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Author Archives: Sylvia Hsieh

Will Obama’s proposals rein in patent trolls? (access required)

The Obama administration has announced five executive actions and seven legislative proposals aimed at holding back the tsunami of litigation by patent trolls, and lawyers are weighing in on whether the recommendations will wall off the tidal waves or merely be sandbags on the shore. “These are more symbolic, [rather] than having a meaningful impact,” said Anthony Biller, an intellectual property lawyer at Coats + Bennett in Cary.

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Supreme Court will decide standing factors in Lanham Act claims (access required)

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the factors that determine whether a party has standing to sue for false advertising under the Lanham Act. The court took up a case June 3 in which Sanford-based Static Control Components Inc., a manufacturer of component and microchips for toner cartridges, alleges that laser printer manufacturer Lexmark violated the act by falsely telling consumers that Static Control violated Lexmark’s patents and licensing agreement.

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At appellate level, class action settlements now a tougher sell (access required)

Facing new objectors, class action settlements are attracting greater scrutiny from appellate courts, which are gutting those settlements and sending them back to be renegotiated. In particular, the amount and proportion of attorney fees and the payment of money into cy pres funds, in which a defendant donates to a non-profit organization instead of directly to class members, have come under fire.

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Google Plus: The next big thing for small law firms? (access required)

Some law firm marketing gurus are going gaga over Google+ (Google Plus), the latest social media platform. Even though it’s only been out for a few months, Google+ is already generating a heated debate over whether it’s the next big thing for small law firms. The main reason for the excitement is the fact that it’s not just another start-up. With over a billion searches on Google every month, and millions of users of gmail and other Google services, the potential if these powers are combined is enormous.

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Lawsuits in the pipeline over ‘fracking’ practices (access required)

Litigation over oil and natural gas industry techniques that include hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is underway across the country and expected to spread. Over the past few years, the use of fracking to drive natural gas out of shale rock has increased dramatically. The technique involves drilling a hole deep into the rock, then pumping in vast quantities of water mixed with sand and chemicals at very high pressure. This opens up fissures in the rock through which the trapped gas can escape. Shale rock can be found in over 36 states, including the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia, the Barnett Shale in Texas, the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas and the Bakken Shale in Montana. An extensive pocket of natural gas also has been found in shale deposits under a five-county swath of central North Carolina.

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