September 12, 2019

Advertising Law News and Analysis

3 min

A Day Late and $1.2M Short: NY AG Fines Dollar Store Chains for Selling Expired Medicines and Obsolete Motor Oil, Violating Bottle Deposit Law

Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar will pay $1.2 million in fines and restitution to the New York Attorney General to resolve allegations that they routinely sold expired medicines and failed to comply with New York's bottle deposit law. The bulk of the penalty – $1.1 million – will be paid by Dollar General, which is accused of selling two types of motor oil that have been obsolete for almost 30 and 90 years, respectively.

Things Are Buzzing in the Beehive State

Utah traditionally has been a hive of activity in the telemarketing and "how to make money" education verticals. The Utah Consumer Protection Division and the Division's lawyers at the Office of the Attorney General appear to be trying to change that. Industry participants have been watching closely a lawsuit filed by the attorney general on behalf of the Division in federal court in Utah. Last week, that lawsuit was thrown out on jurisdictional grounds. The lawsuit and the court decision shed light on the aggressive approach the Division is taking to this type of business activity and the limits on the authority of states to use the remedial tools available to the FTC.

Anti-Robocall Principles Agreed to by Carriers and State AGs

A bipartisan, public/private coalition of 51 attorneys general and 12 phone companies have agreed to create the "Anti-Robocall Principles," a set of eight principles to fight "illegal robocalls" that the phone companies have voluntarily agreed to adopt by incorporation, or continued incorporation into their business practices. The principles are available here and press release is here.

No Restitution for the Weary: Seventh Circuit Limits FTC’s Ability to Seek Restitution

The Seventh Circuit issued a decision this week that guts a key part of the FTC's enforcement arsenal – the ability to obtain equitable monetary relief from defendants when the FTC challenges conduct in federal court under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act. We've written previously—here, here, here, and here—regarding the limits courts have placed on the FTC's ability to invoke Section 13(b) and this case brings those issues to a head.

FTC Gathers Video Game Industry to Talk Loot Boxes

On August 7, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a workshop examining consumer protection issues related to "loot boxes" in video games in Washington, DC. Loot boxes are digital containers of virtual goods that a user can purchase in-game using real-world currency or earn based on meeting certain in-game milestones. A user does not know what is in the loot box before purchasing. It may contain digital goods (such as character skins, tools, weapons, etc.) that the user can use in the game. Importantly, the user cannot choose the contents of the loot box. The box could contain an extremely rare/sought-after item, or the contents could be a collection of items already owned by the user (or somewhere in between).