CRTC Penalizes Small Business Owner For Attempting to Promote Business – Time to Reform CASL to Allow Companies to Compete?

On March 9, 2017, the Canadian CRTC announced that it had imposed a $15,000 administrative monetary penalty on an individual who allegedly engaged in electronic marketing to promote the sale of commercial flyers, without complying with CASL’s (Canada’s anti-spam law) consent, identification and in some cases unsubscribe requirements. The fundamental requirements of CASL relate to obtaining express consent (or meeting an exception or category of implied consent), identification (in both consent requests and commercial electronic communications) and including an easy unsubscribe mechanism in electronic communications. It is critical for electronic marketers to precisely meet CASL’s basic consent, identification and unsubscribe requirements. While the size of the penalty in this case may not seem significant by corporate measures, it nevertheless is a clear indication that the CRTC is quite willing to take enforcement measures against not only corporations but also individuals and smaller marketers. The penalties imposed to date under Canada’s … read more »

Fake Online Endorsements Remain Competition Bureau Priority, Topic of Upcoming Twitter Chat March 9th

Misleading advertising remains a top Competition Bureau (Bureau) enforcement priority. One of the more specific focuses for the Bureau is (and has been over the past several years) fake online endorsements, which is often referred to as “astroturfing”. In this regard, the Bureau announced earlier today that fake online reviews would be the focus of its upcoming annual “2 Good 2 B True” day and Twitter chat on March 9th (@CompBureau). For some of my recent posts on online endorsements and testimonials, see Competition Bureau’s Annual Internet Advertising Enforcement Sweep Focuses on False or Misleading Endorsements, Canada Increases Scrutiny of Online Paid Endorsements, New International Online Reviews and Endorsements Guidelines Give Practical Guidance to Marketers and U.S. FTC Updates Its FAQs on Endorsements and Testimonials in Social Media. ___________________ SERVICES AND CONTACT I offer business and individual clients efficient and strategic advice in relation to competition/antitrust, advertising, Internet and new … read more »

E-Commerce: Ontario Government to Review Ticket Hunting Bots, May Impose New Rules

In an interesting development, the Ontario Government announced earlier today that it was reviewing the rules for the purchase and sale of online tickets in an effort to give consumers a fairer chance at buying sporting, theatre and other event tickets online and to potentially further regulate ticket re-sellers. In making the announcement, Ontario’s Attorney General said: “Like so many people across Ontario, I love going to the great shows and events this province has to offer. I also know how frustrating it is to see the tickets you want sell out right away, only to see them pop up for resale at double the price. That isn’t fair – and it isn’t right. That’s why the government is calling on fans across Ontario to help us change the rules so that we all have a fair shot at getting the tickets we want.” The Government’s new initiative to review … read more »

Ontario Law Society Announces New Rules for Lawyer Advertising, Plan to Cap Referral Fees

Earlier today, the Law Society of Upper Canada’s (LSUC) governing body (Convocation) announced new requirements to lawyer advertising in Ontario. Convocation’s decision was the culmination of several years of work and review, which included a special Advertising and Fee Arrangements Working Group (Working Group), two Professional Regulation Committee reports (see here and here) and consultations with practitioners and the public (see Advertising and Fee Arrangements for an overview of the LSUC’s lawyer advertising review process). Cap on Referral Fees In its news release, the LSUC announced that Convocation has agreed to cap and further regulate referral fees charged by lawyers or paralegals (though no cap amount or specific requirements have yet been determined or imposed). Convocation rejected an option to prohibit referral fees altogether, opting for a less restrictive approach to increase transparency and impose a referral fee cap. The principle rationale for the upcoming changes to referral fees was … read more »

Competition Bureau Enforces “Sale” Sections of Competition Act, Brings Case Against Hudson’s Bay

The Competition Bureau (Bureau) continues to enforce the sale related sections of the Competition Act. Earlier today, it announced that it will commence an application with the federal Competition Tribunal (Tribunal) in relation to the alleged deceptive marketing of sleep sets (mattresses and foundations sold together) by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). In particular, the Bureau has taken the position in its Notice of Application that HBC has engaged in deceptive marketing by offering sleep sets at grossly inflated regular prices and then advertising deep discounts that suggest significant deals available to consumers. In general, the Competition Act prohibits false or misleading claims to promote a product, service or any business interest. A broad range of literally false or misleading advertising or marketing claims can be caught by the federal Competition Act. More specifically, the Competition Act contains “ordinary selling price” (OSP) provisions, which are meant to prevent inflated regular … read more »

Need Canadian Contest Rules and Forms For a Promotion?

