NOTE: Here is where you can find advertising law information based on news briefs that appeared in past issues of Advertising Compliance Service, "Your Single Essential Advertising Law Resource," during the month of January 2000.
EIGHTH CIRCUIT RULING SHEDS LIGHT
ON LANHAM ACT DEFINITION
The Eighth Circuit has affirmed a federal district court entry of summary judgment in favor of Pall Corporation on related Lanham Act and state law claims. Plaintiff, Porous Media Corporation (PMC), made certain claims under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1125(a) (1994), and the Minnesota Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Minn. Stat. Section 325D. 44 (1996).
After two previous jury verdicts against Pall under the same statutes, Porous issued a press release in July 1997 to describe the two lawsuits. Less than one month later, Porous took out a half-page ad in the Wall Street Journal to advise the public of the previous litigation. Pall disputed Porous's descriptions of the first two lawsuits, and issued its own press release on August 1, 1997. Some three weeks later, Pall issued a second press release to respond to Porous's ad in the Wall Street Journal. Porous charged that Pall's descriptions of the previous litigation were deceptive, and it initiated the present action under the Lanham Act and the Minnesota Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The district court granted summary judgment on both claims, holding that Pall's press releases did not constitute "commercial advertising or promotion" as required by the Lanham Act, see 15 U.S.C. Section 1125(a)(1)(B); that the press releases did not concern the "nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin" of either party's products; and that the releases did not constitute a "disparagement [of] the goods, services, or business of another," see Minn. Stat. Section 325D. 44(8). The Eighth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment on the basis of the district court's opinion.
(Porous Media Corporation v. Pall Corporation, No. 99-1585, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, 201 F.3d 1058; 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 474; 53 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1445; 2000-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) P72,761, January 14, 2000.)
FTC FINALIZES AGREEMENTS OVER ALLEGED
MISLEADING COUPON AND REBATE OFFERS
FTC has finalized consent agreements with Memtek Productions, Inc. and UMAX Technologies, Inc. FTC had obtained proposed agreements with companies addressing concerns that recent coupon and cash rebate offers were either false or misleading.
The finalized agreements settle Commission allegations that Memtek Products, Inc., which sells Memorex brand products, and UMAX Technologies, Inc., a seller of computer scanners, in many instances sent rebates to their customers between one and five months later than promised. Under the agreements, both companies would be barred from violating promised delivery dates in the future, and would be required to send all rebates within the time they promised or within 30 days, if no time is specified.
NOTE: Consent agreements are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $11,000.
(UMAX Technologies, Inc., FTC File No. 992-3242, January 10, 2000;
Memtek Productions, Inc., FTC File No. 992-3114, January 10, 2000.)
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