Category Archives: Technology Matter

This Isn’t A Game: The Serious Side Of Running Contests And Sweepstakes

shutterstock_106991831

By: Brian J. Meli

You’re looking to build some hype around a new product rollout, establish a social presence for your company, or provide some pop to your third quarter sales. Whatever your reason, you need to get consumers quickly engaged with your brand, and you’ve decided a promotional game is the best way to accomplish that. Not a bad decision given how effective contests, sweepstakes and games of chance can be at generating consumer interest. And with social media providing the perfect platform for rolling out these tactics, they’ve never been easier to administer. The unfortunate corollary to that fact, however, is that it’s also never been easier to get your company into a world of trouble (and by trouble, I’m talking about the criminal kind) for what may seem like a perfectly innocuous sweepstake. The hard truth is that due to gambling laws that vary considerably from state to state, the difference between a well-executed promotional effort that sparks consumer interest, and an illegal lottery that puts the Attorney General’s office on notice, can be very small indeed. How small? Read on.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,

Four Letters No Digital Content Provider Should Ever Forget: DMCA

iStock_000016471311Small

By: Brian J. Meli

If you make your living providing online content (read: publishing, entertainment, advertising, design, photography etc.) you’re already well aware that you can’t profit from someone else’s creative efforts without their permission. While you may find the intricacies of the various forms of intellectual property law elusive, it’s nevertheless likely you have a general grasp on the notion that it’s not ok to reproduce someone else’s images, songs, articles, or videos unless your compensating them for the right to do so. If you don’t understand that, you either aren’t in the online content business or you won’t be for very long.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,

FTC Issues Warning To Search Engines: We’re Watching You

By: Brian J. Meli

On June 24th the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection sent several dozen strongly-worded letters to Internet search engines. Those letters served as a warning: clearly and prominently distinguish paid advertising from natural results or you may find yourselves in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive trade practices. The rationale the FTC gave was equally straightforward: since the agency’s original guidance letters were distributed to search engines back in 2002, there has been a noticeable decline in the level of voluntary compliance.

Continue reading

Diller vs. Moonves – Media Right Meets Media Might

2007 Consumer Electronics Show Showcases Latest Tech Products

USA Networks CEO Barry Diller

By: Brian J. Meli

You’d be hard pressed to find two savvier media moguls than Barry Diller and Les Moonves. Diller, the charismatic, long-time industry heavyweight and brainchild behind the Fox Broadcasting Company has held executive posts at ABC, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures over the course his illustrious 50-year career. Among the many credits to his name: pioneering the made-for-television movie format, popularizing the QVC home shopping network and, most recently, founding IAC/InterActiveCorp, an Internet company whose properties include Vimeo and Match.com.

Leslie Moonves, meanwhile, the President and CEO of CBS, is well-credentialed in his own right, having served in executive-level roles at Warner Bros. Television, 20th Century Fox Television and Viacom.

The two men have been long-time competitors in the ratings wars, but now their rivalry has shifted from the small-screen to the courtroom.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

What The New FTC Disclosure Guidelines Mean For Your Business

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 4.55.37 PM

By: Brian J. Meli

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued updated disclosure guidelines for online advertisers to help ensure compliance with truth in advertising laws. The new guide, .com Disclosures – How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising, is an overdue update to the agency’s initial Dot Com Disclosures guidedisseminated well before smartphones, tablets and social media came onto the scene. While advertising disclosures are, by their fact-dependent nature, hard to standardize, the new guide does an adequate job of clarifying what is and is not acceptable given all the new ways advertisers are using the Internet. The following is an overview of some of the things you need to know before advertising online.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,

The World Wide What-If: How E.T. And Mickey Mouse Nearly Changed The Internet (And World) As We Know It – Part 2

98187613_8

By: Brian J. Meli

This is Part 2 of a two-part article appearing in the May/June edition of IP Litigator. You can read Part 1 here.

In a temporary departure from our usual Legalmatter format, last week’s post contemplated a purely fictional hypo.

Lawyers love hypotheticals, in part because they make fertile ground for debate (and in part because it’s much easier to win an argument when it’s bring-your-own-facts). I deemed this particular hypothetical worthy of some ink however because it raises some thought-provoking questions about how IP laws have shaped our society.

The hypo involved going back in time and changing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in one of the most historic IP cases of all time, Sony v. Universal City Studios, so that plaintiffs Universal Studios and the Walt Disney Company came out on top. Such an outcome would have made Sony’s fledgling Betamax videocassette recorder (and the VCR in general) illegal due to its ability to allow users to impermissibly infringe copyrighted broadcasts. This would have had a profound affect on the evolution of consumer technology and the Internet, and fundamentally changed the ways we live, work and play today.

Last week we contemplated the online world of a parallel universe in which just such a thing happened. This week we conclude by taking a look at the equivalent off-line world.

Here’s how it might look:

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , ,

The World Wide What-If: How E.T. And Mickey Mouse Nearly Changed The Internet (And World) As We Know It – Part 1

98187608_8

By: Brian J. Meli

This is Part 1 of a two-part article appearing in the May/June 2012 edition of IP Litigator. You can read Part 2 here.

The Universal Studios logo is a computer-generated rendering of a rotating planet Earth, partially circumscribed by the company’s name in giant block letters. It’s an iconic image that instantly invokes the might and magic of Hollywood. It’s also unintentionally allegorical, because had things turned out a little differently for Universal 30 years ago, today’s world—particularly the parts that relate to commerce and technology—might be very different.

The date was January 17, 1984—a year many associate with Apple Computer’s famous “1984” Macintosh commercial, and the George Orwell book that inspired it. But a lesser-known, and even more significant event in the history of the human race’s relationship with technology occurred that same year, and it had nothing to do with Apple. That event was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Sony v. Universal City Studios, better known in legal circles as the “Sony Betamax” case.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Spam (Can Cost) A Lot!

Spam e-mail folder

By: Brian J. Meli

The practice of sending unsolicited emails en masse to prospective customers goes almost all the way back to the dawn of the digital age.  But federal regulations governing the practice have only been around for about a decade.  The CAN-SPAM Act, or The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, in unacronoymed form, was passed in 2003 in an effort to harmonize a patchwork of inconsistent state laws and bring order to an increasingly chaotic practice. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,
06880

Where Westport meets the world

Trademark and Copyright Law

The Stuff of Commerce, Technology and Intellectual Property Law

Technology & Marketing Law Blog

The Stuff of Commerce, Technology and Intellectual Property Law

All About Advertising Law

The Stuff of Commerce, Technology and Intellectual Property Law

Scholarly Communications @ Duke

The Stuff of Commerce, Technology and Intellectual Property Law

Aaron Sanders Law

The Stuff of Commerce, Technology and Intellectual Property Law

The Stuff of Commerce, Technology and Intellectual Property Law

LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION™

Ron Coleman on the law affecting brands, the Internet & free speech

DuetsBlog ®

The Stuff of Commerce, Technology and Intellectual Property Law

D Gonzalez Law

The Stuff of Commerce, Technology and Intellectual Property Law

%d bloggers like this: