“We care about this report because we’ve learned the hard way that vague insinuations and incorrect data can lead to bad public policy. And we’ve learned that it’s very easy for scary-sounding catchphrases to become part of our regulatory lexicon.”
- Karrie McMillan, GC of the Investment Company Institute
The Investment Company Institute (ICI), which is the national association for U.S. investment companies, is unhappy. No, there isn’t a financial crisis to be upset about this time, but rather a recent US Office of Financial Research (OFR) report that deems companies with trillions of dollars under management to be “systemically important.” According to The Financial Times, this determination could lead to larger oversight and regulation of these “important” companies.
As a result, several of the world’s largest funds are banding together, preparing a lobby to forestall any increased regulatory actions by the U.S. government. The ICI says the OFR report made many errors in its calculations. It called the report “a litany of nightmare closet ‘could happens’” that was “unable to divorce speculation from reality.”
"Brazilian courts have an important role to play in protecting freedom of expression in Brazil, making sure it is in tune with Brazil's vibrant democracy, especially in the new digital movement."
- Fabiana Siviero, GC for Google in Brazil
The idea of free speech on social media has long been a hot button topic in the United States, even as recently as the 4th Circuit's Facebook ruling on Sept. 18. But abroad, the topic is beginning to pick up steam, and foreign courts are being forced to rule on online freedom of speech rights. One recent case from Brazil deals with a Brazilian man who calls himself “Anonymous Sucker” in Portuguese who alleges false advertising from multiple companies on his own personal YouTube channel.
One popular video claimed mutual fund Banco Bradesco SA downplays its hidden fees, and Bradesco responded with a lawsuit against Google Inc.-owned YouTube to take down the video. The bank initially won its case in court, but Google is now appealing. According to The Wall Street Journal, although Brazil’s constitution protects free speech, the country’s strong anti-defamation and anti-anonymity laws have been increasingly used to silence critics.
“Lilly will aggressively pursue every legal remedy to protect and safeguard its scientific discoveries. This includes assisting law enforcement in prosecuting and holding accountable those attempting to steal Lilly’s valuable research.”
- Michael Harrington, GC for Eli Lilly and Co.
In August 2013, a Chinese court handed down a milestone IP ruling, saying that a Shanghai-based worker for Indianapolis pharmaceuticals company Eli Lilly and Co. could be held liable for selling trade secrets to the company’s competitors. The court ruled that the fired worker must be forced to turn over all documents he illegally downloaded from the company once he learned he was being let go.
But now, a U.S. District Court in Indianapolis revealed documents on Oct. 1 that allege Lilly has had problems on the home front as well. According to TV station WLFI, the documents say two Carmel, Ind.-based scientists selling $55 million worth of trade secrets to Chinese drug company Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co. Ltd. Guoqing Cao and Shuyu Li were arrested in early October and charged with seven counts of theft and conspiracy to commit theft. The court documents say they allegedly worked with an unidentified third man in selling the secrets.
Smile for the Internet
“We looked at the activity and found it repugnant.”
- Noah Hanft, GC for MasterCard
David Segal of The New York Times published an article on Oct. 5 that took a look at an unknown trend: mug shot websites. These sites, such as BustedMugshots or MugshotsOnline, post publicly available pictures of mug shots online, then charge those within the photo to get the picture taken down. Georgia and Utah have passed laws against this practice, but many legislative bodies are seeing pushback from those who believe the currently public domain of mug shots should remain public.
Segal talked to companies who processed these sorts of payments, such as MasterCard and PayPal, who both said they found the websites in bad taste. MasterCard went so far as to cancel all accounts with the largest mug shot website companies. Google is also knocking these sites down on search results when possible. However, despite the PR risk of being associated with these types of websites, legal counsel should know that they may not carry a legal risk as well. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously shut down challenges to putting mug shots in the public domain.
Flexibility is the Key
“I don’t ask anyone to stay until 2 in the morning. The problem is – we’ve been in crisis and that’s a very different situation.”
- Suzanne Folsom, GC for ACADEMI and the former regulatory compliance chief of AIG
At the Women, Influence and Power in Law conference in Washington, D.C., legal leaders in areas ranging from compliance to IP to litigation convened to discuss topics that uniquely and actively affect women legal counsel. One such panel, entitled “The CLO CLUB – Making the Most Out of Your Resources,” focused on making the most out of small law departments. Those at the panel discussed methods to managing external resources, management approaches to handling internal resources related to staff and processes, and ways to successfully navigate internal politics and culture.
Suzanne Folsom stressed that when dealing with other legal officers, flexibility rather than balance is the number one key. “When you do the hiring, they all have a track record. You inherit people…sometimes you inherit stars, sometimes you inherit people who have potential and need mentoring. And sometimes you inherit duds,” Folsom said. “I don’t believe there is work/life balance; I think you make choices. And they aren’t easy. At the end of the day, can you go on to be GC of a successful company working 9-5? Balance is a complete myth.”