Prosecuting and Defending False Advertising CasesAs economic factors squeeze advertising budgets and advertising content becomes more aggressive, companies are closely monitoring their competitors' ads for false or misleading claims. Meanwhile, government regulators and the plaintiffs' bar have been quicker to initiate investigations and lawsuits. Indeed, it's not uncommon for an advertising campaign to face multiple and simultaneous challenges by a competitor, regulator and consumer class action lawyer.
Entrusting the prosecution or defense of such matters to an occasional practitioner is risky business, particularly in view of inconsistencies among different states' laws, the frequent need for swift action to secure injunctive relief, and the difficulties in proving damages in a digital environment, among other factors. Experience matters and Manatt has one of the nation's deepest benches of lawyers who are solely dedicated to handling advertising litigation and regulatory inquiries. We've also won some of the most important advertising cases of the past two decades. Such cases include federal and state court trials, FTC investigations and enforcement actions, National Advertising Division (NAD) proceedings, and individual and multistate enforcement actions by state attorneys general.
Managing Multi-Forum CasesIn addition to litigating novel, competitive and comparative false or deceptive advertising claims in court, we have sparred with the FTC's Division of Advertising Practices and state attorneys general and have appeared before the NAD. We've also managed and coordinated the defense of many multi-forum advertising cases, so we're familiar with their unique challenges, from the weight an NAD decision carries with the FTC to inconsistent remedial obligations resulting from non-simultaneous settlements.
Contributing greatly to our litigators' track record of success in defending and challenging advertising claims is their ready access to the lawyers of our advertising group. They have extensive knowledge of advertising law and doctrines, are well versed in new media marketing campaigns, and have a keen understanding of our clients' marketing objectives and strategies.
Better Evidence Through ScienceOur close relationships with consumer research authorities have greatly enhanced our litigation capabilities. We have retained many of the nation's leading consumer researchers at universities and top consulting firms to evaluate both competitor and client ads for false or misleading claims. We have embraced the scientific method in our litigation strategy, and through the use of empirical and measurable evidence, we can help you develop and strengthen the evidence necessary to prove your claims or refute those of your competition.
Experience Across Brand Categories, Media TypesThrough our long-standing representation of marketing communications agencies and advertisers across a broad spectrum of product and service categories, we've seen a lot of advertising trends and challenges, as to both content and placement, across virtually every medium - from television, radio and print, to direct mail, billboards and endcaps, to Internet, mobile and social media. And we are familiar with every type of partnering arrangement.
Lanham Act SuitsUnlike many firms that claim "some experience" in Lanham Act false or misleading advertising cases, Manatt has brought and defended literally dozens of such lawsuits throughout the country that involved many of the nation's leading brands. Not only do we know Section 43(a) inside and out, but we have also collaborated with the best marketing science experts to assess the impact of allegedly false or deceptive ads on consumer perceptions and behavior. In addition, our team includes one of the most respected Lanham Act litigators in the country, an attorney who has handled some of the most high-profile, widely cited cases of this type.
NAD ProceedingsThe NAD, an investigative arm of the advertising industry's voluntary self-regulation program, monitors advertising claims made in traditional and new media and accepts cases filed by competing advertisers. It also commences review proceedings based on complaints from local better business bureaus, individual consumers or consumer groups. All of our advertising litigators have prosecuted or defended such challenges. Our familiarity with the review process, the staff attorneys who adjudicate such disputes, and many of the professionals who sit on the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), which reviews appeals from NAD decisions, has helped us to engineer more favorable outcomes for our clients.
Consumer Class ActionsWhile consumer class actions carry the threat of substantial damage awards, such actions are also subject to a high level of judicial scrutiny at the pleading stage, making them vulnerable to skilled and experienced counsel. Manatt has handled many such cases across the country, and particularly in California, where we have an impressive track record defending clients in actions brought under the state's False Advertising Law (FAL) and Unfair Competition Law (UCL).
FTC InvestigationsFew law firms have handled as many FTC investigations and enforcement actions as Manatt. We have three attorneys who formerly worked at the Commission, and their keen insight into how the agency works and the factors it considers in deciding whether to initiate enforcement activity is a true value-add for our clients. In addition, from our many years handling matters before the Commission, we've cultivated, and strive to maintain, a strong working relationship with current Commission staff.
Our work in this area has included highly sensitive investigations that we have amicably resolved by marshaling the legal and evidentiary arguments necessary to convince the agency not to bring an enforcement action or by negotiating cease-and-desist orders, corrective advertising disclosures and other nonmonetary forms of consumer redress. Our track record in reducing civil penalties is second to none. In cases where we have not been able to agree on settlement terms, we've mounted an aggressive defense.
State Regulatory Enforcement ActionsWe have significant experience representing clients that have been targets of investigations and lawsuits initiated, in increasing numbers, by state attorneys general under various state consumer protection and deceptive practices acts. Our frequent contact with state AG offices, both in connection with such matters and through our participation in programs conducted by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), the Conference of Western Attorneys Generals (CWAG) and others, has led to strong working relationships with many state AG offices.
Ranked Nationally for Advertising Law 2007–2014
Ranked Nationally for Marketing & Advertising 2009–2014
© 2014 Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. All rights reserved.