Patent Problems

“We refuse to succumb to patent trolls.”

Rick Flamm, SVP of legal and general counsel at Nintendo of America, in a press release

Video game giant Nintendo has won its third patent infringement lawsuit of 2012. In this case, a Maryland judge dismissed a suit by IA Labs, which claimed that many of Nintendo’s Wii products infringed on two of its patents. In a release, Nintendo said that it respects the intellectual property rights of others, and that it will continue to fight unfair patent lawsuits.

Sports Scandal

“We have given your requests careful consideration, and have concluded that there is no basis for delaying the imposition of any discipline in this matter, and particularly not as it may apply to a club or any non-player employee of a club.”

Jeff Pash, GC of the National Football League, in an e-mail to the NFL Players Association

In the wake of this month’s NFL bounty scandal, the players’ association asked the league not to punish 20-odd players cited for their alleged involvement until the association completed its own investigation. The league, however, acted swiftly, suspending several coaches for their involvement in the “pay for pain” programs. No players have yet been disciplined.

Penalizing Prostitution

“Adult services advertising existed on the Internet before and will continue on the Internet regardless of”

Liz McDougall, GC of Village Voice Media

Village Voice Media is fighting critics of its online classified site, which has come under fire for prostitution advertising. Opponents of Backpage say that it exploits minors, some of whom are featured in ads or lured into the sex trade through the site. But McDougall argues that Backpage reports suspected illegal activity to authorities, and that shutting it down would simply drive sex traffickers further underground.


Taboo Tracking

“Guidance which consists of ’two days might be good, 30 days is too long’ is not very helpful.”

Andrew Weissmann, GC of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

The FBI is still struggling to understand the implications of a Supreme Court ruling that banned authorities from placing GPS tracking devices on vehicles without first obtaining a warrant. The court ruled in January that the FBI had violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unlawful search and seizure when it used a tracking device to monitor the movements of suspected drug dealer Antoine Jones. In response, the FBI turned off 3,000 similar devices, but says that the ruling is too narrow to provide guidance for other cases.

Merger Mayhem

“It doesn’t seem like the FTC understands where the field is going and the pressures it has to be more efficient, to be leaner.”

Melinda Hatton, GC of the American Hospital Association trade group

Last year saw the completion of 86 hospital mergers—the highest number in a decade—prompting the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on the industry. FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz vowed to challenge “anticompetitive hospital mergers,” saying that they limit choice and drive up health care costs for both patients and insurers. Many hospitals support these mergers, however, as they enable health systems to coordinate care and maintain electronic health records more efficiently.

Redistricting Row

“In this case, the racial gerrymandering, this is probably the worst in 50 years.”

Luis Vera, GC of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

An already tumultuous election year is heating up in Texas, where some Latino advocacy groups are crying foul on newly released congressional maps. The maps were created after the 2010 census, in which Texas gained four new congressional seats, but have since been redrawn after complaints by Democrats and minority groups, who say that they do little to increase Latino voting power. Supporters argue that the maps have created two majority-Latino districts. The Texas primary, which has been postponed twice as a result of the redistricting dispute, is now scheduled for May 29.