Venable associate Shahin Rothermel was interviewed in a May 15, 2016 Corporate Counsel article on a federal appeals court ruling against the founder of Jerk.com who the FTC alleges misrepresented source content and member benefits. Founded in 2009, Jerk.com was a self-proclaimed reputation management website featuring profiles of individuals that allowed users to vote whether someone was a “jerk” or “not a jerk.” The website heavily implied the profiles were user-generated when they were actually created from other social media sites. Individuals could only dispute the content after paying a membership fee.
"Jerk.com was a pretty offensive website, so this was a pretty easy target for the FTC," said Rothermel. "Up until this ruling, marketers might have thought that they could get away with implied claims by arguing that we didn’t expressly state a misrepresentation… But this is the FTC saying that if the net impression is one thing, you can’t disclaim it on another page."
Following the ruling, Rothermel said companies are "going to start needing to look long and hard at not only the direct statements but also the inferences from the webpage." She added, "Companies need to look at the impression of the whole website, not just of one page."