Articles Posted in 2016

by

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.


Posted in: Criminal, Privacy

by

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.”


Posted in: Litigation

by

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.


Posted in: Legal News

by

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.


Posted in: Technology

by

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?


Posted in: Legal News

by

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.


Posted in: Education Law

by

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.


Posted in: Civil Rights

by

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.


Posted in: Patent