Counsel for public companies—it may be time to take another look at your litigation disclosures. A recent federal district court opinion held that one company’s use of the phrase “without merit” to describe ongoing litigation in its public filings could give rise to federal securities fraud claims. The ruling serves as the latest admonition to exercise care in crafting litigation disclosures.
A parent corporation is typically not held liable for the acts of a subsidiary. As such, disregarding the corporate form (i.e., by piercing the corporate veil) and holding the parent liable is an extraordinary remedy. That said, if a parent company exercises enough control over a subsidiary, however, courts may hold the parent liable. Because there is often some degree of overlap between a parent and its subsidiary, a question courts are often faced with is just how much control is enough to justify imposing liability on a parent for its subsidiary’s actions?
At the end of June 2023, the FTC proposed a new rule targeted at deceptive reviews in the marketplace. The proposed rule would prohibit advertisers and marketers from employing illicit review and endorsement practices such as using fake reviews, buying positive reviews, and suppressing negative reviews.
In explaining its motivation for the proposal, the Commission noted the widespread emergence of generative artificial intelligence (AI), which it fears could lead to a drastic increase in the prevalence of fake reviews. The FTC hopes to “level the playing field for honest companies” with this new rule.
On July 24, 2023, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced updated procedures for the interim Director Review (DR) of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decisions. The updated procedures could help patent practitioners manage costs by providing a new mechanism for recourse following PTAB decisions.
Increasing oversight of tech companies, particularly in the realm of consumer privacy, has been a rare example of bipartisan agreement. Despite data privacy being a growing concern for consumers, however, there has been relatively little federal policymaking. To counteract this lack of action, some states have stepped in to fill this void—and have enacted policies that could have large impacts on how businesses operate. The rapid rate at which these laws are being enacted – eleven have been enacted– indicates states are taking an increasingly protective view of consumers’ data privacy. Businesses need to be prepared to comply with these new mandates, or risk costly enforcement measures.
Addressing an issue of first impression, and one that is becoming increasingly important as the legal industry has become more comfortable with and dependent on video conference technology in the aftermath of the pandemic, the Ninth Circuit has ruled that the 100-mile limitation under Rule 45(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure applies to remote testimony.
In In re John Kirkland, et al. v. USBC, Los Angeles, the petitioners, Mr. and Mrs. Kirkland who resided in California before relocating to the U.S. Virgin Islands, moved to quash subpoenas commanding them to testify via video conference at a trial before a bankruptcy court in the Central District of California. The bankruptcy court denied the motions finding that “good cause and compelling circumstances” existed to warrant the petitioners’ remote testimony pursuant to Rule 43(a), which provides that “[a]t trial, the witnesses’ testimony must be taken in open court unless a federal statute, the Federal Rules of Evidence, these rules, or other rules adopted by the Supreme Court provide otherwise[; and f]or good cause in compelling circumstances and with appropriate safeguards, the court may permit testimony in open court by contemporaneous transmission from a different location.” The bankruptcy court also concluded that Rule 45(c)’s “place of compliance” should be based on where a witness is located as requiring a witness to testify remotely from the witness’s home is not contrary to the purpose of Rule 45(c), which is to protect witnesses from the burden of having to travel extensively to testify at a trial or other proceeding.
Parties to an arbitration agreement sometimes choose to include a delegation clause, which is a provision that delegates to the arbitrator—rather than a court—gateway questions of arbitrability, such as whether the agreement covers a particular controversy or whether the arbitration provision is enforceable at all. See Caremark LLC v. Chickasaw Nation.
In Holley-Gallegly v. TA Operating, LLC, the Ninth Circuit recently reinforced the Supreme Court’s decade-old distinction between the analysis needed to determine whether a dispute is subject to arbitration on the one hand, and whether an arbitrator has been legally delegated the authority to make that threshold determination on the other. The decision provides important lessons to practitioners litigating disputes regarding the enforceability of delegation clauses.