Vengeance of Nokia, It is Back!

Xiang Qi

Nokia has acquired the exclusive rights to market phones under the storied Nokia brand and plans to announce four phones at the Mobile World Congress, which is set off on Feb. 26 in Barcelona, Spain. Besides the reboot of the classic 3310, the company also plans to release the Nokia 5 and Nokia 4 which are prices at 199 euros and 149 euros respectively.

The reboot of some of the company’s most classic series have been exciting for Nokia fans since Nokia’s acquisition by Microsoft. Even though the sales number of the Nokia phones have been on the decline for this decade, the quality and the brand of the phone warrants good, old phones every time Nokia is on the market.

Samsung’s Heir’s Arrest Clouds the Company’s Future

Xiang Qi

Samsung’s de facto chairman, now vice chairman, Lee Jae-yong was arrested on Friday in South Korea on account of bribery, embezzlement and perjury as a part of an investigation into a confidante of the President Park Geun-hye. In South Korea’s chaebol culture, the chairman must endorse or make corporate decisions. So the arrest of Mr. Lee is far more serious since Mr. Lee has been Samsung’s de facto leader after his father suffered a heart attack in 2014.

For decades, chaebols like Samsung, LG and Lotte had been fueling the country’s economy, with 10 largest Chaebols’ revenues exceeding 80 percent of South Korea’s GDP. On the other hand, the opposition lawmaker is calling for more harsh and transparent attitude toward large companies, addressing the tendency among law enforcement agencies to treat major Chaebols with kid gloves. Even though the public anger towards Chaebols have been on the rise over the years, it is pessimistic that Korean government will set an example with Mr. Lee because the country deeply relies on these Chaebols to grow its economy.

By the Corporations, For the Corporations: Scott Pruitt Chooses Not to Ban Insecticide

Emma Fusco

The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, and made one of his first formal actions as the nation’s top environmental official this past Wednesday.  About a decade ago, two environmental groups asked the agency to ban all uses of an insecticide called clorphyrifos.  

After being banned in 200 for household use, it’s still used today on about 40,000 farms on crops ranging from almonds to apples.  Based off of research conducted at Columbia University, the E.P.A. has concluded that exposure to chlorpyrifos potentially causes learning and memory declines, particularly among farm workers and young children who are exposed to the chemical through drinking water and other sources.

Dow chemical however, argues that the science demonstrating that the chemical is harmful is inconclusive.  Mr. Pruitt insists that the agency needs to study the science more in order to understand whether or not the correlation is in fact causation.  

The move was immediately condemned by environmental groups, claiming that the Trump administration cares more about major corporations than the health and safety of families nationwide.  To further this point, Jim Jones, who ran the chemical safety unit at the E.P.A. for five years spending more than 20 years working there, says that “[t]hey are ignoring the science that is pretty solid.” This rejection is considered a “final agency action” suggesting that the matter would not likely be revisited until 2022, the next time the E.P.A. is formally acquired to re-evaluate the safety of the pesticide.
The agency is now under fire by environmental groups who intend to return back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to ask judges to order the agency to ban the use of this pesticide.

See Eric Lipton, E.P.A. Chief, Rejecting Agency’s Science, Chooses Not to Ban Insecticide, N.Y. Times (Mar. 29, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/us/politics/epa-insecticide-chlorpyrifos.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fscience&action=click&contentCollection=science&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=7&pgtype=sectionfront.

Snap Aims for Valuation of More Than $20 Billion IPO

Xiang Qi

The company, Snap Inc., disclosed on Thursday that it expected to be valued at as much as $22.2 billion in the sale. Snap would be worth $20.9 billion at the midpoint of the offering’s range of $14 to $16 per share. The final pricing of the new shares as well as the company’s valuation could still change as it is expected begin trading around March 2 on the NYSE.

The road show before IPO began this Thursday as three of Snap’s top executives, Evan Spiegel, Imran Khan and Andrew Vollero, joined its underwriters to pitch investors on the most highly anticipated IPO so far this year. From its beginning in a Stanford dorm room six years ago, Snapchat has become the brightest star in the technology world.

