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"The words of my book nothing, the drift of it everything."
Walt Whitman

How To Keep Your Native Advertising Legal

February 26, 2016

The FTC’s recent guidance on native advertising reinforces that transparency and disclosures are important for avoiding consumer deception. Consumers may be confused by advertising that feels and looks like an editorial platform. They cannot always tell who is responsible for the message. The FTC wants to make sure that consumers know when they are looking […]

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What Every Marketer Needs to Know about Trademarks

January 22, 2016

Every marketer needs to know some basic facts about trademarks to ensure the brand she is building has protection. Here is a short course in trademark law that will allow you to understand some basic concepts. Q. What is a trademark? A. A trademark is a brand identity that serves as a destination of origin for goods […]

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Fair Use is an Exception to Copyright Law

October 27, 2015

I am frequently asked by clients if they can make use of someone else’s intellectual property. The myths abound. Here are three: Just because it’s an educational use doesn’t mean it’s a fair use (although it helps). Just because something lives in the public eye doesn’t mean it’s not protected by copyright or other intellectual […]

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Fast Talkers Not Needed: FCC Updates “Contest Rule”

September 24, 2015

Times have changed, and the FCC has noticed. For almost four decades since 1976, we have heard fast talking announcers on radio and television, rushing through legal disclaimers at the end of commercials for contests. The FCC’s “contest rule” had required full disclosure on air of material terms of a contest or sweepstakes. (See 47 […]

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How Your Sweepstakes Rules Can Protect You

August 7, 2015

Here’s a great court case that proves the power of having well-drafted rules for your contest or sweepstakes. Even better, the court case involves a plaintiff unsuccessfully suing the FTC. In 2012, the FTC launched a contest inviting each contestant to submit an “innovative solution that blocks illegal robocalls on landlines and mobile phones.” The […]

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Artists’ Intellectual Property Builds Art Licensing Business

April 24, 2015

Artists focus on their creativity, their technique, and their product. If, however, you are looking to license your art, you should be equally focused on protecting your intellectual property. Your copyrights and trademarks are the lifeblood of your art licensing business and the foundations for all your branding initiatives. In this blog post, I answer […]

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Exploring the Legalities of Amazon Giveaway

March 7, 2015

Last month, Amazon launched its “Amazon Giveaway” program. It offers two no frills sweepstakes options to users. The sponsor signs up, chooses the prize, and Amazon does the rest, including offering the sponsor access to Amazon’s vast shipping capabilities. Amazon Giveaway may draw brands away from social media pages for simple sweepstakes, but its one […]

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How to Spot Legal Issues in Your Social Media Campaigns

December 16, 2014

Social media campaigns come fast and furious, here today and gone tomorrow. Brands may be tempted to skip legal vetting, assuming their offers will fly under the radar of regulators. Even if you don’t have inside counsel, your marketing team should have a vetting system in place. Marketers can learn to spot legal issues and work […]

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Legal Rules for Cause Marketing

July 7, 2014

Cause marketing is a popular technique for promoting sales. Brands frequently advertise that they donate a percentage of sales to a charitable cause, particularly using social media to spread the word of their good deeds. In so doing, brands become a co-venturer with the charity and have certain legal obligations under a wide variety of […]

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Why Contest Hashtags Can Get You in #LegalTrouble

April 17, 2014

Cole Haan just ducked a legal bullet from the Federal Trade Commission after the agency investigated the company’s recent Pinterest contest. The FTC  concluded that the contestant’s pins were endorsements of the brands that did not contain legally required disclosures. Participants competed for a $1000 shopping spree by creating boards pinning five shoe images from […]

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