Grammy Award-Winning Band The Eagles Sues Hotel California

Hotel CABy Daniel J Goodman

Approximately 1,300 miles from a corner in Winslow, Arizona is a hotel in Todos Santos, B.C.S., Mexico. Its name? Hotel California. One can only assume that it’s a lovely place with plenty of room for all to live it up and enjoy the beautiful Tequila Sunrise Mexico has to offer. But, according to Grammy award-winning band the Eagles, this New Kid in Town is a downright Desperado trademark infringer. On May 1, 2017, the Eagles filed a complaint in the Central District of California for trademark infringement under § 1125(a) of the Lanham Act and for trademark infringement and unfair competition under California common law. Continue reading “Grammy Award-Winning Band The Eagles Sues Hotel California”

Achieving Clear and Reliable Legal Norms in Space to Encourage Commercial Transactions

Picture1By Rob Philbrick

SpaceX just successfully completed tests on the main core of the Falcon Heavy this week in Texas. The Falcon Heavy is a reusable super heavy lift space launch vehicle. By the end of the summer, Elon Musk projects his team will conduct a complete test launch of the Falcon Heavy. Even considering the requisite Musk Timeline Factor Adjustment, most private companies are preparing for commercial spaceflight to occur within 30 months.

How have we arrived here, and what extant law governs the expanse today?

The current international law governing outer space emerged in the late 1950s, and remains largely unchanged. The Soviet Union had just launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, and ushered in the Space Age, leading two professors to publish Perspectives for a Law of Outer Space in the American Journal of International Law. A key takeaway from this article was that the establishment of legal standards in this field would be a slow and deliberative process. True to that view, the Outer Space Treaty came into effect a full ten years later in October 1967.

The Outer Space Treaty, formally known as the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Out Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, is the core of international space law. As the formal title acknowledges, this treaty is focused on the actions and responsibilities of states – not private actors. Article VI does touch on this topic, however, in requiring that “non-governmental entities in outer space . . . require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty.” But with unpredictable government space program budgets and industry knowledge condensed in the private sector, are states truly in the best position to authorize and supervise non-governmental entity activities in outer space? Looking forward, what should be our goal when crafting laws for this rapidly changing and increasingly privatized field?

According to Sergio Marchisio, Chairman of the European Centre for Space Law and Professor of International Law at University La Sapienza of Rome, the primary goal of space law is to “ensure a rational and responsible approach to the exploration and use of outer space for the benefit and in the interest of humankind.” “The function of space law,” he continues, “is to maintain order and coordinate behavior and relations among [public and private subjects] involved in space activities.”

Have these stated goals and functions of space law remained effective through the budding commercial space industry?

President Obama defines “commercial space activities” in the National Space Policy issued June 2010 as “space goods, services, or activities provided by private sector enterprises that bear a reasonable portion of the investment risk and responsibility for the activity, operate in accordance with typical market-based incentives for controlling cost and optimizing return on investment, and have the legal capacity to offer these goods or services to existing or potential nongovernmental customers.” This definition follows the commonly-held notion that goods or services provided primarily to other private sector enterprises or consumers (e.g., DirecTV satellite television and Sirius XM satellite radio) are markedly distinct from goods or services provided primarily to government customers when the government shoulders most of the risk because it requires the services (e.g., remote sensing satellite company DigitalGlobe, Boeing-Lockheed Martin United Launch Alliance).

Under these definitions and understandings, the global space economy has doubled to $330 billion in the last 10 years. Revenue related strictly to commercial space activities doubled to $250 billion in that same period. Commercial space products, services, infrastructure, and support from private enterprises comprise over 75% of the space economy. The United States government space budget makes up less than 15%, and in combination with all other government space budgets makes up less than 25%.

What have years of growth in this industry given us? Well, massive investment activity has benefitted our lives in quite a few ways. Researchers can more capably track climate change, telecommunications have advanced at astounding rates, we can observe and warn communities of incoming natural disasters, and navigation tools through GPS is a luxury that has quickly been adopted as a necessity by much of the world.

Today, private companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin have innovative and flexible organizations that are ready to take risks. There is even an air of one-upmanship between their sparring billionaire owners, Musk and Bezos. Fortunately, this one-upmanship has the effect of bringing down the cost of access to space as a commercial market. According to The Economist, the first stage booster section of the Falcon 9 rocket accounts for about $42 million of the $60 million total cost. Even though Musk and Bezos occasionally bicker on twitter, the reality is that their work to reuse these significant rocket cost drains – even though done separately and in competition with one another – will in turn bring about entirely new blue ocean industries: space tourism and planetary colonization.

It remains unclear whether space law, as it has been drafted and consolidated so far, can aptly face the many challenges ahead in the space economy. UN treaties dealing with space activities were born in a time when today’s expansive commercial space industry could hardly be imaged, let alone property regulated. Several commentators suggest that “these treaties no longer seem to provide for an adequate framework to address the complex relations that have resulted from the rapid growth of commercial activities in outer space.” Ultimately, we have inherited a thoughtful and well-meaning institutional framework that simply cannot satisfactorily resolve today’s substantive concerns around commercial space transactions.

