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Top corporate law firms of 2013 named

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Basic CMYKCorporate Board Member magazine and global business advisory firm FTI Consulting, Inc. (NYSE: FCN) today announced the results of the 13th annual America’s Best Corporate Law Firms study, a comprehensive ranking by U.S. corporate directors and general counsel of the top 25 corporate law firms.

According to the 2013 study, New York’s Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom receives top ranking among corporate directors, a position it has held since the first survey in 2001.

Washington, D.C.-based Jones Day and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz placed second and third, respectively, followed by Weil, Gotshal & Manges in fourth place. The fifth- and sixth-place rankings are held by Baker & McKenzie of Chicago and Sullivan & Cromwell of New York, respectively.

Looking further down the list, many of the 2013 firms remain steadfast among the top firms in recent years. Palo Alto-based Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati rose to 10th place in 2013 from 15th in 2012. Four new firms were added to this year’s list: Houston-based Vinson & Elkins, Washington, D.C.-based Covington & Burling, Milwaukee-based Foley & Lardner, and St. Louis firm Bryan Cave.

“FTI Consulting commends these first-class law firms, including Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, ranking first among corporate directors for a groundbreaking 13th year in a row,” said Basil Imburgia, senior managing director and North American Practice Leader–Forensic and Litigation Consulting at FTI Consulting. “We are proud to once again partner with Corporate Board Member magazine to honor these firms with superior client service on a variety of corporate legal matters.”

In a separate survey of corporate general counsel, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz moved into the first-place position, with longtime leader Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom ranking second and Los Angeles-based Latham & Watkins in third.

In fourth place this year is Baker & McKenzie, which jumped seven places from its 2012 ranking; similarly, fifth-place holder Gibson Dunn & Crutcher rose eight places from last year.

The 2013 list also features six firms that did not appear last year, including Miami-based Greenberg Traurig, Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith, Boston-based Goodwin Procter, San Francisco-based firms Morrison & Foerster and Littler Mendelson, and New York’s Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson.

“Once again we congratulate all the organizations—both returning faces and new ones—selected as top corporate law firms by directors and their general counsel peers,” said TK Kerstetter, chairman of Corporate Board Member(R).

“These rankings show that directors and general counsel consider them to be industry leaders, many of them year after year, by their exceptional contribution to the business community.”

The following are the top 25 national corporate law firms for 2013, according to the directors surveyed by Corporate Board Member/FTI Consulting (with their 2012 ranking in parentheses):

2013 Directors’ Rankings

1. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, New York (1)
2. Jones Day, Washington, D.C. (4)
3. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, New York (3)
4. Weil, Gotshal & Manges, New York (6)
5. Baker & McKenzie, Chicago (7)
6. Sullivan & Cromwell, New York (5)
7. Latham & Watkins, Los Angeles (8)
8. Cravath, Swaine & Moore, New York (2)
9. Kirkland & Ellis, Chicago (9)
10. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Palo Alto (15)
11. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Los Angeles (10)
12. Fulbright & Jaworski, Houston (13)
13. Sidley Austin, New York (14)
14. Shearman & Sterling, New York (16)
15. Davis Polk & Wardwell, New York (12)
16. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, New York (17)
17. Baker Botts, Houston (20)
18. Vinson & Elkins, Houston (-)
19. Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C. (-)
20. Foley & Lardner, Milwaukee (-)
21. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, New York (11)
22. Morrison & Foerster, San Francisco (21)
23. Arnold & Porter, Washington D.C. (18)
24. Bryan Cave, St. Louis (-)
25. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Washington, D.C. (19)

Source: Corporate Board Member/FTI Consulting, America’s Best Corporate Law Firms, 2013

The following are the top 25 national corporate law firms for 2013, ranked according to general counsel surveyed by Corporate Board Member/FTI Consulting (with their 2012 ranking in parentheses):

2013 General Counsel Rankings

1. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, New York (2)
2. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, New York (1)
3. Latham & Watkins, Los Angeles (4)
4. Baker & McKenzie, Chicago (11)
5. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Los Angeles (13)
6. Sidley Austin, New York (9)
7. Jones Day, Washington, D.C. (5)
8. DLA Piper, Atlanta (14)
9. Cravath, Swaine & Moore, New York (3)
10. Davis Polk & Wardwell, New York (7)
11. Morgan Lewis & Bockius, Philadelphia (18)
12. Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C. (17)
13. Greenberg Traurig, Miami (-)
14. Morrison & Foerster, San Francisco (-)
15. Sullivan & Cromwell, New York (6)
16. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Palo Alto (20)
17. Reed Smith, Pittsburgh (-)
18. Kirkland & Ellis, Chicago (10)
19. Shearman & Sterling, New York (15)
20. Hogan Lovells, Washington, D.C. (24)
21. Littler Mendelson, San Francisco (-)
22. Goodwin Procter, Boston (-)
23. Fulbright & Jaworski, Houston (19)
24. Weil, Gotshal & Manges, New York (8)
25. Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, New York (-)

Source: Corporate Board Member/FTI Consulting, Americas Best Corporate Law Firms, 2013

International patent filing, outsourcing on the rise

Monday, May 6th, 2013

InoviaForeign patent filing is on an upswing with large organizations continuing to outsource much of the foreign patent filing process to non-law firm providers as a means to cut costs and gain efficiencies, according to the inovia, report, “The 2013 U.S. Global Patent & IP Trends Indicator.”

