Christie Grymes Thompson chairs the firm’s Advertising and Marketing and Consumer Product Safety practice groups. Named the 2016 Washington, D.C. advertising “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers®, Christie focuses her practice on consumer protection matters, including advertising, competitor challenges, promotions and product safety.
Christie advises clients on all aspects of regulatory compliance, including counsel pertaining to the statutes and regulations enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and state attorneys general. Ranked nationally as a leading practitioner in the Advertising: Transactional & Regulatory area by Chambers USA, sources tell Chambers that Christie delivers “outstanding technical industry knowledge” and is “practical, responsive, efficient and fun to work with.”
Christie advises national advertisers and consumer products manufacturers on how to keep regulators, competitors and consumers from knocking on their door with a legal challenge and, if they do, she helps them to address and defend the marketing claims at issue. To that end, Christie reviews advertisements and marketing materials for all media, including television, print and social media, to determine compliance with relevant regulations and the risk of challenge.
In the event of an inquiry or complaint, Christie advocates her client’s position before federal and state law enforcement agencies and self-regulatory bodies, as well as in court, for class actions or other litigations on matters involving claim substantiation, use of endorsers, sale pricing practices, green marketing, cause marketing campaigns, financial offers and mobile disclosures, among others. Christie also initiates challenges to competitors’ advertising before the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, as well as in federal court under the Lanham Act, to help clients protect their brands in the marketplace.
From a product safety standpoint, Christie works with her clients to ensure that their products on the market meet applicable safety standards, including complying with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (CPSA), the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA), and the Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA). Moreover, Christie assists clients in developing product safety compliance programs, analyzing potential reporting obligations, coordinating with other parties in the distribution chain, implementing product recalls, defending against enforcement and penalty proceedings with the CPSC, and responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Christie also helps companies to identify and resolve potential product safety and confidentially issues before such challenges can escalate into negative publicity and/or potentially attract scrutiny from regulators.
Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, National Selection Committee, alumni advisory board
Represented major U.S. retailers in several FTC investigations involving the alleged mislabeling of fur clothing as “faux fur.” The FTC staff closed each investigation without further action.
Represented a major retailer in a settlement with the FTC regarding the Textile Act and references to bamboo fibers. Citing an infrequently used provision of the FTC Act, the FTC relied on a synopsis of previous cases to seek civil penalties.
Represented a privately owned vacuum cleaner and floor care product manufacturing corporation in a Lanham Act case challenging comparative superiority claims made by a vacuum cleaner manufacturer in connection with one of its products.
Represented an American manufacturer of agricultural and construction machinery in a competitor claims matter that the NAD referred to the FTC for further review, after the companies declined to participate in a review of advertising claims made for their corn kernel processing equipment.
Represented a telecommunications holding company in a network challenge followed by two Lanham Act cases challenging implied superiority and establishment claims made by a competitor in connection with a new product launch.
Represented a vacuum cleaner and floor care product manufacturing corporation in an appeal to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) of an NAD decision in which the NAD ruled that a competitor had provided reliable testing that could substantiate the claim that their device “Out Cleans All Other Leading Brands.” The NARB determined that the competitor’s testing did not demonstrate a meaningful difference between the competitor’s and our client’s products, and therefore that the competitor did not meet the burden of demonstrating that it’s testing demonstrated superiority.
Represented a leading computer maker in litigation initiated by the Attorney General of the State of New York (Andrew Cuomo) alleging that the company violated Sections 349 and 350 of NY’s General Business Law and Section 63(12) of NY’s Executive Law in connection with the company’s financing promotions, service contract and warranty offers, and rebate fulfillment. Negotiated a settlement providing for injunctive relief and restitution on terms that were previously agreed to with the remaining 49 state attorneys general.
Represented an online dating service before the NAD in a case challenging an online portal’s competing service use of various superiority claims. The NAD found that the “Find better first dates…” claim is expressively comparative, unsupported by the record and outside the realm of puffery, and also concluded that the “… finding great people to date…” claim is an objectively provable claim that is unsupported by the record and is not puffery. The online portal discontinued both advertising claims.
