In House: Government Relations Archives
In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Recently in Government Relations Category

This is a stupid decision. The Unites States Patent and Trade Office has rejected a Norwegian underwear manufacturer's requested trademark on "Comfyballs," their brand of underwear with "PackageFront technology." Apparently, cutesy references to male genitalia are "vulgar."

Balls? Balls, balls, balls. Is anyone offended yet? Balls.

Some have criticized President Barack Obama's immigration plan as unconstitutional. Others argue that it doesn't go far enough.

But for most people, the bottom line is the bottom line. Instead of pondering politics, they are wondering if the immigration overhaul, and other efforts that have been tossed around Congress, will help or hurt their company. On the one hand, you'd think that a higher supply of labor could only be good for businesses. But for some industries, the ideal immigration solution lies somewhere between open doors and bigger fences at the borders.

Take a look at the tech industry, for example.

In 2005, Halliburton hired Anthony Menendez to be the Director of Technical Accounting Research and Training in the Finance and Accounting department. Menendez trained field accountants and monitored accounting issues. A few months after he was hired, he reported to his boss, the Chief Accounting Officer (CAO), that some of Halliburton's accounting practices deviated from Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

When a John Doe plaintiff signed up for the dating website, he thought his information was being kept private. And why not? The website, if you can deduce from the URL, is a dating site for people who are HIV-positive, as well as those who are interested in dating HIV-positive people (who are not, themselves, always HIV positive).

The website is part of a larger network of websites, all owned by the same company -- SuccessfulMatch Network -- that caters to different types of people, like Christians or HIV-positive African Americans. And that was part of the problem.

One of the most infuriating things about the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis and subsequent collapse of the economy was the absolute lack of accountability. Banks and big businesses were bailed out, nearly nobody was charged with crimes, and the executives who caused the whole mess continued on with massive salaries -- especially Jamie Dimon, who received a 74 percent raise after JPMorgan Chase agreed to a $13 billion (on paper) settlement with the government.

Now, with the settlement booked, and the statutes of limitations nearing their end dates, Alayne Fleischmann, the lawyer who was the key witness used to leverage the settlement, has come forward in a Rolling Stone feature, hoping that it will pressure the Justice Department to prosecute those responsible -- those who allegedly intentionally packaged and mislabeled junk subprime mortgages before selling them to investors.

The largest Clean Air Act fine in history will send $300 million from Hyundai and Kia up in smoke.

Pause for laughter.

Hyundai and Kia gave the EPA incorrect certifications for the greenhouse gas emissions of 1.2 million cars in 2012 and 2013. How much is that in greenhouse gas? About 4.75 million metric tons more than what the auto makers told the EPA the cars emitted, according to an EPA press release.

In-house attorneys have a lot of worrying to do, and they write a lot of letters. But last week, Karen Kasier, general counsel for The Associated Press, found herself writing a letter asking the Justice Department why it impersonated the AP and disseminated a fake news story.

The story actually begins seven years ago when the FBI was trying to figure out who owned a MySpace account (yes, this was practically the Stone Age) that was sending bomb threats to a high school in Washington state. Using a bit of trickery, the FBI created a fake news article, written by "the Associated Press," and sent a link to the article to the MySpace account. The website contained a bit of malware that would allow the FBI to trace the computer.

Last year, we blogged about the new "fast track" (Track One Prioritized Examination) system for patent applications. The idea is simple: Pay more upfront, do less work, and get your patent faster.

By many accounts, the new fast track was definitely faster than older expedited methods (an average of 184 days from filing to allowance), and was cheaper too -- research published on the Patently-O blog said that despite the higher upfront cost, fast-tracked patents would actually save money in the long run.

Who's hopped on to the fast-track train since then? No surprise that it's a tech company -- namely, Google.

It seems like every month we wake up to another story about some giant company getting hacked -- or worse, negligently storing user data out in the open where anyone can get to it.

In the wake of data privacy breach after data privacy breach, the FCC is finally doing something other than worrying about Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. On Friday, the FCC proposed a fine of $10 million against TerraCom and YourTel America for data privacy breaches.

How does this affect general counsel?

Here's a lesson for companies: Trying to deceive customers into paying for bogus things they never ordered will cost you. First, the FTC said it would go after T-Mobile. Now, it's settled with AT&T for $105 million.

Cram It, AT&T

"Mobile cramming" is the practice of charging the customer for a service the customer didn't ask for, according to the FTC. Apparently, AT&T was incentivized to help the practice along, thanks to the 35 percent cut of the cramming charges it received from third parties that sent customers unwanted texts, ringtones, or other minutiae (referred to as "premium short message services" or PSMS).