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Retail, Restaurant, & Consumer

Blog Posts: Retail Law Advisor

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This blog keeps you connected to timely developments and emerging issues in retail law and covers a wide range of topics related to the retail, restaurant and consumer industry. We invite you to learn more about Goulston & Storrs and our Retail, Restaurant & Consumer Group.

Three Trends Driving Consumer Behavior in the Retail Real Estate Business

Goulston & Storrs partners Nancy Davids, Matt Epstein, Karen O’Malley and David Rabinowitz  recently sat down with  Forbes  to discuss how changes in consumer behavior continue to drive evolution in the retail real estate business. The group identified three key trends through a collaborative discussion with  Forbes  contributor Richard Kestenbaum:...
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Counterfeits in the Digital Marketplace

Counterfeiting has moved beyond high-priced luxury goods to low-cost everyday items. Many of these fake products pose real dangers:  face masks with arsenic ;  phone adapters that can electrocute you ;  computer chargers that fry your hardware ;  batteries that blow up . These counterfeits infiltrate online marketplaces, where...
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A Look Inside the ICSC 48th Annual US Shopping Center Law Conference

The 48th annual US Shopping Center Law Conference was held last week from October 24-27 at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes in Orlando Florida. The conference saw a near-record number of attendees, where almost 1500 people gathered to learn, network and collaborate. This year’s program included several new sessions...
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Protecting the Popular Brand: Considerations to Avoid Genericide

When it comes to trademark registration, there is such a thing as being too popular. Marks such as Aspirin, Fiberglass, Zipper and Flip Phone became so ubiquitous that they were found to be generic—a commonly used name or description of a kind of product. When a trademark becomes so...
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Banner Year Expected For Holiday Retail Sales

This week’s news of former retail giants Sears and Kmart filing for bankruptcy is bound to spur headlines about the death of retail in the U.S.  However, multiple forecasts predict that robust 2018 holiday shopping will result in an increase in both in-store and online holiday sales as compared...
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On the Origin of Retail: An Evolutionary Analysis

“Retail Apocalypse!”  “Amazon Takeover!”  “Goodbye, Brick-and-Mortar!”  These reflect the flavor of headlines these past few years: one of a retail Armageddon, or the end as we know it of brick-and-mortar. While several prominent retailers have turned to bankruptcy and store closures, research demonstrates that this doomsday hype is somewhat overblown. Statistics indicate...
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Augmented Retail – The Use of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality to Enhance the Customer Shopping Experience

As competition between brick-and-mortar stores and online shopping continues, retailers with physical stores are using cutting edge technologies to offer unique shopping experiences and added service to consumers.  One type of technology that is being used in brick-and-mortar stores is artificial intelligence. Amazon, arguably one of the most disruptive...
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Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It’s Off to Co-work We Go…

The anxiety of the death of retail has given way to the retail renaissance. Experiential retail draws the shopper in for entertainment, pop-up stores capture the shoppers’ curiosity as they stroll past a storefront or see their friends’ posts on Instagram, and showroom retail gives the hesitant online shopper...
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One Wild Ride: The Rise of Dockless Bike Share Programs

Bike shares have been around for several years, but the newest iteration of the two-wheeled trend is causing concern among local government officials and citizens alike. Beyond questions of profitability and durability, dockless transit share models raise questions about what the future of commerce looks like.   Dockless bikes and...
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New Massachusetts Trade Secret Laws Effective October 1, 2018

The retail industry closely guards customer and distribution lists, the software and code for the operation of its websites and downloadable mobile apps, and, in many cases, algorithms used to evaluate and monitor sales trends. In many cases, these valuable assets are not protected by patent, trademark or copyright law. As...
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Down But Not Out: Using Showrooms to Revamp Brick and Mortar Retail

Recent trends such as pop-ups  suggest that consumers and retailers alike are not prepared to give up on brick and mortar stores, but that they are looking for more creative alternatives to the traditional arrangement. Clothing retailers have begun exploring use of showroom-style spaces to revitalize and reframe the shopping...
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Updates to California Proposition 65 Affect Retailers and their Suppliers

On August 30, 2018, significant changes to California’s Proposition 65 (“Prop 65”) warning regulations take effect. In the retail context, Prop 65 requires businesses with 10 or more employees to warn individuals in California about products containing certain listed chemicals “known to the State of California to cause cancer,...
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Sales Tax Holidays: Serious Savings or Serious Stunt?

