Advertising and Marketing Litigation

If your advertising and marketing cannot stand up to a legal challenge, your product or service will stumble. Advertising litigation is a complex field requiring careful navigation. Venable is a national leader in advertising and marketing litigation – when leading businesses need help in structuring or defending their campaigns, they turn to us.

Your advertising campaign was creative and carefully considered. Your product seemed certain to succeed, and some of the best advertising minds helped launch it with a campaign that spanned traditional and new media. 

Then came the lawsuit. 

A challenge to your marketing is a challenge to your product and your brand, and a threat to your bottom line. Venable has one of the most extensive and successful advertising and marketing litigation practices in the United States. Whether the lawsuit comes from a competitor, a consumer, or a government regulator, our team is considered by peers and clients alike to be one of the nation's top practices for advertising-related litigation and regulatory compliance.

Veterans of Traditional Media—On the Leading Edge of New Media

Many of Venable's litigation attorneys focus on advertising and marketing litigation. Our advertising and marketing litigators are highly sought after because of their extraordinary perspective. They have all the tools needed to litigate and win advertising cases in any forum—extensive knowledge of advertising law, deep understanding of their clients’ businesses and product/service categories, experience in the courtroom, close ties to federal and state regulatory agencies, intimate understanding of industry self-regulatory bodies, and geographic reach. Many of Venable’s attorneys have decades of experience working with the advertising industry; indeed, some of them have held senior positions in the industry and with the agencies that regulate the clients they now advise. 

We represent clients that produce products, provide services, and market products in myriad industries including, but not limited to, consumer products and services, apparel, floor care, home products, quick-serve restaurants, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, direct response, entertainment, telecommunications, automotive, credit counseling, and debt management.

The cases handled by Venable litigators involve every type of advertising: traditional television, radio and print media; direct mail and telemarketing; retail packaging and in-store displays; cutting-edge Internet, mobile marketing, social media, viral and other word-of-mouth marketing; affiliate marketing, keyword and other search issues; and multi-level (network) marketing. With a home base in Washington, DC, offices on the East and West coasts, and ties to firms around the world, Venable has the ability to assist clients around the globe on any advertising litigation matter.

A Track Record of Success Across a Multitude of Venues

From the highest court in the nation to industry self-regulators, Venable has established a long record of success in every venue where advertising cases are heard.

Venable's successes range from unanimous, precedent-setting U.S. Supreme Court victories to self-regulatory matters at the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau; from federal appellate decisions to state court class actions and false advertising claims; and from federal Lanham Act jury trials to federal district court victories against government regulators. 

Venable regularly obtains and defends against preliminary injunctions and temporary restraining orders relating to advertising issues. Part of this success in obtaining and defending emergency actions stems from Venable's preemptive management and advice relating to claims, substantiation, and advertising review prior to the client launching its advertising campaigns.

Venable litigators also frequently stave off advertising-related investigations from the Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general, and district attorneys from counties around the country. Venable assists clients in responding to civil investigative demands and subpoenas, and regularly keep clients out of litigation brought by government regulators.

Litigation Focus

  • Lanham Act false advertising
  • Self-regulatory matters, including NAD
  • IP-related advertising litigation
  • CAN-SPAM compliance
  • Affiliate marketing matters
  • Government litigation and
    investigations, including: FTC investigations, State attorneys general investigations
  • Unfair and deceptive trade practices
  • Consumer class actions 
  • Anti-counterfeiting

Advertising Focus

  • Traditional media, including
    • Television
    • Radio
    • Print
  • Direct mail and telemarketing
  • Retail packaging and store displays
  • Internet, mobile and social media
  • Word-of-mouth and viral marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Keyword and other search issues
  • Network marketing

Industry Focus

  • Apparel companies
  • Banking and financial services
  • Communications
  • Consumer products and services
  • Credit counseling and debt management
  • Dietary supplements, cosmetics, and functional foods
  • Drugs, medical devices, and biologics
  • Electronics
  • Healthcare
  • Home products
  • Hospitality and lodging
  • Life sciences
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing
  • Media and entertainment
  • New media
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Software
  • Telecommunications


At the Cutting Edge of Advertising Litigation

  • Venable's attorneys are consistently at the forefront of advertising litigation under the Lanham Act, having played decisive roles in some of the most important cases. We have litigated dozens of Lanham Act advertising cases, representing internationally esteemed clients seeking to protect their brand assets and defending clients in high-profile litigation involving groundbreaking issues of law
  • Venable's advertising and marketing litigation attorneys are nationally recognized for their experience and successes. Venable's seasoned, precedent-setting attorneys include Bill Coston, a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, who argued and won unanimously one of the most influential Lanham Act decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in the past decade, Wal-Mart v. Samara Brothers. Roger Colaizzi, who chairs the IP litigation practice group, has over the last decade successfully obtained or defended against more than 50 advertising-related preliminary injunctions and temporary restraining orders. Joshua Kaufman obtained a unanimous Supreme Court victory in a landmark decision changing the landscape of copyright law. Jeffrey D. Knowles, who founded and served for 13 years as general counsel to the Electronic Retailing Association, is nationally recognized as the leading attorney in the direct-response television industry and has successfully negotiated hundreds of resolutions in federal regulatory litigation actions
  • Venable has litigated more than 30 Lanham Act cases involving advertising issues, representing clients in highly publicized, high-profile actions. When false advertising claims are at issue, often the most effective relief available is an expedited action in court to enjoin the false claims. Venable's reputation for success in this expedited setting stems from its knowledge of the law and its ability to quickly gather evidence, obtain consumer surveys, and marshal the experts necessary to obtain a winning outcome. Venable's consistent success in these expedited types of cases is made possible by its attorneys' significant courtroom experience and their ability to present live witnesses and effectively argue the case