More than half of those surveyed filed at least 50 percent of their patent applications overseas, reflecting the growing importance of international patent protection among U.S. companies.

Now in its fourth year, the Indicator has become a definitive resource for identifying the trends having the greatest impact on the foreign filing strategies of U.S. patentees. The mood for 2013 was again “Cautiously Optimistic,” with the number of patent families expected to be filed in 2013 in-line with 2012 filings.

The changes brought by U.S. patent reform and key provisions of the America Invents Act going into effect in March 2013 were overwhelmingly cited by respondents as the most important topic for the IP industry in 2012 and into 2013.

Other trends anticipated in 2013 include concerns around the rising cost to obtain patent protection, as well as patent enforcement and patent trolls.

Other key findings from the Indicator include:

  • International Patent Filing on the Rise: Compared to the 2012 survey results, respondents this year tended to file more broadly with 70 percent filing in four or more countries – an 11 percent increase from the year prior. As in previous surveys, the overwhelming majority (99 percent) of respondents used the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) for their foreign filing in 2012.
  • China Becomes Regular Filing Destination vs. Emerging Market: Of those respondents who filed into new countries, only 14 percent started filing into China in 2012, down from 28 percent in 2011. But, when asked to rank the importance of certain jurisdictions in their 10-year foreign filing strategy, Europe, China and Japan rated as the most important countries – indicating that China has become a regular filing destination. Respondents also expressed fewer concerns about enforceability issues in China.
  • Applicants Taking Control of Foreign Patenting: As compared to 2012 results, more applicants expect to save on foreign patenting costs in 2013 by bringing steps in-house (91 percent increase from 2012 survey results), negotiating with foreign counsel (74 percent increase) and using non-law firm providers (73 percent increase).

“The theme of Cautious Optimism returns for the third-consecutive year, with budget cuts lessening and large companies moving away from local counsel for foreign patent filing,” said inovia founder and Australian patent attorney Justin Simpson.

“As U.S. patent holders continue to struggle with the changes made by the America Invents Act and a desire to contain costs, they are opting to bring steps in-house or outsource to non-law firm providers with deep experience in areas such as foreign filing, annuities and patent translations.”

inovia surveyed companies and universities through an online questionnaire. Organizations spanned industries and ranged from small enterprises filing a single patent family to multinational organizations filing more than 100 patent families in 2012. All survey participants are involved in the IP strategy and patent filing activity of their organization, with job functions ranging from patent manager, to general counsel and up to executive leadership positions. To download a copy of inovia’s 2013 U.S. Global Patent & IP Trends Indicator, visit:

Press photographers group sues Google over book search

Monday, April 15th, 2013

GoogleThe National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) announced today that it is joining 15 plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Google. The Federal suit alleges the “Google Book Search” program violates the copyrights of numerous photographers and other visual artists.

The lead plaintiffs include: The American Society of Media Photographers, Graphic Artists Guild, Picture Archive Council of America, North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographers of America, American Photographic Artists, Leif Skoogfors, Al Satterwhite, Morton Beebe, Ed Kashi, John Schmelzer, Simms Taback and Gail Kuenstler Taback Living Trust, Leland Bobbe, John Francis, Ficara, and David W. Moser.

Plaintiffs claim that Google engaged in “widespread, well-publicized, and uncompensated infringement of exclusive rights in images in the history of book and periodical publishing,” in violation of the Copyright Act.

These allegations of infringement stem from Google’s creation and operation of its Google Book Search program. The lawsuit seeks monetary, injunctive, and declaratory relief.

The complaint states, “Google’s acts have caused, and unless restrained, will continue to cause irreparable injuries to Lead Plaintiffs and the Class members through: continued copyright infringement and/or the effectuation of new and further infringements of the Visual Works contained in Books and Periodicals; diminution of the value and ability to license and sell their Visual Works; lost profits and/or opportunities; and damage to their goodwill and reputation.”

“The NPPA takes the issue of copyright violation very seriously,” said NPPA Executive Director Mindy Hutchison.

Photos displayed without permission

The NPPA has been a vocal critic of Google, particularly of the company’s continued efforts to digitize entire libraries and make that content available over the Internet.

