- The Supreme Court's health care decision. The decision is important on a variety of levels. It upholds the president's health care overhaul, which of course affects businesses and all Americans in very significant ways. The court articulated broad limitations on the commerce clause, the effect of which will be determined in future challenges to congressional action. And the dynamic of the court may be affected by the apparent tension among justices and the postdecision leak about their deliberations.
- The implementation of Dodd-Frank. The financial regulatory reform law affects not just financial institutions but every public company in the nation. The regulatory burdens are still unknown as more generally applicable provisions like the "conflict minerals" rules are implemented and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau begins to regulate and enforce in earnest. All the while, the Securities and Exchange Commission has struggled to defend its actions in the courts.
- Patent wars. The 2011 America Invents Actthe first overhaul of U.S. patent law in decadescontinued to be phased in this year. Even some of the most innovative companies are investing more in buying, defending, and asserting patents than they spend in R&D, while nonpracticing entities continue to affect the market in significant ways. It's unclear whether the new law is sufficient to address the new reality. In many ways it seems to be playing catch-up, and not quite catching the current patent war landscape.