Laches Defense in Patent Cases

Justin Farooq

The United States Supreme Court ruled last week that patent owners may not use the doctrine of laches, meaning that they may not assert that defendants slept too long on their rights as a defense to lawsuits filed within the Patent Act’s six-year statute of limitations.[1]  The high court stated that allowing defendants to use laches would undermine Congressional intent by incorporating a six-year statute of limitations in the Patent Act.[2]  In a previous case involving copyright laches, the Supreme Court said laches does not apply to copyright cases because copyright law and that the opinion expressly said it wasn’t deciding whether the same would be true in patent law.[3]  

The change is expected to be significant to patent litigators, who may discover their clients keen on pursuing more lawsuits that might previously have been impossible.[4]  Additionally, patent holders should no longer need to obsessively guard their works on a continuous basis merely for fear of being subject to a laches bar if they first confirm infringement or otherwise wish to assert infringement more than six years after becoming aware of a defendant’s fraudulent activities.[5]

 

[1] Lorelei Laird, Supreme Court Rules Patent Holders May Not Bar Otherwise Timely Lawsuits With Laches, ABA J. (Mar. 21, 2017, 3:15 PM), http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/supreme_court_rules_patent_holders_may_not_bar_otherwise_timely_lawsuits_wi.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Brad M. Scheller & Harold S. Laidlaw, Supreme Court Shuts the Door on Patent Laches, The Nat. L. R. (Mar. 21, 2017), http://www.natlawreview.com/article/supreme-court-shuts-door-patent-laches.

Protection of Trademarks: The Overprotective Parents

Annie Millar

Part of protecting a trademark involves monitoring potential infringing trademarks on the market, which often involves attorneys drafting cease and desist letters. On occasion, these trademark holders go above and beyond, sending aggressive letters in an attempt to protect a trademark. The result is comedic stories that are passed along the internet.

Back on April Fool’s Day in 2010, the parody website ThinkGeek launched a fake product, boasting a canned unicorn meat. ThinkGeek used the tagline, “Pate is passe. Unicorn, the new white meat.” The National Pork Board, who owns the trademark for “the other white meat” did not seem to catch on to the joke, sending a 12 page cease and decist letter. In response ThinkGeek apologized noting, “In fact, ThinkGeek’s canned unicorn meat is sparkly, a bit red, and not approved by any government entity.”

In St. Louis a local brewery used Starbuck’s term Frappucino to describe one of the brews being offered. In a letter Starbucks demanded the brewery stop using the name for their beer, stating they feared there would be consumer confusion. The brewery responded in a comical way, sending Starbucks the six dollars it made on the sale of the brew, noting that us small businesses need to stick together.

The takeaway? Sometimes being overburdensome and aggressive is not the best market approach.

See Chris Schwegmann, Laughable Moments: When Trademark Holders are Overprotective, IP Watchdog (Mar. 5, 2017), http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2017/03/05/laughable-moments-trademark-holders-overprotective/id=79061/.

Scientists are Making Headway in the Treatment of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Cecilia Santostefano

Nilotinib was created to treat one of the dozens of types of leukemia, but doctors are hopeful that it will slow down the progression of two diseases of the brain.[1] Currently, there is no treatment that can delay or stop the neurodegenerative diseases known as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.[2]

The term “neurodegeneration” refers to the progressive damage of brain cells, which results in functional impairments.[3] In 2015, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center initiated a preliminary study in which they administered a small dose of nilotinib to patients with Parkinson’s disease as well as dementia.[4] This drug prompts cells to eliminate faulty parts, including the components that are associated with many brain diseases.[5] By eliminating these components, the director of the Georgetown program, Fernando Pagan, says he may be able to stop the advancement of these types of diseases. Following what appeared to be success in the preliminary trial, Georgetown planned to launch larger clinical trials for individuals with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.[6] The studies are currently enrolling patients and will be completed within the next couple of years.[7]

 

[1] Jon Hamilton, Cancer Drug That Might Slow Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s Headed For Bigger Tests, NPR, (Mar. 15, 2017), http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/15/520170960/cancer-drug-that-might-slow-parkinson-s-alzheimer-s-headed-for-bigger-tests.

[2] Id.

[3] Sally Robertson, What is Neurodegeneration? News Medical, (Jan. 21, 2015), http://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Neurodegeneration.aspx.

[4] Hamilton, supra note 1.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

Cryonics: A solution to ensure survival of human tissue, or a feeble-dream of fantasy

Thomas Carlon

Throughout much of Hollywood, cryopreservation has been depicted as “deep-freezing” whole human bodies in cyrochambers, only to be easily awoken moments after the chamber has been opened. At what point is this just fantasy as compared to real-life. In today’s standards cryopreservation holds a pivotal role in preserving human tissue – such as transplant organs. However, what does it take to freeze human tissue, and is it even theoretically possible. The issue of deep-freezing human tissue does not rest on the freezing part itself, but rather the warming process that must occur to reawake the tissue cells without damaging them.

