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

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Retailers and consumer products companies need to be aware of a new law affecting negative online reviews. On December 14, 2016, President Obama signed the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 (H.R. 5111) into law. The Act voids “non-disparagement clauses” in form contracts designed to prevent consumers from posting negative comments and online reviews of products and services. The Act also makes it unlawful for companies to include these clauses in their form contracts. The Federal Trade Commission will enforce the Act in the same way it enforces against unfair or deceptive trade practices under its jurisdiction; state attorneys general may also enforce the Act under certain conditions. For existing contracts, the Act will take effect in 90 days and FTC/state enforcement may commence one year from now.

Continue Reading Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 — Beware of the Negative Online Review

As the slow days of summer draw  to a close, school children are not the only ones facing a busy fall  workload. The U.S. Consumer Product  Safety Commission has a packed agenda this fall, and heading into 2015. Here are some of the issues consumer product manufacturers, distributors, and retailers should be following:

  1. 1110  Hearing: The CPSC hearing on September 18 was  scheduled as a result of significant comments filed on the proposed 110 rule in  order to review “stakeholders” anticipated challenges in meeting an electronic  filing requirement. It provides members  of the industry an opportunity to explain to the CPSC the practical logistics involved  in creating certificates that “accompany” products they ship globally. The announcement for the hearing signaled CPSC’s  desire to get into the details, such as understanding the difference between document  imaging and searchable data elements. Many companies have already developed  systems for meeting certificate of compliance requirements, and the rule  changes would necessitate reengineering of existing IT systems to meet new  requirements.
  2. Magnet  Rule: The Commission moved forward with a hearing  on the proposed rule to ban small rare earth magnets, despite concerns raised  by Commissioner Buerkle that the rulemaking was premature and could affect the  ability of the Commission to serve as the appellate review body with respect to  current administrative cases alleging the magnets present a substantial product  hazard. The matter is not set for a  ballot vote and a decisional meeting is scheduled for September 24, 2014.

    Continue Reading What’s Happening at CPSC This Fall

On July 27, 2012, California released a revised draft of its Safer Consumer Products Regulations—commonly known as the "Green Chemistry Initiative." The proposed regulations establish a process for California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and product manufacturers to assess whether consumer products containing certain "chemicals of concern" can be made with safer ingredients. Once

The Obama Administration has released its Framework for Business Tax Reform, a broad-brush look at where it would want to take business taxes. The Framework would eliminate a number of targeted tax benefits and would tighten the rules relating to taxation of foreign operations, with the goal of using the revenue produced to reduce the overall corporate tax rate. The proposal would not be a tax cut but would raise revenue. However, there would be winners and losers. On balance, the proposal could be favorable to many retailers.
Continue Reading Administration’s “Framework for Business Tax Reform” Could Benefit Retailers

Crowell & Moring is pleased to invite you to join us on October 19, 2011 for a dynamic conference entitled Product Risk Management: A Product Lifecycle Approach to Identifying, Mitigating and Managing Legal Risks. This one-day event will provide updates and guidance on the myriad legal issues related to product development, manufacturing and distribution and will be of particular value to In-house Counsel, Executive Officers and Compliance Officers.

Speakers scheduled to participate include representatives from the Federal Trade Commission, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Crowell & Moring, the American Cleaning Institute, and companies such as Avaya, Inc., Graco Children’s Products, Inc., Dell, FMC Corporation, Oneida and Tesla Motors.

Continue Reading Join Us at Our Product Risk Management Conference in DC

Retailers will soon be in violation of a new consumer product safety rule if they are found to be selling children’s upper outerwear containing drawstrings. On July 1, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) voted to approve a new consumer product safety rule listing children’s upper outerwear containing drawstrings to be a substantial product hazard pursuant to Section 15(j) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (“CPSA”). The new rule will go into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.
Continue Reading CPSC Votes to Ban Children’s Upper Outerwear with Drawstrings

Recent months have shown a dramatic increase in suits against retailers by cashiers seeking seats at work. The influx results from two California Court of Appeal decisions in late 2010 that permitted the plaintiff cashiers to pursue suits against their employers for not providing seating. Several suits filed since then come from cashiers seeking to

On May 5th, Crowell & Moring’s Retail Law partnered with the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) to host the first webcast of a 3-part retail law series: “Recovery Opportunities for Retailers: Turning A Retail Law Department Into A Profit Center in Retail Leasing, Global Sourcing and Antitrust Litigation.” The webcast was moderated by

2011 is rapidly becoming the year that the patent plaintiffs turned their attention to retailers. As previously reported, GeoTag, Inc., recently brought a patent infringement lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas against more than three hundred retailers alleging that store locator functions on the retailers’ websites infringed its patent. Now, another frequent patent plaintiff, SFA Systems, LLC (“SFA”) has filed a patent infringement suit in the Eastern District of Texas against 27 retailers with websites. The lawsuit is captioned SFA Systems, LLC v. Amazon.com, Inc. At issue is U.S. Patent No. 6,067,525 (the “‘525 Patent”), issued on May 25, 2000 and entitled “Integrated Computerized Sales Force Automation System.” The ‘525 Patent purports to claim methods for facilitating processes relating to the sale of products and services online, including using such systems for personalizing the online experience of users, such as by making personalized recommendations, engaging in personalized marketing, providing personalized customer care, and helping online customers find compatible products. This is the third lawsuit brought asserting the ‘525 Patent and the second directed at retailers.
Continue Reading Another Patent Plaintiff Sets Its Sights on Retailers