Represented a seller of travel services in an investigation conducted by the District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office alleging inadequate disclosures.
Represented the American chemical industry trade association before the NAD in a case challenging advertising claims made by a baby bottle manufacturer. The claims at issue attempted to exploit a minority of scientific opinion in the sale of baby bottles that do not contain bisphenol-A. The NAD agreed that the baby bottle manufacturer’s claims were unsubstantiated and recommended that they be discontinued.
Commercial Co-ventures and Charitable Promotions
Represented a popular classic athletic shoe brand in structuring and advertising a promotion for the (RED) Campaign, in which a portion of proceeds from the sale of certain sneakers are donated to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Represented a leading athletic shoe manufacturer in structuring and advertising a promotion in which a portion of the proceeds from specially marked products go to a global campaign founded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to bring education and sport programs to the world’s refugee youth.
Represented an American multinational conglomerate corporation in structuring promotions to benefit The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and City of Hope.
Represented a leading computer manufacturer in structuring promotions to benefit The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and The Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa.
Consumer Product Safety
Represented a Fortune 100 multinational manufacturer of a variety of commercial and consumer products, engineering services and aerospace systems in negotiating a civil penalty settlement with the CPSC.
Represented a national department store in conducting a recall and the settlement of a civil penalty investigation involving drawstrings in children’s clothing.
Advises a trade association of lawn and garden equipment manufacturers and its members on various matters before the CPSC, including tracking standards development activity.
Advises a Fortune 100 manufacturer of fire and security alarm systems product safety regarding compliance programs, evaluation of potential CPSC reporting obligations, recalls and responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Represents a manufacturer of electrical products and tools in developing a product safety compliance program and in evaluating potential CPSC reporting obligations.
Advises retailers of children’s products to establish vendor protocols for compliance issues.
Represents a publishing company regarding compliance issues.
Advises an international conglomerate regarding quality control procedures for manufacturing and in developing a product safety compliance program.
Coordinated efforts on behalf of a children’s toys manufacturer to release imported goods detained by the CPSC and CBP at the Commercial Targeting Analysis Center.
Represented an equipment manufacturer in responding to Letters of Advice issued by the CPSC staff.
Represented a manufacturer of outdoor recreational equipment in filing a precautionary report to the CPSC in coordination with the supplier.
Represented manufacturers, distributors and retailers in civil penalty investigations that the CPSC staff closed without the issuance of a penalty.
Represented manufacturers, distributors and retailers in the recall of millions of products, including toys and games, home appliances, children’s clothing, lighting, air filtration systems, sporting goods, and fire and security alarm systems.
Filed comments on behalf of two trade associations in regulation review proceedings.
Elected to the Board of Trustees for the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.
Represent national charity on charitable promotions and contractual relationships with vendors and marketing partners.
Named 2016 D.C. Advertising “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers®.
The Best Lawyers in America© (Woodward/White, Inc.), Advertising Law, 2012-2018.
Ranked nationally as a leading practitioner in the Advertising: Transactional and Regulatory area by Chambers USA, 2011–2017.
Recognized as a leading attorney in Media and Advertising practice area by Washington D.C. Super Lawyers., 2014 and 2017.
Recommended in US Legal 500 for her work in the Marketing and Advertising area, 2012–2017.
Named one of SmartCEO magazine’s “Washington Legal Elite,” 2007.
American Bar Association, Section of Antitrust Law, Committee Operations Committee, co-chair
American Bar Association, Section of Antitrust Law, Membership and Diversity Committee; former vice chair
American Bar Association, Section of Antitrust Law, Nominating Committee, member
American Bar Association, Section of Antitrust Law, Consumer Protection Committee, former chair
American Bar Association, Section of Antitrust Law, Long Range Planning Committee, former vice chair