U.K. Business Lawsuits Rise as Lehman-Claims Expiry Date Looms
U.K. business lawsuits increased 23 percent in the last year as lawyers try to beat a 2014 deadline to bring claims related to the financial crisis.
Cases filed at the Commercial Court, where most business disputes in the British capital are heard, reached 1,393 in the year ending Sept. 30, law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP said in a statement.
Office Depot Merger With OfficeMax Wins U.S. Approval
Office Depot Inc. (ODP)’s merger with OfficeMax Inc. won approval from U.S. antitrust regulators, clearing the way for the office-supply companies to create a single retailer to compete with Staples Inc. (SPLS)
The Federal Trade Commission voted to close its seven-month investigation into the merger, saying the combination is unlikely to substantially reduce competition, the commission said in a statement today.
Atari Wins Approval to Send Plan to Vote: Bankruptcy
Atari Inc., the bankrupt video-game maker, won court approval to seek creditors’ votes on its plan to exit bankruptcy protection as a going concern.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James M. Peck approved the company’s disclosure statement, an outline of the restructuring plan, finding that it contained adequate information for creditors to make an informed vote, according to court documents filed Oct. 29 in Manhattan. The company is scheduled to seek court approval of its reorganization plan at a Dec. 5 hearing.
Tiffany, Hasbro, MotionPoint: Intellectual Property
An arbitrator ordered Hasbro Inc. (HAS) to pay about $72.9 million in royalties to Atlanta-based Johnson Research & Development Co., one of its licensors, over the toymaker’s line of Nerf guns.
A separate case, pending in federal court in Atlanta, seeks royalties from Hasbro’s line of Super Soakers, which were invented 25 years ago by Johnson’s founder, Lonnie G. Johnson, an engineer.
NYC Police Stop-and-Frisk Ruling Delayed as Judge Removed
A federal appeals court delayed enforcement of a U.S. judge’s ruling that the New York Police Department’s use of stop-and-frisk tactics is unconstitutional and removed her from the case, saying she appeared biased.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York stayed enforcement of remedies ordered by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan, who ordered the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee changes. The appeals court took the extraordinary step of removing Scheindlin from the case.
Texas Wins Emergency Delay, Can Enforce Abortion Limits
Texas won a U.S. appeals court order temporarily blocking a federal judge’s decision to strike down a state law requiring abortion doctors to have local hospital admission privileges.
The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans will allow Texas officials to enforce the provision while they seek reversal of the Oct. 28 ruling by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin.
Wi-Lan, AstraZeneca, FootAsylum: Intellectual Property
Wi-Lan Inc. (WIN), the patent holder that suffered a setback last week when Apple Inc. won an infringement trial, said it will explore “strategic alternatives” including a possible sale of the company.
Wi-Lan will consider changes to dividend policy or other forms of return of capital, as well as “the acquisition or disposition of assets, joint ventures, the sale of the company, alternative operating models or continuing with the current business plan,” it said yesterday in a statement.
Dentons, McKenna to Put Merger to a Vote: Business of Law
Dentons LLP, the 2,600-lawyer global law firm, and McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, a 575-lawyer firm, will put their proposed merger to a vote of partners in the next two weeks, both firms confirmed in an e-mail.
“The boards of Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge have recommended to their partners that the firms combine, subject to the approval by their respective partnerships,” the firms said. “The voting procedures will follow the protocols of each firm and will be completed no later than Nov. 14, 2013.”
NSA Leader Ready for Spying Curbs He Says Lessen Safety
The head of the U.S. National Security Agency is preparing to deal with new constraints on spying methods at home and abroad while warning they may make the nation more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
General Keith Alexander spent the last few days being questioned by members of Congress considering restraints on the agency’s collection of phone and Internet data, and at a speaking engagement where he was pressed on possible curbs on the NSA’s eavesdropping on foreign leaders.
U.S. Joins Whistle-Blower Suit Over Background Probes
The U.S. joined a whistle-blower lawsuit against the firm whose background checks helped National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis get security clearances.
United States Investigations Services LLC is accused in the complaint in federal court in Montgomery, Alabama, of failing to perform quality control reviews in connection with its background investigations for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Patton Creates Public Finance Practice: Business of Law
Patton Boggs LLP started a public finance practice by hiring four Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP attorneys.
