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Posts Tagged ‘ ftc ’

FTC Bars Patent Assertion Entity From Using Deceptive Tactics

Posted: Thursday, Nov 6, 2014 @ 11:57 am | Written by Federal Trade Commission | 10 comments
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Posted in: Federal Trade Commission, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patent Trolls, Patents

Federal Trade Commission building, Washington, DC.

A company and its law firm have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they used deceptive sales claims and phony legal threats in letters that accused thousands of small businesses around the United States of patent infringement. The settlement would bar the company, MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC, and its law firm from making deceptive representations when asserting patent rights.

The settlement with MPHJ is the first time the FTC has taken action using its consumer protection authority against a patent assertion entity (PAE). PAEs are companies that obtain patent rights and try to generate revenue by licensing to or litigating against those who are or may be using patented technology.

“Patents can promote innovation, but a patent is not a license to engage in deception,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Small businesses and other consumers have the right to expect truthful communications from those who market patent rights.”



The Federal Trade Commission Celebrates 100 Years

Posted: Thursday, Nov 6, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Federal Trade Commission, Government, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Steve Brachmann

FTC Building, Washington, DC.

In order to establish and maintain capitalistic markets which consumers trust enough to operate within, a set of effective rules regarding those markets must be enforced to encourage fair play. The federal government of the United States has enacted many laws and created agencies to ensure that consumer’s rights are respected and to prevent or prosecute entities for deceptive practices. Perhaps the most important of the agencies is the Federal Trade Commission, which recently hit a major milestone: on September 26, 2014, the consumer protection agency celebrated its 100th birthday.

On the morning of Friday, November 7, the FTC will officially recognize the occasion with a 100th Anniversary Symposium at the Constitution Center in Washington, D.C. The event will feature a day-long schedule of panel discussions involving current commissioners, current FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez and a long list of experts in business and law.

It’s easy to conflate the protection of consumer rights in America with the idea of snake oil salesmen and quack cures from the 1800s. Although that makes for a good story, it would be wrong to think that there aren’t a myriad of concerns that still affect consumer and business markets. For example, the FTC recently investigated allegations that AT&T “crammed” customers with costly add-on services; by the middle of October, AT&T had agreed to pay a $105 million settlement, $80 million of which will be refunded to customers.



FTC Says AT&T Has Misled Millions of Consumers with ‘Unlimited’ Data Promises

Posted: Wednesday, Oct 29, 2014 @ 9:30 am | Written by Federal Trade Commission | 4 comments
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Posted in: Advertising, AT&T, Companies We Follow, False Advertising, Federal Trade Commission, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles

The Federal Trade Commission filed a federal court complaint against AT&T Mobility, LLC, charging that the company has misled millions of its smartphone customers by charging them for “unlimited” data plans while reducing their data speeds, in some cases by nearly 90 percent.

The FTC’s complaint alleges that the company failed to adequately disclose to its customers on unlimited data plans that, if they reach a certain amount of data use in a given billing cycle, AT&T reduces – or “throttles” – their data speeds to the point that many common mobile phone applications – like web browsing, GPS navigation and watching streaming video –  become difficult or nearly impossible to use.

“AT&T promised its customers ‘unlimited’ data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “The issue here is simple: ‘unlimited’ means unlimited.”



FTC Sues to Stop Unlawful Blocking of Generic Androgel

Posted: Monday, Sep 8, 2014 @ 12:45 pm | Written by Federal Trade Commission | No Comments »
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Posted in: Antitrust, Federal Trade Commission, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Pharmaceutical, Technology & Innovation

In its latest action to ensure competition in the nation’s healthcare markets, the Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint in federal district court charging several major pharmaceutical companies with illegally blocking American consumers’ access to lower-cost versions of the blockbuster drug AndroGel.

The FTC’s complaint alleges that AbbVie Inc. and its partner Besins Healthcare Inc. filed baseless patent infringement lawsuits against potential generic competitors to delay the introduction of lower-priced versions of the testosterone replacement drug AndroGel. While the lawsuits were pending, AbbVie then entered into an anticompetitive pay-for-delay settlement agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. to further delay generic drug competition.



FTC Alleges Amazon Unlawfully Billed Parents for Millions of Dollars in Children’s Unauthorized In-App Charges

Posted: Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 @ 12:56 pm | Written by Federal Trade Commission | Comments Off
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Posted in: Amazon.com, Companies We Follow, Federal Trade Commission, Government, Internet, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles

FTC Building, Washington, D.C.

Amazon.com, Inc. has billed parents and other account holders for millions of dollars in unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children, according to a Federal Trade Commission complaint filed today in federal court.

The FTC’s lawsuit seeks a court order requiring refunds to consumers for the unauthorized charges and permanently banning the company from billing parents and other account holders for in-app charges without their consent. According to the complaint, Amazon keeps 30 percent of all in-app charges.

Amazon offers many children’s apps in its appstore for download to mobile devices such as the Kindle Fire. In its complaint, the FTC alleges that Amazon violated the FTC Act by billing parents and other Amazon account holders for charges incurred by their children without the permission of the parent or other account holder. Amazon’s setup allowed children playing these kids’ games to spend unlimited amounts of money to pay for virtual items within the apps such as “coins,” “stars,” and “acorns” without parental involvement.



