May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - Power (n): The only narcotic regulated by the SEC instead of the FDA.
Taunting The SEC From Foreign Shores
The SEC wants some $2.7 million disgorged in illegal stock trades and an $8 million penalty awarded recently by a judge. The SEC wants more than $10 million from a Hong Kong company, Blue Bottle, Ltd., and its 30-year old CEO, Matthew Stokes, from Guernsey, a small island in the English Channel perhaps more famous for its secrecy and financial isolation from the rest of the world. And Hong Kong?
Right. The SEC stands more of a chance of collecting money than Germany has of occupying Gurnsey again.
Neither the company nor its CEO appeared in New York to contest the proceedings, so the SEC won by default. The SEC alleged that the company and its CEO hacked into unspecified computers on unspecified networks to gain information not yet available to the general public. They then traded on that information, using call options, which bet share prices would rise on good news and put options, which bet prices would decline on bad news.
But what of the place where the perpetrator resides? Guernsey is one of the last remnants of the medieval realm of the Duke of Normandy, and while dependent on the Crown, it is not part of the United Kingdom. As a consequence, it has its own laws and virtually answers to no one.
In other words, it's a tax haven, and just as equally a haven from the SEC.
As long as Mr. Stokes and his company stay behind these curtains, then it is likely the SEC will never see its money.
When Is Enough Too Many?
According to reports, the gasoline truck that blew up and incinerated one of San Francisco's freeway ramps, snarling traffic for what may be months, was the holder of some 27 citations, and the company who owns the truck the no-so-proud holder of nearly 60 citations. In fact, news reports claim the truck was ordered off the road last year.
Yet it continued to roam the roads, seemingly impervious to regulation.
Who regulates the regulators?
One Obstacle To Docking Your Boat: Sunken Boats In Your Slip
MIPTC is a big fan of sailing, and like all good skippers, even more of a fan of docking the boat at the end of the trip. It's like the pilots say: any crash you can walk away from is a good crash.
For many boat owners who suffered the ignominy of their boats sinking in the slips of New Orleans harbor, there must be some level of relief with the start of the project to remove the sunken vessels from underwater.
It's expected to cost nearly $1 million to remove the hulks, some 300 tons in all.
The storm that has no end.
Vonage vs. Verizon: Perhaps First In Flood Of Patent Case Reconsiderations
By now, if you follow anything to do with current legal issues, you've seen most of the analysis and prognostications from lawyers across the country about the recent Supreme Court patent decisions, and the earth-shattering change one of Black Monday's decisions will have on the patent bar and patent litigators, like this firm. In case you missed it, however, click here for a roundup of the professor and practitioner's take on the decision on KSR v. Teleflex.
Or, if you're somewhat more kinesthetic, then you can listen to this podcast recorded today with three top patent experts.
If you're not in the ivory towers, but rather in the trenches like we are, then perhaps this New York Times report is more apropos. In that report, Vonage is requesting a new trial after it got slammed by a jury who favored Verizon's version of the patent case. The reason? Black Monday's Supreme Court decision.
Given that decision, anyone with a patent based in part on prior art, and if it's "obvious" - as opposed to patentable - the patent holder can expect a challenge to their patent by someone who wants to do the same thing. Patent holders just saw the value of their patent portfolios drop through the floor.
Perhaps this quote from Aubrey Menen encapsulates the Supreme Court's ruling best: "The essence of success is that it is never necessary to think of a new idea oneself. It is far better to wait until somebody else does it, and then to copy him in every detail, except his mistakes."
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Explores (Not So) Patently Obvious Rulings From The Supreme Court
Two important Supreme Court rulings in patent cases this week KSR International v. Teleflex Inc., and Microsoft v. AT&T. On this week's Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we discuss the decisions and talk to the experts about what this holds for the future of patent law.
Please join me and my fellow Law.com blogger and co-host Bob Ambrogi as we welcome guests Matthew I. Kreeger, a litigator in the San Francisco office of Morrison & Foerster, J. Matthew Buchanan from the firm Dunlop, Codding and Rogers P.C in Oklahoma and Professor Joshua D. Sarnoff, Assistant Director of the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic, to discuss the Supreme Court's decisions on these patent law cases. Don't miss it!
