On April 24, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it had sent warning letters to 10 multi-level marketing companies regarding claims they or their participants (distributors) were making in social media posts and online related to COVID-19.
The claims included supposed health benefits, as well as pitching business opportunities related to the pandemic. You can read the announcement and obtain more detailed information at FTC Sends Warning Letters to Multi-Level Marketers Regarding Health and Earnings Claims They or Their Participants are Making Related to Coronavirus. These new letters come on the heels of letters previously sent to companies about unsupported claims concerning products that can treat or prevent coronavirus (FTC, FDA Send Warning Letters to Seven Companies about Unsupported Claims that Products Can Treat or Prevent Coronavirus).
The FTC and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have sent scores of warning letters to companies that may be violating federal law by making deceptive or scientifically unsupported claims about the ability of these products to treat or cure coronavirus. Warning letters have also been sent to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service providers and other companies warning against “assisting and facilitating” illegal coronavirus-related telemarketing calls.
You can visit the FTC Coronavirus Warning Letters to Companies web page to see a list of warning letters related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The FTC also keeps track of consumer complaints related the pandemic and updates the data regularly. As of yesterday, there were almost 30,000 COVID-19 related consumer complaints, and although less than 50% of all these complaints report a loss, the estimated fraud losses based on those that do is now well over $20,000,000. For the latest statistics, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) Consumer Complaint Data, which the FTC updates regularly.
The FTC and the Department of Justice have also issued a joint statement expressing their views on unfair competition and antitrust laws and regulations to make it clear, especially in these extraordinary times of crisis, how firms (including competitors) are permitted to engage in pro-competitive collaboration that does not violate the antitrust laws. You can read the statement at Joint Antitrust Statement Regarding COVID-19.
Rimon lawyers continue to follow these and related developments applicable to the Paycheck Protection Program and other government initiatives available through the SBA and related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information or assistance you can contact me, Joe Rosenbaum or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work. Stay safe!!
Keep each other and our Earth healthy and safe.
For those of you interested and available, on Thursday, April 23rd at 1 PM ET, Joe Rosenbaum, NY Partner at Rimon Law and chair of Rimon’s Global Alliance will be conducting a one hour seminar entitled Crisis Management at the Intersection of Marketing, Privacy, Security and Reputation touching on some of the current issues in marketing, privacy, public relations, cybersecurity & reputation management arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the issues raised may well apply in many crisis situations, now, more than ever, as increased numbers of people are working, schooling and playing at home or at other remote locations, the value of online and mobile advertising and promotions has increased substantially. At the same time, the amounts of information being made available by people scrambling for information, trying to keep up with breaking news, and signing up for online, digital services and information, present legal challenges for compliance with both old and newly enacted privacy and data protection regulation. Not coincidentally, online and mobile scammers are seeking to capitalize on the growing number of inexperienced web surfing consumers and cyber criminals are using the opportunity to capture valuable personally identifiable as a result of lax or relaxed security measures. The inaccurate perception that strong security may be an obstacle to utility or speed and simply the increased number of inexperienced users accessing the Internet, provide fertile ground for exploitation. What you should know? What you can do? What you should be telling your clients and employees? What can we all do to help?
To register simply go to REGISTER: Crisis Management at the Intersection of Marketing, Privacy, Security and Reputation
The course is open to lawyers and non-lawyers, is approved for New York bar members who are eligible for 1 CLE credit per course through NY’s Approved Jurisdiction Policy and approved by the California State Bar for 1 hour of CLE credit. Most other states recognize CA accredited courses and if you would like credit in any other state, please check your local state bar’s regulations.
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
“Only one form of contagion travels faster than a virus. And that’s fear.”
The strain of of the corona virus pandemic is not only a threat to our health and safety, but it is also creating economic hardship for people, businesses and entire industries.
As the ability to perform obligations under existing contracts are being strained, whether for supplies, paying rent or making payroll, parties to agreements are doing more than exercising self-help or looking to the government for assistance. They are also calling their lawyers to find out if anything in their contracts will allow them to legally extricate themselves from the obligations that may have seemed routine only a few months ago.
