Articles from Pacific Northwest Law Group

CAN-SPAM Act: What it Means for Your Business
Aug 18, 2016

            Everyone is aware of the prevalence of email marketing.  When we check our email it is likely that upwards of 50% of what is in our inbox is marketing email (aka, junk mail, spam, or more targeted marketing messages).  Sometimes the process for unsubscribing or being removed from a list is simple, but sometimes it is a multi-step process that seems more cumbersome than merely pressing delete day after day (after day, after day…). 

           Email marketing is an important tool in a company’s advertising toolbox and a great way to get the message to potential consumers about what the company has to offer.  It is important that while using this valuable tool of advertising, the company sending email complies with the federal laws related to email marketing.  So, what are the rules governing email marketing?  When does a company need to stop emailing someone?  What are the potential penalties if it doesn’t stop?  This article provides a brief overview of the main federal law governing email marketing. 

            The CAN-SPAM Act is a federal law that sets forth the rules governing commercial emails, the requirements for what may and may not be contained within these emails, the obligation of commercial senders to permit recipients to opt-out, and the penalties for violations.

            Here are the most important Dos and Don’ts of the CAN-SPAM Act for companies that use email messages as part of their marketing plan:


  1. Identify the message as an ad.
  2. Provide an easy way for recipients to opt-out and stop receiving commercial email messages.
  3. Tell recipients where you are located. A physical address or PO Box will suffice. 
  4. Make the process for opting out simple to follow, and then ensure that your business actually follows through with removing that recipient from your email marketing list.


  1. Make false or misleading claims within your email. Just like other marketing, making false or misleading claims (whether in the subject line or in the body of the email) can lead to claims of deceptive marketing. 
  2. Try and make it appear that the email is coming from a different sender. This relates to the first don’t of being false and misleading.  Yes, using the name “Grandma” in your “From” information may make it more likely that your email will be opened, but it also makes it more likely that you could face a CAN-SPAM penalty (as well as losing all credibility with the potential consumer/client/customer when they open the email and realize it is not from their grandmother at all). 
  3. Forget to monitor what others are doing on your behalf. Many companies choose to outsource their email marketing to another company that specializes in this type of advertisement.  While this can be efficient, it does not relieve you from the responsibility for what type of email content goes out on your behalf.  Make sure you are on the email list and you see and experience what your other recipients do.

            Pacific Northwest Law Groups helps businesses of all sizes with all their business law needs.  If you would like to speak with a Pacific Northwest Law Group attorney, please contact us today.

Tel. 425-867-0512

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Phone: (425)867-0512
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