In House: December 2011 Archives
In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

December 2011 Archives

The letter that led to the ouster of former HP CEO Mark Hurd has gone public, exposing details of Hurd's alleged sexual harassment and a possible leak of insider information.

Questions remain, however, as to whether the letter's allegations are true.

Attorney Gloria Allred wrote the eight-page letter to Mark Hurd in 2010, accusing Hurd of sexually harassing HP contractor Jodie Fisher. Hurd had hired Fisher, a reality TV show contestant and porn actress, to host corporate events, The New York Times reports.

But instead of pursuing a business relationship, Mark Hurd made aggressive, unwanted romantic advances toward Fisher, Allred's letter claims. "[I]t is clear you had designs to make her your lover from the onset, using your status and authority as CEO of HP," the letter says, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

LCD Makers Sharp, Samsung Settle Price Fixing Charges for $538M

Another chapter in the LCD price-fixing scandal has come to an end. Sharp and Samsung, along with Chimei Innolux, Hitachi, HannStar, Chunghwa and Epson, have agreed to settle claims brought by 8 states.

The companies were accused of operating an international cartel between 1999 and 2006, when Japan, Korea, the European Union and the United States announced a joint investigation into the matter.

Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, West Virginia and Wisconsin soon joined in, filing lawsuits that were later consolidated in the Northern District of California.

Did Google Steal Android, Maps Tech From British Company BT?

You can add UK telecom group BT to the list of corporations suing Google. The company, which owns about 5,600 patents, has filed a federal lawsuit against the search behemoth for allegedly infringing on six of its patents.

The BT lawsuit accuses Google of stealing the technology at the center of its Android system, search engine, Google+ social network, eBooks, Docs, Maps and Gmail.

The suit implicates almost every Google product out there.

Some up-and-coming technology and communications companies have announced new general counsel and in-house appointments. Here are five notable career moves, as reported by InsideCounsel.

1. Spherexx.com, an Internet marketing software company specializing in the real-estate industry, has hired Lauren Allison as in-house counsel and executive assistant to the company's CEO. Allison has worked in real estate, civil, and business litigation, and was president of the Creek County Bar Association. Spherexx.com is based in Tulsa, with offices in Dallas and Houston.

ATT Abandons T-Mobile Merger; A Sign of Things to Come?

AT&T has officially ended its $39 billion bid to purchase T-Mobile USA. Last month, the telecom behemoth withdrew its FCC merger application with plans to re-file. But executives quickly realized that, even with changes, there was no way the deal would receive approval.

The company now owes Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent company, a breakup fee of $4 billion. It'll also need to find new ways to address the mobile spectrum crunch, which would have been eased with the merger.

The failure of the AT&T merger will undoubtedly impact the wireless industry. But what does it mean for corporations nationwide?

Is the SEC Going After General Counsels?

It's no secret that Philip Falcone's hedge fund, Harbinger Capital Partners, is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Both it and the Justice Department are looking into a $113 million loan Falcone took from his funds to pay his 2009 personal taxes. There are also allegations of market manipulation in 2006 and 2008.

But a regulatory filing made public last week included some new information. Falcone, along with fund president Omar Asali, are the not-so-happy recipients of Wells Notices.

A third person at the company also received a Wells Notice: general counsel Robin Roger.

What's Going on at Hewlett-Packard?

Hewlett-Packard's long-time general counsel Michael Holston announced his resignation this week. While he "pursues other opportunities," David Healy of Fenwick & West LLP will be filling in on an interim basis.

Things have been touch-and-go for the Silicon Valley company for a while now. In September, the Board of Directors fired CEO Leo Apotheker after just 11 months. He was replaced with ex-eBay CEO and gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.

Could the two events be related?

It's a sign of the economic times: More companies are handing legal tasks to their in-house counsel, and outside law firms are losing out.

A survey of companies with in-house legal teams showed a 6% uptick for in-house expenditures last year, compared with 1% growth in 2009.

Corporate spending on outside legal services declined by 3% in 2010, the ABA Journal reports.

Case in point: Minnesota-based Jones Lang LaSalle, a real-estate and investment-management giant.

General counsel take note: The EEOC, which enforces federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace, seems to be employing a new attitude.

The "new" Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is "aggressive, litigious and particularly on the lookout for matters involving multiple individuals alleging discrimination or claims of 'systemic discrimination,'" labor lawyer Evan Pontz writes for Inside Counsel.

While that may make in-house counsel concerned, consider the other side of the coin, Pontz says: It means you can take advantage of the EEOC's new mission -- by focusing on what they're not.

Pfizer's Plan to Block Generic Lipitor May Be Illegal

In a bid to preserve its Lipitor market share in coming months, Pfizer has offered an unprecedented deal to the nation's largest prescription benefit managers. They can purchase Lipitor at below cost for the next 6 months.

The catch? Companies that accept the deal cannot fill prescriptions for generic Lipitor. Instead, scripts must be filled with the brand name drug.

Curious about the deal's finer details, the New York Times reports that Senators Max Baucus, Charles Grassley and Herb Kohl have now requested information from Pfizer and the pharmacy benefit management companies involved.

Cisco GC Shares Privacy Compliance Policies

Private consumer data can be a minefield, especially when you consider the complexity of data management systems and rapidly changing technology. Which is why Van Dang, Cisco's deputy general counsel, has decided to take a collaborative approach.

Dang recently created a cloud-based privacy compliance portal on the company's website. On it, she shares Cisco's privacy policy and compliance mechanisms, as well as a library of reference materials.

She even invites outside law firms and fellow general counsel to chime in.