When Starbucks recently announced a change to their iconic logo, I took interest not only as an attorney specializing in trademark and advertising law, but also as a fairly regular consumer of Starbucks coffee (and, I confess, a Starbucks "Gold Level" card holder).
This article discusses issues pertinent to both and addresses some interesting theories behind the reasons and implications of logo revisions generally, as well as some thoughtful observations on the Starbucks logo change and the advantages of a wordless logo for a global marketplace.
Also, Starbucks has launched a mobile application allowing users to track the funds in their Starbucks stored value cards and to use their phones for payment—with the phone essentially taking the place of the card. It’s a cool and useful application, and seems to be perfectly suited for its targeted audience. I have the application downloaded and use it to track or reload my own card balance, which I am starting to find surprisingly useful. I’ve had a mixed experience with baristas who either handle my phone or refuse to handle my phone citing company policy. While the latter makes for a somewhat awkward counter transaction, I find it preferable. There is something very personal about handing over my phone (as compared to a credit card or Starbucks card), and given the amount of information we carry around on our phones, it seems like a security concern—especially if that phone is going in through a drive-through window. In any case, this functionality perhaps brings …
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Bloggers have been buzzing since the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) updated its Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (“Guides”) to cover “consumer generated media” such as blogs and other Internet media forms. (16 C.F.R. Part 255) (.PDF) The changes are the first update since 1980 for the Guides, which are intended to offer guidance to compliance under 15 USC § 45 (“Unfair methods of competition unlawful; prevention by Commission”). While the FTC describes the Guides as providing “the basis for voluntary compliance with the law by advertisers and endorsers”, the Guides could form the basis for an enforcement action by the FTC, and noncompliance may result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.
In the interest of providing consumers with full disclosure, the updated Guides require bloggers to disclose any “material connection[s]” they have with producers of any products that they “endorse” on their blogs. A “material connection” includes not only monetary compensation, but also any free good received by the blogger—even if that good was provided unsolicited, with no conditions attached, for the purpose of allowing the blogger to review the product. Under the Guides, “endorsers” and companies must fully disclose any connection between “the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement.” In an effort to further explain the intent behind the Guides, the FTC has provided 35 example fact patterns in the Guides, and even an instructional video.
Much of …
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