In today’s competitive environment, attempts to influence customers are taking place not only through traditional media but across many new platforms, including external websites, social media outlets and mobile applications.
The practices and policies of consumer-facing companies, from invasive marketing to the protection of customer information, are under constant scrutiny, as are issues relating to deceptive or unfair advertising. With the FTC’s ability to refer matters to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution, the Commission’s regulation of marketing practices and unfair or deceptive advertising can be the tip of the spear.
Regulations and investigations involving consumer protection do not stop at the federal level. Each state, through its attorney general or Department of Consumer Affairs, enforces unfair trade practice laws through so-called “Little FTC Acts.” Such law enforcement actions can take place in concert with the FTC or other federal agencies.
Federal Trade Commission Experience
Few other law firms in the country have handled as many FTC and state attorney general investigations and enforcement actions as Manatt. We have defended many clients in response to highly sensitive civil investigative demands and other inquiries, and have an excellent record of resolving such actions amicably, by either convincing the Commission that enforcement proceedings should not be initiated or negotiating favorable settlements on our client’s behalf. In the few instances where we have not been able to negotiate a favorable settlement, our litigation team has been effective in mounting a strong defense. In fact, our lawyers have served as defense counsel on some of the highest-profile FTC cases in recent years.
State Attorney General Experience
Our team shares decades of experience representing clients in proceedings brought by individuals and multiple state attorneys general. Our professionals are successful in negotiating reasonable settlements and in persuading state attorneys general not to file formal actions against our clients.
Automatic Renewal Laws
More and more states are enacting automatic renewal laws that restrict how companies market, confirm and cancel subscription plans purchased by consumers. These, in addition to the federal Restore Online Shoppers Confidence Act (ROSCA) and the FTC Negative Option Rule, create a complex regulatory scheme with which companies and marketers offering subscription-based services and continuity plans need to comply.
We have represented scores of clients in state and federal litigation alleging violations of automatic renewal laws and in major regulatory investigations of automatic renewal compliance, including investigations undertaken by the California Automatic Renewal Task Force (CART). Our familiarity with ROSCA and the similar state automatic renewal laws, as well as the serial plaintiffs and their most frequent counsel, enables us to proactively avoid problems through business-oriented compliance advice and to swiftly and cost-effectively resolve or defeat any consumer claims that may arise.
Who we work with
Industries impacted by the FTC and other consumer protection regulators touch every industry sector, from e-commerce and technology to financial services to health care to retail to food to consumer products and services.
What we do
The consumer protection laws and regulations involving the FTC and state regulators are broad. We protect and defend clients with respect to:
- Advertising and consumer regulations in specific industries (e.g., food, alcohol, medical products, funeral, jewelry, motor vehicles, retail food stores, drugs)
- Automatic renewal and negative option compliance and litigation
- Comparative advertising
- Consumer credit (including credit reporting, credit billing and truth-in-lending)
- Contests, sweepstakes and games of chance
- Debt collection
- Endorsement and testimonials in advertising
- Franchise and business opportunities
- Group-specific targeted marketing (e.g., children, senior citizens, Hispanic citizens)
- Guarantees and warranties
- Labeling (e.g., clothing, appliances, cosmetics, drugs, food, furs, hazardous substances, tires)
- “Made in the U.S.A.” labeling
- Mail orders
- Multilevel marketing
- Privacy, data security and identity theft
- Solicitation on electronic mail, through facsimile and by telephone
- Spam and commercial e-mailing
- Substantiation of advertising claims
- Use of the terms “free” and “rebate”