For startups, social media can offer cheap and effective publicity. Startups must also be mindful that any advertising, including on social media, will require you to comply with federal regulations. While sponsored content regulations once went largely unenforced against social media based advertising, times are changing. Advertising on social media is increasingly drawing the eye of regulators. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations demand honesty and transparency in advertising, and fortunately, honesty and transparency will keep your company compliant.

In 2016, the FTC sued retailer Lord & Taylor alleging the company paid online influencers to post pictures of themselves wearing a specific Lord & Taylor article of clothing. The posts failed to disclose Lord & Taylor provided the clothing for free and paid each influencer thousands of dollars.  Lord & Taylor also paid for a positive review in the online publication Nylon that appeared without notice it was a paid promotion. The product sold out quickly, but the FTC sued Lord & Taylor. The case ultimately settled, and the settlement will affect Lord & Taylor for up to twenty years.  Lord & Taylor did not make the posts that got them into trouble; they only failed to require the influencers to disclose their relationship with Lord & Taylor. Your company is responsible for others’ posts if you pay for the posts—tracking paid posts to ensure regulatory compliance is obligatory.
Continue Reading

Fresh off the heels enacting the California Consumer Privacy Act, California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed the country’s first law governing the security of Internet of Things or connected devices. The bill, SB 327, is entitled “Security of Connected Devices.”

Beginning on January 1, 2020, all manufacturers of connected devices will be required to equip the device with reasonable security features to protect against the unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure of information that is collected or transmitted by the device.
Continue Reading

websitePosting terms of use document on your website or mobile application defines the terms which govern your customer’s use of your website or mobile application and greatly reduce your exposure to liability when providing goods or services through a web-based application. A privacy policy describes to your consumers what information you collect, how you collect it and how you use it.  Posting a privacy policy provides notice to your customers so that they can make an informed decision on whether or not they want to use your web-based application after considering the data you collect and how you use it.

Continue Reading

Over the past few years, we have been reporting on the full frontal assault against patent assertion entities (PAEs), pejoratively referred to as patent trolls in blog posts in troll tollMay 2014, July 2014 and December 2014. Actions to curb these perceived pariahs of the US economy have come from nearly every angle of attack including the White House, Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and all the way down to various state houses. Although much has happened on many of the fronts we have previously reported, much has stayed the same. We thought now would be a good time to reflect over the last year’s activities to see if the strategy of patent litigation as a business is truly nearing its demise.

Continue Reading

Data Locks“Sorry.” Music service Spotify joins the club as the latest company to apologize to its customers for proposed privacy policy changes. When it comes to bad press, it would be tough to beat Minecraft-founder Markus Persson’s tweet about Spotify: “Hello. As a consumer, I’ve always loved your service. You’re the reason I stopped pirating music. Please consider not being evil.” Spotify promptly threw itself on the mercy of its customers in a short written apology.

While the scope of Spotify’s policy exceeds the scope of data that most companies seek to obtain, it’s a good reminder for all companies to review their own privacy policies. As a company reviews its privacy policy, it should consider these key questions:


Continue Reading

We have experienced an increase in clients launching their own mobile applications for such reasons as supplementing a web-based software offering, operating a customer rewards program, providing a product catalog and account management tools, and many other purposes.  This blog entry will identify some of the key issues that we analyze during the development and launch of a mobile application, particularly, issues relating to picking and contracting with an application developer, functional considerations, and considerations when collecting user or application usage information.

Continue Reading