Client Alerts November 2010

January 9, 2011

Authored by: Jeannie Osborne

Criminal Action Against In-House Lawyer Underscores Risks in Dealing with Government Investigations

Lawyers who deal with government investigators and regulators should take note of a recent federal criminal action charging a former in-house lawyer at GlaxoSmithKline for statements she made while representing the company in a government investigation.  For more information, please click here to read the Client Alert published by the White Collar Defense & Investgations, Securities Litigation and Enforcement practice group on November 29, 2010.

Qualified Retirement Plans: Year-End Compliance

Although 2010 has been dominated by new healthcare-related laws and regulations requiring significant design changes to group health plans, as discussed in a prior alert, qualified retirement plans are not immune to new requirements that must be addressed by the end of 2010.  For more information, please see the Client Alert published b y the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Client Service Group on November 30, 2010.

SEC Proposed Whistleblower Rules Attempt to Balance Competing policy Considerations

The Securities and Exchange Commission has now issued proposed rules to implement the whistleblower provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank“). Dodd-Frank amended the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by adding Section 21F. Section 21F directs the SEC to pay awards to whistleblowers who provide the SEC with information about securities laws violations that lead to successful enforcement actions. Proposed Regulation 21F defines statutory terms, establishes the standards and procedures for rewarding eligible whistleblowers and generally seeks to explain the program.  For more information on the proposed rules, please click here to see the Client Alert published by the Corporate Finance and Securities Client Service Group on November 11, 2010.

SEC Proposes “Family Office” Exemption from Definition of Investment Advisers

On October 12, 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) proposed Rule 202(a)(11)(G)-1 (the “Proposed Rule”) under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (the “Advisers Act”) to define family offices for purposes of excluding them from the definition of “investment adviser.”  For more information on the Rule, please click here to see the Client Alert published by the Private Client practice group on November 1, 2010.

FTC Brings Enforcement Actions Against On-Line Appliance Retailers

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a series of enforcement actions this month targeting on-line retailers of consumer appliances, such as refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, air conditioners, water heaters and washing machines. The actions allege that the retailers failed to provide disclosures required by the FTC’s Appliance Labeling Rule on their websites.  For more information, please click here to read the Bulletin published by the Antitrust, Franchise & Consumer Law practice group on November 2010.

Significance of Advertising Law Compliance for Retailers

District attorneys in six California counties filed a lawsuit against Overstock.com alleging that the company engaged in deceptive advertising. The complaint, which seeks a minimum of $15 million in civil penalties in addition to restitution and attorneys fees, alleges that Overstock.com compared its own prices to fictitious “list prices,” or, in some cases, to the highest prices offered by its competitors.  For more information on the lawsuit, please click here to read the Bulletin published by the Antitrust, Franchise & Consumer Law practice group on November 22, 2010.

Advertising “Free” Offers and Promotions — Tips to Avoid Liability

Recent Challenges to Advertising Giveaways and “Free” Offers. The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the premier arbitration forum for advertising disputes, released two decisions this summer condemning advertisers’ “free” promotions. The cases brought against Staples and OfficeMax involved separate advertisements that used the term “like Free” to describe benefits that a consumer would receive using the companies’ loyalty programs.  To learn more about the cases, please click here to read the Client Alert published by the Retail Client Service Group published on November 10, 2010.

ICC Adopts Revisions to Incoterms Effective January 1, 2011

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has released the latest revisions to Incoterms®, Incoterms® 2010, which will come into force on January 1, 2011. The rules were last updated ten years ago, and this is the eighth revision since their inception in 1936. To read more about the changes, please click here to see the Client Alert published by the Commercial Practice Rapid Response Team published November 5, 2010.