Tobacco Tiff

“The goal of informing the public about the risks of tobacco use can and should be accomplished consistent with the U.S. Constitution.”

Martin Holton, general counsel for R.J. Reynolds

A federal judge ruled on Feb. 29 that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could not require tobacco companies to include graphic images on cigarette packaging. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said that the mandate violated the companies’ constitutional right to free speech.


Cutting Costs

“Among the legacy costs that must be addressed as part of our reorganization are retiree health care costs that are not borne by many of the companies we compete against in the marketplace.”

Patrick M. Sheller, general counsel of Kodak, in a letter to the company’s retirees

As part of its recently announced bankruptcy, Kodak is slashing expenses by cutting health care for former employees who retired after 1991 and are eligible for Medicare. Dependents who are under 65 will still be covered.



Antitrust Argument

“Motorola has broken its promise. Motorola is on a path to use standard essential patents to kill video on the Web, and Google as its new owner doesn’t seem to be willing to change course.”

Dave Heiner, vice president and deputy general counsel of Microsoft, in a blog post

On Feb. 22, Microsoft filed a formal complaint with the European Commission accusing Google and Motorola of patent abuse. Microsoft claims that Motorola is violating competition rules by pursuing patent infringement suits on technologies essential to the industry.


Contraception Controversy

“Foundational principles, religious liberty are at stake…The bishops have no choice. They just have no choice. They’re not going to relent on this. They can’t relent. They have no choice.”

Anthony Picarello Jr., general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholic bishops have vowed to fight President Obama’s proposed health care mandate, which would require religious institutions to provide birth control as part of their health care plans. On March 1, the Senate defeated a GOP bill that would have allowed employers to opt out of the plan.


Privacy Problems

“‘Do Not Track’ is a misnomer. It’s not an accurate depiction of what’s going on. This is stopping some data collection, but it’s not stopping all data collection.”

Stuart Ingis, general counsel of the Digital Advertising Alliance

Federal regulators and advertising groups issued new online privacy initiatives for consumers. Advertisers agreed to support a so-called “Do Not Track” mechanism that would allow Internet users to stop some companies, though not all, from collecting data about them.


Farmers’ Fight

“This decision is a win for all farmers as it underscores that agricultural practices such as ag[ricultural] biotechnology, organic and conventional systems do and will continue to effectively coexist in the agricultural marketplace.”

David Snively, general counsel of Monsanto Co.

Monsanto celebrated when a judge dismissed a class action lawsuit against the agriculture giant. As many as 300,000 organic farmers were seeking protection from potential patent infringement lawsuits brought by Monsanto, which has been known to sue farmers whose crops contain its patented seeds.


Troublesome Treasure

“We’ll allow [Spain] to celebrate, until they realize they’ve been very short-sighted in this case.”

Melinda MacConnel, vice president and general counsel of Odyssey Marine Exploration

$500 million worth of sunken Spanish treasure is returning home after a judge ruled that it did not belong to the U.S. salvage company that discovered it in 2007. MacConnel warned that the ruling will dissuade future salvagers from disclosing their finds, which will be “hidden or even worse, melted down or sold on eBay.”