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Plaintiff ‘Pulls The Brake’ on First of Six GM Bellwether Trials

By: Candice Diah* | Staff Writer

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General Motors Co.’s failure to remedy a deadly defect in their motor vehicles has resulted in an influx of 4,180 claims of injury or death resulting from the defects. The defective vehicles, built between 2003 and 2007, contained faulty ignition switches, causing airbag nondeployment. A New York federal judge has ordered a series of bellwether trials in order to encourage a quick resolution of the cases. These trials are to include a sampling of wrongful death, personal injury, and mild-to-moderate personal claims from six different vehicle models.

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A Nickel Ain’t Worth A Dime Anymore: The Impact of Inflation on the Law

By: Dianna Shinn* | Staff Writer

Robyn Beck/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The recent release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has been casted as one of the most successful movies in American history, but when adjusted for inflation the movie has earned only half of the original “Star Wars” revenue when released in 1977.  “Money illusion” is responsible for this phenomenon that Americans take nominal price over actual value.  This principle is illustrated in Yogi Berra’s famous saying, “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”  The idea of “money illusion” began in the 1970s with the confusion over nominal wage gains coupled with real purchasing power.  Money illusion as demonstrated by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has significant effects on several areas of the law.

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ONLY IN BELGIUM

By: Candice Diah* | Staff Writer

© European Union, 2016

“Only in Belgium” is the tagline used to attract international companies to invest under Belgium’s “excess profit” tax scheme. The scheme has been in place since 2005 and allows multinational corporations to discount profits that resulted from their multinational status. For example, profits derived from the company’s international reputation, or profits made as a result of the synergies that come with multinational operations, are not taxed. Instead, taxes are calculated using the amount of profit the company would have made, but for these advantages. This results in tax savings of 50-90% for some companies. The tax scheme was said to avoid double taxation. However, Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition chief, explained that the system resulted in double non-taxation, as the excess profits were not taxed in any other country. Continue reading »

IBM Buys the Actual Clouds With Recent Purchase of The Weather Channel’s Digital Assets

By: Sarah Wesley Wheaton* | Staff Writer

On October 28th, IBM announced its purchase of the Weather Company data assets.  This deal is reportedly valued at more than two billion dollars.  This purchase only included the Weather Company’s digital and data assets, including Weather Underground, weather.com, the WSI, and the company’s data driven business-to business arm.  What this purchase does not include is the company’s flagship network, which has recently been struggling with lost profits as there is a decline in year-to-year viewership of 7.6%.

Photo by ClockReady

IBM’s Watson computer, Yorktown Heights, NY

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Who Claims the Real 12th Man?

By: Tyler Hood* | Staff Writer

Photo by Kipp Jones

Football is serious business at Texas A&M University, which recently expanded its stadium, Kyle Field, to a capacity of 102,512. This expansion made Kyle Field the largest in the SEC. Football at A&M is also big money; the expansion in capacity came at a cost of roughly $485 million. Students at A&M (as well as alumni) take football very seriously as well, and are known for their love of traditions. One of the oldest, and perhaps best known tradition is that of the Twelfth Man. The Twelfth Man tradition originates in 1922, when E. King Gill left the stands and suited up, ready to help the shorthanded Aggies should the need arise. Now, the entire student body is the Twelfth Man, standing by to aid the team whenever and however it may be needed. Kyle Field is the “Home of the 12th Man,” and Texas A&M holds a trademark on the phrase and as well as trademarks on a few variations. Regardless of the apparently common usage of “12th Man” in football, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Texas A&M owns the expression. The word mark “12TH MAN” was first obtained in 1989 and remains current.

