The majority of analysis, discussion, and debate over the congressionally charged ”Independent Working Group” (IWG) and its Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts has focused on its impact on print, broadcast, social media, and other forms of advertising. Two other implications of the proposal – its impact on brands and trademarks and its chilling or curtailing of corporate philanthropic efforts – have been largely overlooked.
Today, Washington Legal Foundation released papers in its two-page Legal Opinion Letter format which separately focus attention on these two areas.
Will Federal Food Ad “Guidelines” Tread On Brand Trademarks?, authored by Davis & Gilbert LLP attorneys Joseph Lewczak and Angela Bozzuti, explain how the IWG proposal as currently drafted could act as a seizure of protected corporate trademarks worth billions of dollars, and lead to the end of such “legacy” brands as Frosted Flakes and the Pepperidge Farm Goldfish.
“Voluntary” Food Marketing Limits: A Hazard To Philanthropy’s Health, by WLF Senior Litigator Cory Andrews explains how countless corporate charitable efforts, some of which directly benefit the health of children, would be curtailed or cease under the proposal.
In testimony before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing last week (discussed in detail here), the Federal Trade Commission’s David Vladeck asserted that provisions related to trademarks and philanthropic activity would be altered in the final document. FTC, however, is only one of four agencies involved in the IWG, and consumer advocates and politicians will work hard to keep those provisions intact. Also, even if the provisions are removed or weakened, the seeds of future action have been planted for shareholder activists, plaintiffs’ lawyers, and international bureaucrats to pursue.