The Drones are Coming

By: James Lathrop* | Summer Guest Writer

Henry Ford pictured a car in every driveway.  Bill Gates a computer in every home.  The next stage may become a drone above every house.

Spying_quadcopter

While the popular conversation about drones focuses on how businesses like Amazon will profit from their commercial usage, there is a growing trend of hobbyist buying drones for recreational purposes.  Despite this excitement, residential drone operators that crash their crafts must figure out how to pay for the expensive damages they cause.  The Boston Globe published one such story recently where a recreational drone user crashed a drone at a parade, hitting a man and almost injuring a child.  Therefore, this blog will focus on how a typical homeowner’s policy covers liability incurred from a wayward residential drone and predict how insurance companies may change policy language in listed liability exclusions to avoid disputes involving drones.

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The “Pot” Holes on the Road to Marijuana Legalization

By Dana Sisk* | Summer Guest Writer

Legalizing cannabis is a trend that is quickly starting to spread across the United States. Colorado, Alaska, the District of Columbia, Oregon, and Washington have legalized marijuana sales, and other states are pushing for a vote to legalize the recreational marijuana business.  This increased interest in the marijuana industry stems from its success in states where it has already been legalized. Washington recently reported their tax revenue from the first year of marijuana sales at just over $70 million, and Colorado reported that the marijuana industry had generated $700 million dollars of revenue in 2014. Additionally, a study estimated that the national marijuana industry was worth $2.6 billion in 2014.

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Whole Foods or Whole Paycheck? – Systemic Overcharging in the Grocer’s New York Stores

By: Casey Fidler* | Summer Guest Writer

Even though many people enjoy Whole Foods’ hot bar and fresh guacamole, it seems the grocery store chain has been aptly nicknamed “Whole Paycheck.”  Recently, the Department of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”) investigated the New York supermarkets, and the agency found that 80 types of prepackaged products were mislabeled by weight.  The agency is now expanding its investigation after discovering overcharging that ranged from 80 cents for a package of panko to $14.85 for coconut shrimp.  Most of the products also did not meet the U.S. Department of Commerce’s standard for the maximum amount a package can deviate from its actual weight.

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Caught in the Web: SCOTUS’ Recent Decision Regarding Patent Royalties

By: Amanda Whorton* | Summer Guest Writer

Sketch by Art Lien

Sketch by Art Lien

Your friendly neighborhood U.S. Supreme Court laid down a crucial decision involving patent royalties and a Spiderman themed toy that has everyone’s spidey senses tingling.

Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment involves a toy Stephen Kimble invented and patented called the “Web Blaster,” which consists of a glove with a valve and canister of pressurized foam, allowing kids to pretend that they are their favorite web-slinging superhero by having string shoot from the palm of their hands.  Kimble had previously sued Marvel for marketing a similar toy and their settlement included an agreement that licensed the patent to Marvel in return for royalty payments from its sale.  However, the agreement set no end date for these payments.  Neither side was aware at the time that a 1964 Supreme Court case, Brulotte v. Thys, made agreements for royalty payments after the expiration of a patent per se unlawful.  Kimble urged the Court to overturn this decision, while Marvel argued that Brulotte prevented them from having to pay royalties after the patent expired in 2010.  Marvel already paid Kimble $6 million for use of his patent. Continue reading »

Time to Take Cyber Security Seriously

By: Dianna Shinn* | Summer Guest Writer

From government espionage to stolen card data, cyber breaches are becoming a common occurrence that impact national security and everyday American lives. The threat of cyber breaches stirred national attention in 2007 with the 45.6 million credit and debit cards that were compromised at TJ Maxx stores. Following the TJ Maxx breach both large and small retailers have experienced cyber security breaches leaving Americans’ personal information in the hands of cyber criminals. The largest breaches affected Target in December 2013 with 40 million credit and debit cards compromised and Home Depot’s September 2014 card breach with 56 million cards. The seriousness of cyber security breaches did not cause significant reactions from Americans until the 2014 Sony Attack, an act of espionage by the North Korean government.

