Monthly Archives: February 2013

Mobile Marketing Alert: New Android App May Be A Thorn In Marketers Sides

mobile marketing
New Android App allows users to report advertising texts directly to the FTC

Attention Mobile Marketers: A new Android app called PrivacyStar alerts the Federal Trade Commission of questionable “text-vertising” campaigns. Yep, you read that right: the small but powerful program allows users to file a formal FTC complaint with the tap of a finger. So, if texting is one of your current mobile marketing methods, be aware that users can now easily alert officials if they think your advertising texts are unsolicited SPAM.

Bottom line: it’s a good time to review your mobile marketing process to make sure it doesn’t cross the legal line.

From CNN:

Fighting text spam got easier by leaps and bounds on Wednesday when Android app PrivacyStar added a free-to-use feature, which will help users file formal complaints with the Federal Trade Commission directly from their smartphones.

What Mobile Marketers Should Do To Evade The Federal Trade Commission’s Wrath:

  1. Read and follow all the rules outlined in the Dot Com Disclosures.
  2. Enlist an Internet law attorney to do an audit of your marketing plan to double check that you’re operating on the right side of the law.
  3. Read about recent FTC investigations to ensure you’re not engaging in the same activities that are landing others in the legal hot seat.

The Golden Rule For Mobile Marketing

These days, devices are a dime a dozen. They come in all shapes and sizes, colors and weights. The proliferation of hand-held computers and smartphones has also led to the proliferation of mobile marketing. But as we all know from personal experience, users don’t dig advertisements that pop-up, beep, shout and slow down a system; users especially dislike incessant mobile ads and SPAM. So, here’s the golden rule every mobile marketer should consider:

Try Not To Annoy, Don’t Trick People Into Signing Up and Don’t Lie!

If you follow these three simple rules, your advertising plan is probably on the right side of mobile marketing law. If you want to make sure, contact the online marketing lawyers at Kelly / Warner Law — we’ll do a comprehensive audit of your mobile marketing plan to make sure the FTC doesn’t come a-knocking.

Doctor Suing For Defamation Of Character Shut Down By High Court

doctor defamation of characterThe online defamation saga of Dennis Laurion is done. After years of litigation, Minnesota’s Supreme Court ruled it is legal to cyber-share one’s negative opinions about a doctor. A case that tested Internet free speech limits, McKee v. Laurion is a textbook online defamation of character case study.

McKee v. Laurion: Online Defamation of Character Lawsuit

The McKee v. Laurion cyber libel war began in 2010. Laurion’s father was a patient at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, MN. McKee was the attending physician. Suffice it to say, the two men did not get along.

Laurion contended McKee was rude to his father and made inappropriate quips about dying. The patient’s son also said one of the nurses called McKee a “real tool.”

Dennis Laurion won the first round of the online defamation legal war, but an appeals court ruled in favor of Dr. McKee. The State Supreme Court, however, put the matter to rest by reversing the appeals court decision, siding with the defendant.

Why The Supreme Court Ruled In Favor Of The Defendant, Laurion, In This Defamation of Character Case

In the majority opinion, Justice Alan Page explained that Laurion was operating well within his First Amendment rights. Page also addressed if calling someone a tool could be defamatory; he ruled that the commonplace colloquialism, though disparaging, is pure opinion since there is no way to measure “tool-ness.”

Opinion is Not Defamation of Character

Hop on any Internet forum and you come across a know-it-all who cries slander anytime someone shares a dissenting opinion. They’re wrong. First of all, slander is spoken defamation; so by definition, a comment typed on a webpage cannot be slander. Libel, yes; slander, no. Secondly, in the United States, opinion is not defamatory. Thanks to the First Amendment, free speech is the law of that land, and that means being able to communicate our views publicly – no matter how offensive. In order for an online comment to be defamatory, at the minimum it must:

  1. Cause harm to the subject of the statement – usually a person or a business
  2. Be provably false

In addition, depending on whether or not the plaintiff is a public figure or a private citizen, in order to win a defamation lawsuit, the claimant must successfully argue either actual malice or negligence.

The Preface ‘In My Opinion’ Won’t Necessarily Save You From A Defamation Loss, Though

Many people think couching every statement in qualifiers eliminates the possibility of losing a defamation suit (i.e., In my humble opinion, John Doe stole money from the school district). Those people are wrong. A false statement of fact is a false statement of fact, even if you attach a qualifier. You can be forced into bankruptcy, brought on by lawsuit damages, over a blog post that crosses the line – even in the free speech-loving United States.

State Slander & Libel Laws Differ

While federal defamation statutes take precedence, each state has their own set of defamation rules and regulations. Some states acknowledge defamation per se, while others do not. In some jurisdictions, the defamation statute of limitations is 1 year, and in others it’s 3. If you are a journalist or blogger, review the defamation laws in your state. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you’re a blogger or online business person in need of a defamation attorney, get in touch today. Kelly / Warner is a top-rated online defamation law firm with considerable experience in the field. We’ll guide you right.

FTC Will Go After Your Family’s Assets If You Lose

FTC Logo
The FTC is willing to take your mom’s house to pay back scammed consumers.
Attention digital marketers: Not only does Uncle Sam want you, but he’s also after your kin. You got it, the FTC is now going after the relatives of individuals who are under investigation for marketing fraud.

In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into I Works for allegedly wheedling $275 million out of unsuspecting consumers. Conceived and run by Jeremy Johnson, I Works operated in the trial membership, money making and government grant marketing spheres.

When the investigation began, the feds froze I Works’ financial accounts and appointed a court-supervised trustee to ensure victims got a refund if the FTC won. Now, three years later, as a way to safeguard any recoverable funds, the FTC is asking to amend the list of relief defendants – namely Jeremy Johnson’s family. Specifically, the nation’s consumer watchdog department is looking to take:

1)$5 million in funds and a 20,000-square-foot manse in St. George Utah from Jeremy’s wife

2)$1 million in silver and a home from Jeremy’s father

3)$77,500 from Jeremy’s mother

4)Millions of dollars from Orange Cat Investments, Zibby LLC, Zibby Flight Service, KV Electric and KB Family Limited Partnership – companies the commission feels benefited from I Works allegedly ill-gotten gains.

You may be thinking: how can the FTC dig into the finances of relatives!? You’re not alone. Thousands of government-leery peers and lawyers are questioning whether or not this move is sound. The FTC defends their decision to add defendants, arguing that the homes and money the relatives have was a direct result of I Works allegedly illegal actions.

Regardless of your feelings for the FTC and their effectiveness, one thing is for certain: the commission does not mess around when it comes to getting what they want. When they set their sights on an online marketing operation, they’re as tenacious as a stage mom looking to get their kid on Glee. As such, if you’re an e-marketer in the United States – or run an international operation that courts U.S. clients – make sure you understand the Dot Com Disclosures. The Federal Trade Commission’s Dot Com Disclosures outline the dos and don’ts of Internet and mobile promotion. Download it, study it, know it and follow it.

If the FTC has already knocked on your door and you in search of an FTC defense attorney, we’re the guys to call. If you want the ordeal to end sooner rather than later, get in touch with Kelly/Warner today to set up a consultation. Our firm focuses on Internet law matters, plus we’re affiliate marketers ourselves. We’ve dealt with the FTC before, understand their peccadilloes and know the relevant case law to craft the strongest argument as possible for you.