Court Allows Suit Over Chances for Chronic Fatigue Drug
Jan. 27 — Investors may proceed with a proposed securities fraud class action alleging that Hemispherx Biopharma, Inc. (HEB) and key officers misrepresented or concealed that it was unlikely that the development-stage pharmaceutical company would obtain regulatory approval of Ampligen as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome the U.S. District Court for the District of Eastern Pennsylvania ruled Jan. 24 (Frater v. Hemispherx Biopharma, Inc., 2014 BL 19201, E.D. Pa., No. 2:12-cv-07152-WY, 1/24/14).
Court Correctly ‘Stripped Off’ Condominium Association’s Wholly Unsecured Lien
Jan. 31 –A bankruptcy court did not err in stripping off the appellant condominium association’s lien because the first mortgage’s lien was superior, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida held Jan. 21 (Stonebridge Gardens Section Two, Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Campbell, S.D. Fla., No. 0:13-cv-61280-RSR, 1/21/14).
Canadian Bargaining Pacts Settled in 2013 Show 1.4 Percent Average Wage Increase
Jan. 31 –Major collective bargaining agreements reached in Canada during 2013 produced average base rate wage increases of 1.4 percent, smaller than the 1.7 percent average in 2012 and the 1.8 percent average in each of 2011 and 2010, Labour Canada reported Jan. 30.
‘Santa Claus Is Comin’ to the Second Circuit Following Appeal By Song’s Composers’ Heirs
Jan. 29 –The heirs of the composers of “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Jan. 24 challenging the district court’s determination that they had failed in their attempts to terminate a grant of rights originally executed in 1951, Bergdahl v. EMI Feist Catalog Inc., No. 14-00182, (2d Cir., appeal filed Jan. 24, 2014).
Target Aims for March to Report to SEC On Investment Consequences of Data Breach
Jan. 29 — Retailer Target will report on the investment consequences of its data breach to the Securities and Exchange Commission, but not until March, a company spokeswoman told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 29.
Target (TGT) announced in December that hackers breached its data and gained access to payment card information for approximately 40 million customers; in January it announced that hackers had accessed contact information for 70 million customers.
Musician Prince Sues Twenty-Two for Posting Concert Recordings Online
Jan. 28 –Prince’s copyrights were infringed when bootleg recordings of his concerts were posted to the Internet without his permission, according to a complaint filed by the musician in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Jan. 16. (Nelson v. Chodera, N.D. Cal., 3:14-cv-00273, complaint filed 1/16/14).
U.S. Consumer Confidence Climbs To Five-Month High, Survey Finds
Jan. 28 –Confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly climbed to a five-month high in January as optimism about the economy and the labor market improved, the Conference Board said Jan. 28.
The New York-based private research group’s index advanced to 80.7 from a revised 77.5 in December that was weaker than initially estimated.
Michigan Governor Proposes $350M For Detroit Pensions in Bankruptcy Deal
Jan. 22 –Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) proposed that the state commit as much as $350 million over 20 years to help reduce losses for Detroit retirees and pension plans as the city goes through Chapter 9 proceedings.
Snyder, flanked at a Jan. 22 news conference in downtown Lansing by state Republican House and Senate leaders, characterized the plan as a “settlement” as opposed to a “bailout,” and said any aid would come with conditions, including a requirement for independent fiduciary management of the city’s two pension plans.
SEC Staff Issues New Guidance On ‘Unbundling’ Management Proposals
Jan. 24 –The Securities and Exchange Commission Division of Corporation Finance Jan. 24 issued guidance on the “unbundling” of management-sponsored proposals that are submitted for a shareholder vote–an area in which attorneys have called for greater clarity.
Debtor’s Ch. 7 to Ch. 13 Conversion Denied; Title Dispute Claims Exceed Debt Ceiling
Jan. 24 –The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Jan. 2 denied a debtor’s motion to convert a case from Chapter 7 to Chapter 13 because the amount of debt exceeds the debt ceiling under Bankruptcy Code Section 109(e) and, when coupled with the debtor’s income-to-assets ratio, causes the debtor to fail the best interests test under Section 1325(a)(4) (Rodriguez v. Schmidt, 2014 BL 3827, S.D. Tex., No. 7:13-cv-00073, 1/2/14).
