With unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) (also called drones) anticipated to become a multi-billion dollar industry in a few years, many are betting that drone gaming will explode as the next big thing in competitive entertainment. It is not hard to see why: with the aid of first-person view (FPV) headsets and camera-mounted drones, drone gaming allows otherwise gravity-bound users to experience flight at exhilarating speeds—sometimes up to 100 mph. Despite their undeniable appeal and popularity, competitive drone gaming may stay grounded until Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines and regulations are more favorable. Nevertheless, there are a number of ways that drone manufacturers and drone gaming organizers can facilitate legal drone gaming competitions that may avoid the need of going through an FAA approval process—this post explores a few considerations.
As social media platforms continue to find new ways to allow users to share, post, and forward nonoriginal content and users become more engaged in the practice, the platforms hosting the content and disgruntled original content owners are bound to clash. In the past, Google, YouTube and others have been targeted for allowing users to post copyright-protected material, and ordered to remove the objected to material. A recent case filed in the Central District of California involves similar allegations against social media powerhouse Twitter. In Pierson v. Twitter, Inc., the plaintiff alleges that users tweeted her copyrighted image and that Twitter failed to remove the infringing material.
The evolution of social media in business from “occasional accessory” to “integral component” has in turn forced the law itself to evolve in an attempt to address social media’s increasing relevance. Recent developments in two different areas of law show a newly evidenced recognition of social media’s importance in business.
Today, Pillsbury attorneys Joseph Tiffany and Connie Wolfe published their client alert titled Seventh Circuit Finds Article III Standing for Data Breach Class Action Based on Allegations of Future Harm. The Alert notes that, in the wake of numerous data breach cases dismissed for lack of Article III standing based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Clapper v. Amnesty Int’l USA, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has become the first post-Clapper appellate court to hold that data breach victims adequately alleged standing based on risks of future harm. In Remijas v. Neiman Marcus Group, LLC, the district court dismissed a class action complaint against retailer Neiman Marcus based on the plaintiffs’ lack of Article III standing. Plaintiffs appealed, and the Seventh Circuit reversed. The decision adds a new element of uncertainty for custodians of customer data impacted by data breaches.
A recent massive data hack of an online dating site, Ashley Madison, once again proves that what one publishes, says, or does online, even in seemingly private forums, is never completely private. It’s also a reminder that the legal recourse available in less traditional data breaches can be severely curtailed by what can be a formidable obstacle: a company’s Terms of Service.
In late July, we posted our client alert titled FCC Expands Reach of Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The Alert discusses the FCC’s July 10, 2015 long-awaited omnibus Declaratory Ruling and Order. The Ruling focuses largely on providing guidance, particularly for new and emerging technologies, regarding what an automated telephone dialing system (aka ATDS or autodialer) is and when consent to use one to place a call or send a text message is required under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and its implementing regulation, 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200. All businesses should immediately reevaluate their calling and text messaging practices to ensure compliance with the new Ruling, as it is likely to escalate the continued upward trend in TCPA class action filings.
In a recent lawsuit, Uber Technologies Inc. is accused of violating California’s Unfair Competition Law. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Uber misleads its users by: (1) falsely advertising its services as cheaper than a typical cab company for specific routes when its services can actually be more expensive during certain peak times, and (2) presenting offers for free ride credits in exchange for referring business without notification prior to the users making the referral that the free ride credits will expire. Although the allegations in the lawsuit do not mention Uber’s terms of service, the facts alleged in the lawsuit highlight the importance of having comprehensive terms of service.
As of the date of the writing of this post, for instance, Starbucks’ terms and conditions for its reward program spell out the expiration period for its “free drink or food item” rewards that are credited to a user’s account after certain requirements are satisfied. Prior to becoming an authorized user of the reward program, the user must agree to the expiration period set forth in Starbucks’ terms and conditions for the rewards.
Uber users similarly must agree to Uber’s terms of service prior to becoming an authorized user of its service. As of the date of the writing of this article, however, Uber’s terms of service do not appear to explicitly describe when and how its rates may change from its advertised rates or when free ride credits will expire. While there may be other ways in which Uber can approach the recent lawsuit, it is likely that early dismissal of the lawsuit based on its terms of service may have been possible had it included the foregoing rate and free ride credit terms.
All in all, it’s just another reminder that the going rate for an ounce of prevention remains a pound of cure.
Even freed from bricks and mortar, online retailers and service providers are realizing that market share is not infinite. A complaint recently filed by Angie’s List Inc. against Amazon Local LLC for its newly launched online home services network can be viewed as the inevitable result of what will happen as internet giants eye each other’s customer bases. Angie’s List Inc. provides consumers with online reviews of home improvement service providers (e.g., handymen, gardeners, electricians, etc.) from other consumers in their area. Although competitors have tried to challenge Angie’s List, the platform has remained the dominant player in the industry. The company largely credits the stable of reliable home service professionals it has built over the past twenty years for its market stability.
As social media and the numerous platforms continue their exponential growth in popularity and constant evolvement, legal issues surrounding their use also will inevitably emerge. A recent case filed in the Western District of Michigan is a prime example. In Beer Exchange, LLC v. Bexio, LLC, the plaintiff claims that use of a certain Twitter handle and tags on Instagram by the defendant is causing a likelihood of confusion that amounts to trademark infringement under both federal and state law.