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The Road Ahead: How the French Election Might Impact In-house Counsel

With France inching towards isolationism and the European Union inching towards another Brexit, the scenario begs the question: Will this impact my in-house practice? Read


Ask Aliya: How Law Departments Can Help in a PR Crisis

In light of United Airline’s recent incident, ACC Docket’s advice columnist offers guidance on handling negative publicity. Read


US Congress Voted to Remove FCC's Enforcement on ISPs Selling Personal Data

The controversial resolution serves as one of the first major pushes into privacy enforcement by the FCC. Read


Ask Aliya: Building a Work Culture that Prevents Sexual Harassment

How can startup companies avoid sexual harassment issues? Columnist Aliya Ramji has the answer. Read


Diesel-gate Update: Volkswagen Pleads Guilty to US Emission Scandal

What in-house counsel can do to prevent a similar scandal from happening in their own company. Read


In Brief

Today's Top Story

Court Ruling in China Is Rare Win Against Piracy

The Suzhou Intermediate People's Court has ordered five shoe manufacturers and sellers to pay the state US$250,000 for using New Balance's signature slanting "N" logo. The court will issue its final judgment at the end of May, at which time New Balance could get damages, reports the New York Times (27 April, Wee). In previous years, the company has battled legions of counterfeit manufacturers, taken on a rogue supplier which exported its shoes at a deep discount and, most recently, struggled in court to win the use of its Chinese name. Amy Dow, New Balance's senior global corporate communications manager, confirmed the penalty, saying the brand used by all five was called New Boom.

For years, foreign brands have been battling low-quality manufacturers that churn out cheap copies of everything from iPhones to Louis Vuitton bags. But piracy in China has a new twist: manufacturers copy everything about a product, but with a slight modification of the brand name. For New Balance, that meant consumers ran into New Boom, New Barlun, and New Bunren — brands that are protected under China's trademark law. Many Western companies, like Apple and Starbucks, and celebrities, including U.S. President Trump, have been caught up in long legal battles over the right to use their names in China. Trademark lawyers said companies rarely obtain preliminary injunctions in China, making this case an unusual one.

From "Court Ruling in China Is Rare Win Against Piracy"
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Labor and Employment

Brazil Passes Labor Reforms

Brazil's lower house of Congress has approved the main text of a bill to relax the country's restrictive labor laws, a main plank of President Michel Temer's efforts to bolster investment and pull the economy out of its worst recession ever. The measure passed by 296-177 in an expected victory to Temer who is struggling with low approval ratings amid a sweeping corruption scandal, reports Reuters (26 April, Marcello). The lower house still has to vote on amendments to the proposal, which scraps some limits to temporary work, before it heads to the Senate. The vote shows that Temer still faces some resistance from his allies to secure enough support to approve his unpopular proposal to reform a costly pension system, which is expected to face a vote in the lower chamber in the next two weeks.

From "Brazil Passes Labor Reforms"
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Corporate Structure

Activist Investor Calls for Honeywell to Spin Off Aerospace Unit

Activist investor Third Point LLC is pressuring Honeywell International to spin off its aerospace division, reports the Wall Street Journal (28 April, Benoit, Gryta), seeking to break off the conglomerate's biggest business just a few weeks after Honeywell switched leaders. Honeywell responded late Thursday that it is open to shareholder ideas, adding that it would devote the time necessary "to ensure a comprehensive, informed, and objective review of the potential separation of the Aerospace business." Company executives are reportedly working with advisers to assess the company's options.

From "Activist Investor Calls for Honeywell to Spin Off Aerospace Unit"
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Board/Management Relations

BMG Promotes Keith Hauprich to U.S. GC

International music company BMG has promoted Keith Hauprich from deputy general counsel to general counsel/SVP, its most senior legal and business affairs role in North America. Hauprich has been instrumental in several recent deals in film and television music publishing, reports Variety (27 April, Trakin). Hauprich also played a key legal role in BMG's victory in its copyright infringement case against Cox Communications, winning a US$25 million jury verdict and more than US$8.5 million in costs and disbursements.

From "BMG Promotes Keith Hauprich to U.S. GC"
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Tax Issues

Multinationals Dodging Tax Man in Australia

Google and Facebook have reported only a third of their estimated Australian revenue under the first year of the Multinational Anti-Avoidance Legislation (MAAL), while slashing payments they made to their local operations for services. The two tech giants reported a combined AU$1.2 billion in ad revenue from Australian clients, but lifted their combined pre-tax profits by only AU$77 million. Thanks to MAAL, tax was up by AU$19 million. The results underline the difficulties the Australian government faces in increasing the local tax take from tech companies, though this was clearly a transitional year, reports the Australian Financial Review (28 April, Chenoweth, Mason).

From "Multinationals Dodging Tax Man in Australia"
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Technology

Tech Firms Struggle to Spot Violent Video Before It Goes Viral

Several companies are racing to improve artificial intelligence so software can automatically spot and block videos of grisly murders and mayhem before they go viral on social media. However, none so far claim to have cracked the problem completely. Those in the industry say a dozen or more companies are wrestling with the problem. Google — which faces similar problems with its YouTube service — and Facebook are working on their own solutions, reports Reuters (28 April, Wagstaff). Most are focusing on deep learning: a type of artificial intelligence that makes use of computerized neural networks. The approach is one that David Lissmyr, founder of Paris-based image and video analysis company Sightengine, says goes back to efforts in the 1950s to mimic the way neurons work and interact in the brain.

