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Recent Developments at the USPTO

Change is afoot at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  Since Director Andrei Iancu took office in February and declared “creating a new pro-innovation, pro-IP dialogue” a top priority, the agency has experienced a flurry of activity.  Beyond the significant shift in its rhetoric on intellectual property, the USPTO has moved to “increase predictability … Continue Reading

US Makes Good on Trade Threats – What Now?

We are moving into uncharted waters with the Trump Administration’s announcement that the U.S. will move forward to impose $50 billion in tariffs against a wide range of Chinese products, with the first tranche of $34 billion beginning on July 6; as well as tariffs against Canadian, Mexican, European and Japanese steel and aluminum imports.  … Continue Reading

Colorado Campaign Finance Enforcement System Found Unconstitutional

In a case with interesting ramifications, a federal court this week struck down major parts of Colorado’s campaign finance enforcement system as unconstitutional.The system at issue, which was created through a ballot initiative, generally allowed any person who believed there had been a violation of the state’s campaign finance laws to file a written complaint … Continue Reading

Senate Armed Services Committee Proposes Expansive but Unclear Software Review Provisions

As the Senate approaches the end of its debate on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, provisions of the bill regarding access to and review of information technology code deserve close attention.  These sections, if enacted, would significantly impact Department of Defense contractors and also would affect matters associated with investments subject … Continue Reading

Eleventh Circuit LabMD Decision Potentially Limits FTC’s Remedial Powers

The Eleventh Circuit has issued its decision in LabMD v. FTC, a closely watched case in which LabMD challenged the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to regulate the data security practices of private companies. The Court of Appeals declined to decide that issue, instead finding that the FTC’s order requiring LabMD to implement certain data security … Continue Reading

Bank Loans to Federal Candidates

FEC audit reports often address obscure topics, but today one touched on an important issue for banks.  At an open meeting, a majority of FEC Commissioners would not support a staff recommendation that a bank violated the campaign finance laws when it made a loan based on collateral that was commercially reasonable under the banking … Continue Reading

Lawsuit Alleges That Self-Checkout Videos Violate the Song-Beverly Act

A class-action lawsuit filed last month alleges that Wal-Mart’s video recording technology at its self-service checkout kiosks collects “personal identification information” in violation of the California Song-Beverly Act Credit Card Act of 1971 (“Song-Beverly Act”).  The Song-Beverly Act, like analogous statutes in several other states, generally prohibits businesses from recording customers’ “personal identification information” as … Continue Reading

EU Releases e-Evidence Proposal for Cross-Border Data Access

On April 17, 2018, the European Commission published the e-Evidence Initiative, long-awaited legislation that would create a new framework for European Union (“EU”) Member States to access content data and metadata (collectively “e-evidence”) across national borders.  The European Commission released the proposal less than one month after the United States created its own framework governing … Continue Reading

South Dakota Breach Notification Law Breaks New Ground

Last week, South Dakota became the 49th U.S. state to enact a data breach notification law with the passage of S.B. 62, which sets forth requirements for notifying state residents, the state attorney general, and major consumer reporting agencies in the event of a breach. The law, which will take effect on July 1, 2018, … Continue Reading

Export Control Reform Act Introduced in Congress

On February 15, 2018, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation—the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 (“ECRA”)⸺to modernize U.S. export control regulation of commercial and dual-use items. The bill is co-sponsored by the committee’s ranking Democratic member, Eliot Engel (D-NY). The proposed legislation seeks to establish a permanent statutory basis … Continue Reading

SEC Adopts New Guidance on Public Company Cybersecurity Disclosures and Insider Trading

On February 21, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) approved a statement and interpretive guidance that provides the Commission’s views on a public company’s disclosure obligations concerning cybersecurity risks and incidents (the “2018 Commission Guidance”). This guidance reinforces and expands upon previous cybersecurity disclosure guidance issued by the Division of Corporation Finance … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Decision Provides Critical Win to FTC in its Authority over Internet Service Providers

