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trade commission guidelines

Internet Attorney: Federal Trade Commission and Fake Testimonials

By Internet Lawyer

In addition to the new Federal Trade Commission guidelines (effective Dec. 1, 2009) that limit what you can do with endorsements and testimonials, there have been a lot of questions to me as an Internet attorney about other government agencies that can pursue you for deceptive practices.

Here’s a link to an example of a company that the State of New York’s Attorney General pursued for posting fake testimonials online. The company settled last year by paying $300,000 in penalties and costs.

Not something you’d want to get caught doing.

Best wishes,

-Mike the Internet attorney

P.S. If you want to learn more about creating testimonials based on the new FTC guidelines, you’ll want to check out the special report I co-authored with case studies expert Karl Barndt.

Federal Trade Commission: Bloggers’ Gift Disclosure Policy

By Internet Lawyer

The Federal Trade Commission guidelines covering endorsements and testimonials went into effect on December 1, 2009. How they will be enforced in real life against website owners and bloggers won’t fully be clarified for years as the FTC and the courts make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission did act on April 20, 2010 in a case involving bloggers who received gifts. What happened is that some bloggers who wrote about a certain event held by a women’s clothing store chain received small gifts.

Because of this compensation, the Federal Trade Commission investigated. Here’s the key sentence from the FTC to the chain’s lawyer…

“Depending on the circumstances, an advertiser’s provision of a gift to a blogger for posting blog content about an event could constitute a material connection that is not reasonably expected by readers of the blog.”

In this case, the Federal Trade Commission decided not to penalize the store chain. Several factors for this decision were (a) some of the bloggers did disclose they had received gifts, (b) not many bloggers participated, (c) the company created a written policy in February that required bloggers to disclose on their blogs any gifts they received from the company.

Here’s the important thing to remember. The FTC’s attorney made it clear that the Federal Trade Commission expected the company to (1) obey this written policy of requiring gift disclosure, and (2) monitor bloggers to ensure they complied with the policy by disclosing the gifts.

Material connections that must be disclosed can include many things in addition to gifts. For example, promoting as an affiliate in exchange for commissions would be a material connection.

Note that the Website Legal Forms Generator software was updated (Version 2.0) based on these new Federal Trade Commission guidelines and includes a disclosure policy. To claim your copy, click here right now.

Federal Trade Commission: Compliance Webinar

By Internet Lawyer

Robert Skrob, President of the Information Marketing Association, has invited me and one other attorney to speak with you Thursday on a seminar about the new Federal Trade Commission guidelines and how they affect your business. You can listen live via your computer.

Date: December 10, 2009 (Thursday)

2:00 p.m., Eastern
1:00 p.m., Central
12:00 noon, Mountain
11:00 a.m., Pacific

This is a no-pitch presentation. Nothing will be sold. It is being offered as a public service to entrepreneurs so that you can learn more about the new Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

To attend the webinar, you’ll want to go to There is NO registration required.

Here’s the details.

There has been a lot of concern and frustration since the Federal Trade Commission issued their revised guidelines on testimonials and endorsements. While info-marketers do need to take some steps to comply, these guidelines are not a cause for panic.
Many of the blog posts and tele-seminars so far have focused on the rules. What the guidelines say, how it’s changed and the penalties for non-compliance. This teleseminar is completely different. Instead, this call focuses on the steps you need to take to comply, and when you hear about them, you’ll be surprised how easy it all is.
No Fear. No worry. Don’t read legalese. While it’s okay to schedule time to get an understanding of the new law there is no reason to become worried or fearful. The compliance details aren’t that hard. You’ll get everything you need, in a matter-of-fact tone in this special internet seminar.
While most IMA tele-seminars are reserved for members’ only, for this special internet seminar, you are welcome to provide the call details to anyone who would like to participate in the internet seminar. If you have questions or want to participate in the discussion you can Twitter now or during the call with hash tag #IMA. If you aren’t a Twitter user send your question to me at by December 9th.
This Information Marketing Association internet seminar teaches you the easy compliance information you need to have to comply with the new FTC guidelines. This is an advanced call for info-marketers, giving you the essential insight you need to take your information marketing business beyond the next level. On December 10, 2009, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern/11:00 a.m. Pacific listen to the internet seminar by visiting:

Here is a summary of what will be covered on this Federal Trade Commission-related call:
• The exact details you need to look for when you review your sales pages and presentations.
• Words you can use in your tele-seminars and webinars to comply with endorsement rules.
• The steps you should take to protect yourself from liability from the actions of your affiliates.
• The documentation you need to organize for testimonials you use in your marketing.
• The one thing you should have been doing all along, that you probably haven’t ever done before, that’s suddenly more important than ever.

Federal Trade Commission and Hidden Disclosures

By Internet Lawyer

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras was recently interviewed about cybercrime and other Internet legal issues. The full interview is worth reading.

However, what struck me was her comments on what is a common practice…attempting to hide disclosures.

One of the things that has always been the case, though, is that buried disclosures have never worked and have never been adequate. So if you are burying an important disclosure that’s going to make a difference to a consumer, then there’s a real question about whether that’s a true disclosure.”

What many businesses don’t recognize is that emphasizing an unfavorable disclosure can be beneficial.

Here’s why.

The prospect who actually reads disclosures (most don’t) will be favorably impressed with candor. If you’re burying the truth about one aspect of your product or service, people will wonder what else you’re hiding and assume the worst. This is also the type of behavior that the Federal Trade Commission doesn’t like.

Hat tip to

Update: The Federal Trade Commission issued new guidelines about disclosures that went into effect December 1, 2009. Click the following link to get my free special report (PDF file) on how to comply with the new Federal Trade Commission guidelines.