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New Wave of Shipping Fee Class Actions: High Steaks

Omaha Steaks International Inc. recently became the target of a proposed class action lawsuit, in which the company is accused of charging unreasonable shipping fees that were excessive compared to the company’s actual costs.

In Benihana Case, Slicing and Dicing of Trademark Rights To Licensee Proves Problematic

A dispute that began with an unauthorized burger placed on a menu by a licensee recently culminated in the dismissal of the latest lawsuit between feuding factions of Benihana, the Japanese teppanyaki restaurant chain. In early March, the US District Court in the Southern District of New York dismissed a lawsuit brought by Benihana of Tokyo LLC (BOT) against its American counterpart, Benihana, Inc. (BI) that raised claims of breach of contract and breach of good faith, and highlighted the risks of splitting trademark rights between geographic territories.

Supreme Court Clarifies Availability of Copyright for Applied Art on Apparel

On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al, No 15-866, clarifying that the Copyright Act protects applied artistic elements appearing on utilitarian objects, including apparel.

Anthony Lupo and James Ravitz on Perfumes and Cosmetics in the Retail Sector

Gone are the days where a brand's DNA is defined solely by clothing and accessories. With the luxury goods sector experiencing a recent downturn, more and more companies are breaking into the perfume and cosmetic spheres. The movement may be attributed, in part, to the "lipstick index," a phrase coined in 2001 by Leonard Lauder, then-chairman of Estee Lauder, to describe how beauty products may act as affordable indulgences during times of economic recession.

The Next Wave of Class Action Lawsuits Against Fashion Retailers: Excess Shipping and Handling Fees

Based on recent federal court filings in the Central District of California, it appears that plaintiff lawyers have found a new way to threaten retailers with class action litigation. In January of this year, two class action complaints were filed on behalf of consumers who allegedly were charged shipping and handling fees “not reasonably related to Defendant’s actual costs of shipping or delivering the items to consumers but instead greatly exceeded those costs.” The complaints assert that the shipping and handling fees violate “established ethical principles” and California law.

FTC Continues Close Scrutiny of "Made in USA" Claims

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has just announced that it will be closing its "Made in USA" investigation of certain Target pillow products. According to the FTC, the outer packaging of the pillow products bore an unqualified "Made in USA" claim while the packages' contents – the pillows themselves – bore a "Made in China" label claim. FTC's investigation began in response to numerous consumer complaints regarding this conflicting origin labeling.

Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016: What Brands Need to Know About This New Consumer Review Law

What’s the News? Before leaving office, President Obama signed into law the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 (CRFA), which protects consumers engaging in consumer reviews. The CRFA voids a contract if it prohibits or restricts an individual from reviewing a seller's goods, services, or conduct. Who is Affected? All companies that have the prohibited clauses (see below) in their consumer contracts will have to review and update these contracts for compliance with the CRFA.

FTC Settlement Shows Agency Remains Focused on “Made in USA” Claims

The Federal Trade Commission has announced a proposed settlement and consent order in its investigation of a US-based water filtration company, iSpring Water Systems, concerning that company’s representations that its products are "Proudly Built in the USA," which is considered an unqualified "Made in USA" claim that the products were all or virtually all USA-made. These representations appeared on the company’s own websites, as well as those of other online retailers who sold the products.

FDA Issues Draft Guidance on Lead Levels in Cosmetics

The US Food and Drug Administration recently issued draft guidance establishing an upper limit for lead levels in externally applied cosmetics of 10 parts per million (ppm) of lead. FDA’s upper limit lead restriction applies to lip products, such as lipsticks, lip glosses, and lip liners, and to other externally applied cosmetics, such as eye shadows, blushes, compact powders, shampoos, and body lotions.

New Version of Payment Card Information Standards Targets Recent Breach Issues

What’s the News? Following recent updates, merchants and retailers will soon become subject to the updated Payment Card Information Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the security standard that organizations need to follow if they handle credit and debit cards from major card companies, such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express. This round of changes will be known as version 3.2 of PCI DSS, and include significant guidance and updates on hot topics such as encryption and strong credentials.