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Posts from April 2013.

Since the 2013 Hospitality Law Conference, we have received many requests for the Garvey Schubert Barer presentations.  Well, here they are.  Roger, Ruth and I are happy to further explain them and other details on the trending topics. Please give us a call or email.  It was a fun and educational conference so it is nice to look back at these slides!

Click on the presentations to view.

Picture of a power point presentation from the Hospitality Law Conference.Picture of a power point presentation from the Hospitality Law Conference.

Deal or No Deal?

Daily deal (or “flash sale” sites) like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Rue La La, are quite popular with both hoteliers and their potential guests, providing, as they often do, slashed rates and an easy method for getting heads in beds during times the hoteliers want them there the most. Unfortunately, these channels may not provide the benefits they seem to, and they pose a number of legal and practical risks that may make them even less attractive.

• Illegal Voucher Expiration Dates. Most of these providers issue vouchers to purchasers for redemption at hotels, which vouchers are considered “gift certificates” under most state and federal laws. Despite language in the standard contracts proposed by the providers, and despite hoteliers’ agreement (or desire) to limit redemption periods, the law may require vouchers be honored well beyond the time the hotel intended it to be. Some states have laws prohibiting the expiration of gift certificates period, some have mandated long validity periods, and federal law requires most gift certificates to be valid for 5 years.

Protect Your Good Name: Keyword Advertising and Trademark License

Published in Hospitality Upgrade, March 2013.

The Internet can be a hard, hard place for brand owners. Yet failing to engage potential guests online across a variety of platforms is no longer a viable option for the majority of hospitality industry participants. It is crucial that brand owners exercise control over their marks whenever possible. This article focuses on the legal use of keyword advertising, and provides some tips about how to negotiate trademark licenses in online distribution and marketing agreements...To read the full article click here.

 

Our latest post comes from Malcolm Seymour, a member of our New York office who specializes in commercial litigation and regulatory enforcement actions. His post discusses the ins and outs of Dram shop laws, and how they vary from state to state. -Greg

"A guy walks into a bar and orders a drink”: these words usually foreshadow some benign if tasteless joke. But these same words are increasingly found prefacing legal complaints based on laws known as dram shop statutes. And for businesses that sell or serve alcohol, these lawsuits are no laughing matter.

Under dram shop laws, businesses that sell alcohol can face civil liability for injuries that their intoxicated patrons inflict on third parties – even after those patrons have left their premises, and (in some states) even when the injury caused is intentional. Despite the anachronistic name, more states enact dram shop laws every decade, under political pressure from groups like M.A.D.D. These laws vary significantly from state to state, and their severity in certain jurisdictions can come as an unwelcome surprise. Any hotel, restaurant or bar that sells or serves alcohol, especially one with operations in multiple states, would do well to familiarize itself with these laws and their jurisdictional differences.

Take New York City – a nightlife capital and global destination for travelers – which happens to fall under the reach of one of the nation’s harshest dram shop laws. New York State’s Dram Shop Act allows private plaintiffs injured by intoxicated individuals to sue anyone who may have “unlawfully” sold those individuals alcohol. This would not be so vexing if New York used a clear standard to define what sales are considered unlawful. Legally prohibited sales include sales to minors, habitual drunkards and – most problematically for those on the receiving end of a dram shop complaint – anyone who is “visibly intoxicated.”

Over the last two weeks, Harold McCombs, leader of Garvey Schubert Barer’s Washington D.C.-based Telecommunications Practice Group, provided the first and second installments of his 3-part series on digital signage, its use in the hospitality and travel industries and the legal issues most often associated with it.  This week, Harold offers his third and final installment . . .

Digital Signage Part III:  Potential Legal Issues

The proverb asserting that the more things change, the more they stay the same, always seems true when one thinks about potential legal issues from new technologies.

Digital signs are still signs, and placement of signs – especially billboards – has long been an issue receiving the attention of local governments.  If those signs are emitting light and displaying motion, there may be even greater concern about their placement and their potential nuisance value.  The Federal Highway Administration allowed digital billboards in 2007, concluding that they did not pose a danger to drivers.  However, the FHWA has been studying the research and working on a report, which is anticipated this year, focusing on whether or not electronic billboards can be a dangerous distraction for drivers because they are so much more dramatic than conventional billboards.  Furthermore, as digital signs proliferate, they will likely be scrutinized more closely under federal, state and local historic preservation and environmental impact laws.

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Greg Duff, Editor
Greg Duff founded and chairs GSB’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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