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Supreme Court sides with Alabama company in patent dispute
Blog News | 2019/06/07 23:31
The Supreme Court sided Monday with an Alabama technology company over the U.S. Postal Service in a patent dispute.

The dispute before the justices had to do with U.S. Patent No. 6,826,548. That's the patent Birmingham-based Return Mail has for a system that uses barcodes, scanning equipment and computer databases to process returned mail almost entirely automatically. The Postal Service initially expressed interest in Return Mail's invention but ultimately developed its own, similar system. That led to a dispute over the company's patent.

On Monday, the court sided 6-3 with Return Mail. Of the Postal Service's arguments, Justice Sonia Sotomayor deadpanned in an opinion : "None delivers."

The dispute began when the Postal Service tried and failed to get Return Mail's patent invalidated. Return Mail sued, arguing that the government should pay for using its invention without permission.

Just as Return Mail thought it might be gaining the upper hand, the Postal Service switched tactics, using a 2011 law to challenge Return Mail's patent. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act says that a "person who is not the owner of a patent," can file a patent challenge using the law. The Postal Service argued it counted as a "person" under the law, but the Supreme Court disagreed.


Carnival will pay $20m over pollution from its cruise ships
Court Issues | 2019/06/05 16:47

Carnival Corp. reached a settlement Monday with federal prosecutors in which the world’s largest cruise line agreed to pay a $20 million penalty because its ships continued to pollute the oceans despite a previous criminal conviction aimed at curbing similar conduct.

Senior U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz approved the agreement after Carnival CEO Arnold Donald stood up in open court and admitted the company’s responsibility for probation violations stemming from the previous environmental case.

“The company pleads guilty,” Arnold said six times in a packed courtroom that include other senior Carnival executives, including company chairman and Miami Heat owner Micky Arison.

“We acknowledge the shortcomings. I am here today to formulate a plan to fix them,” Arnold added

“The proof will be in the pudding, won’t it?” the judge replied. “If you all did not have the environment, you would have nothing to sell.”

Carnival admitted violating terms of probation from a 2016 criminal conviction for discharging oily waste from its Princess Cruise Lines ships and covering it up. Carnival paid a $40 million fine and was put on five years’ probation in that case, which affected all nine of its cruise brands that boast more than 100 ships.

Now Carnival has acknowledged that in the years since its ships have committed environmental crimes such as dumping “gray water” in prohibited places such Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park and knowingly allowing plastic to be discharged along with food waste in the Bahamas, which poses a severe threat to marine life.

The company also admitted falsifying compliance documents and other administrative violations such as having cleanup teams visit its ships just before scheduled inspections.

Seitz at an earlier hearing threatened to bar Carnival from docking at U.S. ports because of the violations and said she might hold executives individually liable for the probation violations.

“The concern I have is that senior management has no skin in the game,” Seitz said, adding that future violations might be met with prison time and criminal fines for individuals. “My goal is to have the defendant change its behavior.”

Under the settlement, Carnival promised there will be additional audits to check for violations, a restructuring of the company’s compliance and training programs, a better system for reporting environmental violations to state and federal agencies and improved waste management practices.


Kevin Spacey appears at court for hearing in groping case
Legal Interview | 2019/06/03 23:46
Sporting a gray suit and glasses, Kevin Spacey appeared Monday at a Massachusetts courthouse where a judge is set to hold a hearing in the case accusing the disgraced actor of groping a young man at a Nantucket bar in 2016.

Spacey’s appearance comes somewhat as a surprise as he was not required to attend the hearing and has stayed away from the courthouse except for a brief hearing in January, which he also tried to avoid.

The 59-year-old former “House of Cards” actor, who has pleaded not guilty to a charge of indecent assault and battery, did not comment as he walked in with his lawyers. Spacey faces up to 2 ½ years in jail if convicted.

Spacey’s attorneys have stepped up their attacks on the credibility of the man who brought the allegations. In court documents filed Friday, defense attorney Alan Jackson accused the man of deleting text messages that support Spacey’s claims of innocence.

It’s the only criminal case that has been brought against the two-time Oscar winner since his career fell apart amid a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations in 2017.

The case first came to light that year when former Boston TV anchor Heather Unruh said Spacey got her son drunk and then sexually assaulted him at the Club Car, a popular restaurant and bar on the resort island off Cape Cod.


Estranged husband, girlfriend in court for missing mom case
Law Firm News | 2019/06/01 23:44
A missing mother of five's estranged husband and his girlfriend are set to make their first court appearances in Connecticut after being charged with evidence tampering and hindering prosecution .

Fotis Dulos and Michelle Troconis are scheduled to be arraigned Monday at Norwalk Superior Court.

Both were arrested Saturday night in connection with the investigation into the May 24 disappearance of 50-year-old Jennifer Dulos in New Canaan. She was last seen dropping off her children at school and is still missing.
Details of the charges have not been released.

Jennifer and Fotis Dulos have been embroiled in a contentious divorce and child custody case for the past two years. It wasn't clear if Dulos and Troconis have criminal court lawyers who could respond to the allegations.


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