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For more than four decades, Fenwick & West LLP has helped some of the world’s most recognized companies become, and remain, market leaders. From emerging enterprises to large public corporations, our clients are leaders in the technology, life sciences and cleantech sectors and are fundamentally changing the world through rapid innovation.  MORE >

Fenwick & West was founded in 1972 in the heart of Silicon Valley—before “Silicon Valley” existed—by four visionary lawyers who left a top-tier New York law firm to pursue their shared belief that technology would revolutionize the business world and to pioneer the legal work for those technological innovations. In order to be most effective, they decided they needed to move to a location close to primary research and technology development. These four attorneys opened their first office in downtown Palo Alto, and Fenwick became one of the first technology law firms in the world.  MORE >

From our founding in 1972, Fenwick has been committed to promoting diversity and inclusion both within our firm and throughout the legal profession. For almost four decades, the firm has actively promoted an open and inclusive work environment and committed significant resources towards improving our diversity efforts at every level.  MORE >

At Fenwick, we are proud of our commitment to the community and to our culture of making a difference in the lives of individuals and organizations in the communities where we live and work. We recognize that providing legal services is not only an essential part of our professional responsibility, but also an excellent opportunity for our attorneys to gain valuable practical experience, learn new areas of the law and contribute to the community.  MORE >

Year after year, Fenwick & West is honored for excellence in the legal profession. Many of our attorneys are recognized as leaders in their respective fields, and our Corporate, Tax, Litigation and Intellectual Property Practice Groups consistently receive top national and international rankings, including:

  • Named Technology Group of the Year by Law360
  • Ranked #1 in the Americas for number of technology deals in 2015 by Mergermarket
  • Nearly 20 percent of Fenwick partners are ranked by Chambers
  • Consistently ranked among the top 10 law firms in the U.S. for diversity
  • Recognized as having top mentoring and pro bono programs by Euromoney

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We take sustainability very seriously at Fenwick. Like many of our clients, we are adopting policies that reduce consumption and waste, and improve efficiency. By using technologies developed by a number of our cleantech clients, we are at the forefront of implementing sustainable policies and practices that minimize environmental impact. In fact, Fenwick has earned recognition in several areas as one of the top US law firms for implementing sustainable business practices.  MORE >

At Fenwick, we have a passion for excellence and innovation that mirrors our client base. Our firm is making revolutionary changes to the practice of law through substantial investments in proprietary technology tools and processes—allowing us to deliver best-in-class legal services more effectively.   MORE >

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Litigation Alert: FCC TCPA Ruling Provides Guidance on Mobile App Messaging

On March 27, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued a Declaratory Ruling interpreting the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) as it relates to prerecorded and autodialed calls to cellular phones. That ruling, issued in the matter of GroupMe, Inc./Skype Communications, provides useful guidance on the confusing and potentially treacherous TCPA rules, particularly as they relate to modern social-networking and mobile-retail applications.

GroupMe provides a free group-texting service, which allows its users to create groups of up to 50 members for community text-messaging. GroupMe users must agree to GroupMe’s terms of service and affirmatively represent that each member added to a group has consented to be added and to receive text messages. GroupMe then sends text messages to those proposed members with information about the group, how to download and use the GroupMe app, and how to opt out and stop receiving messages. In its petition to the FCC, GroupMe sought clarification that it can rely on its users’ representations regarding consent, and that GroupMe’s introductory text messages to non-users do not violate the TCPA.

In material part, the FCC granted GroupMe’s petition and agreed with GroupMe’s position, with certain limitations. The GroupMe, Inc./Skype Communications ruling is instructive and important in several key respects:

  • The FCC recognized that the TCPA is ambiguous with respect to how to obtain consent for autodialed or prerecorded non-telemarketing calls (as opposed to the FCC’s recently adopted specific rules regarding written consent for telemarketing calls).
  • The FCC noted that “Congress did not expect the TCPA to be a barrier to normal, expected, and desired business communications.” The FCC went on to find that, “[t]o the extent that administrative texts GroupMe sends to group members relate to using and canceling GroupMe’s group texting service, we consider them to be normal business communications.” This is a particularly important finding because the FCC accepted the position that GroupMe’s introductory text messages to non-users about the GroupMe app are “administrative” non-telemarketing messages. Some courts have interpreted the notion of “telemarketing” very broadly to encompass virtually any communication that is ultimately intended to drive consumer traffic to a commercial app or website. The GroupMe ruling supports a more flexible and expansive view of what messages from a commercial entity may be deemed informational and not telemarketing.
  • The FCC ruled that “the TCPA does not prohibit a caller, such as GroupMe, from obtaining the consumer’s prior express consent through an intermediary, such as the organizer of a group using GroupMe’s service.” Thus, for non-telemarketing messages, a retailer like GroupMe may rely on its users to obtain consent from non-users to receive such messages. Note that users cannot consent on behalf of third parties; GroupMe users must affirmatively represent that they have obtained the consent of the third parties to be contacted by GroupMe. Importantly, if that consent was not, in fact, obtained—i.e., if the user’s representations to GroupMe are false or inaccurate—GroupMe remains liable for violating the TCPA.
  • The FCC found that, where a person has agreed to join a GroupMe group, has consented to receive messages related to the group, and has provided a cellular telephone number for that purpose, the consent “extends to a wide range of calls ‘regarding’ the transaction.” This comment too potentially broadens the scope of “administrative” or informational messages a retailer may send based on the less stringent prior consent requirements that apply to non-telemarketing messages.
  • In a concurring statement, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly applauded the ruling for providing “much needed clarity in an area where uncertainty can inhibit legitimate businesses from offering consumer-friendly applications and services, and can breed litigation.”

In summary, the GroupMe, Inc./Skype Communications ruling provides reason for optimism that the FCC will take a more practical, real-world approach to consent and the use of text messages to provide useful information to consumers.