Legal

Nexus: A Four-Point Refresher
January 1, 2008

Tax-savvy multichannel marketers know “nexus” isn’t a new hair product or a high-priced automobile. The term “nexus” (derived from a Latin word meaning “to connect”) refers to the amount of contact an out-of-state retailer must have with a state before that seller is legally obligated to collect sales tax from customers. The Supreme Court’s landmark Quill v. North Dakota decision in 1992 made clear that, under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, the nexus standard requires an in-state physical presence on the part of the retailer. In other words, mail order sales alone will not subject a remote seller to sales or use-tax collection

Editor’s Take: Tracking the Most Telling Multichannel Trends
January 1, 2008

In the IndustryEye section of this issue on pgs. 12-13, you’ll find our second quarterly Catalog Success Latest Trends Report, a benchmarking survey we conducted in late November in partnership with the multichannel ad agency Ovation Marketing. This one focuses on key catalog/multichannel issues, and we’ve included most of the charts there, so I encourage you to take a look. You’ll be able to find some charts only on our Web site due to magazine space limitations. We also didn’t have the space to include the numerous comments that you — our readers and survey respondents — wrote in response to two of the questions.

Get Cleaner and Greener ASAP, For Your Own Sake
October 5, 2007

For as long as I can remember, legislation that would either lead to a law similar to the “do-not-call” law or that would require mailers to get consumers’ approval before sending them catalogs has been like one of those disasters you only see in the movies or TV. It could never happen in real life, no way. There often have been flashes of “do-not-mail” bill proposals, but nothing has ever become of it. Such a law is one of the biggest reasons American catalogers don’t try to mail in countries like Italy and parts of China, both of which specifically require prior consent

On Cybersquatting, Product Safety and Trademark Protection
October 1, 2007

Cybersquatting Cybersquatting occurs when a person registers an Internet domain name that incorporates a famous trademark and then “squats” on it until an opportunity arises to profit from ownership. Until the late ’90s, it was unclear whether existing U.S. trademark law prohibited this practice. But in 1999, ICANN, the organization that functions as the de facto governing body of Internet infrastructure, rolled out a contractual method for resolving disputes over ownership of domain names. One of the current requirements for registering a domain name is that the registrant agrees to submit to an alternative dispute resolution process to determine whether it’s entitled to

Catalogers’ Legal Challenges ’07 (and Beyond)
October 1, 2007

Beginning with our January 2008 issue, veteran direct marketing tax attorney George Isaacson will join our distinguished panel of columnists with a periodic column devoted primarily to tax issues affecting catalogers and multichannel marketers. To lay the groundwork for his column, in this issue he offers an overview of key legal issues affecting catalogers and other direct marketers. His columns next year will delve more deeply into the specific issues. Sales & Use Tax (Nexus) State revenue departments have stepped up their efforts to require catalog companies and Internet merchants to collect state sales and use taxes. To impose such collection obligations, state tax auditors must

New Use Tax Proposal Bad for Marketers, DMA Says in Protest
September 18, 2007

The Direct Marketing Association last week kept up its aggressive scrutiny of states-led use tax collection efforts by opposing the new “Alternative Sourcing Proposal” issued by the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board. Finding the proposal a “complex, tiered taxing protocol that would further complicate interstate commerce for businesses and customers,” the DMA protested the proposal in a letter to the board’s Executive Director Scott Peterson. The principal objective of the Streamlined Sales Tax Project “was to achieve simplicity, consistency, and greater uniformity in the administration of state sales and use tax laws,” said Steven K. Berry, DMA’s executive vice president for government affairs and

All You Need to Know About E-mail Authentication
September 1, 2007

A recent Direct Marketing Association (DMA) survey on multichannel marketing in the catalog industry shows that all catalogers use both their catalogs and Web sites to generate sales. Nearly nine out of 10 also use e-mails to reach customers. E-mail provides them with an easy method for order confirmation, shipping notices and customer service follow-up. But are you sure your e-mails are making it into customers’ inboxes? Is your brand protected from criminals who send fake e-mails in your name and use your company’s good reputation to defraud consumers? Strides Made, But Problems Persist While enormous strides have been made in recent years to combat the

Legal Concerns for Catalogers ’07: Lawyers Outline Key Use-tax, Gift Card Issues
April 3, 2007

During a session at the recent NEMOA conference in Cambridge, Mass., George Isaacson and Martin Eisenstein, both attorneys from the Lewiston, Maine-based law firm Brann & Isaacson LLP, pointed out that such recent changes as the shift of power in the House and Senate to Democratic control could revive the use-tax debate. They also touched on some key legal issues involving the rapidly growing gift card market. During his presentation, Isaacson said that there are several dynamics in play this year that make the federal use-tax issue less predictable than it’s been in the past. “Every year since Quill Corp. v. North Dakota,” he said

Editor’s Take: Lobbying
December 1, 2006

I recall watching a TV sketch more than 20 years ago in which Bette Midler depicted this mopey, depressed woman whose reaction to just about all situations in life was (in the character’s whiney, Noo Yawk accent), “Why bothuh?” Performed solo, the skit and her character were at the same time hilarious and chilling. When I think of lobbying for key catalog legislative issues — namely, postal reform and privacy — that character often creeps into my mind. Postal is perhaps the more pressing of the two concerns for catalogers. Since the first postal reform bill was introduced more than a decade ago, the Direct

Keep Uncle Sam at Bay
January 1, 2003

As a cataloger, you must comply with several regulations. Yet I often encounter catalogers who unknowingly do not comply with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other regulatory agencies’ rules. The following is an overview of the major regulations to follow when developing your merchandising, creative and operational guidelines. Remember, all of these rules apply to both your print and online catalog operations. FTC’s Mail Order Merchandise Rule This law covers the representation you make regarding merchandise and when customers will get the products. And it covers appropriate remedies when those expressed representations aren’t met. Substitutions. This is an area in which I