Resolving Disputes Through Industry Self-regulatory Bodies

  • Sometimes advertising disputes are best resolved not by courts, but by industry self-regulators. These forums have specialized knowledge of advertising claims, are less formal and expensive, and often render relief more quickly than court action. Fortune 100 companies regularly use these self-regulatory bodies to resolve advertising disputes with competitors
  • Venable has successfully guided a number of clients through the self-regulatory process, including the manufacturer of a leading weight-loss supplement advertised as the "#1 Selling Weight Loss Supplement for Women." When the manufacturer faced accusations that this advertising was misleading, Venable successfully defended it before the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  • More than 30 of Venable's lawyers have participated in these specialized arenas, offering clients a valuable alternative to expensive and time-consuming federal litigation for advertising dispute resolution. Victories for national industry leaders in dietary supplements, housewares, and exercise/weight loss industries prove Venable's sophisticated understanding of these alternative forums

Defending Clients at the Intersection of Advertising and IP

  • Intellectual property suits, including trademark, copyright, patent, counterfeiting, and gray market goods, regularly include advertising issues and advertising claims. Venable's work on intellectual property matters that relate directly to advertising includes involves social networking websites, domain names, and keyword advertising
  • Venable's advertising litigation involving e-commerce is second to none. Venable achieved success in over 40 domain name disputes through Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy. The firm also has several attorneys engaged in and litigating matters involving social media outlets such as Facebook and YouTube, including the negotiation of take-downs of infringing postings. Venable's comprehensive experience in advertising litigation also includes hundreds of proceedings at the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, where the firm seeks to protect clients' valuable trademark assets used to establish consumer recognition and goodwill in the marketplace. Venable's trademark practice group is recognized as one of the top ten practice groups for trademarks issued in the country. By preemptively policing and litigating trademark and branding issues during the application process, Venable helps clients avoid the expense of protecting their brands in more costly federal litigation

Success in New Media Advertising Channels

  • Venable's work extends across all areas of advertising litigation. We are actively engaged in two of the hottest issues in Internet advertising – keyword advertising and affiliate marketing, including high profile matters with national implications

Knowing How to Respond When Government Regulators Come Knocking

  • With our home office in Washington, DC, and a team that includes former high-ranking FTC staff and regulatory attorneys, Venable regularly defends clients from challenges to advertising brought by federal and state regulators. These cases can sometimes involve multiple government agencies and reach from coast to coast
  • For instance, Venable is coordinating the response to related subpoenas in 37 states regarding Internet advertising practices. And in just the past year, Venable has participated in over 20 investigations under the FTC Act. Venable's comprehensive knowledge of the federal and state regulations and regulators and the breadth of experience of its advertising and marketing practice groups provide the framework for the successful resolution of government challenges
  • We help clients respond to subpoenas and other compulsory processes, litigate complaints, negotiate consent agreements, and handle compliance investigations in advertising-related matters. Our broad experience in advertising law and comprehensive knowledge of federal and state regulations and regulators provide the framework for the successful resolution of government challenges

In Consumer Class Actions, Experienced Advocacy is Key

  • Venable has distinguished itself as a leader in the defense of consumer class action advertising matters, defending over a dozen class action cases in the last year alone. Consumer class actions come with the threat of substantial damage awards – but they also require additional elements of proof that make them vulnerable to astute advocacy by experienced counsel. This was illustrated when our rapid response to a consumer class action likely saved a national clothing retailer hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation expenses and potential damages. The complaint alleged failure to properly reimburse customers who returned items purchased using coupons. Although similar cases had settled for as much as $500,000, we resolved the matter for a token payment, before an initial pleading was ever filed
  • Venable has distinguished itself as a leader in the defense against consumer class actions and advertising claims. Our experience representing a broad range of industry-leading, national companies against allegations of false and deceptive advertising practices demonstrates our ability to succeed in these actions


  • U.S. News – Best Lawyers
    • Law Firm of the Year, Advertising Law, 2011 – 2012, 2014
    • Best Law Firms, Advertising Law (Tier 1), National, 2012 – 2020, 2022 - 2023
    • Best Law Firms, Advertising Law (Tier 1), Washington, DC, 2012 – 2020, 2022 - 2023
  • Chambers USA
    • Advertising: Litigation, National, 2016 – 2023
    • Award for Excellence, Advertising and Marketing, 2010 – 2011
  • Legal 500, Advertising and Marketing: Litigation, 2016 – 2023
  • Global Law Experts, Advertising Law Firm of the Year, Client Choice Category, Washington, DC, 2014
  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2012 – 2021 (Venable attorneys selected for inclusion)