Branding 101 – Should puffery be avoided in healthcare advertising?

curtains_000003766048Small1-001-300x199Healthcare is a highly competitive market. Healthcare companies are hiring marketing teams to lure customers to their facility. This will invariably require making statements regarding the quality of your services and how your services are better than your competitors. Problems will arise if these ads cause patients or their families to expect more than what is or even can be offered. There are many scenarios that could result in claims of false advertising under §43(a) of the Lanham Act. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus have guidelines for what companies may include within their marketing programs. Today, however, we will be looking at “puffery.” Continue Reading

Branding 101 – Laudatory Trademarks: Are they worth the effort?

curtains_000003766048Small1-001-300x199In one of our first posts, we discussed the five categories of trademarks (Generic – Descriptive – Suggestive – Arbitrary – Fanciful) and how a mark became more protectable as it moved up the line. Laudatory trademarks, trademarks that attribute a quality or excellence to the goods or services, are often included in this list as “descriptive marks” requiring a showing of secondary meaning to be protectable. However, it has been recognized that some laudatory marks do not describe any feature of the product it is used with, but rather suggest that the product is of high quality or “better” quality than other similar products. In these cases, the laudatory composite mark may be considered to be suggestive. Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit decision finds new exception to at-will employment: employee gun rights

Gun controlRecently, Husch Blackwell partners Stephen Cockerham and Kevin Koronka presented a webinar to Texas employers concerning the impact legislation concerning gun rights may have on employers. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over Texas federal district courts, recently released a decision concerning employee gun rights of which employers, particularly those with Mississippi employees, should take note. Continue Reading

CMS targets inappropriate social media use in nursing homes

Social network communityThe U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a memo (Ref:  S&C: 16-33-NH) Aug. 5, 2016, to state nursing home survey agency directors related to protecting resident privacy and prohibiting mental abuse related to photographs and audio/video recordings by nursing home staff. The memo is a response to recent media reports regarding inappropriate posting to social media of pictures of nursing home residents – namely a disconcerting report by ProPublica detailing 47 incidents in which workers shared photos or videos with friends or the public – these incidents involved both mistreatment of residents and inadvertent disclosure or patient health information. Within 30 days of the memo, surveyors are to implement changes to address these issues. Continue Reading

Branding 101: Nominative Fair Use

curtains_000003766048Small1-001-300x199This week we are discussing ways you can use a third party’s mark to identify the third party’s goods or services while also advertising your own. For example, a dental office wants to let potential patients know that it uses a specific brand of dental veneers. The law allows XYZ Dental to factually state:

“XYZ Dental specializes in the fitting and application of ABC® brand veneers.”

This type of use is known as nominative fair use and as with comparative advertising and descriptive fair use, there are rules that need to be followed. Continue Reading

U.S. DOJ sues to stop health plan mergers

gavel-scales2013%20052[On Wednesday, July 20, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed two lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, one, Cause 1:16-cv-01494, seeking to stop the proposed merger between Aetna and Humana (valued at $37 billion) and the other, Cause 1:16-cv-01493, seeking to stop the acquisition of Cigna by Anthem (valued at $54 billion). Continue Reading

Congress’ suggestions for ransomware treatment under HIPAA

dataLocks148650499Backing up electronic health record data may become an important aspect of complying with and mitigating risk under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) if the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) heeds legislators’ recommendations. Continue Reading

Branding 101 – Trademark Descriptive Fair Use

curtains_000003766048Small1-001-300x199Last week we discussed ways that you can use a competitor’s mark in comparative advertising. This week we will discuss use of a mark in a descriptive manner such that it is not being used as a trademark, thereby greatly reducing, if not eliminating, the possibility of the use being found to be trademark infringement. Continue Reading

Compensating non-exempt employees using the fluctuating workweek method

Pay DayEmployers often misconstrue the terms “non-exempt employee” and “hourly employee,” leading them to believe the terms are interchangeable. But, not all non-exempt employees are necessarily hourly employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows employers to pay their non-exempt employees on a salary basis as long as they meet minimum wage and overtime mandates. Paying certain non-exempt employees on a salary basis may prove a useful tool as healthcare institutions weigh changes in employee compensation practices necessitated by new FLSA regulations (previously discussed). Continue Reading

LexBlog