Wall St. Journal: “The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s new chief has kicked off an effort to overhaul the patent-application process, seeking to fix the backlogged and financially strapped agency and help the Obama administration earn some good will with the business community. On Thursday, Director David Kappos scrapped controversial rules that would have limited the number of patent claims companies could file and the information they could submit to back up claims. The rules were proposed during the Bush administration in a bid to accelerate the patent process, but many in the business community believed the opposite would result.”
KDKA Channel 2: Bobtown, Pennsylvania, officials banned trick-or-treating this year because they want to keep everyone safe. Why don’t they ban driving automobiles? Wouldn’t that save more lives? The number of kids who die in car accidents greatly exceeds the number of kids who die from trick or treating. See the video.
Slate.com: “If you’re a blogger and you write about goods or services—and what blogger doesn’t write about books, movies, music, theater, restaurants, home theaters, laptops, manicures, clothing, tutoring, bicycles, cars, boats, cameras, strollers, watches, lawn care, pharmaceuticals, gourmet food, maid service, hair care, concerts, banking, shipping, or septic tank service from time to time?—then you’ve just made yourself vulnerable to an investigation from the Federal Trade Commission.”
See also “Our lips are sealed” by Megan McArdle. “A reader asks me to blog about the FTC decision on blogger disclosure. The problem is, it’s so transparently stupid that I don’t even know what to say.”
Overlawyered.com says “some blogs have mistakenly reported the applicable fines as ranging up to $11,000, which is an obsolete number and should in fact be $16,000.”
Wall St. Journal: “The latest debate in the Sunshine State concerns whocanisue.com, a Boca Raton-based online referral service that has offended some in the Florida bar, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. . . Critics, such as the vice chair of the Florida Bar advertising-ethics committee, say whocanisue degrades the legal profession and often steers the public to lawyers who simply churn cases en masse in order to quickly settle them.”
Attorney David Johnson, author of the Digital Media Lawyer Blog, wrote an interesting article on a trademark holder’s choice of forum when seeking to obtain a domain name from a cybersquatter. The action may be a lawsuit in federal court or an arbitration under ICANN’s Uniform Dispute Resolution Procedure. The article is titled “Federal Court or UDRP Arbitration? How the Forum that Decides a Domain Name Dispute Can Make a Big Difference in the Results.”
Combatants in cybersquatting or domain name disputes are often not aware of the great degree to which the result they get depends on the judicial body that makes the decision. A clear illustration of how forum choice affects results can be seen in the widely varying deference given by the different judicial bodies to a defendant’s assertion of a “laches” defense to a cybersquatting complaint.
A real-life story about how a big company with a lot of money threatened a small start-up company with patent infringement.
The other day, I received a phone call from a friend who has been building a kick-ass startup. That friend had been contacted by a much larger competitor with what amounted to an ultimatum: shut down and come work for us, or we’ll crush you with a patent infringement suit. My friend’s startup didn’t cave in–in fact, my friend even went through the trouble of sharing a pile of incontrovertible prior art with the competitor. The competitor was unimpressed, and my friend’s startup is now facing a potentially ruinous lawsuit.
Harvard University Professor of Economics Greg Mankiw believes that Senator Max Baucus’ healthcare bill will impose a staggering tax on Americans of all income tax levels.
Jim Capretta looks at the Baucus healthcare bill and concludes that, because the subsidies phase out as income rises, it imposes an effective marginal tax rate on income of about 30 percent for many families. Add that figure to the income tax, the payroll tax, and the phase-out of the EITC and “the effective, implicit tax rate for workers between 100 and 200 percent of the federal poverty line would quickly approach 70 percent — not even counting food stamps and housing vouchers.”
Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca Cola Company has a column in the October 7, 2009, Wall St. Journal about taxing soft drinks. The subtitle of the column is “Americans need more exercise, not another tax.”
Obesity is a complex issue, and addressing it is important for all Americans. We at the Coca-Cola company are committed to working with government and health organizations to implement effective solutions to address this problem.
But a number of public-health advocates have already come up with what they think is the solution: heavy taxes on some routine foods and beverages that they have decided are high in calories. The taxes, the advocates acknowledge, are intended to limit consumption of targeted foods and help you to accept the diet that they have determined is best.
In cities and states across America—and even at the federal level—this idea is getting increased attention despite its regressive nature and inherent illogic.
Arizona Republic: Arizona State University baseball coach Pat Murphy claims he lost almost 100,000 in a real-estate scam.
Patrick Murphy has filed a complaint in U.S. District Bankruptcy Court seeking to recover his losses from a Gilbert man who orchestrated a condo-rehab scheme that Arizona regulators called fraudulent and in violation of state securities laws.
