Advertising Law




Advertising and Marketing Law refers to the body of laws related to the means and methods of communicating information about a product or service to the public. Obviously, effective marketing is key to the success of any business, but all businesses also have a legal obligation to ensure that any claims or representations they make in their advertising claims are truthful, not deceptive, or in some other way violate the law.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) oversees and regulates advertising, marketing, and interstate trade practices in the United States. It has a body of regulations around which most advertising and marketing law is centered. These laws can have a significant impact on a number of areas of a business's operations, including how that business labels its products, how it conducts email and telemarketing campaigns, claims related to results the products might have on one's health or the environment, and many others.

Some of the principle concepts of advertising and marketing law include truth in advertising and unfair trade practices. These are the laws regulating how businesses relate the benefits of their products to the general public. Examples of these laws include prohibitions against unreasonable health claims (e.g., that a pill well make one fit and beautiful), violations of others trademarks, or representations about the environmental impact of a product (e.g., claiming that a product is made of recycled materials when it is not).

The resources below will provide you with more information about advertising and marketing law, and the law firms listed in the “Law Firms” tab, above, can assist you with your specific cases.

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Articles on HG.org Related to Advertising Law

  • Driving Regional Traffic with Google+ Local for Lawyers
    Google search now makes up nearly 95% of all consumer searches for local businesses. As a lawyer that relies on a steady stream of local clients, you can’t afford to leave search engine marketing out of your lead-generation repertoire.
  • The Importance of Writing Good Legal Content
    What is Good Legal Content? Good Legal Content is content that serves two purposes, one it gains the attention of the reader, hopefully one who is a potential client. The content gives them enough information and intrigues them enough to make them want to contact your office for more information, or better yet a consultation.
  • Can Dating Sites Post Fake Profiles to Lure In Members?
    It is the end of a long week, and you find yourself at home wishing you had something to do. But, tired of being a fifth wheel to all of your friends in relationships, you decide it is time to join the millions of other people who are online looking for a date. Unfortunately, some of those millions may not be real people after all. Is it legal for dating sites to use fake content to lure in new members?
  • Social Review Sites Fight Back Against Law Firms Posting Fake Reviews
    Attorney advertising is a fairly new phenomenon in many jurisdictions. Rules of various state bar associations have eased over the last two decades to allow more and more freedom for attorneys wishing to advertise their services just like any other profession. However, the rise of new technology has presented a new twist and new source of liability for attorneys wishing to advertise online.
  • Truth in Advertising and Marketing and Other FTC Regulations
    When consumers see or hear an advertisement on the Internet, radio, in print, on a billboard, on television, or anywhere else, federal law says that the ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence.
  • When is it False Advertising or Just Puffing?
    We have all seen commercials making claims that our common sense told us simply cannot be true. For example, miracle weight loss supplements or exercise equipment. And yet, somehow these commercials make it to television and are not immediately removed as part of a lawsuit. How is that? What is the difference between false advertising and simply inflating the truth about your product (a practice called “puffing”)?
  • Reebok Fined for Its Toning Shoes Ad Campaign
    Reebok International has agreed to pay a $25 million fine to settle charges of false advertising stemming from claims that its toning shoes provide extra muscle strength to wearers, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The settlement funds will be used to provide consumer refunds, which will be made available either directly from the FTC or through a court-approved class action lawsuit.
  • Do Digital Billboards Distract Drivers?
    Despite an effort in 2009 to impose a two-year ban on the construction of new digital billboards in Orange County, Los Angeles, and throughout California, there is currently no state law prohibiting these billboards from appearing up and down the sides of highways. Extensive controversy exists surrounding the potential for digital billboards to distract drivers and cause car accidents.
  • Product Misrepresentation: How California Law Protects Consumers
    A Southern California woman recently made headlines after she personally sued Honda in small claims court when her car failed to live up to promise mileage standards, resulting in financially injurious consequences for her. The woman, Heather Peters, was awarded $9,867 from the small claims court judge and is encouraging others to follow her lead in making claims against Honda. A lawyer examines her case and explains the laws protecting consumers from product misrepresentation.
  • The Corporate Filing Scam, plus a Few More Good Ones
    If you have a California corporation, you’ve seen this scam. By way of background, all corporations must file with the California Secretary of State an “Annual Statement of Information.” The form asks for basic information about the corporation such as the names and addresses of the directors and officers, and the filing fee usually is $25.
  • All Communication Law Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to communication including: advertising, marketing law and media.

