In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

September 2011 Archives

5 Steps to Modernize Your Records from Paper Files

Is it time to get rid of your company's paper records?

Chances are you've already started to make the move towards electronic files. After all, an estimated 90% of records are received in electronic form.

But what do you do with the boxes in the storage room? How do you integrate the paper with the electronic?

Following these five steps will help you reach that goal.

Fair to Hold Attorneys to Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine?

After a decade of high-profile violations of food and drug laws, the Food and Drug Administration appears to be reviving the 1943 Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine, holding executives responsible for illegal conduct that may have occurred without their knowledge.

Limited to misdemeanor convictions, these new regulators are also seeking to exclude these executives from participating in a variety of government programs, effectively ruining their careers.

Oh, and they're going after the lawyers, too.

America Invents Act: Patents Now Awarded to First to File

President Obama has signed the America Invents Act into law, greatly overhauling much of the nation's patent-awarding system.

The Act is the first major change to U.S. patent law since 1952.

It seems that the biggest change to come from this legislation is that it creates a "first to file" system, USA Today reports.

Patent and intellectual property attorneys across the nation have followed the old "first to invent" system for years. What does the shift to a "first to file" system and the new America Invents Act mean for general counsels?

Meg Whitman HP's New CEO: How Do New CEOs Affect GCs?

Meg Whitman is HP's new CEO.

Hewlett-Packard dismissed former CEO Leo Apotheker on Thursday after 11 months on the job.

Will appointing Whitman, former CEO of eBay, help turn HP around? And what kind of impact will her appointment as chief executive have on the company's workforce - including its legal staff?

NLRB Requires Employers to Post Union Rights

The National Labor Relations Board's new rule requires nearly every private-sector employer display a poster explaining employees' union rights goes into effect in less than two months. It is safe to say that the move is opposed by most business organizations and in-house counsel.

By November 14, the 11-by-17-inch notice, which can be downloaded here, must be conspicuously posted and in multiple languages if at least 20% of an employer's workforce lacks English proficiency.

Cut Back Sarbanes-Oxley Red Tape so Startups Can Go Public, Obama Says

Do Sarbanes-Oxley and startups make for terrible bedfellows?

Most corporate and in-house attorneys are familiar with the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was passed in 2002.

Sarbanes-Oxley regulations came down at a time when Americans were outraged at the massive Enron scandal that cost shareholders and innocent employees millions.

The regulations were created partially to reduce the likelihood that similar financial catastrophes would ever surface again. And, one of the safeguards to prevent similar financial mishaps was Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

ATT Lawyers Argue T-Mobile Merger is Good for Consumers

Defending against the Justice Department's attempt to block its plans, AT&T wrote in court filings on Friday that the pending T-Mobile merger is a boon for consumers, who would experience better output, fewer dropped calls, and lower prices if the deal is allowed to go through.

The company further asserted that the Department's focus on preventing the reemergence of the Twin Bells has blinded regulators to the realities of the wireless industry, including the extent of actual competition, and surging consumer demand.

Breathe New Life Into Your Old Boilerplate

Are your company's contracts getting a little too old and tired?

If you are thinking about tightening some of the language in your company's contract, or completely reworking an agreement, you're probably going to need some tools to help you along the way.

Drafting company contracts and transactional agreements is a general counsel's bread and butter. And, updating your company's standard boilerplate agreements can be mentally exhausting. You want your contracts to be able to stand up in a court of law and look out for your company's interest.

But, why spend hours poring over a contract - and essentially trying to reinvent the wheel - when you can peruse some agreements hammered out by top-tier lawyers for guidance?

First Step to Protect Your Trademark in China: Be First to File

If you do any type of business in China, trademarks should be on your mind.

Chinese trademark protection can actually afford companies some security when doing business abroad. And, even companies that only manufacture in China should consider registering their trademarks.

The first step to trademark protection is simple. Register your trademark.

Corporations Have Due Process Rights in Class Actions, Toyota Argues

Is Toyota's trial plan is annoying plaintiffs?

The automaker is currently fighting a class action lawsuit that alleges the recent safety recalls lowered the value of the plaintiffs' Toyota cars.

In response to the litigation, Toyota's legal team is looking to depose about 250 economic loss plaintiffs through the year 2013. And, the plaintiffs are none-too-pleased with this request.

Solyndra Raid: FBI Executes Search Warrant on Solar Plant

Returning to wrap up business after last week's bankruptcy announcement, Solyndra executives were surprised to find federal agents executing search warrants issued by the Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General.

A spokeswoman for the FBI, who confirmed that the Bureau is acting in partnership with the Department of Energy, declined to explain the purpose of the Solyndra raid, indicating that the documents are under seal.

Solyndra executives have also been left in the dark.

GC Ethics: Is In House Counsel a Company's Moral Compass?

As a general counsel, ethics should be up your alley.

Most attorneys also have their own view of what's "right" and what's "wrong." While this doesn't always coincide with what's "legal" or "illegal," it does play a role in a general counsel's advice or decisions. 

So when it comes to ethical issues, what role should general counsels play?

Solyndra Bankrupt: CA Solar Company Closed, to File for Bankruptcy

Located in Fremont, Ca., solar energy startup Solyndra LLC has announced plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week--the third solar company to do so in the last month.

Immediately laying off approximately 1,100 employees, a press release tied the Solyndra bankruptcy to the company's inability to compete with its overseas rivals, despite being the recipient of a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

Is this a sign of hard things to come in the alternative and clean fuel industry?

Ex-Senate Committee General Counsel Accused of Leaking Secret Info

In court documents released last week, a former CIA officer currently facing prosecution for leaking classified information to the New York Times is accusing former Senate Intelligence Committee general counsel Vicki Divoll of being the actual leak.

Connecting a number of events, the defendant asserts that Ms. Divoll was terminated from her post for breaching confidentiality rules.

She has denied the allegations.