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Proposed Legislation May Restrict Legal Advertising

2020 legislative update_featured

A bill has passed through committee in the Florida House of Representatives (PCB CJS 20-02) that would restrict the advertising of legal services. According to Florida House staff analysis, these changes prohibit legal advertisements from containing certain terminology or use of protected health information.

  • PCB CJS 20-02 passed a committee vote, now filed as H 7083.
  • Prohibits legal advertisements from using certain terminology or failing to include specified disclosures.
  • Violations subject to penalties under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Law firms advertising that there is recourse for bad prescription drugs may become more difficult in the state of Florida. The bill, H 7083, has overwhelmingly passed a critical subcommittee vote, which will add more advertising stipulations for legal advertising to the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 1288, is still in committee and doesn’t appear to have any momentum. The only difference between the House and Senate bills is language focusing on disclosure of “claim amounts.”

This legislation comes on the heels of a 2017 survey by the Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). The ILR surveyed over a thousand adults currently taking one or more prescriptions a day. The survey found that a significant amount of the participants would reduce their dosage of a drug if they saw an advertisement about a lawsuit for injury caused by a medication they were taking. Nearly half of the survey respondents said they would definitely or probably stop taking the drug immediately after seeing the advertisement.

Legal advertising focused on pharmaceuticals may have the potential to affect viewers adversely, resulting in severe consequences. The findings of the 2017 study were confirmed in September of 2019 by the Federal Trade Commission. Through the government’s Adverse Event Reporting System, consumers stopped taking their prescription drugs after seeing commercials about litigation regarding those medications.

According to a legal brief about the proposed bill, H 7083 “prohibits legal advertisements from containing certain terminology and prohibits certain use, sale, or transfer of protected health information without specified authorization for purposes of soliciting legal services.” The brief goes on to describe some of the prohibitions and requirements:

  • Prohibits a person who submits a legal advertisement for publication, broadcast, or dissemination, or who pays for or otherwise sponsors a legal advertisement from:
    • Failing to clearly and conspicuously disclose the sponsor of the advertisement;
    • Failing to clearly and conspicuously disclose the award amount the client received after paying for legal services and costs if the advertisement includes information regarding the amount of a damage award obtained on behalf of a client;
    • Displaying government agency logos in a manner implying an affiliation with that agency;
    • Including terminology implying that the product has been recalled when it has not been;
  • Requires a legal advertisement to clearly disclose the warning, “Do not stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting your doctor,” if the advertisement solicits clients who may allege injury from a prescription drug; and
  • Prohibits a person from using, obtaining, selling, transferring, or disclosing to another person without written authorization protected health information to solicit legal services.

The proposed bill also outlines the cause of action for anyone that suffers physical injury as a result of legal advertising, as well as action taken by the Department of Legal Affairs or state attorney.

Even though these bills may not pass during the 2020 session, they certainly are not dead. There is a good chance they will get passed in 2021. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. I can also provide you with a copy of the proposed bill and the state’s legal analysis.

 

 

 

Join us for a legal marketing presentation and social

Tampa Bay legal marketing
The Legal Marketing Association Tampa Bay City Group Presents: Get in the Game: The Gamification of Business Development with Jill Huse & Heather McCullough of Society 54 followed by Happy Hour Sponsored by Pinstripe Marketing

We’ve all heard that many of the skills needed to develop business are counter to how attorneys are wired. But we do know that attorneys are competitive by nature so that begs the question, can the skills and habits needed to develop business be taught and instilled through playing a game? Businesses of all sizes have been using gamification, defined as “game design elements in non-game contexts,” for many years with great results. Gamification of business development is simply another internal tool that can be used to help build engagement in the process and confidence in an individuals’ ability to build a base of clients.

An effective internal “game” includes:

  • outlining what outcomes the firm hopes to achieve
  • identifying which behaviors will be changed
  • defining how progress will be measured
  • clearly describing success in the program and how it will be rewarded

This hands-on, interactive session incorporates case studies, training and roundtable brainstorming on how to create and implement a successful business development game within a firm. It is not a one-size fits all approach so the practical ideas and tips that are presented will allow attendees the opportunity to create a program that will drive real results within their own firm.

