During the week of Independence Day, the FTC announced that it is seeking further public comment on its Amplifier Rule, which requires uniform measurements and disclosures for home entertainment amplifiers. In addition, the FTC initiated a new action against grill maker Weber-Stephen Products, LLC for illegally restricting customers’ right to repair their purchased products.  These stories and more after the jump.

Continue Reading FTC Updates (July 5-8, 2022)

Despite imposing onerous new compliance terms, the recently announced Vornado civil penalty was criticized by three commissioners as too low amid their urgent calls for larger penalties in the future. On July 7, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a $7.5 million civil penalty settlement with manufacturer of air circulation products, Vornado Air (Vornado). Vornado agreed to pay the civil penalty to resolve charges that the Company knowingly failed to immediately report allegedly defective electric space heaters to the CPSC under Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). The Commission voted 4-0-1 to provisionally accept the settlement. Notably, three of the agency’s five commissioners published individual statements alongside the agency’s announcement of the penalty, which is atypical. The statements provide product safety stakeholders with insights on how the “new” Commission views civil penalties and its enforcement authority. 

Continue Reading “Wiping the Slate Clean”— CPSC Commissioners Signal Higher Penalties to Come in Wake of Vornado Penalty Resolution

The FTC, in the week leading up to the Fourth of July holiday, took action in multiple healthcare arenas, including supplements and Ear, Nose and Throat (“ENT”) specialty products. The agency also successfully shut down a scammer who used PPP loans to sell bogus grant funding packages to minority-owned businesses in Florida. These stories and more after the jump.

Continue Reading FTC Updates (June 27 – July 1, 2022)

This week, the Commission issued more than 30,000 checks, totaling more than $11 million, to consumers and small businesses for cases settled pre-AMG. The FTC also issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making for the Motor Vehicle Dealers Trade Regulation Rule that could have a significant impact on car marketing and sales tactics. The Commission also finalized orders against a mattress and bedding retailer making “Made in USA” claims and an online retailer of customizable goods for consumer data and privacy concerns. These stories and more after the jump. 

Continue Reading FTC Updates (June 21-24, 2022)

With the beginnings of the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 brought an onslaught of retail bankruptcy cases. Lord & Taylor, Ascena Brands, Neiman Marcus and JC Penny, among many others – not less than 52 in total. As the economy recovered from the initial shock of the pandemic, the number of retail bankruptcy cases subsided in 2021. According to reports, there were 21 retail cases in 2021 as retail traffic began returning to pre-pandemic levels. 2022, however, brings new pressures on the global economy, and certain that may strike the retail industry with force. This month’s filing by Revlon put a spotlight on the industry and may portend a coming wave of filings in what has been a rather tame year for bankruptcies generally, and in retail in particular.

Continue Reading Revlon May Signal Another Wave of Retail Bankruptcies

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Mary Boyle to serve as a commissioner of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) by a vote of 50-48. For the first time since late October 2019, when then-Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle departed the agency, the Commission will have a full complement of five commissioners. And, most notably, for the first time since May 2018, the Democrats will hold a voting majority.     

As soon as Ms. Boyle is sworn in, she will join Democratic Commissioners Alexander Hoehn-Saric and Richard Trumka Jr. and Republicans Dana Baiocco and Peter Feldman. As we wrote last July when President Biden announced her nomination, Ms. Boyle is well known to the product safety community. She knows the inner-workings of the CPSC as well as anybody as she has served most recently as the agency’s Executive Director. She has also served as the agency’s acting General Counsel. Interestingly, Ms. Boyle is the second Executive Director of the agency recently nominated for the Commission, as President Obama nominated then-Executive Director Elliot Kaye to be Chairman.

Continue Reading Senate Confirms Mary Boyle to CPSC; Democrats Reclaim Majority

This week, the Commission announced that it blocked a hospital merger in Utah and New Jersey and ordered an oil and gas divestiture in Michigan. The FTC also issued a policy statement on exclusionary rebates and fees in prescription drug pricing and submitted a report to Congress on combatting online harms through innovation. Commissioner Noah Joshua Phillips issued a dissenting statement regarding the FTC’s report to Congress, and Commissioner Christine Wilson questioned whether the FTC’s Fuel Rating Rule under the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act is necessary. These stories and more after the jump. 

Continue Reading FTC Updates (June 13-17, 2022)

The past week witnessed a big win to the FTC—its lawsuit against RCG Advances, LLC and its owner Robert Giardina has resulted in a permanent ban and return of more than $2.7 million to consumers. In the meantime, the Commission is sending checks totaling more than $164,000 to consumers who were harmed by a bogus mortgage relief scam. Lastly, the FTC initiated a new action against California-based Gravity Defyer Medical Technology Corporation and its owner Alexander Elnekaveh for allegedly deceptive pain-relief claims for Gravity Defyer footwear. These stories and more after the jump.

Continue Reading FTC Updates (June 6-10, 2022)

The FTC had a busy week, taking multiple actions against alleged scammers and pyramid schemes in the finance and credit industries. In merger news, the agency announced a workshop on pharmaceutical mergers, and it took enforcement actions related to several mergers in a variety of industries. The FTC also issued a report showing that consumers have lost a whopping $1 billion in cryptocurrency scams since 2021. These stories and more after the jump. 

Continue Reading FTC Updates (May 30-June 3, 2022)

The news of Elon Musk’s $42-44 billion offer to purchase Twitter, and his apparent cold feet, have spread far and wide. Speculation has swirled that his offer was a politically-motivated stunt and that he never intended to actually follow-through with the deal. More recently, however, Musk has publicly demanded more information from Twitter regarding its so-called “bots” and he has publicly suggested that up to 20% of Twitter’s active user base is comprised of fake accounts, in contrast to the 5% that Twitter itself has claimed in its latest annual report. So, is Musk’s stated concern real or a coverup for cold feet?

While some have derided Musk’s demands as pretextual, he has a valid point that the number of real, daily active users on the Twitter platform – actual human eyeballs – is critical to the value of Twitter. A difference of 15% in estimates of bots is likely to be material. Twitter itself has said so.

Continue Reading Does Elon Musk Have a Point? The Impact of Bots on Twitter Revenue.