7 notable GCs in the news

General counsel sound off about copyright, censorship, war crimes and more

 

 

"It's unfortunate that EA thought that this was an appropriate response to our game, and clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding of basic copyright principles."

--Reggie Davis, general counsel of Zynga Inc.

Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) is suing Zynga for copyright infringement, saying that Zynga’s Facebook game “The Ville” is a rip-off of EA’s popular “The Sims Social.” EA claims that Zynga hired three of its top employees shortly before introducing its game, but Zynga denied the charges in a statement, adding that EA’s recently launched “SimCity Social” strongly resembles Zynga’s “CityVille” game.

 

“DuPont believes that the damages awarded of $1 billion are unjustified, particularly considering that Pioneer has never sold a single Optimum GAT seed and has no plans to do so in the future.”

--Thomas Sager, general counsel of DuPont Co.

It took a jury just 45 minutes to end one battle of the long legal war between Monsanto Co. and DuPont, awarding the former a hefty $1 billion. Monsanto claimed that DuPont had piggybacked its own technology for herbicide-resistant seeds onto a similar Monsanto trait. DuPont, which vowed to appeal the jury’s decision, claims that Monsanto acted deceptively in obtaining the patent, thereby rendering it unenforceable.

 

 

“We sincerely apologize and are providing restitution to our impacted customers and will be providing lower rates and greater benefits than the law requires to all eligible service members.”

--John Finneran, general counsel of Capital One Financial Corp.

Capital One will pay $12 million to settle allegations that it unlawfully seized homes and cars from military families and illegally charged others high interest rates. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, companies cannot seize the homes of active military members, and can only charge service members limited interest rates. The settlement, which covers abuses dating back to 2006, will affect an estimated 4,000 people.

“We should not and cannot be in the business of proactively monitoring and flagging content, no matter who the user is—whether a business partner, celebrity or friend.”

--Alex Macgillivray, general counsel of Twitter

Last week, Twitter suspended the account of a journalist who had criticized NBC’s Olympic coverage, leading, ironically enough, to even more criticism. Twitter initially claimed that NBC had complained about one of writer Guy Adams’s tweets, which included the corporate email address of a network executive. It later emerged, however, that Twitter had notified the network about the tweet (the two have a corporate partnership to cover the Olympics). The social networking site later relented, and issued a mea culpa.

 

“This particular litigation now stands at a crossroads. Google can take one of two paths: it can choose either to engage in serious discussions to search for patent peace or persevere in its diversionary tactics.”

--Brad Smith, general counsel of Microsoft, in a joint blog posting with Horacio Gutierrez, head of the company’s intellectual property group

Microsoft waved a white flag, sort of, in its patent fight with Google-owned Motorola Mobility, signaling that it would end litigation if it receives “the same level of reasonable compensation for [its] patented intellectual property” as other Android distributors. Earlier this year, the International Trade Commission banned the import of several Motorola devices, ruling that the company had infringed on Microsoft patents. In its own statement, Motorola blamed Microsoft for being unwilling to end litigation

 

“There was no one case which motivates this. We just think it’s worth looking into.”

--Jeh Johnson, general counsel of the Department of Defense (DOD)

The DOD recently announced the formation of the Defense Legal Policy Board, an 11-member group that will investigate whether military justice was applied fairly to U.S. troops accused of crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged that “rare” abuses have led to the injury or death of civilians, and says the group aims to increase accountability. It will not re-litigate any particular cases.

 

“The benefits of anti-immigration or crackdown legislation are far outweighed by the risks, and most legislators are fairly risk averse.”

--David Leopard, GC of the American Immigration Lawyers Association

According to a new study from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the number of immigration bills and resolutions that state lawmakers introduced in the first half of 2012 was down 20 percent from the same period last year. Legislators may be wary of proposing new laws in this arena after recent court decisions striking down restrictive immigration legislation in Alabama

Alanna Byrne

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