Business

German Automakers Put the “Car” in “Cartel”

By: Emily Marcum *| Staff Writer

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Since 2015, when Volkswagen admitted to installing defeat devices to cheat emissions testing, German automakers have faced increased scrutiny and investigation. Now, BMW AG, Daimler AG/Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche are facing class action suits alleging that these five companies have been engaged in a twenty-year cartel in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. A cartel is a group of similar independent companies who conspire together with the goal of restricting competition.  This group of automakers has been named “Fünfer Kreise,” or the “Circle of Five.”

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MetLife: Too Big to Fail?

By: Tyler Cunningham *| Guest Writer

By Postdlf from w, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=667586

By Postdlf from w, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=667586

On December 18, 2014, the FSOC labeled MetLife as a systematically important financial institution. MetLife, not satisfied with its new “SIFI” label, decided to file a complaint and appeal the FSOC’s decision. On March 30, 2016, Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, overturned MetLife’s designation as a systematically important financial institution, referencing an inadequate assessment and unsubstantiated assumptions by the FSOC. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. government brought an appeal of its own, as former U.S. Treasury Secretary and chairperson of the FSOC, Jack Lew, said he strongly disagreed with Judge Collyer’s decision.

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American, Delta and Frontier Fined for Violating Consumer Protection Rules

By: Lasley Cash *| Guest Writer

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On Friday, July 21, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reported fines against three U.S. airlines – American, Delta and Frontier – for violating the Department’s airline rules aimed at protecting consumers. The violations, which were related to refunds, disability assistance, and other issues, totaled $850,000 in fines. Frontier Airlines, a low-cost Denver-based carrier, bore the largest fine of $400,000; the result of oversales and disability rule violations. American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, Texas, was hit with the next largest fine of $250,000 for failure to make timely refunds to passengers. Delta Air Lines, headquartered in Atlanta, faced the smallest fine of $200,000; the result of filing inaccurate baggage reports to the Department.

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Copyright Conflicts Between World of Warcraft and Its Players

By: Jamie Burchette *| Guest Writer

By Kuba Bożanowski from Warsaw, Poland (World of Warcraft card game) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kuba Bożanowski from Warsaw, Poland (World of Warcraft card game) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

World of Warcraft (WoW) is an extremely popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) which boasts over 100 million accounts created and over 12.5 million subscribers at its peak. With so many players, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (Blizzard) faces countless copyright issues from profit-seekers and players who take their appreciation too far. Protecting their copyright requires constant vigilance, but there is a fuzzy line when it comes to the player community.

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The New Battlefield: Regular and Established Place of Business

By: Gilbert Smolenski *| Guest Writer

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Under the patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), venue is proper: (1) where a defendant resides or (2) where a defendant has committed an act of infringement and has a regular and established place of business. From 1990 until May 22, 2017, “resides” was interpreted by the Federal Circuit to take on the same meaning as “resides” in § 1391(c). Therefore, so long as the court had personal jurisdiction over the defendant, venue was proper. On May 22, 2017, however, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Federal Circuit in TC Heartland v. Kraft Food Group Brands, holding that “resides” refers only to the state of incorporation for domestic corporations. This reasserted the Supreme Court’s earlier interpretation of “resides” from Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirre Products Corp., and consequently opened the door to a new battlefield for patent litigation, specifically the meaning of “regular and established place of business.”

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DOJ Joins High-Profile Lawsuit Against UnitedHealth Alleging Medicare Fraud

By: Hailey Cleek *| Guest Writer

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is a party to a high-profile case, brought under the False Claims Act, involving one of the largest health insurers in the United States, UnitedHealth Group (UHG). False Claims Act cases allow private individuals or the federal government to file a lawsuit against those individuals or businesses that have defrauded the federal government. Congress strengthened the Act in 1986 by increasing incentives for whistleblowers to file lawsuits. Federal prosecutors said that they want to consolidate their case with another whistleblower lawsuit that alleges UHG, and customers of its subsidiary for data and analytics received billions of dollars in government overpayments.

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Dieselgate Spreads to GM

By: Silke Hynes *| Guest Writer

By IFCAR (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By IFCAR (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In May 2017, General Motors (GM) joined the multitude of automotive manufacturers facing allegations of installed devices, designed to defeat emissions tests. A civil suit has been filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan claiming that “defeat devices” were installed in Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. The lawsuit claims there are more than 700,000 such trucks on U.S. roads. According to the lawsuit, the Duramax engines used in these trucks produce higher levels of nitrous oxide when driven than tested, prompting suspicions that a “cheat device” has been installed.

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Whose Name Is It Anyway?

By: Darius L. Lamonte *| Guest Writer

By Steve Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Steve Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

People register trademarks in order to acquire exclusive rights over the use of something in commerce. These exclusive rights are acquired to prevent the unfair use of the trademarked item and sometimes to preserve a reputation from being tarnished by others. While trademark rights can also be acquired over signature items, they are most often acquired over logos, brand names (i.e. McDonalds), and even personal names. It is fascinating that something bestowed upon you for free could one day be used to generate millions of dollars. This is the case for personal names. Having trademark rights over your own name almost seems like it should be a birthright. However, there are even more stringent regulations over trademarking personal names. The use of personal names to identify and market goods and services has brought fortune to many, including some of our favorite celebrities. Because of the fortune that could come from the trademark rights of a personal name, there is often much dispute over the ownership of these rights.

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. Jordan’s positive reputation around the world has made his name a heavily-sought after commodity. As a result, Jordan has given permission to several brands to use his name to market their products. Jordan obtains royalties just from his name being attached to shoes, shirts, and several other products. “Nothing is more important than protecting your own name,” Michael Jordan stated, after winning a dispute overseas regarding his trademarked name.  A Chinese company, Qiaodan Sports, was selling and marketing shoes and other clothing items under the name “Qiaodan,” which translates to “Jordan” in Mandarin. The historically visitor-unfriendly court in China declared that Jordan did indeed own the Mandarin transliteration of his name.

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A Dispute over Master Tapes Ends in the Beatles’ Favor

By: Niti Parthasarathy*| Guest Writer

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On July 26, a New York judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Sid Bernstein Presents, LLC, which represented Sid Bernstein, a late businessman and promoter. Bernstein promoted the Beatles’ 1965 show at Shea Stadium and produced the original 1966 film that used footage from the concert. Apple Corps Ltd., the band’s company, and Subafilms, acquired the rights to the footage through a contractual agreement with Bernstein. Though Sid Bernstein Presents noted the deal when filing the lawsuit, the company claimed that the rights to the master tapes remained with Bernstein and also claimed sole ownership over the footage. The sole ownership claim arose from Bernstein’s role as producer of the original film, and plaintiffs claimed that Apple Corps Ltd. infringed on Bernstein’s copyright when the footage was used in the 2016 documentary “Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years.”

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Will “Tech Phobia” be the Answer to the Retail Crisis?

By: Yusuf A. Brown*| Guest Writer

By Anthony92931 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Anthony92931 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In order to adapt to changing consumer trends, many traditional retail brands are spending less money on operating “brick and mortar” stores and, instead, investing in a greater online presence. Online retail giant, Amazon, has seen its sales increase from $16 billion to $80 billion since 2010. The success of Amazon and other online retailers has decreased the demand for brick and mortar stores; this trend is commonly referred to as the “retail crisis”. However, one “tech-phobic” brick and mortar company is “bucking” the trend with 33 straight quarters of sales growth.

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