You Might Be a Winner

A blog from the attorneys of Verrill

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2017: The Stories that Weren't, Taken from the Tales of the Twilight Zone

“It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is...
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No Room at the Inn (For Bad Reviews)

It’s story time here at youwmightbeawinner. Young Aaron from Portland, Maine writes, “Mr. Blogger, what do you have to say about the tale of the Innkeeper who had no room for guests writing bad reviews? ” My child I’d say that this Innkeeper was living in Christmas Past where...
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Sandy Hook Five Years Later: Skill v. Chance Enacting Legislation

In some ways enacting laws is like a contest – a game of skill between qualified legislators – or maybe it’s really more like a game of chance – where winning depends upon luck. The disappointing facts since the Sandy Hook massacre demonstrate how both legislative skill and bad...
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Daily Fantasy Sports Update: From Skill v. Chance to Legislative Dance

Sports have given us the Icky Shuffle, the Mark Gastineau sack dance and George “Twinkle Toes” Selkirk. Perhaps the greatest dance of all has been the state legislatures side-stepping the skill v. chance issue. I really thought we’d get practical guidance from the Daily Fantasy Sports skill v. chance...
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The U.S. Supreme Court Tackles Sports Gambling Law

Today (Monday December 4, 2017), the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the case Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association involving sports-gambling. I bet many of you have heard about the case and know that it has something to do with a fight between New Jersey and...
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Here's a Form to Use to Create a Commercial Co-Venture Program

“Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.” From the French for (roughly): there’s a form for that. Answer these 17 simple questions to create your own commercial co-venture program: 1. What is your company’s full name, street address, URL and contact. 2. What is the Charity’s full name...
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Time to Take Your Shot: Prize Indemnity Insurance Edition

We’re getting into the swing of the basketball and hockey seasons and you know what that means? (Yes, the Knicks still haven’t been mathematically eliminated.) But also, it’s time for the Half-Court Shot Contests and Blue Line Shot Contests to give weekend warriors the chance to quit their day...
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The Bare Minimum (Big Suggestions For Little Promotions)

Client: Do we need Official Rules for our sweepstakes? Attorney: Yes. Client: But we’re only running a one-day sweepstakes giving away a one-way bus ticket to Cleveland. Attorney: Sorry. Client: But we’re no Goliath. In the sweepstakes world size doesn’t always matter. While as practical matter, a tiny sweepstakes...
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Commercial Co-venture Registration: Things You Should Know

When embarking on your first foray into commercial co-venture land, you may have learned that a commercial co-venturer has to register in six states. But how much do you know about what that entails? Here’s a primer: ALABAMA (Ala. Code § 13A-9-70) See here Annual registration: 1. Complete the...
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What Prizes Can/Can't Be Given Away

Some things you may not be able to give as prizes: - Smokes (MA, MI, VA) - Gas (NJ, VA) - Beer (many states) - Milk (restricted in a number of states) - iPad (formerly) - Yankees tickets (because they may contain a no-transfer provision) - Puppies (most states...
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Why Are Ad Men Called Mad Men? Is It Because They Can Get Sued?

We all know that the first ad agency was created by William Taylor in 1786 perhaps to help sell the recently invented threshing machine to those farmers sick and tired of separating Recently, ad agencies have come under fire for a number of reasons: Days ago, Uber sued its...
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Age Doesn't Matter Except When it Does

Marx once remarked, “Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.” Well, thanks Groucho, for that word of advice, but let’s look anyway into the importance of age in sweepstakes. Minimum Ages 13 or older: If the...
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Sweepstakes Rules: How Much Is Too Much?