SPEAKERS

Jill Huse Jill Huse, Partner, Society 54

Society 54 Co-Founder Jill Huse is renowned as a trusted professional services advisor. Jill, a certified business coach, is highly regarded for her progressive ingenuity, research-based strategy and, most importantly, her ability to deliver results for clients.

Jill has worked in legal marketing for more than fifteen years, after starting her career in accounting marketing. Clients have said that Jill has an innate ability to identify, encourage and develop their unique and differentiating professional strengths, and to help them to leverage these strengths to meet and exceed bottom line goals.

As the director of marketing and business development at one of the most reputable AmLaw firms in the southeast, Jill structured and led her team in developing, implementing and managing award-winning communication, business development and marketing initiatives. Further, Jill is a tenured member and past president of the Southeastern Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA), which, as the second largest LMA chapter, serves more than 450 members across nine states.

Heather McCulloughHeather McCullough, Partner, Society 54

Society 54 Co-Founder Heather McCullough is two parts wit and one part tenacity, with heaping doses of creativity and intellect on the side.

Heather represents the power of hard work, strategy and collaboration. For more than 14 years, she has brought game-changing results to professional services firms across the Southeast. As the director of business and practice development at one of the most well-respected law firms in the Carolinas, Heather oversaw all aspects of firm branding and business development, including communications, client relations, events and business development – – all while keeping a keen eye on budgets and ROI.

 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

4pm – 6pm

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney

401 E. Jackson St.

Tampa, FL 33602

Map

REGISTER NOW

Plan to stay after the presentation to join your fellow LMA members along with Jill and Heather for a Happy Hour sponsored by Pinstripe Marketing.

pinstripe-marketing

 

Special thanks to Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney for hosting our May program.

buchananFounded in 1850, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is a full-service law firm with approximately 500 lawyers and government relations professionals who serve the legal and business needs of regional, national and international clients. Our offices are located in 18 cities in Pennsylvania, Florida, Washington, D.C., Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Colorado and California.

The Importance of a Trademark Search

Florida trademark lawyer, intellectual property

Guest contributor: Monica Mason, Trenam Law

A trademark is a name, word or logo used to indicate the source of a product or service. While a “trademark” technically refers to a brand used on goods and products (e.g., coffee, sneakers, jewelry), a “service mark” refers to a brand used in connection with services (e.g., restaurant services, insurance services, accounting services). Almost every company imaginable has a trademark or service mark – either the name of the company advertised to the public or the name of its product.

Prior to using or advertising a new brand in connection with a business or product, it is critical to have a trademark attorney conduct thorough trademark searches to clear the potential trademark for use and registration. It is necessary for a business owner to know whether there are risks to the company’s use and registration of the proposed trademark. When first selecting a trademark, a business owner should conduct an Internet search or use the free search engine located on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website – Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) – to discern whether the proposed mark is unique or widely used.

Generally, there are two levels of trademark searches recommended: first, a preliminary “knock-out” search is conducted to determine if an identical mark has already been applied for or registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office or with any state trademark office. This first and very important step helps determine the potential availability and registrability of a proposed trademark, and can easily determine whether a proposed mark is worth pursuing or should be eliminated from consideration due to conflicting marks. The preliminary search, however, is limited in scope as many companies do not register their trademarks; thus, there could be additional and extensive use of the same or similar marks at common law.

If no conflicts are found in the preliminary search, the next step is to conduct a more thorough, due diligence trademark search. A comprehensive trademark search helps determine any further risks associated with the use and registration of the mark, including possible infringement risks, and reviews the extent of non-registered use of the mark around the country. This second level of searching involves a trademark attorney ordering and analyzing a detailed report from a specialized commercial search firm. The comprehensive search gathers information from a variety of sources including federal trademark/service mark applications and registrations in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, available state registrations, and also searches an extensive database of trade names, trade directories, corporate filings, international filings, registered domain names, Internet usage, telephone books, and other non-registration sources. These searches can also search design and logo components, phonetic equivalents, and other variations of a proposed trademark. Although a comprehensive trademark search offers a more thorough discovery of potential conflicts and risks involved with the use and registration of the potential trademark, it is not exhaustive.

Once the trademark has been cleared, a trademark owner should protect its trademark by filing an application to register the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, with state trademark offices (e.g., Florida), and/or foreign countries, as appropriate.