The 49-page complaint, submitted by attorneys Mishcon de Reya, New York LLP, and Ronny L. Kurzman, Esq., was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. It contains exhibits showing specific photographs and illustrations which, despite having been registered with the United States Copyright Office, were scanned and displayed, without permission, into Google Book Search, by Google, in violation of those copyrights.

“As a visual journalist myself, I know the importance of owning my own work and controlling how, when, and why those images are used,” added Mike Borland, NPPA President. “I feel it is the NPPA’s responsibility to protect that principle of ownership, and not allow companies like Google to infringe upon our rights uncontested.”

Big data, predictive coding, impacting e-discovery

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
Big Data


Big data’s impact on e-discovery is the overwhelming challenge facing corporate legal teams, although predictive coding may improve e-discovery by 2015, according to FTI Consulting Inc.’s annual Advice from Counsel study.

Among the 2013 Advice from Counsel study’s findings and predictions:

  • The impact of Big Data on e-discovery requests will be the greatest e-discovery challenge by 2015: Sixty-four percent of the in-house lawyers participating in the survey noted that the impact of Big Data on e-discovery requests will be the overwhelming challenge for the foreseeable future, followed at 32 percent by both “social media and data in the cloud”and the “emergence of the ‘bring your own device’ environment becoming a workplace norm.” A notable 14 percent believe the ongoing conflict between U.S. e-discovery requirements and data privacy rules overseas will continue to present obstacles to seamless discovery.
  • Predictive coding has the biggest potential to improve e-discovery by 2015: Fifty-seven percent of respondents believe that predictive coding will improve e-discovery and be a mainstream tactic by 2015. Many respondents expressed optimism that predictive coding technology can better automate the document review process and dramatically reduce costs.
  • Reuse of documents and metadata in e-discovery will become a more commonplace practice: Fifty-seven percent of participants currently reuse coding decisions made on documents for previous matters, and many expressed the opinion that this number is likely to increase among e-discovery practitioners.
  • E-discovery practitioners will need new skills: Reflecting expectations that predictive coding will play a greater role in e-discovery, respondents broadened the list of skills helpful for future e-discovery practitioners. While legal and technology aptitude remained high at 83 percent and 77 percent, respectively, respondents also listed new, and perhaps surprising, skills — including statistics, accounting, project management and linguistics.
  • In-house counsel, outside counsel and service providers will collaborate on e-discovery management: Seventy-three percent of the respondents expect these three groups to more effectively collaborate on e-discovery tasks in 2015.

“As part of the Advice from Counsel study, I spoke with inside counsel to identify the most important trends that will transform e-discovery in the next decade,” said Ari Kaplan , legal consultant and Principal of Ari Kaplan Advisors. “The candid and practical advice by respondents offers a window into the evolving digital landscape of modern litigation and provides guidance on how their peers can safely and cost-effectively navigate these changes.”

US firm files lawsuits alleging theft of display tech used in Kindles, Nooks

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

NookCopyTele, Inc. (“CTI”) (OTCBB: COPY) has filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California against AU Optronics Corp. and E Ink Holdings, alleging an elaborate scheme to steal valuable, patented display technologies developed by CopyTele, and used in many popular consumer electronics devices.

CTI develops and acquires patented technologies for the purposes of patent monetization and patent assertion.

The lawsuit, alleging breach of contract, fraud, conspiracy to monopolize, unfair business practices, antitrust, and other anti-competitive acts, seeks punitive and treble damages. CTI also filed a separate patent infringement lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California against E Ink.

Company says it has the reources to “fight back.”

Robert Berman, CTI’s president and CEO stated, “This is a case about two, multi-billion dollar foreign companies, conspiring to steal valuable, patented technologies from a small U.S. company, with the intention of causing significant financial hardship so that CTI could not protect itself and fight back.  CTI now has the resources and expertise necessary to ensure that AUO and E Ink are held accountable for their transgressions.”

Berman, who previously ran Acacia Research Corporation and has a successful track record of taking on large companies on behalf of small inventors, joined CTI as president and CEO in October.

AU Optronics successfully sued previously

CTI is represented in the lawsuits by San Francisco based Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, who together with the U.S. Justice Department, recently lead antitrust and unfair competition actions against AU Optronics, resulting in criminal fines of $500 million, civil settlements of $199.5 million, and Federal prison sentences for several top AUO officials.

AU Optronics is based in Taiwan and is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of flat panel displays for televisions, computers, and tablets, including Apple’s iPad.

E Ink, also based in Taiwan, is the world’s largest supplier of electrophoretic displays including displays for e-Reader products such as Amazon’s Kindle, and Barnes and Noble’s Nook.

Do company legal and IT teams speak the same language?

