Are American Institutions the Breeding Ground for Intellectual Property Theft?

By: Phillip Jester, Summer Blogger recent White House report accused China, the world’s second-largest economy, of engaging in aggressive “acts, policies, and practices that fall outside of global norms and rules.” The report highlights a new threat posed by China: the presence of “Chinese Nationals” serving as “Non-Traditional Information Collectors” at American universities.  The White House alleges that the Chinese State has created educational programs which encourage science and engineering students to master important military technologies in order to share such technologies with Beijing.

More than 100 American universities currently collaborate with Confucius Institutes, educational organization that are sponsored by China’s Communist Party.  Lawmakers and intelligence officials are now speaking out against the role of Confucius Institutes as possible “spying outposts.” In February, Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) Director Christopher Wray stated that Chinese spies are being planted in American schools in order to exploit “very open research and development” environments.  The exploitation of open educational environments may already be paying off.  Chinese Scientists returning from American laboratories have played a key role in the development of hypersonic glide systems, systems capable of penetrating any current missile defense. Continue reading »

The Evolution of Patent-Agent Privilege

By: Matthew Welch, Summer Blogger privilege is the keystone of the legal system that has been in place since the inception of the United States.  This privilege protects confidential communications between an attorney and his or her client. The purpose, put forth by the courts, for allowing these communications to be protected is that it “encourage[s] full and frank communication between attorneys and their clients.”  Thus, without this protection, clients would be less than forthcoming since all communications with their attorneys could potentially be used against them in future litigation.  However, a problem has arisen over the years regarding a specific application of attorney-client privilege.  That problem is patent-agent privilege.     Continue reading »

Welcome to the Era of the General Data Protection Regulation

By: Matthew Hooker, Summer Blogger

On May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect. Although the GDPR is a regulation established by the European Union (EU), its impact extends far beyond the EU. The regulation applies not only to entities within the EU but also to any entity that handles the personal data of “data subjects” residing in the EU. As the New York Times puts it, “the borderless nature of the online world has virtually every commercial entity that touches the web making changes to its sites and apps to comply.” Continue reading »

Tesla’s Environmentally-Friendly Image may be Tarnished by Legally-Unfriendly Disputes

Tesla Motors

By: Nathaniel Reiff, Summer Blogger

As today’s consumer seeks new and innovative ways to save money and preserve the environment, it may be a while until they achieve this objective with the cars they drive. Tesla Inc., the American international corporation renowned for its electric vehicle production, has been hit with a score of lawsuits that could put the energy-giant in a nasty predicament.

Last October, shareholders filed a securities fraud lawsuit claiming Tesla gave false public statements about the progress of producing its Model 3 sedan. The complaint identifies that shareholders bought “artificially inflated” shares of Tesla because Elon Musk, Tesla’s Chief Executive Officer, and other executives misled them with such statements. Tesla counters that since the vehicle was “the first of its kind,” the company had experienced numerous “bottlenecks.” The company said it provided the shareholders in “frank and in plain language” that the challenges the company faced with the Model 3 derived from problems with the battery module process at its Nevada Gigafactory to general assembly at its Fremont plant. Continue reading »

How the Senate’s “Honest Ads Act” Will Affect Online Advertisers Patrick Wilson

On October 19th, 2017, a bipartisan group of Senators including Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John McCain (R-AZ), and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced legislation that would require more transparency and disclosure of the groups funding online advertising during election season. The purpose of proposed Senate Bill 1989, ‘The Honest Ads Act’, would hold online advertising platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to the same standards as traditional media, such as television and radio.

The Bill requires that platforms with more than fifty million unique monthly visitors keep a public record of the parties that purchase more than $500 in advertising and disclose the purchaser of those ads, which included the ad’s target audience is, the ad rate, the name of the candidate the ad supported, and contact information of the ad. The Bill’s stated goal is preventing foreign nationals from purchasing political ads and potentially influencing the perception of American citizens during election season with false or misleading information.  Continue reading »

JAB to Take a Gulp of Dr. Pepper, but Shareholders Aren’t Happy

By: Andrew Homer

The pace and size of mergers and acquisitions in the United States have accelerated in the past few years. It is predicted this momentum will continue into 2018. Global mergers and acquisitions announced so far this year have surpassed a value of $450 billion. Earlier this year, JAB Holdings Company (JAB), a German consumer group, announced it will purchase Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (Dr. Pepper) for $18.7 billion and merge it with its Keurig Green Mountain coffee (Keurig). This is the largest acquisition of a soft drink company.