To freeze tissue cells the process must begin quickly, in order to avoid the cells from decaying further and causing irreparable harm to the organs and tissue cells. The process begins by placing the tissue on dry ice, to keep the organs or body at low temperatures. Once the organs are at a storage facility, the tissue and organs are infused with cyroprotectants, these cyroprotectants are essentially anti-freeze the prevent ice crystals from forming on the tissue and inside the organs.[1] The rationale behind this is to prevent these ice crystals from killing cells which would eventually lead to further decay and harm to the tissue and organs. The next step is that the organs must be cooled, slowly.[2] This is accomplished by cooling the tissue and organs in liquid nitrogen at a rate of one degree Celsius every hour, eventually reaching the final temperature of -130 to -196 degrees Celsius after about two weeks.[3] These low temperatures are required so that can cells survive and not dehydrate after death, because uncontrolled dehydration and freezing will cause cells to die, causing harm to the tissue and organs.[4]

The issue with deep-freezing tissue is the rewarming, or awakening of the cells. Through current warming techniques, the tissue and cells crack or crystallize during the warming process, rendering them ineffective for use during organ transplantations.[5] The British Broadcasting Corporation noted that so far there is no evidence or guarantee that technology can rewarm the cells  without causing harm. However, the Scientific American journal reported that researchers discovered a technology that could rewarm large pieces of tissue without major damage.[6] This is accomplished by implanting nanoparticles evenly throughout the tissue, and when exposed to an magnetic field, begin acting as tiny heat generators.[7] This technology is just a concept so far, and needs to be refined. Nonetheless, this could be fascinating new discovery in supporting organ transplants.

As humankind continues to evolve. It is always fascinating to learn what new discoveries, or inventions have been made, whether this technology becomes reality is yet to be known. However, the evolution of this technology could spark a new generation of research and experiences not yet known to us.

 

[1] Philippa Roxby, What does cryopreservation do to human bodies?, British Broadcasting Corporation, November 18, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38019392.

[2] Id.

[3] Philippa Roxby, What does cryopreservation do to human bodies?, British Broadcasting Corporation, November 18, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38019392.; see also Rose Eveleth, Cryopreservation: ‘I freeze people to cheat death’, British Broadcasting Corporation, August 22, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140821-i-will-be-frozen-when-i-die.

[4] Philippa Roxby, What does cryopreservation do to human bodies?, British Broadcasting Corporation, November 18, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38019392.

[5] Id.

[6] Andrew Joseph, New Advance May Help Organs Survive Deep Freeze, Scientific American, March 2, 2017 https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-advance-may-help-organs-survive-deep-freeze/.

[7] Id.

The Rush to Save Dark Data

Emma Fusco

The Trump administration has made clear the disdain for evidence that shows how human activity is affecting the planet.  The administration is now proposing hefty budget cuts for government agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environment Protection Agency.  Fear is now buzzing among researchers that government data will be deleted as a “cost-conscious” measure.

But let’s make one thing clear: it is illegal to destroy government data.  However, agencies have the autonomy to revise websites and create other barriers in accessing the information.  

We have already seen drastic changes to websites of federal science agencies.  These changes are reflective of the publicly stated priorities of the new administration which raised the concern of the vulnerability of the information painstakingly collected over decades which cost hundreds of billions of dollars.  This information remains solely in the hands of the government, which spans across thousands of servers which may not be backed up and may be impossible to find.  
Some activists refer to this as “dark data” because as Maxwell Ogden phrased it, “It’s like dark matter; we know it must be there but we don’t know where to find it to verify… If they’re going to delete something, how will we even know it’s deleted if we didn’t know it was there?”

WikiLeaks Seeks to Work With Companies in Wake of CIA Data Leak

Aiden Scott

After the disclosure of over 8,000 documents which “demonstrate vulnerabilities in smartphones, televisions,and software” identified by the CIA Jullian Assange has announced that he wants to work with companies to close these vulnerabilities in their technology. If the release by WikiLeaks was legitimate, then it would reveal that the CIA “has the ability to break into individual devices and intercept messages before they can be encrypted.” In response the CIA has not confirmed or denied the authenticity of the release, but maintains that the “american public should be deeply troubled by any disclosure designed to damage the Intelligence Community’s ability to protect America.” This comment highlights the implicit troubles that WikiLeaks could cause for intelligence agencies by closing off vulnerabilities in devices such as smart phones, it could in theory be more difficult for the CIA to monitor the activities of a suspected terrorist. However with the growing concern about privacy in America, and with Assange remaining in the Ecuadorian embassy in London we will have to wait to see what steps both sides take as matters progress.