Friday, December 14th, 2012

DeloitteLegal and IT teams don’t communicate with each other all that well, a new Deloitte poll suggests. Only 8.1 percent of executives surveyed think their company’s IT and legal teams fully understand each other.

“Legal and IT teams have been working together more closely each year, responding to litigation or regulatory investigations.  These fast-paced, complex efforts to locate, collect, preserve and analyze electronic data—evidence, really—are crucial to defending corporate reputations, legal claims and more,” said Mark Michels , a director in the discovery practice for Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP.

Michels adds, “Unfortunately, each year there are cases that hit the headlines in which poor legal and IT cross-team communication and collaboration results in electronic discovery omissions.”

Not collaborating well

Nearly 1-in-5 respondents (19.3 percent) says their organizations’ IT and legal teams do not collaborate well.

“Sometimes the first step to improving legal and IT teams’ collaboration is simply to network within your organization,” continued Michels.

“In my experience, finance, risk and compliance teams who work with legal and IT separately can really help the two groups bridge the organizational gap between them. Teaming with other departments can be invaluable in shifting discovery efforts away from fire-fighting mode into a streamlined, repeatable process.”

CIOs and General Counsels sometimes bridge the gap

When asked whether the experience of a chief information officer (CIO) and general counsel (GC) enabled them to bridge the gap, 20.2 percent of respondents report that their company CIO and GC do not understand each other’s field.

However, 16 percent indicated they have experience in each other’s fields; 4.5 percent report their CIO has some knowledge of the law and 5.9 state their GC has some knowledge of technology.

“Industry aside, in-house legal teams commonly rely on IT leaders as expert witnesses in court or regulatory hearings to describe how electronic evidence was located, collected, preserved and analyzed,” continued Michels.  “Having these teams work together now can only benefit everyone involved.”


Consumer Fraud Center warning: some daily deals may offer fake or illicit goods

Friday, December 7th, 2012

 If you wouldn’t buy an alleged luxury watch from for pennies on the dollar from a street vendor, you should think twice before buying a similar product from a daily deal site.

As the holiday buying season continues to gather steam, the Consumer Fraud Center today issued a warning about a fast-growing trend: the sale of goods at bargain-basement prices through so-called “daily deal” sites, which can mask the sale of counterfeit or illicit goods.

These “daily deals” initially focused on highlighting steep discounts at local merchants seeking to build customer traffic, but have increasingly come to be dominated by third-party retailers interested in dumping large quantities of consumer goods as quickly as possible, even if those goods have not been properly verified as being legitimate.

Flash sales may be questionable

“What makes these sites particularly risky is the liquidation of merchandise through a ‘flash sale’ before its authenticity can be verified,” said James Lee, executive director of the Consumer Fraud Center.

“You are probably safe if buying a voucher for a local restaurant, but you should exercise caution when buying ‘daily deal’ goods at an extreme discount.”

Lee gave the example of purported luxury brand watches sold at discounts of 75 to 90 percent, along with small appliances, luxury apparel items, electronics and toys as being the most-often sold on these flash deals.

“They are not necessarily counterfeit, but a luxury watch or handbag listed for pennies on the dollar has no greater claim to authenticity if sold through a ‘daily deal’ site than one hawked on Canal Street in New York or Santee Alley in Los Angeles,” Lee said.

Site with troubling record

One such “daily deal” site with a troubling track record is Brooklyn-based, which dispatches email blasts to consumers with featured daily bargains. According to Thomas Peistrup, a Los Angeles-based intellectual property attorney, even after sending a “cease and desist” letter, he was shipped a counterfeit product as part of a client “test buy.”

“We sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter because we were nearly certain that the discounted goods did not originate from the legitimate supply chain. Sure enough, when our test buy later arrived, we confirmed it as counterfeit,” Peistrup said.

Lee reiterated the Consumer Fraud Center’s long-standing advice that consumers should be leery of extreme discounts offered over the internet.

“The advice passed on for generations still holds true: If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is,” Lee said.

Lee added that any consumers who purchased a counterfeit or illegitimate item on one of these daily deal sites are encouraged to post it on the Consumer Fraud Center website so other consumers could be warned during this holiday season.

The Consumer Fraud Center is also concerned about the potential for selling counterfeit goods via Amazon Pages and issued a separate warning regarding them.

Risk of software license audits pose challenges to businesses

Friday, December 7th, 2012

FlexeraEvery so often we see a tech company we know hit with a huge fine for using unlicensed software, often the result of an employee tipping off a regulatory organization for a reward. Yet many of those firms many not have been intentionally using unlicensed software. Managing software licenses is not all that simple a task for many organizations, according to a new survey from Flexera.

Software license compliance audits are an established industry practice by which vendors are allowed to investigate customers’ actual software usage, and seek additional compensation in the form of a “true-up” penalty if use exceeds licensing terms.

