. It refers both to the larval stage of the bot-fly, a rather gruesome internal parasite (warning, link not for the squeamish) and to a software application that runs automated scripts on the internet in highly repetitive fashion—also with parasitic effects. Internet bots can be programmed for good or evil.… Continue Reading

Quincy Biosciences: What the decision means for advertising of health claims, and what it means to the FTC

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management
You may have seen the commercial on late night television. A glowing image of a human brain appears (along with a disclosure stating “dramatization”), with flashing lights pulsing through a crisscrossed mesh, depicting nerves. The voiceover intones, “Your brain is an amazing thing. But as you get older, it begins to change, causing a lack… Continue Reading

This Week in Digital Advertising: Fake News, Bots, and Implications for Digital Trust

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management
Last December, authorities arrested Edgar Welch, a 28-year old man from Salisbury, North Carolina, who had entered Comet Ping Pong, a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor, armed with a shot gun. Mr. Welch reportedly came to Comet Ping Pong on a self-described mission to free child sex slaves that he believed might be imprisoned there at… Continue Reading

New Private Right of Action in Canada for False or Misleading Electronic Advertising

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management
This alert has been prepared in collaboration with Canada’s Fasken Martineau law firm. Mr. Di Domenico is a partner and regional chair of the firm’s Antitrust/Competition & Marketing Group in Toronto. Chris Cole is Co-Chair of Crowell’s Advertising & Product Risk Management Group in Washington, D.C. In less than three months, Canada will introduce a private… Continue Reading

Ad Fraud and Programmatic Buying Are Eroding Trust in Digital Media

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management, Antitrust & Claims Recovery
This year, digital media spending is expected to outstrip spending on traditional media, such as television and print. Advertisers, lured by the promise of precise targeting, better ability to measure return on investment, and changing consumer media consumption patterns, have poured money into digital at an almost exponential rate. And, while there are studies (largely… Continue Reading

The President’s Regulatory Agenda and the FTC

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management, Product Liability & Torts
Presidential advisor Steve Bannon famously told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that the Trump Administration seeks to “deconstruct” the regulatory state. The President has issued several Executive Orders (EOs) on regulations designed to implement this policy, including the “two for one” EO, an EO on enforcing the regulatory agenda, and an EO on reorganizing… Continue Reading

Webinar: Consumer Protection 2.0 — C&M’s First 100 Days Series

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management, Events
The incoming administration promises big changes to federal consumer protection administration and enforcement. On January 5, 2017, Crowell & Moring’s Advertising & Product Risk Management Group hosted a webinar in which they discussed likely changes on the horizon to the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Please click here to access… Continue Reading

Join C&M and other Industry Experts for an Advertising for Associations Seminar

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management
On May 4, 2016, Crowell & Moring LLP will host a complimentary seminar on Advertising for Associations in their Washington, DC office. This afternoon program will focus on key issues affecting advertising communications and public relations strategies of major trade associations. It brings together leading trade association executives and lawyers, public relations specialists, and ad… Continue Reading

The FTC’s Latest Warning Letter Barrage Targets Misuse of Environmental Seals and Certifications.

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management
On Monday, September 14, the FTC announced that it had sent letters to five providers of environmental seals and certifications and 32 individual companies using such seals and certifications, warning them against potentially overbroad, deceptive uses. The latest edition of the FTC’s Green Guides contains a section dealing with the use of environmental seals and certifications.… Continue Reading

Here Come the GMO-Free Class Actions

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management, Consumer Class Action
Whether to label foods as either containing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) or being GMO-free is getting more complicated. On the one hand, Vermont’s GMO-labeling law, which has thus far survived legal challenge, will require by next July that all foods for sale at retail in the state bear labeling regarding GMO content. On the other hand, many retailers… Continue Reading

FTC Warns Retailers to Police Their Products’ Deceptive Concussion Prevention Claims

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management, Product Liability & Torts
As the storm of concussion-related litigation continues to churn, the Federal Trade Commission is once again wading into its turbulent waters. In August, the FTC sent warning letters to five undisclosed “major” retailers, expressing concerns that athletic mouthguards are being advertised deceptively on the retailers’ web sites as helping to prevent concussions. These FTC letters… Continue Reading

“Made in America” Claims: the Landscape, FTC Guidance, and Tips for Manufacturers and Marketers

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management
The choices facing American consumers are no longer just “paper or plastic” or “do you want fries with that?” Today, when strolling the aisles of a grocery store, customers have the option to buy local, organic, gluten-free, low-carb, or any other of a dozen choices. The local coffee shop offers a selection of responsibly-sourced coffees,… Continue Reading

Stricter Rules for Fuel Economy Advertising Are on the Horizon, But Are Unlikely to Put the Brakes on Consumer Class Actions

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management, Consumer Class Action, Environment & Natural Resources
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are both considering tightening rules governing the advertising of vehicle fuel economy. New federal regulations, however, may not stem the recent tide of consumer class actions alleging that auto manufacturers have misled consumers with inaccurate miles-per-gallon (MPG) claims. Since 1975, the FTC has published… Continue Reading

California Court Proposes to Assess $6.8 Million Penalty Against Online Discount Retailer For Engaging in Commonly Used Pricing Claims

Posted in Advertising & Product Risk Management, Consumer Class Action
A California state court recently issued a preliminary ruling proposing to assess a statutory penalty against online discount retailer in the amount of $6.8 million for engaging in allegedly false and misleading discount advertising.1 was alleged to have advertised discounted prices that were pegged to the company’s own uncorroborated estimate of undiscounted retail… Continue Reading

Telemarketers Beware: New TCPA Regulations Effective October 16, 2013

Posted in Consumer Class Action, Privacy & Data Protection
The deadline for complying with new Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulations is on Wednesday, October 16, 2013. The new rules, promulgated by the FCC in 2012, govern the circumstances under which telemarketers can contact consumers. Non-compliance puts both telemarketers and those companies that they act “on behalf of” at potential risk. As of October… Continue Reading