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Virtual Trespass: Not in My Backyard

Picture1By Yonah Reback

Who could have predicted that last summer’s biggest fad would be the reemergence of a Japanese video game whose cultural relevance peaked fifteen years ago? If you had known that Pokémon Go would immediately sweep the nation’s interest upon its release in July 2016, call me—I want your stock tips for this summer. For the rest of us mortals, the game was a surprise hit, quickly drawing the attention of not just kids and gamers, but anyone tuned in to pop culture.  Continue reading “Virtual Trespass: Not in My Backyard”

The Other Type of Robot Battery

Picture1By Daniel Healow

While the words “robot” and “battery” are commonly used in the same sentence, these phrases are usually referring to electricity, not assault. Unfortunately, use of the latter definition is increasing in frequency due to an uptick in malicious human actions taken against intelligent robots undergoing real-world testing. As the number of independently-operating robots have multiplied in humans’ daily lives, so have instances of violence against them. Continue reading “The Other Type of Robot Battery”

Reasonably Expecting to Change the World: The CRISPR-Cas9 Patent Battle

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By Michael Rebagliati

In addition to the cited sources, the author would like to thank a family member with far more scientific knowledge, Michael R. Rebagliati, Ph.D., for his essential scientific edits, commentary and analysis.

Right now, a new gene-editing technology called CRISPR-Cas9 is spreading throughout the scientific and business communities and into the public consciousness. The scientific implications are vast because CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is not just one scientific invention with one purpose. Rather, it is a natural process that has been harnessed and redirected into a gene-editing technique that is (relatively) easy to use. Moreover, its high efficiency means that scientists can use it to edit the genetic code of any gene in many kinds of organisms. Think Industrial Revolution for genetic engineering. Continue reading “Reasonably Expecting to Change the World: The CRISPR-Cas9 Patent Battle”

Virtual reality Crime Scenes: Demonstrative of Facts or Destructive of Rights?

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By CaroLea Casas

In trial advocacy classes, law students are often taught to use evidence to tell a story. Adept trial advocates can weave together the threads of a story so that jurors have a vivid sense of the circumstances – vivid enough to make them feel almost as if they were there. This ability is especially important for prosecutors and defense attorneys in the criminal realm, as these lawyers face a higher burden of proof than their civil counterparts.

Technological advances may soon take some of that burden off of the advocate’s shoulders. A recently funded Staffordshire University project led by Dr. Caroline Sturdy Colls is using virtual reality technology to digitally recreate crime scenes. The project seeks to provide tools for prosecutors to show the crime scene in virtual reality to jurors via headsets. Additionally, Durham University PhD researcher Mehzeb Chowdhury has developed MABMAT, a relatively low-cost autonomous robotic imaging system capable of scanning entire crime scenes. Field-testing has been arranged with various law enforcement agencies. Both projects aim to improve on inconsistencies in evidence collection. Continue reading “Virtual reality Crime Scenes: Demonstrative of Facts or Destructive of Rights?”

Better to be Absolutely Ridiculous Than Absolutely Generic: The Estate of Marilyn Monroe’s Trademark Woes

Picture1By Gwen Wei

On Monday, March 13 2017, a ruling in the Southern District of New York threw trademark practitioners nationwide into a tumult when the presiding judge left open the possibility that a celebrity name could become too generic to enforce as a trademark. The issue: the court’s “serious doubts that V. International will be able to establish that the contested marks are generic”, pitted against its concern that “[r]eaching that conclusion at this state would be premature.”  The celebrity hanging in the balance: Marilyn Monroe. Continue reading “Better to be Absolutely Ridiculous Than Absolutely Generic: The Estate of Marilyn Monroe’s Trademark Woes”

How to Fight Fake News in a World Spewing Alternative Facts

Picture1By Mackenzie Olson

Before you re-share an online article, before you give weight to its assertions—before you even begin to read the first line—ask yourself one question: “Does this look like a credible source?”

At a young age, I learned that I must first ask this question before citing to any given resource in a research paper or project. Accordingly, I learned where to look for reputable sources, how to determine which of these sources were credible, and the ways in which to best use these sources to locate further acceptable resources.

I was surprised when I learned just how frequently Internet users are duped into reading, believing, and ultimately re-sharing fake news stories. In the months immediately prior to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the top performing fake news stories generated more engagement than the top performing real stories published by major news outlets. These leading fake stories generated over 8.7 million shares, reactions, and comments on social media, while the leading stories published by major news outlets generated about 7.3 million similar reactions. Continue reading “How to Fight Fake News in a World Spewing Alternative Facts”

Demolition Man Seeks Retribution Against Motion Pictures Studio

Picture1By Samuel J. Daheim

“[Sylvester] Stallone is one of the greatest American talents of the last and present century,” explains a complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Rogue Marble Productions Inc., Stallone’s “loan out company.” Stallone has achieved critical acclaim “as an actor, filmmaker, producer, director and screenwriter, but is most well-known for his Hollywood action roles.”  Stallone is suing Warner Bros. Entertainment over allegations that the film company breached its contract with Stallone and Rogue Marble for the former’s work in the 1993 science-fiction film “Demolition Man” (the Film).  Continue reading “Demolition Man Seeks Retribution Against Motion Pictures Studio”