In a ruling with implications for both net neutrality and privacy, the Ninth Circuit ruled en banc today that the common carrier exemption in Section 5 of the FTC Act is activity-based, reversing a 2016 panel ruling that the exemption was status-based.  Today’s decision bolsters the FTC’s authority to bring consumer protection (including privacy) and … Continue Reading

CFPB Request for Information Focuses on Concerns about the Enforcement Process

On February 7, 2018, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or “Bureau”) published the latest in its growing series of Requests for Information (“RFI”), this one seeking comment on the Bureau’s enforcement process.[1]  As with earlier RFIs, the Bureau recognizes that the enforcement process may impose burdens on regulated entities and is seeking information on … Continue Reading

FTC Enters Into COPPA Settlement With Online Talent Search Company

On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) entered into a settlement with Nevada-based Prime Sites, Inc., doing business as Explore Talent, related to charges that Explore Talent violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  Explore Talent, an online talent search company, will pay $235,000 in civil penalties. According to the FTC’s complaint, Explore Talent … Continue Reading

Fight Against Sexual Misconduct Bringing Regulations, Protections for Lobbyists

 As sexual abuse, assault, harassment, and other misconduct have dominated national headlines, state capitols and lobbyists have not escaped scrutiny.  Amidst a spate of allegations and member resignations, some state legislatures and ethics commissions are taking action.  While a variety of measures are being considered, including tightening gift rules, it is apparent that lobbyists and … Continue Reading

CBP Revises Rules for Border Searches of Electronic Devices

 Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) released a revised Directive governing searches of electronic devices at the border.  These are the first official revisions CBP has made to its guidelines and procedures for devices since its 2009 Directive.  The new Directive is intended to reflect the evolution of technology over the intervening decade, … Continue Reading

The Week Ahead in the European Parliament – October 20, 2017

Summary Strasbourg will be vibrant next week because the European Parliament will hold its plenary sitting. Members of the European Parliament (“MEPs”) are not expected to vote on many items, however a number of interesting debates will take place. On Monday, MEPs will discuss the upcoming report of the Committee on the Internal Market and … Continue Reading

The German Competition Register – a new animal in the jungle of EU Member States’ competition laws

On 29 July 2017, the new German Competition Registry Act (Wettbewerbsregistergesetz – WRegG) became effective. Organisations offering public tenders worth EUR 30,000 or more will have to check the register to verify whether participating undertakings are excluded from public procurement because of past offences. The new register will be hosted by the Federal Cartel Office … Continue Reading

Is Corporate Political Disclosure Leveling Off? Crunching the latest CPA-Zicklin Numbers

For years, the Center for Political Accountability’s annual CPA-Zicklin Index of corporate political practices has touted marked year-over-year increases in corporate political disclosure practices. Look at the subtitles for its recent reports: How Leading Companies are Strengthening Their Political Spending Practices (2013), How Leading Companies are Making Political Disclosure a Mainstream Practice (2014 and 2015), … Continue Reading

The Top Three Political Law Risks for Hedge Funds, Private Equity Funds, and Investment Firms

Perhaps no industry faces more scrutiny and regulation of its political activities than the financial services industry.   Even though these rules are often not intuitive, failure to comply with them can result in big penalties, loss of business, and debilitating reputational consequences.  In this advisory, we describe three sometimes overlooked political law related risks for hedge funds, … Continue Reading

SEC Pay-to-Play Rule Set to Expand to Capital Acquisition Brokers

The universe of those covered by the SEC’s pay-to-play restrictions is expanding. If a newly proposed SEC rule is adopted as expected, pay-to-play restrictions will now extend to cover the recently created class of broker-dealers called Capital Acquisition Brokers (“CABs”).  In this advisory, we discuss the background on the proposed rule and its implications for … Continue Reading

Kentucky Raises Contribution Limits in July, Adjusts Reporting

Starting this month, nearly all of Kentucky’s campaign contribution limits increase, excepting contributions that remain either unlimited in amount or prohibited. Perhaps the most substantial change is the establishment of building fund accounts for political party executive committees, which may now accept unlimited funds from corporations. Also of note is the elimination of an aggregate $10,000 … Continue Reading
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