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Paul Zimmerman
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Showing 20 posts by Adam Z. Solomon.

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Pfizer Settles With New York Attorney General Over "Pay No More Than" Claims

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer probably wishes it had to “pay no more than” $15 to settle allegations brought by the New York Attorney General, but actual penalties recently levied against the company by the AG are quite a bit steeper.

The settlement in question stems from Pfizer deceptively marketing a copayment coupon program. The problematic copayment coupons stated in large, clear text that eligible consumers would “PAY NO MORE THAN” $15 or $20 out-of-pocket for certain drugs. This was untrue. In fact, consumers frequently paid significantly more than the amounts advertised on the coupons because prearranged limits on total savings were not prominently disclosed. Indeed, Pfizer allowed the coupons to be distributed to consumers without clearly and conspicuously setting forth the promotions’ material terms and conditions. As a consequence, at least one person who believed a prescription would cost “no more than” $15 ended up paying nearly $145 at a pharmacy cash register. (Read More)

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A Formula for Trouble: New York AG Settles With Abbott Labs Over Misleading Surveys

Abbott Labs, the maker of Similac infant formula, found itself in some hot water after sending misleading marketing surveys to new parents. The surveys, ostensibly sent by the “National Institute of Infant Nutrition,” sought information about the recipients’ demographics and their infants’ feeding habits. In terms of the latter, the survey asked, whether or not babies had been breast-fed and, if formula-fed, the brand of formula parents used. The problem is that when the surveys were sent, there was no known entity named the “National Institute of Infant Nutrition (NIIN),” and Abbott used the survey information for its own marketing purposes. (Read More)

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Costco Takes Its Coffee with Cream and a Civil Penalty

The Federal Trade Commission doesn’t have a monopoly on consumer fraud claims – just ask the folks at Costco.

Recently, the District Attorney of Alameda County in California joined with 24 other DA’s in the state in settling a case against Costco Wholesale Corporation and JBR, Inc., a coffee company better known as San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee and the Rogers Family Company. Costco and JBR agreed to pay a total of $500,000 in civil penalties and costs stemming from untrue and misleading marketing claims made on plastic coffee pods sold by the companies. (Read More)

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Advertising Agencies Beware: Your Clients Aren’t The Only Ones On The Hook For FTC Violations

In what amounts to one of the largest judgments ever obtained by the FTC against an ad agency, one such company (the “Agency”) has agreed to pay $2 million to resolve a complaint arising from its creation and dissemination of deceptive radio spots for weight-loss products marketed by one of its clients. The complaint, which was made on behalf of the FTC and State of Maine, alleges that between 2006 and 2015, the Agency made false or unsubstantiated weight-loss claims for two separate products; this on the heels of creating similarly misleading ads for another client’s product – one that was the subject of an FTC complaint filed in 2014. In that matter, the Agency’s client agreed to refund in excess of $25 million to defrauded consumers. (Read More)

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The Ultimate Trade-Off Now Being Offered by Verizon

Verizon Wireless is offering a new reward program called Verizon Ups which allows customers to earn credits that can be redeemed for various offerings, including concert and movie tickets and smartphones. Of course, there’s a catch – being a Verizon customer isn't enough. Participants must also sign up for Verizon Selects, enabling the company to track customers and sell ads based on collected data. (Read More)

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FCC Approves New Privacy Rules for Broadband Providers

On October 27, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved new rules for internet service providers' (ISPs) use and sharing of customer data. By a 3-to-2 vote, the FCC passed regulations requiring broadband providers to obtain express permission from subscribers to gather and give out data on their web browsing, app use, location and financial information.  As we have noted in previous blog posts, the proposed regulations proved to be quite divisive within the media industry, leading to a very volatile public comment period. (Read More)

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Washington AG Settles with Makeup Company Over Marketing Practices

On September 6, 2016, the Washington State Attorney General announced a settlement with Julep Beauty, Inc. and its owner Jane Park. The settlement requires the defendants to  pay $3 million for using deceptive “negative option” marketing tactics to lure consumers into signing up for recurring boxes of Julep products, and then making it very difficult to cancel their subscriptions. (Read More)

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NY Attorney General Tightens the Screws on Direct Marketing Industry

In a move that will no doubt have ripple effects across the direct marketing industry, the New York Attorney General has reached a settlement with two marketers regarding allegations of deceptive advertising practices. If this settlement is any indication, going forward, marketers must be careful to disclose the terms of their offers and let consumers confirm all details and final prices of any order before finalization. Now is the time for direct marketers to closely review advertising, ordering processes and customer service practices to ensure compliance with applicable laws. (Read More)

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Warner Bros. Settles FTC Charges It Failed to Adequately Disclose Payments to Online Influencers

More and more brands are paying online “influencers” to engage with, positively review and market their products. However, a recent federal action reiterates the importance of clearly disclosing the sponsored nature of such content. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reached a settlement with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Inc. with respect to charges that the company deceived consumers during a marketing campaign for the video game Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Warner Bros. failed to adequately disclose that it paid online “influencers” thousands of dollars to post positive gameplay videos on YouTube and social media. (Read More)

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Julia Child Foundation Sues Airbnb for Using Her Name Without Permission

The charitable foundation representing the estate of famed chef, culinary author and TV personality Julia Child, has sued Airbnb because the company used Child’s name and likeness for a Memorial Day promotion without the foundation’s permission. The foundation owns all rights of publicity of and associated with Julia Child, and maintains a strict policy of prohibiting the use of her name or likeness to market or sell commercial products (as was Ms. Child’s preference during her lifetime). (Read More)