This past Friday, consumers across Massachusetts were pleasantly surprised with news of the last-minute approval by the Baker administration of a weekend sales tax holiday. Despite local retailers griping about the eleventh hour prep involved with planning, stocking, staffing and marketing such an event, consumers were rewarded with savings...
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On Retaildential Densification: Unpacking the Jargon and Trends of Adding Residential Uses to Shopping Centers

Retail follows rooftops. Few real estate adages are more axiomatic. Increasingly, however, the reverse is becoming true, and rooftops, or residential uses, are cozying up to retail . We’ve written previously that residential developers are increasingly finding shopping centers to be an irresistible tenant amenity . Whether residential uses...
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The Times They Are A-Changin’: Movement in the Retail Brokerage Industry

When selecting a broker, clients consider a host of factors, including both the firm’s and individual broker’s experience, building and client portfolio, and industry contacts. While some may feel better served by a small, dedicated team that can arguably offer more personalized service, many elect to engage larger industry players. Larger...
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International Council of Shopping Centers New England Conference and Deal Making

ICSC hosted the New England Conference and Deal Making  event at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center last week, from July 16-18. Given the summer timing of the conference, attendance appeared light at times, but conference attendees reported busy schedules and productive meetings. A number of attendees...
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A Trademark Licensee’s Rights after its Licensor’s Bankruptcy May Vary Depending on the Venue of the Bankruptcy Case

In this tumultuous retail climate , a string of recent conflicting court decisions remind retailers that the potential impact of a licensor bankruptcy on a trademark licensee’s rights may vary dramatically depending on the location of the licensor’s bankruptcy proceedings.  In some jurisdictions a licensee may be entitled to...
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Leveraged Returns: How Big Box Retailers are Using In-Store Fulfilment Centers to Bring Consumers Back to Brick-and-Mortar

The growth of e-commerce over the last two decades has forced traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to rethink their operations in order to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving market. For some, this means developing websites and mobile apps to entice consumers with an omnichannel shopping experience. However, a few large retailers...
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“We’ve Updated Our Privacy Policy”

How the EU’s New Data Protection Law is Changing Data Policy Considerations for American Retailers
If you have ever made an online purchase, chances are that you have received at least one  email  in the last month notifying you that a company’s privacy policy has changed. These emails are part of efforts to comply with the  General Data Protection Regulation (known as the “GDPR”),...
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A Changed World: The Supreme Court Permits State and Local Taxation of Online Sales by Retailers with No State Presence

A Changed View of Online Sales Tax for Out-of-State Retailers
With the growing and evolving retail world, which we have  discussed   before , one thing had remained constant: retailers did not have to collect sales tax for online sales to states in which they had no physical presence. Thanks to the Supreme Court, that principle  had  remained a...
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A World of Trademarks at INTA 2018 Annual Meeting in Seattle

During the week of May 20, 2018, members of the Goulston & Storrs  Intellectual Property Group  joined over 10,500 attendees from around the world for the 140th Annual Meeting of the  International Trademark Association (INTA) . Held in Seattle, Washington, the INTA 2018 Annual Meeting attracted an incredibly diverse...
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ICSC RECon 2018--Stepping Into the Future

The Las Vegas Convention Center hosted  ICSC RECon 2018  last week from May 20-23. Upon their entry into the Convention Center’s Central Hall, this year’s RECon attendees were greeted by the ICSC Innovation Exchange. This interactive exhibit showcased a broad range of new technologies, including autonomous security systems, digital...
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ICSC RECon In Full Swing

ICSC is in full swing at the Las Vegas Convention Center this week. This is the  world’s largest gathering of retail real estate professionals . With 37,000 industry professionals and 1200 exhibitors, it promises to be an amazing week. Last year, the mood at the convention was largely positive...
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The New Dawn of Retail: Apocalypse or Evolution?

Major retailers that once reigned supreme with brick and mortar stores now face unparalleled challenges. Historically, major retailers dominated the retail industry by opening stores in the most desirable locations and offering fetching merchandise at a great value. But, numerous trends – including a dramatic shift in shopping habits,...
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No More Lifetime Guarantees – The Importance of a Balanced Return Policy

In February 2018, L.L. Bean made the tough decision to  change its lifetime return policy , which had been in existence for over a century. Following the policy change, the company received backlash from its customers , with many of them voicing their frustrations on twitter. One user tweeted...
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Does Trademark Protection Extend to On-Line Advertising- Apparently It All Depends

It seems that nearly every day another retailer announces the large-scale closure of brick-and-mortar storefronts, with such household brands as Toys “R” Us and J. Crew, just to name two,  planning to shutter stores in 2018 . The significant challenges faced by traditional retailers are often attributed to the...
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Preparing for a Retail Storm

In the past few years, we have seen increasing temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather across the globe. According to NASA, 2016 was the  hottest year on record  and 2017 was the  second warmest year on record . In 2017 alone, the world witnessed massive heat waves in...
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Credit Card Evolution: Goodbye John Hancock

For years, the signature requirement for completing a credit card transaction has felt something like an  obsolete means of confirming a user’s identity . Effective this month, however, four of the country’s largest credit card providers: American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa, will no longer require a signature to...
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Pop-Up Stores- From Mall Kiosks to Dedicated Mall Spaces

It seems that everywhere we turn, there is another story about how the traditional, enclosed shopping mall is facing a slow and painful death. Big box and other brick and mortar stores are closing, and mall landlords are  desperate to fill increasingly empty space . To do so, landlords...
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Following An Evolving Retail Scene In New York City

New York City, one of the world’s premier shopping destinations is about to get over one and a half million square feet of new retail space. Some will be delivered to Long Island City, an area that has been waiting for a retail resurgence for over 2 decades, and...
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