False Advertising Can Be Particularly Harmful When it Occurs on the Internet
There are a variety of types of false advertising on the Internet. For example, a company may be engaging in false advertising if it makes false statements about a competitor or if it makes false statements about its own products or services.
We have deep and broad experience in handling false advertising cases occurring on websites, in social media, and in mobile apps.
The concept of false advertising appears in a variety of federal and state laws. Generally under these laws, “false advertising” refers to a representation or omission that is likely to mislead a consumer who is acting reasonably under the circumstances. These state and federal laws exist to safeguard consumers from being misled, as well as protect competitors from inaccurate statements that would tarnish their brands, goods, or services.
PRIVATE LITIGATION TO ADDRESS FALSE ADVERTISING
If a competitor steps over the line and engages in false advertising, there are remedies available under federal and state laws. Injunctive relief (i.e. a permanent judicial order to cease and desist from certain activities deemed to be false advertising), actual damages in the form of disgorgement of profits, and monetary amounts to fund corrective advertising are examples of potential remedies against competitors who engage in false advertising. Consumers also have standing to sue under most state false advertising statutes.
At the federal level, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the agency responsible for investigating false advertising and prosecuting actions against false advertisers. At the state level, state Attorneys General take the lead role in such investigations and prosecutions. Kronenberger Rosenfeld has experience representing clients who are under FTC or state attorney general investigations and working with these government organizations to achieve fast and sensible solutions.
Kronenberger Rosenfeld has experience litigating unique Internet-related false advertising cases. We would be happy to discuss any Internet false advertising issues that you may have. Please contact us at (415) 955-1155, ext. 120, or submit your matter using our online case submission form.
- Represented a medical school in lawsuit against a bogus non-profit consumer review website and company. Following a round of subpoenas served on various service providers for defendants, the firm discovered that the defendant was actually controlled by a direct competitor of the client. The matter settled promptly after this revelation.
- Represented the nation’s largest broker of moving and relocation services in false advertising lawsuit against a so-called consumer review website. The complaint alleged that the defendant engaged in search engine spam through numerous uses of our client’s trademark under the auspices of a “black list,” which directly benefited the competitors of the firm’s client.
- Represented the nation’s top retailer of ink and toner products in a false advertising lawsuit brought by a billion dollar printer manufacturer.
- Represented an online merchant in a false advertising claim against a competitor under the Lanham Act. The competitor had sent letters to numerous affiliates of the firm’s client, accusing the client of having engaged in criminal activity. After extensive discovery and motion practice, the parties entered into a publicly-filed stipulated money judgment in favor of the firm’s client.
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- Represented a professional registered agent service as the plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against a competitor for false advertising. The competitor had published a press release stating that the firm’s client was on the brink of bankruptcy and that its customers should consider switching registered agent services.
- Represented a state-licensed professional service provider in a false advertising claim. The defendant, a competitor of our firm’s client, had prominently advertised its services throughout the U.S. though it was not licensed to provide those services in some states. The parties ultimately settled the case in favor of the firm’s client.
- Represented a financial planner in a false advertising claim against a competitor. The firm’s client alleged that the competitor had falsely advertised its annuity products, including by conflating annuities with securities and by falsely advertising its certification by an ethics organization.
- Represented a top-tier registered agent and corporate services company against direct competitor that had instructed its call center employees to make false statements about the firm’s client.