For nearly 15 years, the United States has had the worldwide corruption enforcement stage to itself, reaping billions of dollars in fines and settlement payments from companies that have acknowledged engaging in bribery in foreign countries. That monopoly, however, may soon end. In a report entitled Left Out of the Bargain, the World Bank recently observed that “the country of enforcement was different from the country where the official was bribed or allegedly bribed” and that the country of enforcement has rarely shared its financial recoveries with the countries where the corruption occurred. Motivated by the potential financial recovery in a time where governments are struggling financially and aware of the financial benefit the U.S. has gained from corruption abroad, we believe that countries that have largely ignored corruption enforcement may become more active. As a result, companies may face additional punishment as multiple sovereigns pursue penalties for the same conduct.
We all expect (or, at the very least, should expect) our elected officials in Congress to follow the laws that they impose on the public, prohibitions on insider trading included. A recent investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) into suspicious trades on Capitol Hill show that the House of Representatives (the “House”) may not agree, finding themselves to be above the laws that they create.
Insider trading happens. That statement probably comes as no surprise to most. News of traders such as Raj Rajaratnam and Rengan Rajaratnam show that insider trading occurs, is frequently prosecuted, and many inside traders face high penalties and even jail time for their illegal trades. But just how pervasive is the practice of insider trading? A recent study by two professors from the Stern School of Business at New York University and one professor from McGill University shows that insider trading actually occurs in a shockingly high number of transactions. According to the study, a quarter of all public company deals appear to involve some kind of insider trading.
The importance of time-based vesting for equity and/or rights to acquire equity granted to founders and subsequent employees of venture-backed companies should not be understated. Equally important is what events should cause the agreed upon vesting schedule to accelerate. While the possible permutations for acceleration are endless, three primary flavors arise with great frequency: (i) termination by the company “other than for cause”, (ii) termination as a result of death or disability, and (iii) change of control. (more…)
In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Federal Circuit’s en banc decision that petitioner Alice Corporation’s asserted patent claims are invalid for being directed to a patent-ineligible abstract idea. Applying a two-part framework, the Court held that the claims at issue are drawn to an abstract idea and that merely requiring generic computer implementation fails to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.
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Makovsky, a communications company, recently interviewed 225 executives from banks, credit card companies, mutual funds, and other financial services providers about their outlook on Wall Street. The study showed that “81% of Financial Service companies continue to struggle with reputational and customer service issues stemming from the financial crisis six years ago.” (more…)
More than six months after the release of final Volcker Rule regulations, banking organizations continue to grapple with a long list of interpretive questions and an opaque process for seeking clarity from the Volcker agencies. Regulatory silence broke for a brief moment this past week in the form of a short interagency FAQ and, from the OCC, interim examination guidelines for assessing banking entities’ progress toward Volcker Rule compliance during the conformance period.
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The National Football League team, the Washington Redskins, has had the trademark protection for its name and logo removed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. On Wednesday, the federal agency ruled that the name is “disparaging to Native Americans” and thus cannot be trademarked. Under federal law, trademarks that “may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute” cannot be registered.