No Need to Update Your ShipCompliant Passwords Because of the Heartbleed Bug


By now, you have probably heard about an encryption flaw called the Heartbleed bug. This bug affected web applications using a particular version of OpenSSL, a protocol designed to provide security for information transmitted over the internet. A widely-used version of OpenSSL was vulnerable to an issue in which sensitive information could potentially be exposed to a malicious hacker.

img src heartbleed.com

ShipCompliant services were not exposed to this vulnerability because we do not use OpenSSL.

ShipCompliant takes security, reliability and durability of your data very seriously. We follow a multi-tiered proactive approach to ensure we use the most powerful security tools and controls available so that all your sensitive information is protected. For more information on our security and privacy policies, please see our Privacy Overview page.

If you have any questions or concerns surrounding this issue, please contact us directly by emailing ShipCompliant Client Services, or by calling (303) 996-2356.

Stuff You Didn’t Know about Being a Craft Brewer (Part 1)

The craft brewing industry has seen tremendous growth in the past few years. In 2012, there were 1292 craft breweries in the US and 1,124 brewpubs, a growth rate of more than 20% over the previous year. More and more people are getting into the business of craft beer, but how many really understand what’s involved? There’s more to successfully thriving in the industry than brewing your product.

Let’s start with a few points you need to consider when launching a new brand or starting to distribute in a new state. Once, your growth was only limited by tank sizes and capacity and the time it takes to brew a certain beer. Suddenly, it’s also limited by the time it takes to process paperwork. It’s incredibly important that when launching new products, everyone is aware of the regulatory hurdles and timelines.

  • Trademark issues – As the number of breweries increases, these type of issues are coming up more frequently. It’s even appearing in the mainstream press; listen to Public Radio’s Here and Now show on this topic. You may think your new beer’s name is totally unique, but chances are if it’s a pun on the word Hops or Rye, someone else is already selling it.
  • Pre-COLA Product Evaluation and Certification of Label Approval (COLA) submission – Formulation can be the most difficult part for new breweries as it can be difficult to know what is and isn’t exempt. This first step in the COLA process can take months of back and forth, and be a real bottleneck, but you can’t net a single sale until you get your COLA approved by TTB.
  • State brand and label registrations – These can be time consuming, especially because each state requires different forms and supplemental information. For example, in Texas they even require a chemical analysis to accompany any new registrations.
  • State permitting – This can include getting an alcohol supplier permit with the state ABC, getting licensed with the Secretary of State, or registering for payroll/unemployment taxes and income tax/gross receipts taxes.
  • Entering into trade agreements with distributors  – With exceptions, to get your product to market in other states you must sell to distributors within that state. Franchise laws within the various states can range from no issues for using different distributors to very strict about who you use, what territories they have, and what brands they sell.

ShipCompliant now offers a package specifically for breweries that is designed to simplify compliance. ShipCompliant will automatically pre-populate your registration packets and monthly state reports, help you submit COLA applications right the first time and identify brands that might be confusingly similar to your own.  To learn more, check out the press release on the launch of the new ShipCompliant Beer Edition.

Study on Efforts to Prevent Marketing to Minors Gives Alcohol Industry High Marks

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released their fourth study on efforts to prevent marketing to minors, and the results are positive. The study shows the self-policing efforts by members of the wine, beer, and spirits industries continue to demonstrate responsible advertising. The 2014 FTC Study found a more than 93% compliance rate with industry guidelines for advertising placement, a 1% increase from the 2008 Study. The other three studies were conducted in 1999, 2003, and 2008.

The most notable difference of the latest study from past studies is the considerable increase in information gathered on digital and online marketing efforts and expenditures. Online social media usage, a new and common platform for information distribution, adds data that keeps the study contemporary with today’s current marketing field. The study focuses on:

  • Advertising placements
  • Online and other digital marketing
  • Product placement in entertainment media
  • External reviews of complaints regarding code compliance
  • Alcohol marketing expenditures

The FTC study delivered a number of conclusions for alcohol marketers to keep in mind:

  • Adherence to Industry marketing codes are encouraged
  • Advocated use of “age-gating” technology (requiring the user/consumer to enter a birth date, rather than simply acknowledging they are over 21 before entering a producer’s website or social media site.
  • Producers should be pro-active in removing code violations that are user-generated on producer websites or social media sites.
  • Participation in industries’ external compliant review systems is necessary to continue to improve voluntary advertising and marketing standards

A summary of the 2014 FTC study can be read in this press release, or in full here. You may also review the respective codes of advertising and marketing developed by each of the following industries, as well as the previous three studies:

Arizona Tax Reporting Set for 2015 Simplification

In May of 2012, Governor Jan Brewer established the Transaction Privilege Tax Simplification Task Force in order to identify ways the current complex sales tax code could be simplified in the hopes of reducing tax filer stress and increasing tax-filer compliance. The conclusions of this task force, available in full in the Final Report, led to the creation and subsequent passage of HB 2111. HB 2111, which goes into effect January 1, 2015, calls for all licensing and taxes to be paid and reported through a single online portal.

This change, outlined in more detail in Section 42-5015 of the bill, will be an especially welcomed change to how Transaction Privilege Taxes (TPT) are reported. Currently cities are split between 73 “program” cities, where the state collects the tax, and 18 “non-program” cities, where cities are responsible for collecting the tax. For licensed wine direct shippers who remit applicable taxes to several locations, this can result in an overwhelming set of tax filing requirements. The state will release more information regarding the new online platform throughout 2014. ShipCompliant clients should stay tuned for announcements that will further outline the changes as well as subsequent updates that will ease the transition in their account to the new “one-stop-shop” process. All updates to clients will take place well in advance of the January 1, 2015 effective date.

Early Reporting Pays off in the Great Lake State

You asked for it, you got it! Driven by client requests from our Ideas Forum, ShipCompliant recently implemented reporting options to allow clients to take advantage of Michigan’s early and timely filing discounts.

Michigan licensees who file the Combined 160 return monthly or quarterly, on or before the 20th of the month, are eligible to take advantage of filing discounts based on submission date. Most licensees fall into the standard discount amounts of $6/month, $18/quarter, or $72/year but there is a formula for those who fall above or below the standard discount threshold, dependent on tax liability.

Learn more about Michigan’s filing discounts (Note: Access available only to ShipCompliant clients)

Early and Timely Filing

The Early Filer option in ShipCompliant was created for those who file quarterly or monthly returns, on or before the 12th of the month in which the report is due. For those who file on or before the 20th (but after the 12th) are eligible for a discount by selecting the Timely Filer option. Both frequencies automatically calculate the discount on the Michigan Combined 160 return and are available within the ShipCompliant Reports Settings page.

For all of you annual filers, do not feel alone. You too are entitled to a discount. Keep an eye out for an email alert notifying you when the Early and Timely Filer frequency options are available to select in your ShipCompliant account.

Don’t forget to submit your Michigan returns by the early or timely deadlines in order to secure your discount!

Learn more about Michigan’s filing discounts (Note: Access available only to ShipCompliant clients)