Murphy also is asking the federal judge to hold former ASU athletics compliance officer John Park and his wife, former ASU head volleyball coach Patti Snyder-Park, responsible for the $100,000, saying they convinced him to put his money into the project.
There are fraudulent conveyance laws that prohibit a debtor from transferring the debtor’s assets for less than adequate consideration if: (i) the transfer makes the debtor insolvent, or (ii) the transfer occurs when the debtor is insolvent. One of the remedies available to a creditor who proves that a transfer of property was a fraudulent conveyance, is to set aside the transfer so that the creditor can use the legal collection process to realize the value of the property transferred.
Debtors who engage in fraudulent conveyances expose themselves and their co-conspirators, if any, to substantial legal problems and liabilities. A fraudulent conveyance can also be a crime.
Seattle real estate developer Michael R. Mastro filed for bankruptcy in what may be Western Washington state’s biggest personal bankruptcy. His schedules filed with the court listed total debts of $587 million and assets of $249 million.
The bankruptcy trustee James Rigby sued Mr. Mastro to set aside transfers of property that Mr. Mastro made before filing for bankruptcy.
In his suit, filed in federal bankruptcy court, Rigby says the transfers of the mansion, car and jewelry were done “with actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud creditors” after Mastro sensed his real-estate empire was collapsing. Mastro and his wife bought the mansion on Evergreen Point Road in 2006, according to county records. Through a series of transfers that began in June 2008 and involved no money, the home ended up under the ownership of a Delaware limited liability corporation.
The assets transferred include a mansion purchased for $15 million, a Rolls Royce and jewelry including five rings containing diamonds ranging from 9.68 to 27.8 carats. Sounds like Mr. Mastro has a whole lot a ‘splainin to do.
Overlawyered.com has an excellent article on how the FTC’s new ad rules will affect bloggers. Bottom line: the new rule is overly broad in scope, will have a chilling affect and it will be selectively enforced. The article includes quotes from and links to other articles on this subject.
A domain name is an asset. Some domain names have substantial value. It is possible to use a domain name as collateral for a loan, but there are important issues that must be addressed for the creditor to be protected and have the right to foreclose and sell the domain name. For a discussion about how to perfect a security interest in a domain name, see “The Domain Name as Collateral: Considerations for Creditors Seeking to Use a Domain Name as a Security Interest or as a Source of Payment on a Judgment.”
Digital Media Lawyer Blog: “The rules affect both advertisers and bloggers who cooperate on sponsored endorsements. For example, the new rules state that the FTC intends to hold both advertisers and bloggers liable for false and misleading statements made by either party in the course of an endorsement. This means that an advertiser who provides free products to a blogger can be liable if the blogger makes false statements about the products in her blog. And the blogger can be liable if she repeats false statements from the advertiser. Both parties can also be liable if the blogger fails to disclose her connection with the advertiser.”
Apple has taken action in Australia against an Australian company called Woolworths for trademark infringement because of the defendant’s new logo. The basis of the lawsuit is that Woolworths new logo is similar to Apple’s logo and would cause the public to be confused. What do you think?
Apple & Woolworth logos
See Jonathan Turley’s blog post on the subject.
Law.com Legal Blog Watch: “To read reactions to the Federal Trade Commission’s new guidelines announced this week on product testimonials and endorsements, one would conclude that bloggers must now tiptoe through a minefield of disclosures or else face the strong arm of the federal government and penalties of as much as $11,000. Blogs as varied as Fashionista, Wired’s Epicenter and CNET’s Digital Media warn that any failure by a blog to disclose receipt of a freebie or payment from a company would violate the guidelines and expose the blogger to enforcement action.”
Arizona Republic: “For the fourth consecutive month, bankruptcy filings for the Phoenix metro area hit a yearly high. The 2,472 filings, mostly by consumers, in September marked an 85 percent increase from the same month a year ago, according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix. Statewide filings also reached a yearly peak.”
Law.com: “Over the past six years, the record industry has successfully sued thousands of people in the United States for illegally downloading copyrighted songs. . . Soon, though, the major labels are going to have a different copyright battle on their hands — one that will pit them not against those who want to listen to recordings, but those who created them in the first place. . . The looming problem is the so-called termination rights Congress gave to creators of copyrighted material when it amended the U.S. copyright law in 1976. The rights — which allow a copyright grant to be terminated after 35 years . . . [In 2013] holders of sound-recording copyrights can take advantage of this provision, which, in turn, makes recordings from 1978 potentially the first to be up for grabs.”
Phoenix Business Journal: “The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will hold a Nov. 4 public hearing to discuss attaching a $20 fee to photo radar tickets to help the county’s justice system deal with the influx of violations.”