According to Flexera Software’s 2012 Software Pricing and Licensing Survey, prepared jointly with IDC, software vendors are continuing to exercise their rights to audit their customers and true-up.

Challenges include tracking and managing use

Part of the problem can be traced to challenges companies face tracking and managing software license use, and reconciling that use to ensure compliance with licensing terms. According to the survey, one third of enterprises surveyed said they are either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their current method for managing software licenses and usage.

And the reason for that dissatisfaction is clear — 38% of enterprises indicated that 11% or more of their application spend is associated with applications that are overused, and therefore out of compliance, up from 26% one year ago.

Moreover, the survey shows that vendors are exercising their rights to recapture some of that revenue leakage due to noncompliance via software audits and true-ups. 64% of enterprises reported that they have been audited over the last 18-24 months.

Large enterprises three times more likely to face an audit

And large enterprises — defined in the report as those with greater than $1B in revenue — were significantly more likely to be audited three times or more in the last 18-24 months. Moreover, 24% of enterprises said their total true-up paid over the past year was $1 million or more.

Finally, the survey revealed that the major software vendors — those that typically account for a significant portion of most organizations’ enterprise application spend — are also the most aggressive auditors. Enterprises reported that over the last year, they’ve been audited most frequently by Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, SAP and Adobe.

“Software usage that exceeds the negotiated license terms can represent significant lost revenue for software vendors,” said Amy Konary, research vice president – software licensing and provisioning at IDC.

Many factors make compliance difficult

“There are many factors that make license compliance difficult, including license and IT environment complexity, lack of automation, and decentralized IT. IDC expects that vendors will continue to enforce their license agreements with audits, and advises enterprises to pro-actively track and manage usage of their software license assets.”

“Never has the need for Software License Optimization been more pronounced,” said Randy Littleson, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Flexera Software.

“Organizations face tremendous challenges tracking and managing software licenses and reconciling that use against their software license agreements. If existing license management strategies aren’t significantly reducing or eliminating painful software true up penalties — optimizing the software license estate often eliminates or significantly reduces that risk exposure.”

Click here to access the complete survey results.

Where can you get the latest on mobile and digital marketing?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
Internet Summit crowd

The 2012 Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC, Nov. 6-8 offers unparalleled networking opportunities and speakers from top digital brands such as Google, Twitter, AOL, Klout, Pando Daily, comScore, Mashable and IBM among many others.

Want to know how to make sure your business is mobile ready without spending a fortune? Concerned about how social media can be a legal landmine? Need insight into the science of Facebook engagement? Those are just a few of the topics on the agenda at next week’s Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC, which is quickly filling available seats.

The 2012 Internet Summit, this year including the Startup Summit, brings more than 120 technology and digital marketing thought-leaders to the Raleigh, NC, Convention Center next week (Nov. 6-8) but fewer than 150 seats remain if you want to join them.

This year the Internet Summit features speakers from brands that include Google, Twitter, Adobe, The Weather Channel, AOL, Cisco, IBM, Forrester, PBS, Klout, Mashable, bing, and many others.

Here at the TechJournal, we’ve interviewed a number of speakers participating in the event, which draws up to 2,000 attendees annually.

CIO challenges, mobile app development, riding the startup roller coaster

From past experience we know these previews offer only a taste of the banquet of take-away insights offered each year:

CIO challenges include several balancing acts – From Chad Smith at 3 Birds Marketing, who was named this year’s CIO of the Year by the North Carolina Technology Association. He’s on the CIO/CTO challenges panel.

How You Can Get More Results from Your Business Website (first of several articles from Boostsuite with great tips on creating, optimizing, and promoting your business website. Successful serial entrepreneur Aaron Houghton, CEO and founder of Boostsuite will discuss how to drastically lower the risk you take when you launch your new startup.


Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Fasten Your seatbelt: three tips on riding the startup roller coaster. Serial entrepreneur Joe Procopio, a networking expert and software developer who runs Triangle-based Exit Event, on keeping your eye on the ball.

Get your ground game down with mobile before you try trick plays – Bill Leake, CEO of Apogeeresults, has a wealth of practical advice on how to tackle what a business really needs in the mobile arena.

Vince Baskerville of Atlanta’s Trip Lingo on Tracking the mobile wild west: engagement is key.


Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth Johnson, Attorney with Poyner Spruill, is among the 120 digital media experts participating in the Internet Summit, Raleigh, NC, Nov. 6-8.

You’ll also learn that Social Media Can be a landmine for businesses,” from Poyner Spruillattorney Elizabeth Johnson, who discusses legal issues of concern.

Robert Hancock of Smart Online, which has reinvented itself as a mobile app firm, will offer some best practices for mobile app development.

Randy Brown, director of the Virtual Heroes division of Applied Research Associates, will talk about “Serious games now invading the military, medical and corporate worlds.

