9 notable GCs in the news

Tracking some of the most-significant quotes from general counsel in the mainstream media

 

"While we are asserting patent claims of our own, we do so in response to Yahoo's short-sighted decision to attack one of its partners and prioritize litigation over innovation."

--Ted Ullyot, general counsel of Facebook

After Yahoo! filed a patent infringement suit against Facebook, it didn’t take the social media giant long to respond in kind. Facebook alleges that Yahoo!’s Flickr photo-sharing site and Yahoo! News page—among other features—infringe on Facebook patents protecting news feeds, photo tagging and search algorithms.

 

"I do not recall when I saw these emails, but I understood that the finance team was looking for an adjustment and support to eliminate the deficit."

Laurie Ferber, former GC of MF Global Holdings, speaking at a Congressional hearing

Ferber testified before the House Financial Services Committee that she received emails detailing a shortfall in MF Global’s customer accounts just before the financial derivatives broker went bankrupt last fall. However, she denied any knowledge of the company’s alleged misuse of customer funds, and claimed that she did not provide assurances to JPMorgan Chase & Co. that MF Global was segregating customer collateral, as the requests were too broad.  

 

“By leveraging the online identity information all registered sex offenders are required to provide, we are able to help reduce potentially harmful situations.”

--Rich Wallis, deputy GC for Microsoft

Several major gaming companies—including Microsoft, Sony and Electronic Arts—purged the accounts of more than 3,500 registered New York sex offenders as part of “Operation: Game Over.” Proponents of the measure say that it will make it harder for sexual predators to communicate anonymously with underage victims.

 

“We felt strongly that these products met all legal and regulatory criteria for listing, and that the public would benefit from having these products traded on a well-regulated exchange.”

--Tim McDermott, GC of the North American Derivatives Exchange

Federal regulators have banned the North American Derivatives Exchange from offering trades in derivatives linked to the 2012 U.S. election results. The Chicago-based exchange argued that similar political contracts are already traded on unregulated markets. But the Commodity Futures Trading Commission ruled that the trades constitute gambling, and could “have an adverse effect on the integrity of elections.”

"What we've discovered is, in a drug deal gone bad, people die, and this is the defense. Our conclusion is that this law ought to be repealed. We don't think it's a thing we can tweak."

--Buddy Jacobs, GC of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law has generated substantial controversy since the February 28 shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. Supporters of the law say it allows citizens to protect themselves from criminals without fear of jail time. But Jacobs, speaking in front of a task force investigating the law, said that the statute is confusing and unnecessary.

 

"We are an agency with limited resources already, and this is something that, if it stands, would make it even more challenging for us to address and vindicate discriminatory violations in the 8th Circuit."

--P. David Lopez, GC of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

In 2007, the EEOC brought a class action sexual harassment lawsuit against trucking company Van Expited Inc. on behalf of more than 100 female drivers. The 8th Circuit not only dismissed the case earlier this year, but also ruled that, in the future, the EEOC must investigate every worker’s claim—and seek individual settlements—before pursuing a class action suit. The EEOC has asked for a rehearing, arguing that the new standard would strain its financial and personnel resources.

 

“I don’t see us doing a first strike. But just having [a large patent portfolio] creates a certain deterrence. If I have more patents that I can bring to the table, at least we can talk.”

--Allen Lo, deputy GC of Google

Thus far, Google has not been the aggressor in the patent wars sweeping the tech industry, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t ready for a fight. Last August, the company strengthened its defenses against intellectual property suits by buying Motorola—and its trove of patents—for $12.5 billion. Lo admitted that Google, “would probably not have bought Motorola if we did not have the situation."

 

“Mr. Verrilli is an extraordinarily talented advocate who possesses a sharp mind, keen judgment and unquestionable integrity.”

--Kathryn Ruemmler, White House general counsel, in a written statement

Following last month’s health care arguments, solicitor general Donald Verrilli came under fire for his defense of the administration’s Affordable Care Act. Verrilli faced tough questioning from conservative justices about the constitutionality of the act’s insurance mandate, but White House officials were kinder, defending him from media criticism.

 

"We continue working towards a resolution of the Non-Participating Manufacturer Adjustment dispute for 2009 and prior years and look forward to doing so, either by settlement or through the arbitration process laid out in the Master Settlement Agreement.”

--Denise Keane, GC of Altria Group, which owns cigarette maker Philip Morris

Three major tobacco companies recently made their annual payments as part of a $200 billion settlement intended to compensate U.S. states for tobacco-related health care costs. All three companies, however, say that the government should refund portions of those payments, under a provision that allows the companies to reduce their payments by the amount of market share lost to competitors who did not sign the settlement. For the time being, the disputed money will stay in separate escrow accounts.

Contributing Author

Alanna Byrne

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