Consumer Products

Morrison & Foerster provides a full spectrum of legal services to help consumer product companies meet their strategic business interests. Drawing on the firm's extensive experience across key practices, our lawyers help consumer product companies manage the expectations and demands of diverse stakeholders and constituencies – including consumers, investors and supply chain partners.


Brand Equity

Protection of brand equity is a central issue in the representation of consumer products companies. Our lawyers help clients with issues affecting consumer brands across a range of subspecialty areas. Our Consumer Litigation Group is known for its string of successes with deceptive and false advertising claims and assists consumer businesses in compliance with consumer protection and advertising and marketing requirementps. Our leading Product Liability and Counseling Group defends consumer product companies against product defect, failure to warn and toxic exposure claims and assists when products need to be recalled, removed from the market or are the subject of regulatory or media scrutiny. Our Trademark Group has extensive experience assisting consumer product companies with brand infringement matters including cases involving counterfeiting, product knock-offs and diversion. Our Antitrust Group helps maximize sales and operations with legally compliant price, marketing and distribution strategies and handles offensive and defensive competition related claims.

Consumer Data and Demand Shifts

While consumer data can be useful in gauging consumer preferences and behaviors, consumer product companies need to be mindful of consumer privacy laws and data security concerns to avoid enforcement or consumer class actions. With one of the top Privacy and Data Security practices in the world, we are uniquely qualified to advise consumer clients on behavioral advertising, retargeting, personalized content, web analytics and other online tracking technologies, as well as the use of location-based data. Our highly regarded lawyers help consumer product companies comply with regulatory issues and enforcement actions by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general. We also partner with consumer product companies to protect data in the cloud, at rest and in transit. We help design and strengthen data security policies and practices to minimize risks for our clients. When a security incident occurs, we can address public relations and consumer relations issues, and are able to provide an effective response to any threat of litigation or government investigation.

Product and Marketing Innovation

Product cycles and new marketing practices have accelerated for consumer product companies as technology continues to drive changes in consumer patterns at an exponential pace. Lawyers in our award-winning Intellectual Property Group work closely with our clients from the earliest stages of developing these product innovations and new approaches to marketing, offering invaluable advice on how to protect new business ideas. We also provide strategic business counsel on the development of products and technologies that may potentially infringe patents held by competitors or require the negotiation of royalty payments. When conflicts arise, our IP litigators are aggressive courtroom advocates who have successfully defended our clients’ ideas and inventions.

Investors and Shareholders

Our Corporate Group assists consumer businesses 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 these consumer products businesses.

Corporate and Finance

Our Corporate Finance Group assists consumer product companies 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 consumer product industry.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Our lawyers have established themselves as leaders within the industry by advising some of the world's leading consumer brands 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 consumer product companies that are seeking growth opportunities through cross-border transactions.

Supply Chain Partners

Our Technology Transactions Group combines industry business experience and practical legal knowledge in areas of intellectual property and commercial law to assist consumer product companies with supply chain optimization strategies including strategic alliances and outsourcing. We advise clients on supply chain management issues that potentially can adversely affect a strong consumer brand, including vendor operations, codes of conduct, product sourcing and component input requirements, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other compliance matters.

Our Environment & Energy Group works with consumer product companies to address a broad range of legal issues affecting the product cycle from supply chain sourcing to marketing and end-of-life management. As an example, we assist companies in both the adoption of sustainable supply chain practices and the associated marketing and promotion that help inform how consumers engage with these practices. We advise on new international, federal and state legal developments that have a significant effect on product design, raw material and component sourcing, product manufacturing, product packaging, product marketing and product disposal.

TiO2 Joint Defense Group
Defended over 30 companies, including most major cosmetic makers, in a suit alleging that titanium dioxide, which is commonly used as a key ingredient in cosmetics and sunscreens, causes a risk of cancer. Our motion for summary judgment was granted in July 2015. Plaintiff’s expert admitted that he could not specify which TiO2-containing products might result in exposure, and all he could say was that it was more likely than not that some products would require a cancer warning. The court agreed with our argument that such expert opinion does not provide a “credible factual basis” for going to trial. Plaintiff has agreed not to pursue an appeal of the judgment.
Environmental Law Foundation v. Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp., et al.
(Cal. Superior Court, Alameda County). Scored trial and appellate victories for Del Monte, Dole, Gerber, Smucker’s, Welch’s, and 10 other companies in a case brought by the Environmental Law Foundation and Baron & Budd class action firm. Plaintiff argued that the companies’ baby food, fruit juice, and packaged fruit products must carry cancer and birth defect warnings because they contained trace levels of lead, notwithstanding the FDA’s findings that they were safe and posed no unacceptable health risk. The trial judge and unanimous panel of the California Court of Appeal rejected arguments that California’s Proposition 65 law required warnings on these products and rejected an enforcement policy long advanced by the California attorney general and numerous plaintiffs’ groups that falsely assumed that every type of food is consumed each and every single day of the year. This decision, considered to be one of the most significant in Proposition 65’s 25-year history, opens the doors to companies that wish to use expert testimony based on actual exposure data to defend themselves, and may have application, including to consumer class action cases, going forward.
Costco Wholesale Corporation
We represent Costco Wholesale Corporation in an MDL proceeding of 30+ state-based class actions alleging that failure of retailers to disclose that sales of gasoline at retail pumps of volumetric gallons (as opposed to temperature-adjusted gallons) violates numerous state consumer protection laws and constitutes common law fraud, misrepresentation, breach of contract, and numerous other claims. Industry watchers consider the settlement a brilliant public relations move, and public interest groups publicly applauded Costco.
In re Palm Treo 600 and 650 Litigation
(N.D. Cal.). Representing Palm in multiple class action cases alleging unfair competition and breach of warranty. (Ongoing)
The Clorox Company
We represented The Clorox Company in its $950 million all-cash acquisition of Burt's Bees, a leader in natural personal care consumer products.
The Coca-Cola Company
We represented The Coca-Cola Company in an action filed against it by the California Attorney General and Los Angeles City Attorney alleging unfair competition, defective design, public nuisance, and violation of Proposition 65 stemming from the unauthorized sale of Mexican Coca-Cola in California. After nearly three years of negotiations, all claims were resolved by consent judgment containing injunctive relief terms requiring Coca-Cola to do no more than it had already been doing. Following entry of the consent judgment, we defended Coca-Cola in a follow-on attorney's fee litigation initiated by the private citizen who brought the issue to the attention of the public prosecutors. The court awarded her 10% of the amount she claimed she was due.
Toshiba Corporation
We represented Toshiba in the restructuring of its flash memory manufacturing joint ventures with SanDisk, including the acquisition by Toshiba of equipment valued at approximately $1.8 billion from the joint ventures.
Kirin Holdings' Beverage Joint Venture with China Resources Enterprise
Advising Kirin Holdings, a leading Japanese company in the global food and beverage market, in its US$400 million strategic joint venture with China Resources Enterprise, a Hong Kong-based consumer goods company operating in the retail, beer, food and beverage markets throughout China. (2011)

Legal 500 US 2016
National: Product Liability, Mass Tort, and Class Action: Consumer Products

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