MIPTC's Book Review: Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul Of Clarence Thomas
If you ever wanted to understand a Supreme Court justice, and in particular Justice Clarence Thomas, then Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas gives you the insight that can only come from what appears to be a careful and long investigation into the inner workings of the man, his life and background, all ostensibly to understand his stance on the issues.
It starts with the pain he, Anita Hill and the rest of the country went through in his confirmation hearings. It ends with a thin ray of light for Justice Thomas and all of us. Dark in a deep way, the book paints a gloomy picture, almost bereft of hope at times.
As a lawyer, it offers an insight not normally afforded. As a country, it's an insight I'm not sure we want.
The book lifts the roof off one of the Chambers of the Supreme Court, but it doesn't ask the question whether we should look inside. There's a certain distance we seem to have ignored between our leaders and decision-makers, a distance lost long ago when Woodward & Bernstein peered inside Watergate and found Nixon wanting.
MIPTC doesn't advocate a return to Camelot and the blissful ignorance a pandering media offered us, but there is a respect for some level of privacy we may want to consider offering to those in power, and to ourselves. Yes, we need a critical look at the legislation, decisions and choices made by our government leaders, but tempered with respect for their privacy, which this book tears away from Justice Thomas.
What we expect for ourselves, we may want to consider providing to everyone.
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Discusses The Tragedy At Virginia Tech
On April 16, 2007, the tragedy at Virginia Tech rattled the world we know. On Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we turn to the experts and discuss the issue of legal liability and the Virginia Tech shootings.
Should University officials have done more to prevent the gunman? Could they? Does a recent Virginia law prevent Universities from throwing out a student with suicidal tendencies? Is it really a problem more indicative of today's society that can only be solved by society?
Join me and my co-host and fellow Law.com blogger Bob Ambrogi as we get insight from our guests, Professor Anthony Sebok, Centennial Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research at the Brooklyn School of Law and Attorney Robert B. Smith from the firm Nelson, Kinder, Mosseau, & Saturley and join in the discussion ourselves. Don't miss it!
A Post Office Is A Post Office Is A Post Office
Return To Sender: Church Materials
There are Post Offices and there are Post Offices. You know the standard ones run by the U.S. Government - postal workers in light blue uniforms with dark pants, the ever-present, red take-a-paper-number dispenser that always seems to give you a number that is nowhere near the electronic red flashing number displayed behind the counter. And of course the equally ever-present long line that extends out the door and snakes around the rows of post office boxes, back out to the parking lot and all the way around the block.
But I exaggerate, ever so slightly.
That one condition is likely the main reason that competitors sprang up and the government had to give in and allow privately-run post offices. As many private post offices as I've been in, I've never seen a line.
Ya gotta love private enterprise.
But with private enterprise come other issues, especially when that private enterprise is a church. According to the Associated Press, Bertram Cooper, Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War, said he became upset when he went to a post office run by the Full Gospel Interdenominational Church, which operates the Sincerely Yours Inc. post office on Main Street in Manchester, Connecticut.
Like any other red-blooded American, he sued.
Cooper, who is Jewish, said ''I'm walking into a place that's doing government business - selling stamps, mailing parcels and so forth - and they're doing this religious bit,'' according to the AP. "The Church's Post Office has evangelical displays, including posters, advertisements and artwork. One of the displays is about Jesus Christ and invites customers to submit a request if they 'need a prayer in 'their lives.'" To top it off, "the office has prayer cards and an advertisement for a mission run by the Full Gospel Interdenominational Church that receives profits from the post office. There is a television monitor for church-related religious videos," the AP reports.
If you remember your high-school or college civics class (or for me, my Constitutional Law class), then you probably remember the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which requires separation of church and state. Here, where the government has delegated its duties of running a post office to private enterprise, that private enterprise is a "state actor" and still bound by the Constitution, which prohibits actions that can be deemed to "establish" religion.
At least that's something close to what Federal District Court Judge Dominic J. Squatrito ruled when he ordered the government's post office to inform the 5,200 private post-office contractors to toe the line and remove all religious materials from private post offices.
It seemed like a fitting post for a Sabbath.