Matt Peters, co-founder & creative director, Pandemic Labs, during his presentation at the Internet Summit in November. His company has done significant research since then on how brands can increase their Facebook engagement.

Matt Peters, co-founder and director of Pandemic Labs, a Boston-based firm that sells social media marketing and analytics services. Peters will present his “Science of Facebook engagement,” and tell you about Two changes that will boost your Facebook numbers, among other inside information based on data. (Peter’s will also speak at the Dallas Digital Summit in December.

Stephen Wellman, editor in chief at Geek Media, which publishes Slashdot, will discuss how to engage with online communities.


Stephen-Wellman, editor-in-chief at Slashdot and other Geeknet sites.

Other top speakers slated for the event include:

  • Jodi Kahn – President, iVillage
  • Duane Forrester – Sr. Product Manager, Bing
  • Scott Calise – Director of Digital Research, MTV Networks
  • Don Hoang – Director of Business Development, Klout
  • Liz Thorington – VP, Ad Sales, The Weather Channel
  • David Perry – Biz Development Executive, Google
And that’s just a sample.

This year’s event includes a new new mini-conference — the Startup Summit – focusing exclusively on digital entrepreneurship.

  • Over 120 top thought leaders & industry innovators sharing insights on topics that matter to you
  • More than 60 presentations & panels covering topics like Customer Engagement, Social Media Trends, Mobile Apps, Analytics, User Experience, Big Data, Gamification, Cloud, Search Marketing and much, much more!
  • Network and connect with around 2,000 of your peers
  • Dedicated Tech Track for IT Professionals, from the cubicle to the C-suite
  • IS Rocks – our new Music Festival at the conclusion of the conference featuring more than a dozen bands to close down IS12 in style!
  • 16 in-depth workshop sessions in our Pre-Conference led by expert interactive and marketing pros.

Register now.


How police solve crimes with social media (infographic)

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

facebookcuffsCriminals, fortunately for law enforcement, often don’t think twice about how much personal information they post on Social media accounts.

Here’s a report on seven suspects caught because of their Facebook activities.

The U.S. government wants to use social media to catch criminals playing online games.

And here’s a CNN report on how police are embracing social media as a crime fighting tool.

A survey of law enforcement professionals shows that most use social media to identify people and locations, gather evidence and pinpoint criminal activity and locations.

Background Check created this infographic detailing how law enforcement uses social media:


Solving Crime with Social Media
Compiled By:

Kindle book settlement may put rebates in your account

Monday, October 15th, 2012

The Kindle’s eInk technology frees you from LED glare and eye-strain – and you can make the fonts as large as you like.

By Allan Maurer

We received this from Amazon in our email over the weekend:

“We have good news. You are entitled to a credit for some of your past e-book purchases as a result of legal settlements between several major e-book publishers and the Attorneys General of most U.S. states and territories, including yours.”

State attorneys estimate the credits will add up to .30 cents to $1.32 for each eligible Kindle book bought between April 2010 and May 2012.

The credits are a result of the ruling by a federal judge in September of the US Justice Department’s settlement with Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Shuster, which it accused of conspiring in a price-fixing scheme.

The ruling also requires the publishers to drop the pricing system they created with Apple ahead of its iPad tablet release in 2010. The publishers will provide the funds for the Kindle credits.

The Amazon email added:

“Under the proposed settlements, the publishers will provide funds for a credit that will be applied directly to your account. If the Court approves the settlements, the account credit will appear automatically and can be used to purchase Kindle books or print books.”

It also said, “n addition to the account credit, the settlements impose limitations on the publishers’ ability to set e-book prices. We think these settlements are a big win for customers and look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future.”

The credits may not amount to much for many customers, but if you buy as many e-books as we do, they might buy you one or two more – especially now that prices have returned to the lower range Amazon prefers.

There has been a lot of argument in the publishing industry that while e-books may not cost as much as printed books to produce, the major costs of acquiring, editing, and paying writers and staff remain much the same.

Personally, we think ebooks should be substantially less expensive (Amazon’s $9.95 seems fair for most).

Then again, if you read many of the free or really inexpensive self-published e-books out there, you can see the publishers’ side of the argument, because the unedited books are often full of typos and many are barely worth reading past the first page.

What do you think?

Last day for discount rate at Raleigh Internet Summit

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Internet Summit 12Today is the last day for a discount to attend the Internet Summit, which brings 120 thought-leaders to Raleigh, NC, Nov. 6-8.

This year’s lineup is one of the most impressive in the history of the conference. Speakers include Sarah Lacy – Founder & Editor-in-Chief,; Brent Herd – Director of Southeast, Twitter; Frederick Townes – Sr Technical Advisor, Mashable; Tim Sullivan – President and CEO,; Curtis Brown – Chief Technology Officer, AOL; and Ben Huh – CEO & Founder, Cheezburger, among many others.