Advertising Law - US

  • Advertising Law Resource Center

    When you perform a legal review of your company's -- or your client's -- ads, you need all the relevant information about advertising law compliance at your fingertips because there are many pitfalls and problems that could be avoided by having this knowledge. There's no shortage of sources for the raw information you're looking for -- lengthy (and often unsuccessful) Internet searches, expensive online databases, internal computerized databases, and offline cases, decisions and rules from myriad sources. You may eventually find that advertising law compliance information -- assuming you have enough time.

  • Audit Bureau of Circulations

    For more than ninety years, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has served as the trusted industry standard in audited circulation figures. Determined to end deceptive practices, advertisers, advertising agencies and publishers united to establish an industry watchdog to independently verify circulation. In 1914, the world’s first circulation auditing organization, ABC, was established in Chicago.

  • Federal Trade Commission - Division of Advertising Practices

    The Division of Advertising Practices protects consumers from unfair or deceptive advertising and marketing practices that raise health and safety concerns, as well as those that cause economic injury. It brings law enforcement actions in federal district court to stop fraudulent advertising practices, coordinates FTC actions with federal and international law enforcement agencies sharing authority over health and safety products and services, and monitors advertising and marketing of alcohol, tobacco, violent entertainment media, and food to children. The Division also brings administrative lawsuits to stop unfair and deceptive advertising.

  • FTC Guidelines on Internet Advertising

    The Federal Trade Commission has examined how its own consumer protection rules and guides apply to advertising and sales made via the Internet. This staff working paper discusses FTC requirements that disclosures be presented clearly and conspicuously, in the context of Internet advertisements. It also discusses how certain rules and guides apply to online activities, when the rule or guide refers to "written" ads or "direct mail" solicitations or requires notices to be sent to consumers.

  • Privacy Policies and Internet Advertising Law

    One reason the Internet is an excellent marketing and advertising tool is that it provides much more information about consumer behavior than is available through traditional print-based media. By monitoring visitors on your Web site, and collecting reactions to ads placed on other Web sites, you can obtain a host of consumer information, including how many people viewed your ad, what percentage of people clicked on the ad, what percentage of people purchased your product after seeing the ad, which pages on your Web site are visited most often, the names of other Web sites your customers have visited, and customers’ e-mail addresses and other personal information.

  • The Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division

    National advertisers who use the NAD process find it to be significantly less expensive than litigation. NAD adheres to a strict timetable; providing a written decision within 60 business days. Companies can expect advertising challenges to be resolved while the ad campaign is still running. And, unlike judicial files, NAD keeps confidential all data it receives in reviewing a case. The challenger's and advertiser's positions, NAD's decision and a statement by the advertiser are made public.

  • The Lanham Act

    The Lanham Act is found in Title 15 of the U.S. Code and contains the federal statutes governing trademark law in the United States. However, this act is not the exclusive law governing U.S. trademark law, since both common law and state statutes also control some aspects of trademark protection. This index contains links to each of the sections of the Lanham, and was last updated in October, 2005.

  • The Regulation of Advertising

    In order to monitor and control advertising a number of different regulatory bodies have been established. Many countries have an Advertising Standards Authority, whose job it is to listen to complaints from the public, and establish whether or not a particular ad or campaign should be withdrawn.

Advertising Law - Europe

  • EU Misleading and Comparative Advertising

    European legislation regulates comparative advertising and protects consumers and those involved in commercial, industrial, craft activity or liberal profession, and the public interest in general, against misleading advertising and its unfair consequences.

  • UK Advertising Standards Authority

    The Advertising Standards Authority is the independent body set up by the advertising industry to police the rules laid down in the advertising codes. The strength of the self-regulatory system lies in both the independence of the ASA and the support and commitment of the advertising industry, through the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), to the standards of the codes, protecting consumers and creating a level playing field for advertisers.

Advertising Law - International

  • Advertisement Law of The People's Republic of China

    This Law is formulated in order to regulate advertising activities, promote the sound development of the advertising business, protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers, maintain the socioeconomic order, and enable advertisements to play a positive role in the socialist market economy.

  • Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland

    The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland is the independent self-regulatory body set up and financed by the advertising industry and committed, in the public interest, to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications, that is, advertising, promotional marketing and direct marketing.

  • Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa

    The advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) is an idependent body set up and paid for by the marketing communications industry to regulate advertising in the public interest through a system of self-regulation. The ASA works closely with government, statutory bodies, consumer organisations and the industry to ensure that the content of advertising meets the requirements of the Code of Advertising.

  • Australia Advertising Standards Bureau

    The Advertising Standards Bureau administers a national system of advertising self-regulation through the Advertising Standards Board and the Advertising Claims Board. The self-regulation system recognises that advertisers share a common interest in promoting consumer confidence in and respect for general standards of advertising.

  • Canadian Advertisers - Code of Advertising Standards

    The Code of Advertising Standards is the principal instrument of advertising self-regulation in Canada. Developed to promote professional practices in advertising, the code was first published in 1963; and since then it has been revised periodically to keep it up to date and relevant. The Code, which is administered by Advertising Standards Canada (ASC), sets out the criteria for acceptable advertising. It is on these criteria that advertising is evaluated in response to any consumer or trade complaints.

  • New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority

    The prime function of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is to self-regulate advertising in New Zealand. Advertising Codes of Practice provide the rules by which all advertisements in all media should comply. Members of the public may complain at no cost about any advertisement in any media which they believe breaches the Codes. Complaints are heard by an independent Advertising Standards Complaints Board (ASCB) and there is a right of appeal to the independent Advertising Standards Complaints Appeal Board (ASCAB). In the event of a complaint being upheld the advertiser, agency, and media are requested to withdraw the advertisement. These requests are invariably complied with. All decisions are released to the public via the media and are widely reported.

Organizations Related to Advertising Law

  • American Advertising Federation (AAF)

    The American Advertising Federation protects and promotes the well-being of advertising. We accomplish this through a unique, nationally coordinated grassroots network of advertisers, agencies, media companies, local advertising clubs and college chapters.

  • American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA)

    Founded in 1917, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) is the national trade association representing the advertising agency business in the United States.

  • Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)

    The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is comprised of more than 375 leading media and technology companies who are responsible for selling 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB is dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactive’s share of total marketing spend, and of its members’ share of total marketing spend. The IAB educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. Working with its member companies, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising.

  • International Advertising Association (IAA)

    The International Advertising Association is a one-of-a-kind strategic partnership which champions the common interests of all the disciplines across the full spectrum of marketing communications - from advertisers to media companies to agencies to direct marketing firms - as well as individual practitioners

  • Lawyer Advertising, Solicitation and Marketing Policies - Wells and Drew

    Wells & Drew firmly believes a more informed client is a happier client. To help you better understand the often-complicated world of printing and engraving technologies, we've put together a brief education section.

  • Outdoor Advertising Association of America

    The OAAA is the lead trade association representing the outdoor advertising industry. Founded in 1891, the OAAA is dedicated to promoting, protecting and advancing outdoor advertising interests in the U.S. With nearly 1,100 member companies, the OAAA represents more than 90% of industry revenues.

  • Retail Advertising Marketing Association (RAMA)

    The Retail Advertising Marketing Association (RAMA), a division of the National Retail Federation, provides unique networking opportunities, industry research and educational programming for retail advertising and marketing professionals. NRF members are able to take advantage of the added value of participating in RAMA as a benefit of membership with NRF.

  • The Advertising Association - UK

    The Advertising Association is a federation of 31 trade bodies and organizations representing the advertising and promotional marketing industries including advertisers, agencies, media and support services.

  • The International Federation of Audit Bureaux of Circulations (IFABC)

    The International Federation of Audit Bureaux of Circulations (IFABC) is a voluntary federation of industry-sponsored organisations that have been established in nations throughout the world. IFABC members have a common commitment to the accurate and transparent reporting of comparable print and new media performance data.

Publications Related to Advertising Law

  • Adlaw® by Request™

    To ensure that our clients and contacts are receiving timely updates on the advertising and marketing legal issues affecting their businesses, we are pleased to re-launch Adlaw® by Request™ in a blog format. This blog is designed to provide regular news on advertising law developments in the United States and elsewhere, with practical commentary and analysis from Reed Smith’s Advertising, Technology and Media (ATM) practice.

  • Advertising Guidance - Federal Trade Commission

    Guides provided by the Federal Trade Commission regarding a variety of subjects deal with advertising, such as: Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising, Advertising and Marketing on the Internet, Long Distance Advertising, Advertising Substantiation, Bait Advertising, Comparative Advertising, Deception, Deceptive Pricing to name a few.


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