On October 5, 2009, Congressman John Shadegg introduced a resolution in the House that if passed would eliminate fines and jail time for people who do not purchase health insurance under the House versions of Obamacare.
On September 24, 2009, the Joint Committee on Taxation confirmed that in addition to paying a fine for failing to purchase health coverage, the Congressional Democrats’ health plan could require an individual to pay an additional $25,000 fine or even spend up to one year in jail.”
President Obama and the Nancy Pelosi Democrats claim to be protecting the ‘little guy.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), American families will pay $29 billion in penalties for failing to meet the Washington’s new order. Even insured Americans are subject to these harsh penalties if Congressional Democrats and Washington bureaucrats don’t approve of their coverage!
As the federal government continues to grow, it provides less service at a higher cost. During the 2009 income tax filing season 75.7 million people tried to call the IRS toll-free telephone lines. Although the IRS answered 35.8 million (47.3%) calls, 22.4 million calls were not answered because taxpayers hung up, were disconnected by the IRS or received a busy signal.
Note the alarming negative trends in the chart below that summarizes IRS phone service over the last four years – declining service and longer wait times.
IRS Phone Statistics
Congress created the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) in 1969 because of a story in the Wall St. Journal about 100 millionaires who paid no income tax. The primary reason they did not pay any income tax was because they had invested in tax free municipal bonds, a type of investment that produces earnings that are not taxed under the federal income tax law. Congress created tax free municipal bond investments to give people an incentive to invest money in investments that paid lower rates of return than many taxable investments. Bottom line: Congress decided in 1969 to punish tax wealthy people who took the bait and invested in the tax-favored bonds.
Fast forward to 2010 and the 1969 AMT bomb will fully detonate. “The Individual Alternative Minimum Tax: Historical Data and Projections, Updated October 2009” examines the history of the AMT and explains the damage that will soon occur.
The alternative minimum tax (AMT), which originally targeted high-income taxpayers, requires annual legislation to prevent it from affecting millions of middle-income individuals each year. There are two primary reasons for the AMT’s broadening impact; its parameters are not indexed for inflation and the 2001-2006 tax cuts reduced regular tax liability without changing AMT liability. In 2009, four million taxpayers will pay $33.5 billion in AMT, but without congressional action that number will rise to 27 million owing $102 billion in 2010.
Why is it that a law that was intended to raise revenue from a small number of super rich Americans will soon cause 27 million taxpayers to pay $33.5 billion?
The Volokh Conspiracy: “When I was a law student, a professor asked us whether we believed law and morals were co-extensive: if the law did not prohibit certain conduct, did that mean it was moral to engage in it? One of the comments on my first post similarly asked how I distinguished effective laws from moral considerations, whether I thought we could distinguish illegitimate from legitimate copyright conduct without a moral scheme.”
The reference to effective laws was to my argument that we do not need strong copyright laws or weak copyright laws, but only effective copyright laws, with effective being judged by whether the copyright laws serve their purpose. This remark drew a comment that I was a typical academic, trying to “logic out” things.
Asset Protection Law Journal: “Here are a few of the things a judgment creditor may be able to do:
- Garnish your wages
- Attach your bank accounts
- File a lien against your home and/or other real estate that you own
- Force a sale of your home and/or other real estate that you own
- Attach your personal property”
Bloomberg.com: “Microsoft Corp., the world’s biggest maker of computer software, won a ruling that throws out a $388 million jury verdict over a patent on software used to deter piracy. U.S. District Judge William Smith in Providence, Rhode Island, yesterday [September 29, 2009] vacated the April verdict. The jury had found that Microsoft violated a patent owned by Uniloc Singapore Private Ltd. and Uniloc USA Inc., which claimed Microsoft wrongfully used their security technology to earn billions of dollars.”
Search the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s database for information about the number of activations, tickets and payments made at each speed camera and the location of cameras.
Knoxnews.com: A moving video about Channon Christian, 21, and Chris Newsom, 23, who were carjacked, raped repeatedly, tortured and murdered by total strangers in Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s 16 minutes, but well worth the time. Two of the five defendants have been tried and convicted. The other three await trial.
New York Daily News: “The Staten Island rapper, actor and producer known as Method Man was tagged with another label Monday: tax cheat. The 38-year-old Grammy-winning artist, a founding member of the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, was arrested for stiffing the tax man out of $32,799.”
FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials – Changes Affect Testimonial Advertisements, Bloggers, Celebrity Endorsements
October 5, 2009. The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act.
The notice incorporates several changes to the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which address endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as the disclosure of important connections between advertisers and endorsers. The Guides were last updated in 1980.
Continue reading New FTC Rules Affect Bloggers & Testimonial & Celebrity Ads