And this year includes a Pre-conference workshop featuring 16 in-depth sessions led by interactive and marketing pros, a Startup Summit min-conference, and event-closing music festival featuring 12 bands.

From our interviews with participants so far:

Innovative startups you’ll learn about include  ArchiveSocial, which provides a means of truly archiving all of a firm’s social media activity. The founder says, “Don’t wait for trouble to keep records of your business social media.”

Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth Johnson, Attorney with Poyner Spruill, is among the 120 digital media experts participating in the Internet Summit, Raleigh, NC, Nov. 6-8.

You’ll also learn that Social Media Can be a landmine for businesses,” from Poyner Spruillattorney Elizabeth Johnson.

Robert Hancock of Smart Online, which has reinvented itself as a mobile app firm, will offer some best practices for mobile app development.

Randy Brown, director of the Virtual Heroes division of Applied Research Associates, will talk about “Serious games now invading the military, medical and corporate worlds.

Matt Peters, co-founder and director of Pandemic Labs, a Boston-based firm that sells social media marketing and analytics services. Peters will present his “Science of Facebook engagement,” and tell you about Two changes that will boost your Facebook numbers, among other inside information based on data. (Peter’s will also speak at the Dallas Digital Summit in December.


Stephen-Wellman, editor-in-chief at Slashdot and other Geeknet sites.

Stephen Wellman, editor in chief at Geek Media, which publishes Slashdot, will discuss how to engage with online communities such as his. (Wellman also spoke at the recent Digital East event in Virginia).

We’ll be interviewing other thought-leaders who will be appearing at the Internet Summit up until the event, but you can’t capture more than a touch of what they have to offer in brief blog posts. We’re always impressed by the useful take-aways they present at the event itself.

Other top speakers slated for the event include:

  • Jodi Kahn – President, iVillage
  • Duane Forrester – Sr. Product Manager, Bing
  • Scott Calise – Director of Digital Research, MTV Networks
  • Don Hoang – Director of Business Development, Klout
  • Liz Thorington – VP, Ad Sales, The Weather Channel
  • David Perry – Biz Development Executive, Google
And that’s just a sample.

This year’s event includes a new new mini-conference — the Startup Summit – focusing exclusively on digital entrepreneurship.

  • Over 120 top thought leaders & industry innovators sharing insights on topics that matter to you
  • More than 60 presentations & panels covering topics like Customer Engagement, Social Media Trends, Mobile Apps, Analytics, User Experience, Big Data, Gamification, Cloud, Search Marketing and much, much more!
  • Network and connect with around 2,000 of your peers
  • Dedicated Tech Track for IT Professionals, from the cubicle to the C-suite
  • IS Rocks – our new Music Festival at the conclusion of the conference featuring more than a dozen bands to close down IS12 in style!
  • 16 in-depth workshop sessions in our Pre-Conference led by expert interactive and marketing pros.

Register now.

Courting disaster: small business and lawsuits (infographic)

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Bolt InsuranceMore than half of business lawsuits affect companies making less than $1 million in revenue and one in three small business owners face suits or threats of suits.

So it makes sense to protect your business. See the infographic below for details on small business vs. lawsuits.


1)      NEVER BE SURPRISED Acknowledge the possibility of a lawsuit and takes steps to prevent it.  Work to identify the areas of your business that are vulnerable as most lawsuits are preventable with an honest assessment of your business.

2)      GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING: You can’t close a deal on a handshake, it must be done in writing – painstaking as it may be.  Details, such as deadlines and costs, can be fudged later if it is not in writing.

3)      INVESTIGATE AND DOCUMENT IT: When a client or employee has a complaint do something about it! Investigate and document the investigation.  Consult with an attorney to discuss your findings and weigh the potential for settlement in a tricky situation.

4)      INVEST NOW RATHER THAN PAYING LATER: The cost of legal support is not cheap, but it is better than a multimillion dollar settlement later

5)      BUY INSURANCE: Liability claims costs companies billions every year; liability insurance can lessen or eliminate the potential for a massive claim against your small business.

Courting Disaster: Small Business Lawsuits Infographic
Via: BOLT Insurance

Apple patent study: insight into future iPhone features, litigation targets

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

AppleEverytime Apple Inc. prepares a new major product launch – such as the upcoming iPhone 5 – rumors and leaks about its features abound online. Thomson Reuters today released the results of its study of Apple, Inc.’s mobile technology patents that may provide some insight in features it may include in future devices.

The findings, which are featured in the Thomson Reuters paper, Inside the iPhone Patent Portfolio,” detail patent and litigation activity across Apple’s 1,298 mobile patents and provide insight into possible future incarnations of the iPhone.