From left, Chinese military officers Gu Chunhui, Huang Zhenyu, Sun Kailiang, Wang Dong, and Wen Xinyu have been indicted on cyber espionage charges

From left, Chinese military officers Gu Chunhui, Huang Zhenyu, Sun Kailiang, Wang Dong, and Wen Xinyu have been indicted on cyber espionage charges

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How Do We Fix Nonprofits?

By: Austin Thompson* | Summer Guest Writer

Nonprofits have recently been immersed in scandal. FIFA’s managerial elite has been exposed after decades of legendary corruption.  Last month, the U.S. government charged four American cancer charities with misusing over $187 million in donations. The American Red Cross is facing tough questions about how it has failed to get relief materials to those who needed it in the aftermath of disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, despite publicly raising vast sums of money. Are nonprofits morally bankrupt? Is donated money simply going to crooks? Well, nonprofits may be going through a rough patch in the spotlight, but that’s how the system is supposed to work.

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Facebook Deems Native Americans’ Names Fake

By: Katie Ott* | Development Editor

Chief_Touch_the_Clouds_Reliant_Arena_January_2014

Not everyone has a plain Jack and Jill name.  In fact, baby name trends for 2015 suggest parents have left behind classic names in favor of “an increasingly adventurous spirit in baby naming.”  That means 2015 kids are ending up with names after their parent’s favorite vegetable, like Kale, or a stylish nature names, such as River.  But trendy baby names are not the only unique forms of identification.  Traditionally, Native Americans choose distinct, individualized names that reflect both tribal heritage and culture.  These names are so important to Native American tradition that some tribes wait to name children until puberty; they believe a name should come from a child’s own life experiences.  Yet, despite the deep value of these names, Facebook’s attempt to purge Facebook users with false names is blocking Native Americans from registering for a page with their real names.  While 2015 children with new, trendy names are unlikely to have Facebook pages and thereby avoid the negative effects of the Facebook name watch (as newborns are not old enough to create their own pages), Native Americans are experiencing these chilling effects in full force.  They are left to choose between submitting to Facebook an incorrect, more “Americanized” name, contacting Facebook officials to request an exception for their names, or not using Facebook at all. Continue reading »

The Nurse with Ebola Strikes Back

By: Blaydes Moore* | Staff Writer

Nina Pham, the twenty-six year old nurse who contracted Ebola in Dallas last year, is suing her employer.  She alleges that the hospital negligently failed to prepare her to handle an Ebola patient.  She states that she was assigned the patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, like any other.  The Liberian man was diagnosed with the disease on September 30, 2014.  It was the first case of Ebola ever diagnosed in the United States.

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The Looming Impact of EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.

By: Afzal Karim*|Staff Writer

Elauf supporters outside of the Supreme Court.

Elauf supporters outside of the Supreme Court.

Known for being a staple in preppy closets worldwide, the clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch finds itself in a more serious setting – the Supreme Court of the United States.  Recently, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.  The case centers on Abercrombie’s refusal to hire Samantha Elauf, a practicing Muslim, because of her decision to wear a religious headscarf, or hijab to her job interview.  Elauf and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought suit against Abercrombie alleging a Title VII violation for refusing to hire an employee due to a “religious observance and practice” that could be reasonably accommodated.  Abercrombie contends that its decision was based on the company’s “Look Policy,” which prevents employees from wearing “caps,” and was not aware Elauf wore the headscarf due to religious reasons. As the Supreme Court contemplates its verdict, the looming decision will set a strong precedent for religious rights in the workplace.

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American Sniper Murder Trial

US Navy SEALs insignia

US Navy SEALs insignia

By: Emily Morris* | Staff Writer

Chris Kyle, is a decorated American hero for his ten year military service as a Navy Seal sniper. Kyle served four tours in the Iraq War where he was nicknamed the “Devil of Ramadi” by Iraqi insurgents. The Iraqi insurants put a $20,000 bounty on his head. He is credited with being the most lethal sniper in American history with a self-reported number of more than 160 kills. Kyle retired from the military in 2009 and became an activist for war veterans with PTSD. He is the author of a 2012 bestseller, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in Military History. Continue reading »