Legal

Bilski v. Kappos: The Blockbuster That Was a Bust
July 27, 2010

For patent lawyers, Bilski v. Kappos was the most eagerly anticipated Supreme Court decision in years — a decision on the patentability of business methods, the primary type of patent asserted against direct marketers that operate e–commerce websites. Unfortunately, when the Supreme Court finally issued its decision at the end of June, Bilski turned out to be this year’s Waterworld.

Senate Nixes House Proposal on FTC Expansions; Retailers Rejoice
June 25, 2010

The Direct Marketing Association is pleased to announce that the Senate three-times rejected a House proposal to drastically expand the powers of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) across all but a few sectors of the American economy. DMA led the charge in the fight to keep these FTC expansion provisions out of the Restoring American Financial Stability Act (H.R. 4173) as the final text of the bill was negotiated by a formal Conference Committee. These provisions would grant the FTC broad new rulemaking and enforcement authority, enabling the Commission to act essentially as an unelected legislature, governing industries and sectors that had nothing to do with the financial crisis.

ACLU Intervenes in North Carolina Request for Amazon Customer Data
June 25, 2010

A request by the North Carolina Department of Revenue for personally identifiable Amazon.com customer data that could be linked to purchases is unconstitutional because it violates Internet users' rights to privacy and free speech, the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday. The ACLU, on behalf of seven Amazon customers, has intervened in a lawsuit that Amazon filed in April over an information request from the North Carolina Department of Revenue for all the purchase records of customers with a North Carolina shipping address since August 2003, as part of a tax audit.

Retailers Celebrate Victory in Debit-Card Fee Battle
June 22, 2010

Retailers stand to reap billions from the financial-overhaul legislation being finalized by Congress this week, possibly giving them a long-sought victory by slashing the "swipe fees" that credit-card companies charge merchants for every debit-card transaction. Members of the House and Senate announced an agreement Monday to include the debit-card fee cuts in the final version of the overhaul bill — a loss for the financial industry, which had mounted a furious campaign to eliminate or water down the proposed regulations.

Swipe Fee Amendment Will Stay in Final Financial Services Reform Bill
June 14, 2010

The two top members of a House-Senate conference committee negotiating over financial services reform legislation say an amendment requiring the Federal Reserve to determine “reasonable” swipe fees for debit card purchases could see some changes but will stay in the final version of the bill. The conference committee is working from the Senate version of the bill, which includes an amendment sponsored by Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., that would require the Federal Reserve to establish rules that would result in the setting of “reasonable and proportional” rates for the interchange or “swipe” fees that Visa and MasterCard banks charge merchants to process debit card transactions. The amendment is not included in the House bill.

DMA Petitions Lawmakers to Keep FTC Expansion Out of Financial Reform Bill
June 11, 2010

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) today was joined by 47 other trade associations and business coalitions in sending a letter to each of the conferees on H.R. 4173, the “Restoring American Financial Stability Act” (RAFSA), urging them to keep language that would dramatically expand the powers of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) out of the final bill.

Michigan Retailers Rally Against Plan to Cut Tax Break
June 2, 2010

A proposal to help balance Michigan's budget has gained enough momentum that it's stirring a tax fight between the state's retailers and some lawmakers. Retailers, already hard hit by the recession, are fighting a bill to reduce the amount of money they receive as an incentive to quickly send sales tax payments to Lansing. The proposal, which would cost the state's retailers an estimated $5.8 million annually, would cause them to raise prices, lay off workers or close stores to offset the impact, said James Hallan, president and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association.

DMA Relieved Senate Financial Reform Bill Didn't Include Expansion of FTC Powers
May 25, 2010

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is pleased to announce that although the Senate has passed a far-reaching bill that would affect “virtually every aspect of the financial industry” according to The New York Times, the bill does not include the expansion of the Federal Trade Commission’s rulemaking power.

Legal Matters - Beware, That Patent May Bite You
April 1, 2010

A recent decision of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, in the case of Forest Group Inc. v. Bon Tool Co., is a warning to marketers regarding patent references in label-
ing goods. Moreover, it's inspired a new wave of litigation over "false marking" — i.e., labeling products as patented that aren't, in fact, covered by…