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Fair Use Fashion? Or Stolen Street Art?: Examining Copyright Protection for Graffiti through Katy Perry’s Moschino Gown

By: Alex Braverman* | Staff Writer

“The people who run our cities don’t understand graffiti because they think nothing has the right to exist unless it makes a profit.” – Banksy

Photo by ivabellini via Flckr

Photo by ivabellini via Flckr

At the 2015 Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala in May, Katy Perry walked the red carpet in a stunning Moschino gown bearing a graffiti print strikingly similar to a 2012 mural painted by street artist Joseph Tierney in Detroit.  Since the appearance, Tierney has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Moschino, a well-known Italian fashion house, for replicating his art without consent.  Tierney claims that graffiti qualifies for copyright protection as an original work fixed in a tangible medium, which if true, precludes reproduction and replication for commercial use.  Continue reading »

Business as Usual or Profiteering? A Look at Recent Drug Price Hikes

By: Tyler Hood* | Staff Writer

Healthcare is notoriously expensive, and drugs are no exception. Drugs are notoriously costly, with some costing thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Recently, we’ve all been inundated with news stories about companies drastically raising the prices of certain drugs. Generally, the most expensive drugs are those still on patent. Pharmaceutical companies sell new drugs for such high prices primarily to recoup research and development costs. In fact, taking into account the cost of failed candidates, a drug company spends approximately $5 billion to bring a drug to market. Once the patents expire, generic versions become available and the prices drop. However, recently developed drugs are not the only ones carrying a huge price tag. In some cases, obscure drugs that have been around a long time are subject to price increases if the market for the drug is small enough.

Photo by Sage Ross, CC by-sa

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Chubby Checker Gets “Twisted” Over Cufflinks

By: Alexandra Braverman* | Staff Writer 

The famous musician known for recording “The Twist,” Ernest Evans, aka “Chubby Checker,” brought suit against major retailers Nordstrom, Inc., Amazon, Inc., Macys, Inc., Squire Fine Men’s Apparel LLC, and Würkin Stiffs over a recently released line of cufflinks bearing the Chubby Checker trademark.  The complaint, filed in Florida federal court, included claims of federal trademark dilution and infringement, federal unfair competition, and false endorsement.  According to Mr. Evans, the cufflink manufacturer – Wurkin’ Stiffs – manufactured and marketed the cufflinks with the Chubby Checker name without obtaining consent from Mr. Evans or his related entities.  In light of the use, Mr. Evans seeks injunctive relief, treble damages, and punitive damages to the tune of 8-figures, according to Mr. Evans’s lawyer. 

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Snack Subscription Services, Thinking Inside the Box?

By: Alexandra Braverman* | Staff Writer

Subscription snack and food box businesses are popping up everywhere, hoping to cash in on America’s insatiable appetite for novelty, convenience and munchies.” – The New York Times 

Fancy Food Box Subscription

Fancy Food Box Subscription

Since the introduction of Birchbox in 2010, the demand for specialized goods via subscription has boomed.  With the option of having personalized boxes delivered monthly, customers are now choosing to buy beauty products, clothes, and food through online subscriptions.  According to the New York Times, the competition among the subscription snack market is particularly fierce.  Entrepreneurs have exploded into every corner of the food box market, introducing variations on the original box that feature regional, organic, portion-controlled, and novelty-themed options. Continue reading »

Refugee Issue Creating a Shadow Market in Turkey

By: Alec Robertson* | Staff Writer 

Sometimes in the most unfortunate of situations an economy can get a significant boost. For example, World War II as a whole helped the United States (at least partially) work its way out of the Great Depression. As the economy of the world has been in a downswing for the last few years, there seems to be a new slight “boost” to the economy of Turkey due to the refugee crisis across the Middle East. What is happening in a nutshell is that refugees seeking to leave the crisis areas across the Middle East are reached by smugglers in Turkey and then paid to get multiple refugees across borders into Turkey so that they can then be moved into Europe. Likewise, visually one could see just from walking around Turkey that stores are lined now with inflatable rafts and life jackets and that the taxis and buses are specifically transporting refugees to port areas where they can be launched into Europe. In theory, Turkey is acting as the middle man for immigration into Europe during this refugee crisis.

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