Are you running a Canadian contest or sweepstakes and need forms for terms and conditions, disclosure and winner releases? I can help and offer a variety of contest forms and contest packages for running popular types of contests in Canada, excluding Quebec. These include rules and forms for random draw, skill (or consumer generated content), trip and Facebook contests. The contest forms I offer include only short and long rules for these commonly run types of promotions, as well as packages that include short rules, long rules and winner release forms. While these packages are not legal advice, they are sophisticated precedents and an excellent and economical way to run your contest. For more information about the contest rules and forms I offer, see: Canadian Contest Forms. ___________________ SERVICES AND CONTACT I offer business and individual clients efficient and strategic advice in relation to competition/antitrust, advertising, Internet and new media … read more »

Competition Bureau Cautions Businesses to Back Up Environmental Claims, Issues New Guidelines

Earlier today, the Competition Bureau (Bureau) issued a Business Alert warning businesses to ensure that their eco-related claims, such as using the terms “organic”, “green” and “eco-friendly”, comply with the federal Competition Act, particularly the false or misleading advertising and performance claim provisions. See: It’s not easy being green. Businesses must back up their words. More specifically, the Bureau provided the following compliance guidelines for businesses that want to promote their products with eco-friendly claims: Before making environmental claims, businesses must make sure that the claims: 1. Aren’t misleading or likely to result in misinterpretation. 2. Are accurate and specific. 3. Are substantiated and verifiable. 4. Are relevant. 5. Don’t imply that the product is endorsed by a third-party organization when it isn’t. While there are no specific provisions of the Competition Act that address environmental claims, a number of sections can potentially apply depending on the type of claim. … read more »

Is It Time to Reward Competition Act Whistleblowers?

In my new Canadian Lawyer column today, I discuss the whistleblower provisions of the Competition Act and ask whether rewarding whistleblowers would strengthen competition law enforcement in Canada. Below is an excerpt with a link to the full column. ____________________ With the federal government’s new budget anticipated soon, infrastructure spending is once again on the minds of many Canadians. In the government’s last budget, it pledged to spend $120 billion over 10 years. Government spending means more procurement, which in turn can mean more bid rigging or other competition law issues among suppliers. To tackle potential procurement-related competition law violations, the federal Competition Bureau has increased its efforts to educate government bodies on how to detect and deter anti-competitive practices. The Bureau has also enhanced its efforts to enforce the criminal provisions of the Competition Act. Some of the bureau’s recent criminal enforcement initiatives include anti-bid-rigging presentations to public procurement … read more »

CASL (Anti-Spam Law) Private Action Rights Come Into Force July 1st: 10 Key Points

On July 1, 2014, Canada’s new federal anti-spam legislation (CASL) largely came into force. Since it was introduced, both the CRTC (the primary enforcement body) and the Competition Bureau have been enforcing the legislation, with penalties to date ranging from $48,000 to $1.1 million. Beginning on July 1, 2017, however, the risks of violating CASL, as well as related sections of PIPEDA (the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) and the Competition Act, will be significantly greater. This is because private individuals and organizations affected by a violation of CASL will have a right to commence private actions when sections 47 to 51 and 55 come into force. In general, the new private right of action will allow private parties (i.e., as opposed to the federal regulators) to commence applications to recover damages, which, in some cases, could be assessed to be as much as $1 million a day. … read more »

Ten Key Issues That Can Arise in Canadian Contests and Practice Tips

Practical Law Canada Competition has published a new Legal Update, which discusses key issues that can arise in Canadian contests (with practice tips for counsel to advise their clients). Below is an excerpt with a link to the full Update.