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!!
We previously posted information regarding the initial release of information about the Paycheck Protection Program being implemented by the U. S. Small Business Administration (US Chamber of Commerce Issues Coronavirus Small Business Guide and Paycheck Protection Program & Disaster Relief Loan Information Released (Updated)).
If you have been following those developments, yesterday (28 April 2020) the SBA updated the FAQs and you can read and download a copy of the update directly from the SBA’s website Paycheck Protection Program Loans Frequently Asked Questions.
While the FAQ document does not have the force or effect of law or regulation, the guidance is based on the SBA’s interpretation of the CARES Act and of the Paycheck Protection Program Interim Final Rules and notes the U.S. government will not challenge any action taken by a lender in reliance upon and conforming to the guidance and any subsequent rulemaking in effect at the time.
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 top 10 things to do if you become bored being in quarantine:
10. Train your dog, parrot or hamster to do helpful chores.
9. Take up a new hobby like sewing (masks for healthcare workers) or knitting (sweaters and blankets) for the homeless.
8. Buy the most complicated Lego set online or a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and build/assemble it. (Note: Anything that says “So easy a child can assemble it” usually means ONLY a child can figure out how to assemble it!)
7. Find those old board games you mothballed when you started playing online video games.
6. Play Bingo remotely with as many people as you can using video conference technology.
5. Convince all your neighbors to open their windows and rotate who picks the song everyone must sing every hour on the hour.
4. Get cultured (no, not yogurt). The Metropolitan Opera is streaming nightly.
3. Learn to play an obscure instrument like a zither, contrabass balalaika, crwth, hardanger fiddle or a lur.
2. Since no one is going for haircuts or to beauty salons, try out a new hairstyle and experiment with your hair differently every day.
1. You could tune in online for one or more Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses offered as part of Rimon’s Complimentary CLE Webinar Series 2020.
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.