November 05, 2020

Advertising Law News and Analysis

3 min

Getting the Yardage: District Court Locks in on Rangefinder Company's False Claims

A case about golf and advertising was too good for us not to write about. Recently, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued a tentative preliminary injunction against GolfzonDeca, Inc. for marketing its GolfBuddy rangefinder. For you non-golfers, a rangefinder is a device that tells a golfer how far they are from the hole or other point on the course. Golfers continually strive for equipment that might help them lower their scores, and we are reminded of the prescient equipment tip from Arnold Palmer: "I have a tip that can take five strokes off anyone's game. It's called an eraser." Plaintiff SkyHawke Technologies, LLC brought several Lanham Act claims alleging misrepresentations with respect to (1) the source of GolfBuddy's GPS data and (2) the GolfBuddy's accuracy. As a competitor in the rangefinder marketplace, SkyHawke contended that it was entitled to a preliminary injunction with respect to these false statements.

FTC Commissioner Warns Larger Companies and Payment Processors, Seeks Greater Financial Penalties

On October 19, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission issued its annual report to Congress regarding the FTC's efforts to protect senior citizens from fraud and abuse. In the report, the FTC noted that adults over 60 are more likely to report losing money to certain types of alleged scams, including romance scams, imposter scams, and online shopping programs. Moreover, the FTC reports that seniors were more than six times more likely than younger consumers to report that they lost money because of tech support phishing activities, and three times more likely to report losing money because of lottery scams.

Ad Law in the Age of COVID-19 and Regulatory Reactions

The COVID-19 crisis has spawned a new wave of predatory behavior toward consumers, with the marketing of coronavirus-related products and untested cures. Regulators have responded to these behaviors swiftly and in a variety of ways. Richard Cleland, assistant director – division of advertising practices at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Venable attorneys Melissa Steinman and Kristen Klesh addressed the advertising enforcement trends stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and offered their reflections on best practices for consumer protection.

A Fireside Chat and Crystal Ball Readings with FTC Attorney Advisors

Venable attorneys Eric Berman and Dan Blynn hosted a virtual fireside chat with attorney advisors to four current Federal Trade Commission (FTC) commissioners. Touching on each commissioner's background and enforcement priorities, the FTC attorney advisors offered insights into best practices and insider perspectives on interacting with the FTC through a series of questions and answers, posed by the Venable team and submitted by audience members. Each panelist spoke on their own behalf, and not on behalf of the FTC, but they provided our audience with unvarnished views on FTC practice and policy.