Updated FTC Endorsement Guides

What if Paris Hilton were to rave to her followers about how much she likes her McDonald’s salad, or Roger Federer tweets photos of Coppertone lotion to his followers, or Khaby Lame shows up on TikTok in a Puma logo shirt. Any problem here? Any special requirements? On June 29, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) delivered an updated version of its Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (the “Endorsement Guides”), which are administrative interpretations concerning application of section 5 of the FTC Act. The Guides are not law; they are advisory and intended to give guidance to businesses and others to ensure that advertising using reviews or endorsements is truthful, but they are the FTC’s litigating positions, and an advertiser violates them at its own risk. The updated Endorsement Guides are available here (starting at page 44 of 84).

The FTC also issued an updated version of its guidance document, titled FTC’s Endorsement Guides: What People are Asking, that answers frequently asked questions about the Endorsement Guides (the “FAQs”), including when and how to disclose material connections between an advertiser and an endorser; the FAQs are available here.

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How Much Should Artificial Intelligence, AI Advertising Be Regulated?

Artificial intelligence continues to dominate the news, which is rather remarkable considering all the other happenings of importance. The discussion of dangers posed by artificial intelligence took center stage in Congress when Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, told a Senate panel hearing that society is at a “printing press” moment and that Congress needs to regulate AI.

Altman, whose company created ChatGPT, advanced his three-point plan. He wants: a new federal agency to license AI models, with the power to revoke licenses if a licensee does not comply with standards; implementation of safety standards and evaluations of dangerous AI capabilities; and audits of a model’s performance. An entrepreneur and business leader asking that his industry be regulated is as rare as a beef steak at a vegan banquet. Continue reading

Impurities in the AI Engine’s Gas Tank

The European Union respects data privacy; the United States does not.

The Wall Street Journal’s report that E.U. regulators fined Meta, Facebook’s parent, $1.3 billion for privacy violations struck a raw nerve. The United States has no laws to protect the privacy of consumer data, and Meta was fined because it transferred data collected from its European users for storage in the United States.

E.U. regulators expressed concern that this U.S.-stored data would be purloined by American spy agencies without knowledge or legal recourse of the people from whom it was collected purloined.

Instead of stealing consumer data, U.S. spy agencies are now buying, and sharing, vast quantities of personal data, replacing the intrusive surveillance that spy and law enforcement agencies, domestic and foreign, once used. This is the conclusion of a report commissioned by the Director of National Intelligence. The purchase of data is not subject to Fourth Amendment restraints.

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Jim Astrachan and Kaitlin Corey Named to Maryland State Bar Association Board of Governors

Congratulations to Jim Astrachan and Kaitlin Corey on being named to the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) Board of Governors.

Jim will serve on the Board for the First District, Baltimore City, and Kaitlin will serve on the Board as Section Representative for the Intellectual Property Section.

The two have a longstanding record of MSBA service. Jim is the founding and former Chair of the Intellectual Property Committee and a former member of the Maryland Bar Journal editorial board. He is a Life Fellow of the Maryland Bar Foundation. Kaitlin is a past Chair of the MSBA’s Intellectual Property Section and Co-Chair of the Young Lawyers Section Education Committee.

Listen Up: Trademark and Copyright Law with Kaitlin Corey

Intellectual property lawyer Kaitlin Corey was interviewed on the “Conversations with Rich Bennett” podcast on June 21. You can listen here:  https://harfordcountyliving.buzzsprout.com/849097/13076409-trademark-and-copyright-law-with-kaitlin-corey

Kaitlin is a partner at Goodell DeVries where she handles a wide range of intellectual property matters. Contact her at kcorey@gdldlaw.com.


Chew on This: Parody of Famous Mark Not Protected by First Amendment or Excluded from Dilution Liability

On June 8, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a unanimous decision in the case of Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. v. VIP Products LLC, No. 22-148, 599 U.S. ___ (2023), ruling that when an alleged infringer uses a mark as a trademark to designate the source of its own goods, the Rogers test providing First Amendment protection for titles of artistic works does not apply to shield the challenged use from liability for trademark infringement, nor do the noncommercial use and fair use exclusions under the Lanham Act apply to foreclose dilution liability.

Jack Daniel’s makes and sells whiskey using the bottle design and label shown below, which are trademarks of Jack Daniel’s and are covered by several trademark registrations, including “Jack Daniel’s,” “Old No. 7,” the arched Jack Daniel’s logo, the stylized label with filigree (twirling white lines) and the distinctive square bottle design. VIP Products is a dog toy company that makes a line of chewable rubber toys called “Silly Squeakers,” many of which are designed to look like and parody popular beverage brands. Jack Daniel’s found no humor when VIP Products added the “Bad Spaniels” toy to its line (shown below), which is about the same size and shape as a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and uses the words “Bad Spaniels” in place of “Jack Daniel’s” in a similar font and arch, uses a similar black label and filigreed border, replaces “Old No. 7 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey” with “The Old No. 2 On Your Tennessee Carpet” and substitutes “43% poo by vol.” and “100% smelly” for “40% alc. by vol. (80 proof).” VIP’s Bad Spaniels product is packaged for sale with a hangtag (shown below) bearing two logos, one for Silly Squeakers and one for Bad Spaniels, and includes a disclaimer that the product is not affiliated with Jack Daniel Distillery.

Trademark Law - Jack Daniels and Bad Spaniels

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Do You Know What Your Data is Doing?

The headline is a mouthful, but in the time you read this column your personal data has probably been collected by the more sophisticated vendors with whom you do business and is being used to target you for more purchases. This now-common practice might offend or it might be seen as consumer-useful.  It’s very clear, though, that artificial intelligence plays a role in selecting data capture and crafting the ad messages. Continue reading