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Caroline Krass Confirmed as New CIA General Counsel

The Senate confirmed Justice Department lawyer Caroline Krass as the new general counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Krass's confirmation process had a few hiccups along the way, as senators held off on her nomination amid concerns that the CIA was not cooperating in an on-going investigation into Bush-era interrogation tactics, The Associated Press reports.

Krass is entering the legal fray at a time of extreme tension between the CIA and Congress.

Stupid, dated, and vague patents can be a nightmare for innovating companies. Just ask Google and Mark Cuban. And patent trolling, using these questionable patents, seems to be more popular than ever.

That's why the White House has repeatedly called for reform, including in this week's State of the Union address. That's why the House passed the Innovation Act last year. And that's why the Senate is currently considering their own version of the bill, which has one thing that the House's version doesn't: Covered Business Method (CBM) Review.

It's a good idea, in theory. Any company that is being accused of infringement can pause the litigation and attack the merits of the patent itself in an invalidation proceeding at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. So why are a handful of software companies so vehemently opposed to the idea?

King, a video game studio, created Candy Crush Saga. For those unfamiliar, it is an insanely popular free-to-play video game. How popular? Per the New York Daily News, it has been downloaded more than 500 million times, was the most downloaded free app of 2013, and was the year's top revenue grossing app. That popular.

It's big. And with success comes copycats and infringers. King is doing what any responsible company would do, attempting to protect its IP. But is it going too far?

The Biggest Loser: Diet Supplement Companies for False Advertising

The FTC recently imposed hefty fines on four high-profile diet supplement companies in a growing effort by the agency to curb deceptive advertising in the weight loss product industry. In all, the weight-loss marketers will pay approximately $34 million for consumer redress.

The FTC will make these funds available for refunds to consumers who bought the products. Here is a list of the products fined.

NLRB Gives Up Fight Against Notice Posting Rule Cases

The NLRB's Notice Posting Rule, which required businesses to post notifications reminding workers' about their right to unionize, has met its demise in a legal war of attrition. The National Labor Relations Board gave up the fight and will not challenge two federal court decisions that invalidated the Posting Rule.

Here's a breakdown of the employer-friendly cases and what this means for employer obligations:

It's been an even more interesting week than usual in terms of FDA regulations. This week's roundup includes the FDA possibly saying "adios" to antibacterial soap, a warning about painful, long-lasting erections caused by ADD/ADHD medications, and a last-minute backtracking on food production rules promulgated pursuant to the Food Safety Modernization Act.

One of those three topics sounds far more miserable than the other two, eh?

It's been awhile since our last FDA round-up, so there's plenty to talk about.

Selling genetics tests without prior FDA approval? That's a paddlin'. And speaking of FDA approval, two drugs recently approved by the agency, one for Hepatitis C, and one for pain, are receiving opposite reactions from the public. And finally, antibiotic-free meat production may in our nation's future. Maybe.

Curious? Read on.

That Innovation Act we talked about back in October? It just passed, 325-91 in the House. It's expected to have support in the Senate and White House as well, so if your company ever deals with IP or patents, this is a law worth getting acquainted with.

What does H.R. 3309 do? Stomps patent trolls. Somewhat. Fee-shifting, delayed discovery, heightened pleading, true owner transparency, and pinch-hitting for customers in litigation are all included in the bill. Read on for the fine points.

Downtown San Jose is a funny place. On one block, you have a law school with homeless people (presumably, not all of them are recent graduates) sleeping on the doorstep. Two blocks over, you have a place serving $9 beers. And, of course, there's that shiny new San Jose City Hall, which seems to be largely vacant, and which has an art installation on the bottom floor, filled with art that no one wants to actually see.

The shiny building just got a purpose. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has announced that it would accept a bribe offer from the City of San Jose to open up a Silicon Valley branch office in some of the building's vacant space. (Why they built a city hall that is so grandiose and vacant is a bit unfathomable, but that's not the USPTO's concern.)

Back in October, we posted about JP Morgan and the DOJ's tentative settlement, and yesterday, a $13 billion settlement was finalized, and announced, reports The New York Times.

As one banking analyst stated to the Los Angeles Times, "[b]efore the crisis, Big Brother was asleep on the couch ... Now Big Brother is coming back with a vengeance."