William J. Shakespeare recognized over more than 400 years ago in As You Like It that, “Excess may do you harm.” This may still hold true today for sweepstakes and contest Official Rules. The internet has allowed Official Rules to be as long as a lawyer’s imagination. But don’t...
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You Can’t Do That (Strange But True Illegal Contests)

We all know that promotions involving such things as dairy, gasoline, and cigarettes are illegal in some states, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll learn that a red flag should go off if, for instance, a sponsor wants to run a dance marathon/kissing contest next Valentine’s Day...
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Vacation Sweepstakes Edition (The More You Give, The Less You May Get)

It’s summer vacation time and what better way to spend it then basking in the sun after winning that all-expense-paid prize trip. Or is it? Sponsors want to create buzz for their sweepstakes. And vacation prizes over the summer months may do just that. In my unofficial count, there...
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Commercial Co-Ventures: What a Charity Needs to Know

Yay! Big brand wants to team up and donate part of the purchase price of its sales to your charity. Do you just have to sit back and watch the money come pouring in? Procedurally, no; substantively, (mostly) yes. Even though the “work” in a commercial co-venture may be...
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How About Some Updates?

You may or may not have heard of some recent developments in the promotion world. If you haven’t, great, let me be the first to tell you. If you have, my update is better. Endorsements/Influencers Back in the 1940s, a sociologist named Paul Lazerfield introduced the psychology behind the...
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Some Common Sweepstakes and Contests Questions Answered

Our teachers have told us that there’s no such thing as a bad question. In that light, I’ve come up with 11 common (simple) questions about running a sweepstakes or contest. And to prove that there are no bad questions, I’ve also gone ahead and answered them. Enjoy! Social...
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Should Your Company Engage in Cause Marketing? Here's What Consumers Think

Cause marketing is good marketing according to a recent study . The marketing research firm Toluna conducted a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults and here’s what they had to say: Almost half felt that “it’s a great way to bring attention to different national or global issues.” Over half...
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With A Nod to May Day, Let's Look at Beauty “Contests”

Beauty pageants have been around since the Middle Ages when during the English May Day celebrations a May Queen was crowned. But unlike our current pageant winners who go on to work toward advanced degrees and to advanced popular causes, folklore has it that our early May Queens’ reign...
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The Three Dirty Words A Company Involved in Cause Marketing Doesn't Want to Hear

George Carlin had seven dirty words. Spongebob Squarepants had 13 bad words (7 regular/6 sailor). And New York State has 6,942 dirty words that can’t be used on vanity plates. But commercial co-venturers should be aware of three dirty words: Professional Fundraiser, Professional Solicitor, and Fundraising Counsel, because if...
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Tapping Into a New Method of Cause Marketing

What do you do when your esteemed institution of higher learning has an alma mater which, in the words of one professor, could be interpreted as being “complicit with racism”? You do the right thing and engage the community to fix the injustice. This is exactly what Harvard University...
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Guidance From Commercial Co-Venture Caselaw: A Unicorn of a Topic

There are not many court decisions concerning commercial co-ventures. In fact, there are perhaps five. This is far less than the number of decisions involving unicorns (seriously). Nevertheless, these few court decisions provide some guidance on how a court may look at claims involving alleged violation of commercial co-venture...
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Hey That’s Me Drinking That Beer! UGC Rights at Issue in Beer/Photo Lawsuit

Kayla Kraft (no known relation to the cheese people) found herself on a Natural Light coaster with a fake handlebar mustache drinking a beer under the heading “Every Natty Has a Story.” She apparently didn’t like that story and just sued Anheuser-Busch , the makers of Natural Light beer...
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Let's Review Some Tricky Commercial Co-Venture Issues

From a quick Google search I see articles citing “at least 22” states have commercial co-venture laws; “over 30 states have laws governing commercial co-ventures”; “currently 27 states define ‘commercial co-venturer’ in their solicitation laws”; “about 20 states” have commercial co-venture laws. You get the point. This can be...
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Should Influencers Influence Cause Marketing?

To use or not to use a popular marketing tool? That is the question. Shakespeare, himself, opted for a popular marketing tool when he cast the famous tragedian, Richard Burbage, for the part of Hamlet. This was probably a good idea, since according to Wikipedia, the play “has been...
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