From "Tech Firms Struggle to Spot Violent Video Before It Goes Viral"
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Manufacturing

Boeing Seeks U.S. Anti-Dumping Probe Against Bombardier

On 27 April, Boeing Co. asked the U.S. Commerce Department to investigate alleged subsidies and unfair pricing for Canadian planemaker Bombardier's new CSeries airplane, adding to growing trade tensions between the United States and Canada. The petition against Canada's new competitor to the Boeing 737 aircraft came just days after the Commerce Department imposed duties averaging 20 percent on imports of Canadian softwood lumber, saying that the product's origin from public land amounted to an unfair government subsidy. Boeing said in its petition that Bombardier, determined to win a key order from Delta Air Lines Inc. after losing a competition at United Airlines, had offered its planes to the airline at an "absurdly low" US$19.6 million each, well below what it described as the aircraft's production cost of US$33.2 million, reports Reuters (27 April, Lawder, Scott). "Propelled by massive, supply creating and illegal government subsidies, Bombardier Inc. has embarked on an aggressive campaign to dump its CSeries aircraft in the United States," Boeing said in its petition.

From "Boeing Seeks U.S. Anti-Dumping Probe Against Bombardier"
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Food and Beverage

ACCC Targets Murray Goulburn

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on 28 April announced it had begun Federal Court proceedings against the nation's biggest milk processor, Murray Goulburn, and its former chief executive, claiming they misled and treated farmers unfairly. The commission alleges former managing director Gary Helou and former chief financial officer Bradley Hingle were knowingly involved in the behavior and face penalties of up to AU$220,000 per breach, reports the Sydney Morning Herald (28 April, Wilkins). The allegations relate to representations made by Murray Goulburn to its Southern Milk Region dairy farmers between June 2015 and April 2016 about the average farmgate milk price (FMP) it expected to pay them during financial year 2015/16. The ACCC alleges that from June 2015 until February 2016, Murray Goulburn was telling farmers to expect an opening price of AU$5.60 per kilogram of milk solids, and that a final price of AU$6.05 was the mostly likely outcome for the financial year. Then from February 2016 until April of that year, the ACCC alleges Murray Goulburn again misled farmers into thinking they would get AU$5.60 per kilogram of milk solids for the remainder of the season when that was not the case.

From "ACCC Targets Murray Goulburn"
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Emmi Acquires Stake in Brazilian Dairy Producer

Swiss dairy company Emmi has acquired a 40 percent stake in Brazilian dairy producer Laticínios Porto Alegre — one of the largest milk processors in the state of Minas Gerais. Porto Alegre has gained strong positions in cheese, UHT milk, butter, and whey powder products. The deal will strengthen Emmi's presence in the Brazilian market and help it forge ahead with its program of international growth, three months after agreeing to a deal for dessert manufacturer Italian Fresh Foods, reports FoodBev Media (28 April).

From "Emmi Acquires Stake in Brazilian Dairy Producer"
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Transportation

Exec Ousted After Clash with Tesla CEO Musk

A Reuters (27 April, Taylor) source has confirmed that Tesla executive Klaus Grohmann was ousted in March after clashing with CEO Elon Musk over the strategy of Grohmann's firm, which Tesla had acquired late last year. The California-based electric carmaker is counting on Grohmann Engineering's automation and engineering expertise to help it ramp up production to 500,000 cars annually by 2018. At the time of the November acquisition, Tesla described Klaus Grohmann and the company he founded as a "world leader in highly automated manufacturing." Tesla planned to keep Grohmann on, and all indications were that Grohmann wanted to remain. However, the wire service source states, the clash with Musk over how to treat existing clients brought about Grohmann's exit. Grohmann disagreed with Musk's demands to focus management attention on Tesla projects to the detriment of Grohmann Engineering's legacy clients, which included Tesla's direct German-based rivals Daimler and BMW.

From "Exec Ousted After Clash with Tesla CEO Musk"
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United Airlines Settles With Passenger Dragged From Plane

United Airlines has settled with David Dao over the injuries he received when he was dragged off one of the airline's planes this month, confirms the Los Angeles Times (27 April, Raab, Martin), an incident that has forced policy changes at United and rival carriers. Under terms reached by the airline and Dao, the amount of the settlement will remain confidential. Dao's attorneys have said the 69-year-old Kentucky physician suffered a concussion and a broken nose, as well as lost two front teeth during the incident, which was recorded on cell phone video that soon went viral worldwide. United issued a statement Thursday, describing the incident as "unfortunate" and noting that the airline has taken the wraps off 10 policy changes it plans to adopt in response.

From "United Airlines Settles With Passenger Dragged From Plane"
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Retail

B&N Names CEO

Publishers Weekly (27 April, Milliot) is reporting that Barnes & Noble (B&N) on Thursday appointed Demos Parneros as its new CEO, replacing Len Riggio who has held that position on an interim basis since Ron Boire was ousted late last summer. Parneros joined the book retailer during last year's fourth quarter when he was named COO. Riggio praised Parneros in a March conference call with analysts discussing third quarter results. While stepping down as CEO, Riggio will remain B&N chairman. Parneros is a 30-year retail industry veteran, having previously served as president of North American stores and online for Staples.

From "B&N Names CEO"
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