Law News Digest – Week of July 5, 2015

Law news digest

Friday, July 10

Charleston shooting may have been avoided if gun background check process worked differently: If someone wants to buy a gun at a gun shop, the shop needs to do a background check on them. The process goes through a national system, often performed by the FBI. But if for some reason the gun shop doesn’t get an answer within 3 business days as to whether the prospective gun purchaser is eligible to buy a gun, the shop can sell the gun to the buyer! That’s exactly what happened with the Charleston shooter, Dylann Roof. Roof had been arrested and admitted to possessing an illegal drug, which would have made him ineligible to buy a gun. Yet the FBI examiner couldn’t find that information, so she simply delayed in responding to the inquiry. The gun shop sold the gun to Roof, and several weeks later, well we all know what happened then. Let’s fix this, seriously. Find out more on gun laws here.

New medications may become available sooner: Do you want to be able to more quickly obtain new drugs to fight disease and other medical problems? Or would you be concerned that speeding up the approval process might be at the expense of drug safety? Most in Congress want things sped up. Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to streamline the process of FDA approval of new drugs. The bipartisan bill passed by a large margin, with both Democrat and Republican support. It is likely to pass the Senate and get the President’s signature as well.

Thursday, July 9

South Carolina to remove Confederate flag from state capitol: The legislature passed a bill to remove it, which the governor signed today. And finally a symbol of hate is relegated to museums and history books.

Woman gets $230K for enduring 10 months of robocalls: Time Warner Cable began robocalling a woman named Aracelli about a late payment, thinking she was a man named Luiz. Even after Aracelli explained to a representative that she was not Luiz, the robocalls kept coming. 153 times over 10 months. So she sued Time Warner under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which restricts unsolicited robocalls to cell phones, and won $230,000! The judge imposed the highest amount possible to teach the company and others a lesson. I think we all owe Aracelli a debt of gratitude. See more about Consumer Law here.

Wednesday, July 8

Redskins should lose trademark, rules court: The Washington, D.C. football team has been under fire in the last few years for refusing to change its name. Native Americangroups feel the term “Redskins” is disparaging, and fought to get the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to revoke the trademark, since derogatory names are not entitled to trademark protection. The USPTO did just that last year. And now a federal court today ruled that the USPTO was correct in revoking the trademark. The trademark won’t be removed yet, in order to give the team a chance to appeal. But even if they lose trademark protection, they can still use the name. They just wouldn’t be able to sue people for using the name and logo to sell jerseys and such, which will likely cut into what is generally a major revenue source for sports teams.

Tuesday, July 7

Bill Cosby 2005 testimony admitting drugging women has been released: 10 years ago, a woman filed a sex abuse lawsuit against Cosby. During a deposition for that suit, he admitted that he had in fact obtained Quaaludes to drug women for sex, and gave it to at least one woman. Cosby settled the lawsuit, and his deposition testimony was sealed and not available to the public. That is, until recently, when an Associated Press reporter asked a judge to unseal the documents. The judge said the documents should be released because Cosby gave up some privacy rights when he became a “public moralist” volunteering his views on “childrearing, family life, education and crime.”

Monday, July 6

Former Goldman Sachs coder who took company’s code gets out of convictions: How, you ask? Because he didn’t actually violate any criminal laws, say 2 separate courts. The coder helped develop Goldman’s high frequency trading computer programs, and took the code with him when he left the company to work for a trading startup. Rather than simply sue him for infringing intellectual property (which they likely could still do), Goldman pressed officials to prosecute him for the crime of corporate espionage. He served a year in prison before that conviction was overturned because a higher court said what he did wasn’t corporate espionage. Then officials prosecuted him under state criminal laws including unlawful use of secret scientific material and unlawful duplication of computer-related material. He was convicted by a jury, which conviction was also overturned, because the laws were written in the 1960s, and aren’t up to date on the latest methods of stealing computer code.

See last week’s Law News Digest.

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