JAB tries to stay out of the public spotlight, but with recent large acquisitions, this has proven difficult. It is reported that the family behind the consumer conglomerate requires its members to take a vow at the age of 18 not to speak publicly about the family business. JAB purchased Keurig in 2016 for $14 billion and has focused on coffee related industries by later acquiring Krispy Kreme and Panera Bread. JAB began the hot drink journey in 2012 when it purchased Peet’s Coffee & Tea for $974 million. As a result, JAB has created rivalries with companies like Starbucks and Nestlé. A shift into the soft drink market shows JAB’s intent to expand this list to companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Continue reading »

Trump Imposes Tariffs on China: What are Tariffs? How do They Impact the Economy?

By: Juliana S. Inman

On March 22, 2018, President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum imposing tariffs and investment restrictions on China. These tariffs are estimated to affect as much as sixty billion dollars in Chinese imports to the United States. According to U.S. News writers, Ken Thomas and Paul Wiseman, the tariffs were “the boldest example to date of Trump’s ‘America first’ agenda, the culmination of his longstanding view that weak U.S. trade policies and enforcement have hollowed out the nation’s workforce and ballooned the federal deficit.” Moreover, these tariffs against China came just after the United States prepared to impose tariffs of twenty-five percent (25%) on imported steel and ten percent (10%) on aluminum, which were also meant to target China’s cheap steel and aluminum production. Although there are partisan politicians with varying opinions on the recent tariffs, “[b]usiness groups mostly agree that something needs to be done about China’s aggressive push in technology, but they worry that China will retaliate by targeting U.S. exports of aircraft, soybeans[,] and other products and start a tit-for-tat trade war.” The short-term and long-term economic impacts as a result of these tariffs have yet to be seen, but one thing is for certain: there will be economic effects, both positive and negative.

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The Contract Clause: Taking Another Look

By: Andrew Homer *| Staff Writer

The right to contract and the protection thereof is a fundamental piece of the societal and economic machine that provides prosperity to our country. The Contract Clause of the Constitution (Article I, Section X, Clause I)  states that “[n]o State shall … pass any … Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts … .” In debating this clause at the Constitutional Convention, its proponents argued that it is intended to protect private contracts from legislative actions. Despite this clear purpose, the Contract Clause has not been so clearly interpreted by the Supreme Court.

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How Accepting a Donation Can Have Disastrous Effects

By Christopher Lewis

By Arad [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

By Arad [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

In February 2018, the Southern District of New York issued their holding in Zuckerman v. Metropolitan Museum of Art. The plaintiff, Laurel Zuckerman who is the great-grandniece of Paul Leffmann and Administratix of Alice Leffmann’s estate, alleged that Pablo Picasso’s, The Actor, now owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, was sold under duress during the height of Adolf Hitler’s reign in Germany. Ms. Zuckerman sought over $100,000,000 in damages and for The Actor to be returned to her family. This lawsuit was dismissed as the district judge found that Ms. Zuckerman could not sufficiently argue that her great-great-uncle was under sufficient duress that would justify returning the painting to her family or allowing for damages. This case is unlikely to be overturned on appeal unless the Second Circuit Court of Appeals widens the claim of duress to include a broader reach into the parties’ motives, however, the claims of duress are not always so easily dismissed. Continue reading »

What Skill Bank of America CEO, Brian Moynihan, Attributes to His Success and Major Pay

By: Yusuf A. Brown *| Staff Writer

As one of the largest and most successful retail banking franchises, it comes to no surprise that Bank of America (“BOA”) would pay its Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) the big bucks. In February of 2018, the BOA Board approved its CEO’s, Brian T. Moynihan, 2017 incentive compensation package. This approval will allow Moynihan to enjoy a $3 million increase from 2016 in equity incentive. Although Moynihan continues to receive a relatively modest salary of $1.5 million, he will also receive $21.5 million as an equity incentive, an increase from the $18.5 million he received in 2016.

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