In House

In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog


Over the last few years, the National Labor Relations Board has continuously expanded Section 7's reach, a section which generally protects speech about working conditions, such as pay and hours. First, the NLRB stretched Section 7 to cover overly-broad social media policies, which often contain anti-disparagement language. And while "no badmouthing the boss or company on Twitter" may seem reasonable, the NLRB held that the broad language could discourage protected Section 7 speech.

In January, the NLRB struck again, but this time at a different topic: workplace gossip. Free speech may have no place in the workplace, but speech about working conditions does, and policies that broadly prohibit backbiting and gossip will be struck down on that accord. The trend continued this month, with the NLRB striking down an employee-authored policy, the Values and Standards of Behavior Policy at Hills and Dales General Hospital.

Your In-House Interview -- Prepare Deeply

In-house counsel is not your typical job. You're a lawyer, but you're not working at a law firm: you're at a company that's focused on something else. In a way, you'll be both an insider and an outsider.

If that is exactly the job you want, how will you bridge that gap and show the interviewer you're the right person for the position? In Johnny Cochran's words, "preparation, preparation, preparation." And you might get some insights about yourself too.

They say "diamonds are forever," but not so for general counsel. Last week, Tiffany announced that Patrick B. Dorsey, Tiffany's general counsel and secretary will retire, effective May 22, 2014.

That's not all, Princeton University is also losing its general counsel -- and the position is not yet filled. Looking for a new job in New Jersey anyone?

For the past 13 years, InsideCounsel has hosted SuperConference, an event boasting experts speaking on panels, exhibitors and sponsors from leading technology providers and law firms, and draws more than 450 attendees ranging from in-house counsel to general counsel.

This year, the 14th Annual InsideCounsel SuperConference will take place from May 12-14, 2014 and will be in Chicago. Here are some details about the event, and why you should consider attending.

We've been hearing a lot of security data breaches lately -- some would say too much. From the Target and Neiman Marcus debacle to last week's Heartbleed bug, we now know why cybersecurity is on the minds of general counsel not just in the U.S., but worldwide.

Based on a recent district court decision, the data breach itself may be the least of a company's problem. What may be worse is not only the media and consumer fallout, but the possibility of FTC enforcement actions, and private litigation.

Please pass the Advil. 

When Congress enacted the America Invents Act in 2011, the USPTO was charged with designating four satellite office locations, and they chose: Detroit, Denver, Silicon Valley and Dallas. The Detroit office was successfully opened in July 2012, the Denver office is hiring, and the Dallas office has been operating out of a temporary space since 2013.

What's going on with the Silicon Valley office?

The USPTO's Silicon Valley satellite office is operating out of a less central temporary office, and is only staffed with a few Patent Trial and Appeal Board judges, according to Corporate Counsel. What's the hold up?

A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court decided a case that clarifies the pleading requirements for a plaintiff who makes a claim for false advertising under the Lanham Act. As the guardians of your company's intellectual property, knowing the new standard is paramount. Here's a breakdown of the Supreme Court's decision so you can determine whether to pursue, or defend, any federal false advertising claims.

Background

Lexmark manufactures laser printers, and they are made to work only with Lexmark toner cartridges. An aftermarket has developed where third parties acquire, refurbish and resell Lexmark cartridges. To combat this, Lexmark developed a prebate program giving customers a discount up front, for the promise to return the cartridge to Lexmark, rather than a remanufacturer.

To ensure this, it created a microchip for the cartridges that would disable the cartridge once it was emptied. Static Control developed a microchip that mimicked Lexmark's; Lexmark distributed a letter to its customers saying that they were legally bound to return the cartridges to Lexmark, and sent a letter to remanufacturers saying it was illegal to sell refurbished cartridges, and that it was illegal to use Static Control's microchip.

Steve Jobs may have been a genius, but he was an idiot about discussing anti-competitive behaviors over email. His emails were one of the deciding factors in the Apple e-book lawsuit (Apple lost) and now, his words are haunting his friends in the tech industry in a different anticompetitive case: the non-poaching pact class action that first made headlines late last year.

In October, the all-knowing, all-seeing Judge Lucy Koh allowed the lawsuit to proceed, and now, six months later, the parties are entering into intense settlement negotiations, with figures like $9 billion being floated around (and scoffed at by the tech companies). Laugh now, pay later, because the eDiscovery evidence seems damning.

If you've listened to, or read the news in the last day or so, then you've probably heard about Heartbleed a/k/a the biggest security flaw in years. The flaw is so bad, that one NPR commentator stated that it was like leaving your car door open with the keys in the ignition. That doesn't mean someone will actually get in your car and drive away -- but the vulnerability is there.

On Tuesday, the United State Department of Homeland Security released a statement warning about the Heartbleed vulnerability, along with information and instructions on how to deal with the problem.

If you want to know the technical aspects of the bug, The Washington Post has a good explanation of the Heartbleed security flaw. As in-house counsel, here's what you need to know: if your company's website takes payment, or passwords, you have a problem. Leave the technical details of Heartbleed to IT and let's start putting out that fire.

Disney is very protective of its marks, understandably so, and now it's most iconic mark is getting some competition and Disney is not standing for it. In this game of mouse and mouse, who will win?

Mouse v. Mau5

The other mouse is the mark representing DJ Joel Zimmerman's stage name Deadmau5 (pronounced "dead mouse"). Last year Deadmau5 filed an application to trademark a black mouse with large round ears, white eyes and white smile. Zimmerman plans to use the logo on a variety of products, everything from food items like coffee, to toys, leather goods, paper goods, electronic equipment, BMX bikes and entertainment services, reports Rolling Stone. Let's take a look at what all the fuss is about.