General

Federal Drone Program Coming to an Airspace Near You

By: Killoran Long, Summer Blogger

Last October, the White House announced plans to “Make American Aviation Great Again” through a drone integration program to be run by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Officially dubbed the “Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program,” the program is described as “an opportunity for state, local, and tribal governments to partner with private sector entities, such as UAS operators or manufacturers, to accelerate safe UAS integration.”  https://pixabay.com/en/drone-uav-sky-clouds-quadrocopter-1765141/

The primary purpose of the Program is to improve airspace safety by updating outdated aviation regulations, while also identifying low-altitude airspace interests given the increasing number of drones – the more commonly used term for UAS – in operation. Beyond safety, however, the DOT believes the program could also create opportunities for commerce in industries like photography, emergency management, public safety, agriculture, and beyond. The selected participants will work with the DOT to collect drone data over the next two to three years related to: night flights, flights over people, flights beyond the pilot’s line of sight, package delivery, detect-and-avoid technology, and reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft. Continue reading »

A Massive Overhaul of Music Copyright Law is Just Around the Corner

By: Matthew Hooker, Summer Blogger

https://pixabay.com/en/music-on-your-smartphone-spotify-1796117/Copyright laws may be getting a major overhaul soon. On June 28, 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a revised and amended version of the Music Modernization Act. The Act, if passed, will likely bring about the most dramatic changes to U.S. music copyright law since the Copyright Act of 1976. The House of Representatives already passed the bill in April 2018, so passage by the full Senate is the last big step before it lands on the president’s desk.  Continue reading »

Warning: Message from Unknown Sender

By: Killoran Long, Summer Blogger

https://pixabay.com/en/hacker-hacking-cyber-security-hack-1944688/Click. Even after the warning, you just can’t help yourself. You’ve opened the email from an unfamiliar web address, and boom! In just seconds, there goes all your data, and worse – all of your firm’s and clients’ data too.

Cyberattacks and data breaches are too often making headlines and creating headaches in today’s tech-reliant world. But how can individuals and firms protect themselves if and when they befall victim to such a breach?

Enter cyber insurance: a type of general insurance that covers “internet-based liability and risks,” developed with the intention to help entities “recover from a data breach or identity theft by mitigating all the costs that crop up in the aftermath.” Though most companies have been covered by some form of cyber protection under existing general or professional liability insurance policies,stand-alone cyber policies are relatively new to the market and have only been available for a little over a decade.  Continue reading »

President Trump Selects Pro-Business Nominee With Experience in Intellectual Property

By: Whitney Hosey, Editor-in-Chief

On Monday, July 9, President Trump announced his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. The nominee, the Honorable Brett Kavanaugh, has served as a federal appeals court judge since his appointment by President George W. Bush in 2006. In that time, Judge Kavanaugh has “written almost 300 opinions.” Among those opinions are several involving both business law and intellectual property law.

On the business end of things, Kavanaugh has consistently ruled in favor of businesses in pivotal cases. For example, in Verizon New England Inc. v. NLRB, Kavanaugh wrote the majority opinion overruling the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) decision in favor of an employees’ union. Instead, the Court determined that the union had violated a collective bargaining agreement with Verizon by “displaying pro-union signs in their vehicles.” On the whole “Kavanaugh is considered pragmatic.” The biggest business law and telecom related case which may come before the High Court is determining “whether a proposed nationwide class of consumers can sue Apple, Inc. for allegedly monopolizing the iPhone app market.” The lower court has already granted the plaintiffs standing on the anti-trust claims, whether Kavanaugh would choose to overrule that determination is unclear. Continue reading »

Who has the Power?

By: Hannah Fry, Summer Blogger

With growing environmental awareness, more technology is being developed to harness what at one time would have been considered a useless commodity. Renewable energy in the form of solar power and wind power have been at the forefront of technological advancement. While water has always been an essential resource, updates to age-old methods of utilizing falling water have revolutionized hydropower.

Hydropower operates by capturing the kinetic energy of falling water passing through a dam to generate electricity by utilizing a turbine to transfer the kinetic energy into mechanical, then into electrical via a generator. The amount of electricity a hydropower plant can generate is directly related to the volume and distance the water falls. The further the water falls and the greater volume of water that passes through the turbine the more electricitycan be generated. As hydropower’s popularity as a reliable and renewable form of energy increases, the updates and new technology associated with hydropower raises questions of ownership which ultimately results in delays of licensing and regulatory approval of hydropower facilities. Continue reading »

The Evolution of Patent-Agent Privilege

By: Matthew Welch, Summer Blogger

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seal_of_the_United_States_Patent_and_Trademark_Office.svgAttorney-client 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

https://pixabay.com/en/europe-gdpr-data-privacy-3220208/

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

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Facebook_Logo_on_Monitor.jpgBy: 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

https://pixabay.com/en/cola-pouring-in-a-glass-with-ice-ice-2769457/

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 »