House Subcommittee Takes up TROL Act on Demand Letters

Posted: Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Congress, Federal Trade Commission, Gene Quinn, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patent Reform, Patents

Rep. Terry Lee

Rep Janice Schakowsky

Congress is moving forward with at least some patent reform efforts this year, taking up the Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act of 2014, which is scheduled to be marked up in the House Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee on July 10, 2014. This Subcommittee is a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. This draft of the bill is as it existed earlier this week.

This draft legislation — creatively dubbed the TROL Act — addresses the sending of abusive and bad faith patent demand letters by clarifying that such activity may violate the Federal Trade Commission Act and authorizing that agency and state attorneys general to bring actions to stop the abusive behavior, among other things.

On July 9, 2014, AIPLA Executive Director Todd Dickinson wrote Representative Terry Lee (R-NE), who is Chair of the House Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee, and Representative Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), who is Ranking Member.



FTC Testifies on Legislation to Prohibit Deceptive Patent Demand Letters

Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014 @ 5:35 pm | Written by Federal Trade Commission | 3 comments
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Posted in: Federal Trade Commission, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Legislation, Patent Reform, Patent Trolls, Patents
The Federal Trade Commission testified on consumer protection issues involving patent demand letters, patent assertion entities (PAEs), and proposed legislation to prohibit deceptive patent demand letters.

Delivering testimony before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Lois Greisman, Associate Director of the FTC’s Division of Marketing Practices at the Federal Trade Commission, provided lawmakers with comments on a draft bill regarding deceptive patent demand letters, and recognized that demand letters raise broader issues about patents and the U.S. patent system.

“The Commission shares this Subcommittee’s goal of stopping deceptive patent demand letters while respecting the rights of patent holders to assert legitimate claims, and recognizes that achieving this goal is not easy,” the testimony states.



FTC Seeks OMB Permission for Patent Assertion Entity Study

Posted: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 @ 2:19 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | Comments Off
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Posted in: Federal Trade Commission, Gene Quinn, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patent Trolls, Patents

FTC building, Washington, DC.

Earlier today the Federal Trade Commission issued a second Federal Register Notice containing the revised information requests for its study on patent assertion entities (PAEs). The Commission vote approving the second Federal Register Notice was 5-0. The Notice is styled as a submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) because under federal law federal agencies must obtain approval from OMB for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor.

The second Notice also calls for additional public comments. As explained more fully in the Notice, the FTC proposes to collect information about Patent Assertion Entity (“PAE”) organization, structure, economic relationships, and activity, including acquisition, assertion, litigation, and licensing practices.

The study is designed to develop a better understanding of how PAEs may impact innovation and competition. PAEs are firms with a business model based primarily on buying patents and then attempting to generate revenue by asserting them against businesses that are already practicing the patented technologies. The FTC says it is conducting the study in order to further one of the agency’s key missions, which is to examine cutting-edge competition and consumer protection topics that may have a significant effect on the U.S. economy.



FTC Files Amicus in 3rd Circuit Over Reverse Payments

Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014 @ 12:43 pm | Written by Federal Trade Commission | Comments Off
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Posted in: Antitrust, Federal Trade Commission, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Pharmaceutical

The Federal Trade Commission filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, urging it to reverse a district court dismissal in the case of Lamictal Direct Purchaser Antitrust Litigation. The district court found that agreements between branded and generic drug makers that include the branded firm’s commitment not to introduce an “authorized generic” cannot violate the antitrust laws under FTC v. Actavis, Inc., 133 S. Ct. 2224 (2013) because they do not involve the payment of “cash.” The FTC’s brief explains why the District Court’s conclusion is erroneous.

In Actavis, the U.S. Supreme Court held that “reverse-payment” patent settlements – agreements in which a brand-name drug manufacturer pays a would-be competitor to abandon its patent challenge and agrees not to sell its generic drug product for a number of years – are not immune from antitrust scrutiny and are to be evaluated using traditional antitrust factors.



FTC Charges Operators of Jerk . com With Deceiving Consumers

Posted: Monday, Apr 7, 2014 @ 12:00 pm | Written by Federal Trade Commission | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Federal Trade Commission, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles

The Federal Trade Commission charged the operators of the website “Jerk.com” with harvesting personal information from Facebook to create profiles labeling people a “Jerk” or “not a Jerk,” then falsely claiming that consumers could revise their online profiles by paying $30. According to the FTC’s complaint, between 2009 and 2013 the defendants, Jerk, LLC and the operator of the website, John Fanning, created Jerk.com profiles for more than 73 million people, including children.

In its complaint, the FTC charges that the defendants violated the FTC Act by misleading consumers that the content on Jerk.com had been created by other Jerk.com users, when in fact most of it had been harvested from Facebook; and by falsely leading consumers to believe that by paying for a Jerk.com membership, they could access “premium” features that could allow them to change their “Jerk” profile.

The FTC is seeking an order barring the defendants’ deceptive practices, prohibiting them from using the personal information they improperly obtained, and requiring them to delete the information.

“In today’s interconnected world, people are especially concerned about their reputation online, and this deceptive scheme was a brazen attempt to exploit those concerns,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.