Snyder, Bloomberg Call for Swift Overhaul Of ‘Dumb,’ ‘Broken’ U.S. Immigration System
Jan. 24 — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) Jan. 24 called on Congress to overhaul the current immigration system, an effort that both men said would attract needed workers to the U.S. and spur economic growth.
Publisher of Shape Magazine Prevails On Section 2(d) Opposition to ‘Shapes’ Mark
Jan. 22 — If registered, the “Shapes” mark for beauty services would result in confusion with the “Shape” registration that has been used as a title of a fitness magazine for over 30 years, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board held Jan. 21, sustaining a Section 2(d), 15 U.S.C. § 1052(d), opposition to the Shapes application (Weider Publ’ns LLC v. D&D Beauty Care Co., T.T.A.B., No. 91199352, 1/21/14).
Regulators Want ‘Culture of Compliance’ Handling Whistle-blowers In-House, Panel Says
Jan. 22 — Cracking down on employer retaliation against whistle-blowers and ensuring that companies are adequately allowing internal reporting of potential lawbreaking are on federal regulators’ agenda for the upcoming year, according to a Jan. 22 webcast hosted by the American Bar Association.
China Official: IPR Crimes Shifting to West and Central Regions, Exurbs, Internet
Jan. 21 –China will step up its fight against intellectual property infringement in the country’s western and central regions, city outskirts and on the Internet to combat the increasing trade of counterfeit products in those areas, a Chinese government official said Jan. 21.
Employer May Be Liable for Bawdy Doctor, Despite Reprimand, Offer to Transfer Nurse
Jan. 21 –A Texas surgery facility that offered to transfer a nurse who complained about a doctor’s alleged offensive conduct and told the physician to apologize and refrain from offending behavior may not have taken sufficient action to be entitled to an affirmative defense on the nurse’s sexual harassment claim, a federal district court ruled Jan. 17 (Sanders v. Christus Santa Rosa PASC, 2014 BL 13873, W.D. Tex., No. 5:13-cv-00250, 1/17/14).
Court Erred by Invoking Inherent Sanction Power; No Evidence of Creditor’s Bad Faith
Jan. 17 –A bankruptcy court had constitutional authority to enter final judgment in an adversary proceeding and did not abuse its discretion in refusing to abstain from hearing the avoidance action under the mandatory abstention provision of 28 U.S.C. § 1334(c)(2); however, the bankruptcy court erred in invoking its inherent sanction power because the court failed to find by clear and convincing evidence that the appellant creditor acted in bad faith, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held Jan. 9 (Cadle Co. v. Moore (In re Moore), 2014 BL 6284, 5th Cir., No. 13-10325, 1/9/14).
Detroit Judge Rejects $165M Swaps Deal With UBS, Bank of America as Too Costly
Jan. 16 –A Detroit bankruptcy judge Jan. 16 denied the city permission to pay UBS AG and Bank of America Corp. about $165 million to end interest-rate swaps that have cost taxpayers $202 million since 2009, saying the deal cost too much (In re City of Detroit , Bankr. E.D. Mich., No. 2:13-bk-53846, 1/16/14).
9th Cir. Affirms Ruling That Copyright Protection Does Not Cover Container Shape
Jan. 15 –A federal district court did not err in ruling that a water container designed for use as part of a water pipe is a useful article whose shape could not be physically or conceptually separated from the utilitarian function of the container, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Jan. 9 (Inhale, Inc. v. Starbuzz Tobacco, Inc., 2014 BL 6157, 9th Cir., No. 12-56331, 1/9/14).
Insider Trading Gets More Sophisticated, So Regulators Must Follow Suit, Panel Says
Jan. 15 –As insider trading techniques become more complex, enforcement officials have to step up their game with better surveillance and analysis to detect and punish it, a panel said Jan. 14 at a D.C. bar gathering.
The “new frontier of insider trading” involves non-equity based securities, Daniel M. Hawke, chief of the market abuse unit in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division, said.
Apple’s Win Over Motorola at ITC Upheld in Federal Circuit Decision
Jan. 14 –Apple Inc.’s noninfringement of Motorola Mobility LLC’s patent on mobile phone application push technology was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Jan. 10 in a nonprecedential opinion (Motorola Mobility LLC v. Int’l Trade Comm’n, Fed. Cir., No. 2012-1666, 1/10/14).