Power Pole

On June 13, 2016, the U.S. Attorneys’ Office filed a complaint in the Western District of Washington against the City of Seattle and its department Seattle City Light.

In United States of America v. City of Seattle, the complaint revealed that the FBI had been installing covert video surveillance cameras on city utility poles, as part of an investigation of particular subjects. The federal government is seeking an injunction to prevent the City, which had received a request from a KIRO 7 reporter under the Washington State Public Records Act, from disclosing the location of cameras that the FBI had installed on city utility poles.

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Last April, Nike USA, Inc. filed a complaint against Boris Berian, alleging that the defendant had breached an endorsement contract.

Nike alleged that parties had entered into a Track & Field Contract on June 17, 2015, that ended on December 31, 2015. During this term, Berian was exclusively obligated to endorse Nike athletic footwear and apparel. During the 60-day period before the expiration of the contract, Nike had an exclusive period to negotiate the renewal of the contract. After the exclusive negotiating period ended, Berian could negotiate with third parties. However, for 180 days after the contract expired, Berian had to submit to Nike any third-party offer he received and wanted to accept, and Nike then had 10 business days to “decide whether to enter into an agreement with Defendant on terms no less favorable than the ‘material, measurable and matchable terms’ contained in that third-party offer.”

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Muhammad Ali

Our legal system offers its own remembrance of Muhammad Ali. In decisions from 1967 to 1971, federal court opinions documented Ali’s fight to seek conscientious objector status when drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. Although he was convicted, sentenced to imprisonment for five years and fined $10,000 for declining to submit to induction, his conviction was ultimately overturned by the United State Supreme Court. The cases below show the circuitous route he took as his challenges traversed through all levels of the judicial system.

Ali v. Connally, 266 F. Supp. 345 (S.D. Tex. 1967). Court dismissed plaintiff’s petition for injunctive relief ruling that the Selective Service Act does not provide for judicial review of orders of the Selective Service Board.

Clay v. United States, 397 F.2d 901 (5th Cir. 1968). The Court held that decisions of the local boards in denying a ministerial exemption and conscientious objector status are final.

Ali v. Division of State Athletic Commission, 308 F. Supp. 11 (S.D.N.Y. 1969). Plaintiff Muhammad Ali alleged that the New York State Athletic Commission had violated his rights under the Due Process Clause by refusing to issue him a license to fight in a prize ring because of his conviction and sentence for refusing to serve in the armed forces. The District Court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss finding a rational basis for the Commission’s refusal to grant the application based on plaintiff’s conviction and sentence.

United States v. Clay, 386 F. Supp. 926 (S.D. Tex. 1969). The United States Supreme Court had granted certiorari and remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the defendant’s conviction was tainted by the information obtained as a result of the electronic surveillance. Because defendant was not able to establish that logs of his telephone conversations contained prejudicial material, the court denied his motions to dismiss or set aside the verdict, sentence, and indictment, and for a new trial.

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Moscone Center

Last year, Google hosted Google I/O at Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco, a destination city with abundant hotel and dining options. So, it came as a bit of a shock to us when Google announced that Google I/O was moving to Shoreline Amphitheatre, which is literally just down the street from us in Mountain View, California.

Google I/O is a developer conference that explores the latest in technology and mobile. Our own software engineer, Nick Moline, has attended previous I/Os where he’s learned about Structured Data markup and knowledge graph search which powers Google Now. Nick notes that I/O is also where Google first launched various APIs that people use every day. “Most of the Google Maps API was first announced at the original Google Developer Day back in 2007, and SPDY, the precursor to what is now known as HTTP\2 a new faster way of working with the internet, was pushed heavily in 2010.” This year, Nick is looking forward to the sessions focused on high performance websites, in particular for mobile. These sessions should be of interest to lawyers and law firms seeking to improve their marketing reach.

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When I first heard that Alaska Airlines would be taking over Virgin America, I was puzzled because Virgin has built a very distinct brand that spans other product categories. I also assumed that any acquisition would have the support of Sir Richard Branson, the Founder of Virgin Group.

However, in his post On Virgin America, Branson provides the backstory on the creation of Virgin America and offers an interesting comment about the Alaska Airlines takeover:

I would be lying if I didn’t admit sadness that our wonderful airline is merging with another. Because I’m not American, the US Department of Transportation stipulated I take some of my shares in Virgin America as non-voting shares, reducing my influence over any takeover. So there was sadly nothing I could do to stop it.

Virgin America has its principal executive offices in Burlingame, California. In Silicon Valley, many companies are started by foreign-born founders. Some companies even have multiple classes of stock to maintain voting control in the hands of its founders. So, what was different about Virgin America that the US Department of Transportation required Richard Branson to take some of his shares as non-voting shares?
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Mandatory Fees at the University of CaliforniaThe California State Auditor recently released a report titled The University of California: Its Admissions and Financial Decisions Have Disadvantaged California Resident Students. Figure 9, which charts the mandatory fees paid by undergraduate students, caught my attention. I’ve removed the numbers and the Y-axis scale for illustrative purposes.