One of the primary areas of contractual inquiry has focused on the force majeure or excusable delay clause that is ‘boilerplate’ in many agreements. Force majeure literally translated from the French means ‘superior force’ and refers to situations in which some external intervening event has impaired a party’s ability to perform its obligations under the contract and allows that party’s performance to be excused.
For some insight on how effective, applicable and even understandable these so-called ‘standard clauses’ are, you can take a look at my Insight Note: Managing Contract Risks & Remedies in a Time of Coronavirus.
You might also check out a similar Insight Note from my partner and colleague, Juan Zuniga entitled: Memo on Force Majeure and COVID-19 which goes into great detail as to how the law in California might be interpreted in light of the current health crisis.
In fact, you can find all of the recent Insights from Rimon Law professionals on our Insights & Analysis page and once again a reminder that Rimon lawyers and legal professionals are always available to help.
Part of the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is designed to help small businesses keep workers employed during this pandemic crisis and the consequential stress facing the economy. In fact, the CARES Act has allocated $350 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, an initiative that will provide loans to small businesses that are 100% guaranteed by the Federal government.
The United States Chamber of Commerce has issued a guide to help small businesses understand who is eligible, in what amounts these loans will be available and what criteria will determine whether the loans will be forgiven. You can read the summary right here: Corona Virus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide & Checklist.
As always, I and all of the legal professionals at Rimon continue to remain available to assist during these challenging times.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division released its initial guidance providing information describing how to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which takes effect April 1, 2020. The guidance includes links to information for employees and employers, as well as links to questions and answers and other useful information about the FFCRA. The DOL has a separate Coronavirus Resources webpage, providing a large number of references and links to additional information.
The US DOL has also released an FFCRA Poster that every covered employer must post in a conspicuous place on its premises, although the guidance does allow an employer to satisfy this requirement by emailing or directly mailing the notice to employees or by posting the notice on an employee information internal or external website. Although there is no legal requirement at this time to post the notice in other languages, DOL is currently working on translating the notice.
The legal professionals at Rimon are available to help and as always, if we can’t help you – especially in these challenging times – we will assist you in finding someone who can! Stay safe and following the recommendations of your national, state, provincial and local authorities to keep yourself, your family, colleagues and friends healthy and prevent the spread of this infection.
“Only one form of contagion travels faster than a virus. And that’s fear.” Dan Brown, Inferno
As I mentioned in my Legal Bytes post a few weeks ago (Forensic DNA and Missing Children: The Legal & Ethical Issues), I had the honor and privilege of being a featured speaker on 25th of May 2017 – International Missing Children’s Day – at this year’s conference for Missing Children and Genetic Identity, organized and chaired by Patrícia Cipriano, President of the Portuguese Association for Missing and Exploited Children [Associaçāo Portuguesa de Crianças Desaparecidas] held at Lusófona University in Lisbon.
Featuring expert investigators, law enforcement, geneticists and forensic scientists, the conference explored how tough police work, forensic science, government legislators, judges and lawyers can work more effectively and cooperatively within and across national borders. It also reminded us that DNA kits and learning aides for use by parents, coupled with greater educational efforts and more timely reporting, can help save children’s lives and futures.
The conference was attended by notable dignitaries, including Charlie Hedges, Police Expert, Missing Children and European Alert Coordinator for Amber Alert Europe, Professor Maria do Carmo Fonseca, President of the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Professor Maria do Ceu Machado, President of Infarmed, members of Portuguese Assembly of the Republic , senior law enforcement and forensic scientists with closing remarks delivered by His Excellency Dr. Fernando Negrão, a jurist and former Minister of Social Security, Family and Children, Minister of Justice, director general of the Judicial Police and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Institute of Drugs and Drug Addiction.
The conference highlighted the work being done in Portugal and, of course, the work that still needs to be done. You can read and download the Conference Agenda & Brochure (Lisbon, PT) and feel free to take a look at my presentation Missing Children – Missing Opportunities, Legal Obstacles in our DNA (Rosenbaum) right here on Legal Bytes.
As always, f you would like to know more about this post, the conference, or the topics discussed at the conference, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum.