During these difficult economic times when our leaders are engaging in class warfare and attacking the top “1 percent” all Americans should be informed about federal taxes. A good start is the information show in the 21 charts depicted on the two articles linked to below.
The Atlantic: “If you care about national values, or the relationship of citizens to their government, or the way we choose to award and discourage behavior, there is nowhere better to start than the gnarled and fascinating world of levies and tax breaks. Tax week gives American families a reason to consider moving to Bermuda, but it also gives me an excuse to spend the day finding my favorite, most controversial, and most illuminating graphs about taxes. Here they are.”
See also “Top Ten Federal Tax Charts.”
The surprise in this TTAB decision is that the applicant filed the appeal at all.
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) upheld trademark attorney’s decision that the trademark PITTSBURGH GLASS WORKS was primarily geographically descriptive of a glass manufacturer with some business activities in Pittsburgh. For more details, see TTAB Affirms Section 2(e)(2) Geographical Descriptiveness Refusal of PITTSBURGH GLASS WORKS for Glass, on the TTABlog.
The Board affirmed the PTO’s Section 2(e)(2) refusal of the mark PITTSBURGH GLASS WORKS, finding it to be primarily geographically descriptive of “glass and laminate windshield and windows for vehicles excluding aircraft.”
I Have a Trademark, How do I Evict the Cybersquatter from My Domain Name?
The domain name business remains rough-and-tumble. Little consideration goes into the niceties of paying attention to trademark rights. If you have a federally registered trademark and don’t already have a corresponding domain name, chances are the domain name has already been grabbed. The domain-name owner is probably cybersquatting on your domain name.
Domain-name owners cybersquat on trademarks for a number of reasons. Domain-name selling is a multi-billion-dollar business, and those making that kind of money do not want a potential purchaser to question whether they should buy a domain name. They want as many purchases as fast as possible. If the buyer stops to consider trademark rights, they may decide against buying the domain name. So, the domain-name industry has an interest in keeping potential customers ignorant about trademark law. Besides if they sell a domain name that infringes a trademark, they are protected by federal law. It is the buyer that will be out of the money should the trademark owner come after the domain name. Continue reading Policing your Trademark — You have a Cybersquatter
A new trademark but somewhat strange trademark infringement suit: Chipotle filed suit against Kroger for trademark infringement.
Some of the relevant questions:
Does Kroger’s Spicy Fried Chicken actually contain chipotle seasoning in it? Or did Kroger simply decide to rebrand its spicy fried chicken with something sexier than Chester the chicken?
Dan Nabel has an article that contains more information.
AZ Central: “Gov. Jan Brewer rebuffed gun-rights advocates by vetoing for a second time a bill to allow guns on public property, and sent a strong message that such a proposal would need wider support from police, cities and the public before she would sign it.
Brewer’s veto of the bill, which could have let guns into city halls, police stations, county courts, senior centers, swimming pools, libraries and the state Capitol, was the latest setback for a push to expand the right to carry guns in public places in Arizona.”
Seacoast Online: “The Roth IRA, originally established as an attractive retirement savings vehicle for middle-income Americans, had been out of reach to high-income earners until now. As of 2010, investors of any income can convert retirement plans and IRAs to Roth IRAs. This means that even high earners who convert to Roth IRAs will benefit from the tax-free withdrawal benefits the Roth IRA offers.
There is ample reason to consider a Roth conversion and to discuss this notion with your own tax adviser. Roth IRAs present certain advantages to eligible investors. The Roth affords eligible investors tax-free withdrawals, tax-free growth, no minimum distribution requirements and estate planning benefits.
So now that anyone can convert, does it make sense to convert pre-tax retirement plans to a Roth IRA?“
Yuma Sun: “If you think the kind of incident that resulted in the death of a Florida teen cannot happen here, you’re wrong.
Arizona adopted its own “stand your ground” law two years ago. And not a single legislator spoke out against it at that time.
In fact, the change in the law was tacked on at nearly the last minute to another unrelated measure dealing with guns. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee approved it after just a 20-second promotion from a gun-rights lobbyist.
Dave Kopp of the Arizona Citizens Defense League, who provided that explanation, said nothing more was needed.
He noted that existing law already spelled out that people have no duty to retreat when confronted in their homes or their own vehicles. That concept is known as the “castle doctrine.”
“We believe that anyplace you have a legal right to be, you should be able to defend yourself without having to run away first,” Kopp told lawmakers.”
Yuma Sun: “Arizona is entitled to demand that people present identification before being allowed to cast a ballot, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday. In a split decision, the judges rejected arguments that mandating would-be voters show a driver’s license or other identification unfairly discriminates against Latino voters. Judge Sandra Ikuta, writing for the majority, said while challengers made that claim, they failed to present any credible evidence. The court also brushed aside arguments that the requirement to provide identification, approved by voters in 2004, amounts to a poll tax. But the judges said the state cannot strictly enforce another provision in that 2004 initiative that requires anyone who wants to register to vote to first provide acceptable proof of citizenship.”
ABA Journal: “Oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court’s October Term 2011 will end April 25 with one of the most important and politically controversial cases of the year: Arizona v. United States. The issue before the court is whether key provisions of Arizona’s statute SB 1070—which calls on state and local law enforcement to aggressively enforce federal immigration laws—are preempted by federal law. The case poses basic questions about the allocation of power between federal and state governments and does so in a context that arouses deep emotion on both sides.
In 2010, Arizona adopted SB 1070, titled, “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.” It sought to use the resources of Arizona state and local governments to help control illegal immigration. Its preamble states that its purpose is to make “attrition [of undocumented aliens] through enforcement the public policy of all state and local governments in Arizona.”"
ABA Journal: “Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg feared Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom would be put off if he approached him through lawyers.
On April 5, Zuckerberg picked up the phone himself to call Systrom about buying the photo sharing service, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. In three days of meetings in Zuckerberg’s home, the two men agreed on a $1 billion price. Lawyers and Facebook board members were not part of the process, sources tell the newspaper.”
Based on a sample of nearly one billion transactions selected by U.S.-based e-commerce merchants and a review of online activity for the first quarter of 2012, ThreatMetrix ranked Phoenix No.22 when it comes to online fraud. Read more…
According to new figures released by the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service Inc., areas like Mesa and Scottsdale saw increased foreclosure and short sale activity in the month of March.
According to Arizona based consultant Ben Jones, countries like China and Canada could be in for a housing market correction that could shake the globe.
Budget cutting in Congress could lead to the elimination of the low income housing tax credit.
Did you know the Department of Justice has the whale police? I didn’t until I read this story called “Corzine Steals Billions Sans Charges, Errant Whale Watcher Faces Prison.” Instead of prosecuting the people who stole money from MF Global investors or the people in the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol Firearms and Tobacco who approved and carried out the Fast & Furious plan to violate federal criminal law and sell guns to the Mexican drug cartels, the DOJ is wasting taxpayer dollars prosecuting a woman investigated for harassing whales. Yes, really.
“marine biologist and whale watching ship captain Nancy Black faces 20 years in prison, not for ‘harassing’ whales (which believe it or not is a crime), but because she has been charged with lying to Justice Department prosecutors investing allegations that some of her crew members whistled at a whale to keep it hanging around their boats. . . . Section 1001 charges are both entirely discretionary and subsidiary to any primary charges, making every indictment an act of selective prosecution. In fact, Section 1001 prosecutions are so selective that primary charges are not even necessary, meaning you can go to jail even if there is no underlying crime. Ask Martha Stewart about that.”
Title 18, Section 1001(a) of the United States Code states:
“whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.”
The reference above to Martha Stewart refers to the fact she was investigated for possible insider trading, but was never charged with that crime. Instead, she was charged and convicted of the felony of lying to federal agents.
cnn.com: In this video, CNN reveals that workplace bullying may be on the rise. 27% of US workers have felt bullied in the workplace. The rise may be due to the belief by workers that there are no other good jobs available to them. Commentators express that in an environment where people feel overwhelming stress and fear, it is only “inevitable” that some may resort to violence.
reuters.com: The latest in the pink slime controversy: In an ironic twist, the producers of “pink slime,” the filler material used for hamburgers and other fast foods, is likely one reason that lobbying efforts in the agribusiness industry were handsomely rewarded with $123.8 million in 2011 (according to opensecrets.org). Apparently, the money that could be spent to improve the quality of Americans’ food and proportionately lower our health care premiums is spent to hide the ingredients in certain foods. One producer has already declared bankruptcy, which means that it may be judgment proof by the time consumers become aware that they may have potential claims against the manufacturers based on possible health complications caused by the
Huffingtonpost.com: The goal of every taxpayer should be to “get as close to zero as possible,” Bell says. “The wisdom is that every time you’re getting a refund, you’ve really giving the government a loan. I personally try to owe Uncle Sam just a little money; under $100 is my personal goal. That way, I know for sure they got my return when my check clears.”
To read more about what accountants do that you’ll want to do next year, once this year’s tax headache is over, click here.
It was big news last week when prosecutors charged George Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. But Zimmerman could walk free if a judge decides his actions fall under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which gives broad leeway to people to shoot in self-defense. There is no way to undo what happened in the Zimmerman-Martin encounter, but some good can still come of it: it could lead states to repeal their misguided “stand your ground” laws.
To read the rest of the article, click here.
cnn.com: A ruling is expected in a race discrimination class-action in Iowa based on an update from cnn.com:
The plaintiffs’ attorneys say the discrimination is not necessarily a result of overt racism. They say the discriminatory hiring was often the result of implicit bias – an unconscious preference of the mostly white hiring officials for white applicants over black applicants.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs faced a key obstacle – proving the existence of something that white people might not be able to see. They had to show that discrimination might take place, even if it’s not intentional.
In an interesting subplot, the judge who certified the class action declined to remove the representative after she was convicted of embezzling $43,000 from an employer. His reasoning: It occurred after the alleged discrimination happened. We question whether the prospective employers may make a case for an instinctive, “gut-level” reaction to that particular plaintiff.
forbes.com: According to the latest from Forbes, Fox news employee who provided material to the Gawker to expose the “seedy underbelly” (not our choice of words) of Fox news may have more than a civil lawsuit on his hands. According to New York state law, he may have committed a crime. Fox News says he’s now at the mercy of law enforcement personnel though Fox News no doubt plans to vigorously pursue claims against him, if for no other reason than to make sure that no future employee has the same bright idea.
http://directorsblog.health.azdhs.gov: From the Arizona Department of Health blog, the Arizona Governor has signed HB 2036. The full text is here. Notable provisions include but are not limited to the requirement that for any facility where abortions are performed, the facility must conspicuously post signs outside and inside, where visible to patients, that it is unlawful for a woman to be forced to have an abortion. Another notable is that no contract may require a woman to have an abortion.
azdhs.gov: The Arizona Department of Health Services has revised its rules. It is now accepting applications May 14-25, but applicants are warned not to apply early. The Department expects to take 30 days to review each application. If information is missing, the applicants will be given 20 days to supply that information. The Department expects to award dispensary certificates by August 7 with a random lottery where there is more than one qualified applicant per Community Health Analysis Area.
The U. S. Patent and Trademark Office, together with the Economics and Statistics Administration, has just released a report on Intellectual Property’s effect on the U. S. economy. You can find the report here.
The take-away message is that in 2010, Intellectual-Property-intensive industries, directly or indirectly, generated 40 million jobs in the U. S. In other words 28% of all people employed in the U. S. are employed in IP-intensive industries or in industries that support them. This is a contribution to the U. S. gross domestic product of more than $5 trillion or 35% of the US GDP.
We should all keep these figures in mind when special interests step up and demand changes to the system. While the protection of IP in this country can certainly be improved, changes should be made carefully to prevent harming a $5 trillion sector of the economy.
For the second time in the same number of weeks, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the circuit that hears all patent infringement appeals, has found software claims indefinite because the claims used means-plus-function language, but the specification did not, in the court’s opinion, sufficiently describe an algorithm that operates to make the invention function.
This presents a problem for many existing software patents because, previously, the specification needed only to describe the function sufficiently for one of ordinary skill in the art to understand it. Now, the court appears to be requiring that the patentee disclose a full algorithm.
Many software patents rely on this claiming structure, and a defendant may be able to invalidate at least some of the claims on this basis. If you are relying on this type of claim to protect your software, you should have a Patent Attorney review your patents to give you an idea of where you now stand.
The 4th Circuit has reinstated Rosetta Stone’s case against Google based on Google using (selling) Rosetta Stone’s trademarks to other advertisers. For more information see this article by Geri Haight.
A New York State Court has refused to enforce a forum selection clause because the clause was buried in the website and not easy to find.
“Under an evolving and still-developing body of federal and state law, an e-commerce merchant can condition its sales upon a mandatory forum selection provision through various means, including an exchange of e-mails, a click-through agreement, or other circumstances allowing for the “incorporation by reference” of conspicuous “terms of sale.” But if the “terms of sale” are simply buried or “submerged” in multiple layers of web-pages, and such terms are not specifically brought to the buyer’s attention, the “forum selection” clause will not be deemed part of the parties’ agreement.” Jerez v. JD Closeouts, LLC, No. CV-024727-11, 2012 WL 934390 (NY. Dist. Ct. March 20, 2012)
As the law evolves, your computer usage policies adopted in your company should evolve, as well. This article details some of the changes you may want to consider.
What? You don’t have a computer usage policy for your company? You should, especially if you have employees.
OpenMarket.org: “Federal financial aid policies have encouraged law students to borrow increasing amounts to attend law school, despite the glut of lawyers (oddly, government policies encourage more people to go to law school, driving up law school tuition, even as the Obama administration seeks to cut back on vocational education aimed at training the skilled blue-collar workers who are in desperately short supply in much of the country). The result, says law professor Brian Tamanaha, is a “Quickly Exploding Law Graduate Debt Disaster” in which most recent graduates of many law schools will never be able to pay off their staggering student loan debt.”
ABA Journal: “Are the wrong people losing interest in law school?
That’s the question posed by the Atlantic, which notes a 13.6 percent drop in applicants who scored highest on the Law School Admission Test, but only a 4.3 percent drop in applicants who scored the lowest. The Law School Admission Council released figures on the one-year drop in applicants at ABA-accredited schools based on numbers collected through the end of March.”