Although U.S. trademark law does not require that trademark searches be conducted prior to using and/or applying to register a trademark, trademark searches are important because courts have held that the failure to conduct a trademark search prior to adopting a mark can constitute evidence of bad faith and/or willful infringement. Conducting a thorough trademark search and using a trademark attorney can help negate a charge of bad faith in a trademark infringement lawsuit.

While conducting trademark searches is not mandatory under trademark law, the searches can uncover substantial risks of which a business owner would otherwise be unaware, and save the company substantial expense, time, and headaches down the road.

 

Florida intellectual property lawyerMonica Mason is Senior Counsel at Trenam Law, one of Tampa Bay’s largest law firms. Monica practices in the firm’s Business Transaction Practice Group, focusing primarily on intellectual property law including trademarks, copyrights and domain names. Monica has vast experience with all aspects of trademark law, including trademark clearance and prosecution, cease and desist matters, and licensing. She represents clients in connection with sales and acquisition of trademarks, unfair competition, brand strategy, trademark watching and policing, and managing large trademark portfolios. She also assists clients in connection with copyright and domain name matters. Monica was recognized as the Tampa Trademark Law Lawyer of the Year in 2014 by The Best Lawyers in America.® 

 

 

Tampa Bay public relations

Tips for Hiring a Professional Photographer

Professional photography Tampa, professional headshots

At some point in our lives, we all need a professional photographer. Whether you need a photo for your web site, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, product shots for your business or photos for your wedding, there are some things that are best left to the pros. Below are some tips for hiring the right photographer for your business needs.

 

Identify your goal for the images

  • Product photography for a website
  • Product photography for a printed catalog
  • Portraits or head shots
  • Environmental photographs to tell the story of your business on your website

 

Tampa Bay law firm portrait, attorney photosReferrals

  • Keep your eyes open for photography you like
  • Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations
  • Many people have a go-to photographer that they trust
  • Make sure to be specific about what type of photography you are looking for
  • Use Google to search for keywords that fit with your goals. For instance, if you are a law firm and you want traditional head shots for your attorneys, you could search “law firm portrait photographer” or “law firm head shot photographer.” However, if you are a law firm and you want something a little different for your promotional materials, you could search for “portrait photographer” or “environmental portrait photographer” to find a wider variety of styles

 

Take the time to look at each photographer’s website and look out for the following:

  • Is their work consistent?
  • Do they show enough images to demonstrate their skill?
  • Do the images look like they are from multiple shoots or do they look like someone took a bunch of pictures of cousin Jimmy for a quick fix website?
  • Compare the work of several photographers side by side – you will start to see large differences in the quality of work of photographers who claim to be professionals
  • Look at client testimonials and reviews to see if the photographer has a good reputatiion

 

Consider your budget

  • If these photos are important enough for you to seek out a professional photographer, expect to pay a professional photographer’s rate
  • Research market rates. There is a lot of information on the internet about professional photography rates and you will see that exceptional work is not cheap

 

Contact

  • Once you narrow down your choices, call or email several photographers for rates – communicate what you are looking for as clearly as possible, including where the images will be used, how many images you need
  • Compare the work/rates and the pros and cons of each photographer to narrow down your choices

 

Meet face-to-face with the photographer before making your final decision

  • Part of finding the right photographer is finding the right personality fit
  • A good photographer will ask a lot of questions about the project to get a very thorough sense of what you are looking for
  • Great photographers may even turn down a project because it’s not a good fit. If they have a recommendation, make sure to follow up on it

 

Finding a professional photographer for high quality business photos is not an easy task, but it does not have to be incredibly difficult either. Thorough research and clear communication are your best tools, and it is well worth the time and effort it takes to do both. Too often, business owners choose a less expensive photographer to save money, but end up having to reshoot when the images are disappointing or do not serve the intended purpose. Avoid paying twice by hiring a true professional and being very clear about your expectations.

 

Pinstripe Marketing offers professional photography as one of our many services. Photography is one aspect of a complete marketing strategy – our images are created to fit the story of each brand we work with. From environmental portraits for editorial use to modern head shots for your website, Pinstripe Marketing can help you create beautiful images specifically for your project.

 

Tampa Bay public relations