Technology Law Blog

The Final Chapter on Aereo’s Chapter 11

On June 25, 2014, the United States Supreme Court ruled that cloud-based television-streaming service, Aereo, violated U.S. copyright law and its subsequent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing has come to a dramatic conclusion. We have followed this case throughout its lifecycle, and updated this blog with posts like this one to keep you up-to-date on its implications for copyright and telecommunications regulations. Now, as reported by Inc. and other media, the company’s sale of its technology – once considered disruptive and wildly innovative – for a “disappointing” $2 million brings the technology company’s story to an end.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Aereo filed for bankruptcy, and recently conducted an auction sale of its intellectual property and hardware in order to raise funds to pay creditors. The company sold its name and customer list to TiVo, and its patent portfolio to RPX Corporation, which has been categorized by some as a patent troll. Aereo sold off its remaining equipment to Alliance Technologies. Aereo had expected the sale to raise up to $40 million. Read More ›

Categories: Chapter 11, Copyright, News & Events

Chilling Effect or Creative Boundaries? Full Impact of “Blurred Lines” Ruling Still Hazy

A decision in a copyright infringement case concerning the song “Blurred Lines” casts ambiguity on the future of expression and copyright protection in the music industry. On Tuesday, March 10, an eight-person jury in Los Angeles concluded that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, the performer and songwriter-producer of the most successful song of 2013, “Blurred Lines,” committed copyright infringement by using elements of the 1977 Marvin Gaye song, “Got to Give it Up,” without proper credit. Read More ›

Categories: Copyright, Intellectual Property, News & Events

File Tax Returns Early: IRS Releases Information on Tax-related Identity Fraud

Have your filed your individual tax return? Be sure to read the blog post, "One Reason You May Want to File Your Tax Return Early this Year: Identity Theft," on Foster Swift's Tax Law Blog and file early this year.

Categories: News & Events, Tax

FAA Releases Proposed Rules for Drones

DroneThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just released proposed rules regarding unmanned aircraft systems ("UAS" or "drone") in United States airspace. The rules are not final, and the FAA is expecting public comments regarding the proposed rules in the next 60 days. 

The current unmanned aircraft rules will remain in place until the final new rule is approved by the FAA. You can check out our previous post here or view the FAA site here to find out more about the current rules. 

Here is a quick summary of what the FAA proposed. The stated goal of the new rules is to balance aviation safety with the regulatory burden on UAS operators. Read More ›

Categories: News & Events

Gov. Snyder Shakes up State Government to Prepare Michigan Workers for Tomorrow’s Jobs

Michigan’s economy has made notable strides in recent years toward retaining and attracting business and creating more high-quality jobs. On Dec. 18, Gov. Rick Snyder announced an executive order aimed at keeping that forward momentum alive. Snyder said that the newly created Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development will organize the state’s job training and economic development efforts under one unified department.  

This new organizational structure brings to bear more state resources to train Michigan workers for in-demand jobs – in the skilled trades and in fields like IT and advanced manufacturing – that employers are having trouble filling.  

What does the reorganization look like?

  • The new Department of Talent and Economic Development will house a newly created state agency, the Talent Investment Agency, both of which are scheduled to begin operations in March.
  • The Talent Investment Agency will absorb the Michigan Strategic Fund – the governmental entity in charge of incentivizing business development – as well as the Michigan Economic Development Association, the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority, the Workforce Development Agency, the Governor's Talent Investment Board, and the Unemployment Insurance Agency.
Read More ›

Categories: Employment, News & Events

Legal Issues and Drones

John W. Mashni will be speaking at the 2015 Michigan Agri-Business Association (MABA) Winter Conference Jan. 13.  John’s presentation covers legal issues surrounding UAVs and drones. Click here to view Power Point slides for John’s talk.

To stay up to date on the most recent UAV and drone news, click here to receive all of our updates.

To email John, click here.

The FAA has released several helpful summaries of the current state of the regulatory landscape. Below are a few of the most helpful links: Read More ›

Categories: News & Events

Protect Your Business From Competitive Intelligence

Chess GameThe term "competitive intelligence" is the process of legally gathering information about one's competitors to gain a strategic advantage in the marketplace. Large corporations will have strategic intelligence experts as a part of their marketing department. These experts specialize in discovering promotional activities, sales figures, and other information about the company's competitors. Ideally, strong competitive intelligence enables a company to predict the strategy of a competitor and adapt with a strategy of its own that will result in an advantage in the marketplace.

The good news is that small and medium-sized businesses are not usually the targets of professional competitive intelligence experts. However, a business owner would be wise to protect itself from amateur intelligence gathering by its competitors. Competitive intelligence gathering begins by identifying the strategy of your own business and how your competitor's strategy will interfere. Then the intelligence gathering begins.  Read More ›

Categories: Privacy, Social Media

Tax Write-Off for Film Producers Renewed

As part of the recent tax bill, Section 181 of the U.S. Tax Code was renewed allowing a 100 percent tax write-off for the first $15 million of the cost of producing a film in the U.S. Click here to read more about Section 181 in Forbes.

Categories: News & Events, Tax

End of the Road for Aereo? Embattled Video Streaming Startup Files for Bankruptcy

In a prior post we reported that in June the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that streaming television service, Aereo, violated U.S. copyright law in connection with its business and legal battle with the major broadcast networks. At the time, we posed the question of whether, despite losing the lawsuit, Aereo had a future as a cable company?

The answer, it seems, is no. On November 20, Aereo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for for the Southern District of New York, listing assets of $20.5 million and debt of $4.2 million. Read More ›

Categories: Chapter 11, Copyright, News & Events

Seeking Equity Investment? Know the Rules

The term “offer” is broadly defined under the securities laws as "every attempt or offer to dispose of, or solicitation of an offer to buy . . . for value." An offer, even without completion of the sale of securities, can run afoul of the securities laws.

An interesting case from 2011 punctuates this point and demonstrates the risks of unknowingly violating securities laws. Two advertising executives hatched an innovative, although imprudent, plan to purchase Pabst Brewing Company by offering to sell shares on Facebook and Twitter to cover the $300 million cost of the transaction. The campaign, which may have begun as simply a publicity stunt, was wildly successful, attracting five million pledging $200 million. A bit too successful, it turns out.

The SEC soon took notice and halted the campaign via a Cease and Desist Order due to a violation of securities laws by the ad men. They failed to register the public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and could not meet an exemption. A settlement was reached and the men, who never actually collected any money, paid a fine and agreed to stop selling shares to the public.

The SEC, which has an entire enforcement unit devoted to Internet surveillance, is paying increasing attention to online activity. By law, public offerings - online or otherwise - must be registered with the SEC or meet an applicable exemption before promoters begin to offer or sell shares. Read More ›

Categories: Crowdfunding, News & Events, Venture Capital/Funding