Morrison & Foerster provides practical advice and innovative solutions to the challenges and opportunities faced by retailers, helping them thrive in this rapidly evolving industry. Our retail clients include Costco, Gap, The Kroger Co./Ralphs, Otto Group, Restoration Hardware, Safeway, Sears/Kmart and Target, among others.
Our lawyers understand the importance of protecting brand equity, and we are uniquely positioned to help our retailers on a range of branding issues. Lawyers in our Consumer Litigation Group have achieved significant victories in representing retailers in deceptive and false advertising claims and helping clients comply with consumer protection, advertising and marketing requirements. Recognized as one of the nation's leading practices, our Product Liability Group has consistently defended retail companies against product defect, failure to warn and toxic exposure claims. We provide clients with strategic advice in situations requiring the recall or removal of a product from the marketplace, as well as situations in which our clients are the subject of intense regulatory or media attention. Our Trademark Group helps clients on a range of brand infringement matters, from counterfeiting and product knock-offs to diversion.
Retailers have a tremendous amount of consumer data at their disposal, which can present unique challenges and opportunities for them.
We work with retailers to protect their data in the cloud, at rest and in transit. We help them design and strengthen data security policies and practices to minimize the risks associated with a data security breach. When a security incident does arise, our thorough understanding of all breach reporting requirements allows us to "hit the ground running." We can address public and customer relations issues and are able respond to any threatened litigation or government investigations.
Successful retailers analyze customer data to stay on top of evolving consumer preferences and behaviors and to adjust their business, marketing and advertising strategies as needed. We help retailers ensure that their strategies comply with the various consumer privacy laws, advertising and marketing laws and related consumer protection rules. Our Privacy Group advises retailers on behavioral advertising, retargeting, personalized content, web analytics and other online tracking technologies, as well as the use of location-based data. We regularly create and evaluate compliance programs for local, state, federal and international laws regulating the collection, use and disclosure of consumers' personal information so that our retail clients avoid becoming the subject of a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement action or a consumer class action.
The rapid rise of social media and mobile technologies is providing retailers with new channels to engage customers. We help our clients balance the commercial realities of the retail business with the risks posed by laws and regulations affecting social media. We also help retailers comply with the various advertising and marketing laws and related consumer protection rules. Our Advertising and Marketing Law experience includes all forms of promotion, direct marketing, defense of FTC consumer protection investigations and advertising substantiation analysis, as well as the prosecution and defense of advertising disputes in arbitration before the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in New York.
Our Corporate Group assists retailers with a broad range of corporate needs through the corporate life cycle, from early-stage financings through IPOs and acquisitions. We regularly counsel boards of directors on the most sensitive legal issues facing retail businesses.
Corporate and Finance
Our Corporate Finance Group assists retail businesses with corporate issues and financings including initial public offerings as well as the reporting and compliance obligations that come with being a public company. We also advise clients on board governance and shareholder initiatives, including activist proposals and corporate social responsibility initiatives.
By working closely with management teams and regularly attending board meetings, our corporate lawyers have unparalleled first-hand knowledge of the business realities facing the retail industry.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Our lawyers have established themselves as leaders within the industry by advising some of the world's leading retailers on their most strategic matters. Our M&A Group is known for innovative deal structures that allow clients to get deals done, and our international platform in Asia, Europe and the United States allows us to advise retailers that are seeking growth opportunities through cross-border transactions.
Operational and Regulatory Issues
Employment and Labor
Employment and labor issues are a top concern of retailers. Our Employment and Labor Group provides retailers with thoughtful counseling, auditing and litigation avoidance strategies concerning all aspects of the employment relationship. We are recognized for our expertise in wage and hour law, traditional union-employer issues, trade secret protection, employee privacy and everything in between. We assist retail clients on emergency matters requiring immediate relief, litigation or alternative dispute resolution, including those involving worker misclassification, missed meal and rest breaks, "suitable seating," discrimination, wrongful discharge, whistleblower, retaliation, theft of trade secret and employee raiding claims. We have broad experience in all areas of Compensation and Benefits, providing integrated advice that helps our retail clients attract and retain key talent at all levels of the organization.
Retailers continue to adopt new and evolving forms of technology solutions to support their businesses, including an array of web and mobile applications to address the consumer interface as well as IT platforms and solutions to manage transaction flow from point of sale to inventory procurement, management and control, including shipment and delivery to the consumer. Our lawyers have expertise in a range of areas that arise in these matters including mobile payments, consumer credit and PCI compliance, cloud computing, IP protection and regulatory compliance. As an example, our Technology Transactions Group understands private, public and hybrid clouds, the underlying technology, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, data security and business continuity. We also help our retail clients when they seek to invest millions in upgrading their technology, adopt new technology platforms or acquire or develop new technologies.
Retailers are embracing omnichannel retailing, utilizing mobile, online, catalogue and in-store experiences to drive increased customer traffic and brand loyalty. In this omnichannel environment, retailers may need to re-evaluate their real estate strategy and our Real Estate Group can assist with this process. Our firm has the right mixture of real estate, development, leasing and land use experience that retailers may require in identifying potential store locations; analyzing the legal and regulatory requirements and costs of leasing and acquiring store sites; negotiating and documenting acquisitions and leases; obtaining entitlements and permits; and ensuring compliance with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We have also represented retail landlords and tenants in commercial lease disputes, breach of contract and commercial fraud cases, and real estate investment and development disputes.
Our Technology Transactions Group combines industry business experience and practical legal knowledge in areas of intellectual property and commercial law to assist retailers with supply chain optimization strategies including strategic alliances and outsourcing.
We strive to help retailers build strong long-term value chain relationships so they can more effectively collaborate with their partners in identifying risks, minimize supply chain disruptions and adapt the production and distribution network to provide efficient customer service. Our Environment & Energy Group can also help retailers when the business practices of their vendors threaten their brand image by providing counsel on vendor operations, codes of conduct, product sourcing and component input requirements, FCPA and other compliance concerns.
Retailers cite possible changes in state and federal tax policies as one of their key regulatory concerns. Our Tax Group has a history of crafting creative solutions for our clients' most complex tax challenges and can help retailers successfully navigate the evolving and sometimes confusing tax landscape. We represent some of the best-known retailers in their most significant tax controversies, often addressing the key tax issues affecting their industry, from corporate, excise, franchise, and sales and use tax issues, to unclaimed property tax liabilities and the related compliance risks. We also regularly advise clients on the tax implications of corporate transactions and reorganizations, including multistate and other cross-border transactions.