The additions, who include a partner based in New York and another in Washington, also have experience in project finance, private fund investment and infrastructure transactions.
AK Steel, Sony, Dillard’s, 5Pointz: Intellectual Property
AK Steel Corp., a producer of steel used for automobiles, construction and electrical power generation, said it persuaded a court that it didn’t infringe a patent belonging to Luxembourg’s ArcelorMittal SA. (MT)
The Luxembourg-based steel producer sued West Chester Ohio-based AK Steel in federal court in Delaware in April, claiming patent 6,296,805 was infringed. The patent, issued in October 2001 and reissued as RE44153 in April, covers a thermally hot and cold-rolled steel sheet with a very high resistance.
Comcast, Astros Reach Accord Allowing Team to Seek Network Deals
The Houston Astros were authorized to find a carrier for Houston Regional Sports Network LP, which televises the games of the Major League Baseball team and the National Basketball Association’s Rockets, after a judge ruled the Astros could act as the lead negotiator in developing a business plan for the future of the network.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Marvin Isgur at a hearing yesterday in Houston declined to rule on the validity of Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s bid to force the network into involuntary bankruptcy, a move opposed by the Astros.
British Press Ask Court to Halt ’Irrational’ Regulation Plan
Representatives of the British newspaper industry asked a London court to stop new rules governing the press from being implemented to give them time to challenge the proposals.
The Press Standards Board of Finance is seeking an injunction to prevent the rules from being handed to the Queen’s advisers, the Privy Council, for approval this afternoon. The process has been “wholly unfair and irrational” and “has the potential to profoundly affect the nature of press regulation,” the group’s lawyers said in court documents.
Privacy Chief Warns EU Over Data-Law Delay Amid U.S. Spy Scandal
European Union nations should stop dragging their feet over an “urgent” overhaul of data protection rules that would foist tough constraints on U.S. tech companies, the bloc’s top privacy watchdog said.
Jacob Kohnstamm said he was making a “cry from the heart” after EU leaders last week dropped a 2014 deadline to toughen the bloc’s data privacy laws even as they condemned allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency eavesdropped on world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
U.S. in Leading Role in Global Currency Rigging Probe
The U.S. Justice Department is taking a leading role in a global investigation into possible manipulation of the $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market, a department official said.
Mythili Raman, acting head of the criminal division, said in an interview yesterday that the department’s criminal and antitrust divisions have an “active investigation” into possible manipulation of foreign exchange rates. She declined to name specific institutions under scrutiny or say when the probe began.
Michigan Governor Says He Focused on Detroit Woes in 2011
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder defended Detroit’s record municipal bankruptcy filing as a necessary last resort, telling a federal judge that he spent two and a half years trying to resolve the city’s fiscal crisis.
Snyder, 55, took the witness stand in Detroit yesterday as part of a trial to decide whether the $18 billion case should be thrown out. City unions demanded that Snyder testify, making him the first governor to take the witness stand in a municipal bankruptcy, according to lawyers who specialize in government insolvency cases.
Patent Trolls, Castel, Obamacare: Intellectual Property
A large number of trade groups have sent a letter to Congress supporting expansion of review of business method patents.
They said in the Oct. 28 letter that patent assertion entities — known pejoratively as “patent trolls” — that do not make or sell new products or develop new technologies are imposing “huge costs” on American businesses.
Greenberg Among Firms on Consol Deal: Business of Law
Greenberg Traurig LLP, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, Buchanan Ingersoll& Rooney PC and Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as legal counsel on a transaction between Consol Energy Inc. (CNX) and Murray Energy Corp.
Consol agreed to sell assets including five West Virginia thermal-coal mines to Murray for about $850 million to help fund the expansion of natural gas production from shale deposits.
Texas Abortion Law Hospital Privilege Requirement Blocked
A new Texas law requiring abortion doctors to affiliate with local hospitals puts a “substantial obstacle” in the path of women seeking the procedure, a federal judge ruled, blocking its enforcement.
The measure “does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the state in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman’s health,” U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin said today. The provisions, part of a larger piece of legislation passed in July, were to take effect tomorrow.