At first glance, it appears that residents are paying higher mandatory fees than nonresidents. From 2011 onwards, the chart gives the impression that residents are paying twice as much as nonresidents. However, this chart is incredibly misleading.
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SUPREME_COURT_7375

Same-sex marriages are legal in the United States, but you would not know that if you only consulted the state codes. Last June, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015). In Obergefell, the Court considered two questions: (1) did the Fourteenth Amendment require states to license a marriage between two people of the same sex; and (2) did the Fourteenth Amendment require states to recognize a same-sex marriage that was lawfully licensed and performed in a different state. On both questions, the Court answered in the affirmative.

So, what happens when a court holds that a state law is unconstitutional? I wanted to see if state legislatures updated their state codes in the face of adverse United States Supreme Court precedent so I looked up the marriage laws from the states that were the subject of this litigation: Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

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Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. applied for an interesting fraud detection patent in March 2014. This patent covers the process of verifying the identity of a client who calls in for customer service. If you have ever called a credit card company or your bank, you should already be familiar with their security prompts. First, the bank sees whether the call came from an authorized phone number. Next, you are prompted for your mother’s maiden name or the answer to another challenge question.

This patent looks at voice biometrics by analyzing voice signals to detect stress during the verification process, such as when the caller is prompted by a verification or security question. If the caller provides a higher frequency response during the verification process, that may indicate a fear of being detected or exposed.

This process also seeks to match voice biometrics with voice samples of individuals suspected of being fraudsters from a database.

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vaccinationAll states require children to be immunized or to be in the process of receiving immunizations against certain contagious diseases before a child care facility or a school may admit them. For each state, the immunization schedule may be found in the state code or its administrative regulations, usually in the sections governing education (for schools) or public health (for child care facilities). Besides specific vaccine requirements, these schedules may also refer to the schedules provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, American Academy of Family Physicians, or American Academy of Pediatrics.

Where states significantly differ is in their recognition of exemptions from vaccination. All states grant a medical exemption to children who cannot be immunized for health reasons. For example, the administration of a vaccine may be contraindicated in children who are allergic to a component of the vaccine or have a suppressed immune system. These exemptions are specific to the vaccine and health condition, and remain so long as the contraindication lasts.

Additionally, 48 states and the District of Columbia permit parents to claim a non-scientific exemption, such as if their religious tenets or practices conflict with immunization or if their personal, philosophical or moral beliefs are opposed to immunization. The lone holdouts are Mississippi and West Virginia. However, in the event of an outbreak, child care facilities and schools may exclude children who have not been vaccinated against the disease until the end of the outbreak.

Verdict offers some insightful analysis into the issue of religious exemptions:

Below, you will find links to state codes, statutes and regulations governing the immunization of children who attend day care, child care, elementary schools, private schools and colleges.

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Alfred v. Walt Disney Co., Delaware Court of Chancery (1/14/15)
Civil Procedure

X WingThis complaint concerned the T-65 X-wing fighter plane, a fictional vehicle created in connection with the movie Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Walt Disney Company owned the trademark for the fictional vehicle. Plaintiff developed a marketing plan pursuant to which Disney would license to a non-party the right to use the X-wing name and appearance, the non-party would develop the vehicle in the appearance of an X-wing (the “Flying Car”), and Plaintiff would raise the funds for development of the Flying Car. Plaintiff planned on promoting the Flying Car via tie-ins to Disney’s new Star Wars movie to be released in 2017. Plaintiff made an unsolicited proposal involving Star Wars marketing to Disney, but Disney responded that it was not interested in his proposal. Plaintiff filed this complaint against Disney and its CEO and Board Chairman, claiming that Defendants were “stalling the next evolution of human transportation on this planet.” The individual Defendants, both residents of California, moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, and all Defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Court of Chancery granted the motions, holding that Plaintiff failed to perfect jurisdiction over the individual Defendants and failed to state a claim against any of the Defendants.

Read More: X-wing fighter lawsuit against ‘Star Wars’ rights-owner Disney is shot down by Delaware judge

Whitfield v. United States, United States Supreme Court (1/13/15)
Criminal Law

Whitfield, fleeing a botched bank robbery, entered 79-year-old Parnell’s home and guided her from a hallway to a room a few feet away, where she suffered a fatal heart attack. He was convicted of, among other things, violating 18 U. S. C.2113(e), which establishes enhanced penalties for anyone who “forces any person to accompany him without the consent of such person” in the course of committing or fleeing from a bank robbery. The Fourth Circuit held that the movement Whitfield required Parnell to make satisfied the forced-accompaniment requirement. The unanimous Supreme Court affirmed. A bank robber “forces [a] person to accompany him,” for purposes of section 2113(e), when he forces that person to go somewhere with him, even if the movement occurs entirely within a single building or over a short distance. The word “accompany” does not connote movement over a substantial distance. The severity of the penalties for a forced-accompaniment conviction, a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment, does not militate against this interpretation; the danger of a forced accompaniment does not vary depending on the distance traversed.

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