“DUMB Starbucks” made national news as a viral sensation that the owner claimed was a legitimate, blatant copy of the distinctive and famous Starbucks logo. In this business litigation update, Faruki Ireland & Cox discusses the use of a potential “parody defense” in trademark litigation and whether “DUMB Starbucks” was a SMART idea.
Last week, my colleague Chris Herman blogged about the recent panel at the mid‑year ABA meeting in Chicago. The panel provided differing views on privacy from the regulator, industry and consumer perspective. FI&C’s Ron Raether participated, as well. In its discussion, the panel also provided some insight on how companies that use data and the regulators that monitor their activity on behalf of the consumers interact. These various perspectives provide a framework for the manner in which a fast-moving compliance issue, like privacy, gets addressed: from many pressure points within the free market place.
On February 6, the State and Local Government Law Section of the American Bar Association sponsored a panel at the Midyear Meeting titled “Privacy in the Digital Age – Is There Even a Barn Door Left to Close?”. Our very own Ron Raether was pleased to participate in the discussion in which three differing perspectives on privacy were presented: government, industry and that of the consumer, or public policy.
The government lens was represented by Joyce Yeager, assistant attorney general from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, and Lyman “Chuck” Taylor, deputy attorney general for Indiana’s Office of the Attorney General. Hearkening back to the days of civics classes when we learned about the three branches of government, I’m reminded that the attorneys general are part of our executive branch and are charged with enforcing our laws, rules and regulations. So it comes as no surprise that Ms. Yeager’s and Mr. Taylor’s positions reflect that businesses dealing with privacy data are best served by proactively policing themselves and implementing policies and procedures to minimize the risk of data breaches. Self-policing will help to reduce the possibility of facing legal action by a state attorney general’s office or worse, the Federal Trade Commission. Yeager suggested that companies avoid data collection if it isn’t needed because the consequences could be dire. Simply put, if you play with fire, you could get burned. As we have blogged here before, planning for privacy up front keeps companies ahead of the compliance curve before products hit the marketplace. Taylor also observed that the issue of privacy is complicated because expectations are constantly evolving. The problem facing businesses that deal with privacy data is that the laws they must operate within cannot evolve fast enough to keep pace with the ever-changing privacy expectations of consumers. Therefore, they risk the wrath of government intervention while trying to stay on the cutting edge of what their customers want as consumers’ expectations change.