Following are among the key findings in the report:

  • Top Technology Areas: Apple filed 416 smartphone-related patents since the launch of the iPhone in 2007. Another 279 have been filed for mobile camera patents; 232 were filed for user interface technologies; 149 have been filed for image display; and 88 were filed for battery/power control. Antenna (75), calendar (31), contact management (15), and voice control (5) technology were also among the patents within Apple’s portfolio.
  • Patents to Watch: Among Apple’s mobile-related patents, individual technologies that stand out as key indicators of what future smartphone design may hold include a fuel cell system that will allow a portable device to stay charged for days or weeks, and an educational content display feature that allows users to interact with text to see images of what the word(s) mean.
  • The late Steve Jobs famously promised to go nuclear against Google’s Android smartphones, which he saw as ripping off Apple’s patented technology and the company has been persistently carrying out that promise via patent infringement litigation. Who will Apple Inc. sue for next?
  • Litigation – Behind the Scenes of the Patent Wars: To provide insight into the ongoing smartphone “patent wars,” the report tracks all active IP litigation between 2008 and 2012, noting a rapid rise in Apple’s recent IP litigation.  By June 2012, the company had already filed nearly as many patent suits as it did in 2010 and 2011 combined.

“With Apple expected to launch its iPhone 5 this week, the company’s patent portfolio gives us a unique perspective into what may be unveiled on September 12th, or years down the road as part of a future product iteration,” said Bob Stembridge, an intellectual property analyst at Thomson Reuters and author of the report.

“The recent and rapid increase in Apple’s IP litigation activity is indicative of just how valuable intellectual property can be to an organization and the lengths to which an organization will go to defend the inventions it’s worked so hard to develop.”

View the full Inside the iPhone Patent Portfolio paper.

SEC votes to scrap ban on “general solicitation” by venture capitalists and hedge funds

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

SECThe Securities and Exchange Commission has voted to issue a proposed rule that scraps a longstanding ban on routine communication with the general public from hedge funds, private equity firms, and venture capitalists.

The new rule is expected to go into effect by the end of the year. The proposal will be open for public comments for the next 30 days.

While aimed at preventing harm to investors, the rule, which has been in effect since the 1930s, also often limited venture capitalists and startup entrepreneurs from talking to the press openly about their fund raising activities for fear that doing so would be considered solicitation.

In a blog on, John Berlau, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s senior fellow for finance and access to capital, explains why the 4-1 SEC vote is a victory for entrepreneurs, small investors, financial transparency, and the First Amendment.

Today’s proposed Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule lifting the outdated ban on “general solicitation” by hedge funds and venture capitalists is a victory for entrepreneurs, small investors, and, most of all, the First Amendment.

Pursuant to the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act signed by President Obama, the SEC voted 4-1 to scrap the  rule.

SEC Commisioner Daniel Gallagher issued a statement explaining the reasons for the rule change.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute had previously filed an amicus brief supporting the Bulldog Investors hedge fund’s challenge to state variants of this ban and its state variants as unconstitutional restrictions on free speech. We argued — as did Bulldog’s outspoken co-founder and chief Phillip Goldstein and his counsel, the famed liberal First Amendment attorney Laurence Tribe — that the general solicitation ban was keeping the “99 percent” of ordinary investors in the dark about the workings of financial markets.

Over the decades, the SEC rule had come to broadly define just about any type of communication with the general public as an illegal stock “offering” to investors not wealthy enough to qualify to invest in hedge funds and venture capital. Under the solicitation ban, venture capitalists had less freedom to communicate over the Internet than the pornography industry.

Non-wealthy adults who couldn’t meet the threshold for investing in vehicles exempt from SEC rules were treated as children who couldn’t be trusted with any information about investments not available to the general public.

Worries about fraud are misplaced

Worries that lifting this ban will cause an increase in fraud, such as those expressed by dissenting Democratic SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar,  are wholly misplaced. Nothing in the proposed rule restricts the SEC’s ability to punish falsehoods and deceptions in dealing with investors.

Hedge fund managers and venture captialists still may only sign up investors meeting wealth criteria of more than $1 million in assets or $200,000 in income (though this should eventually be changed too for non-wealthy investors willing to take this risk). But they will now be able to communicate their strategies to everyone, and ordinary investors will be able weigh this new information in their investing decisions.

The general solicitation ban did nothing to prevent Bernie Madoff from peddling his fraudulent scam to “qualified” individual and institutional investors. With barriers to general communication lifted, there will be fewer shadows where fraudsters like Madoff can hide.

What’s ironic is that hedge funds and private equity firms are accused of not being transparent, but much of this is due to the government’s own rules that force them to keep mum. The SEC should move with all deliberate speed to get it right with the First Amendment  and investor transparency.

Crowd funding pioneer Wil Schroter, CEO of, said, “As a platform for business-minded startups, we were very pleased to see the SEC’s announcement today demonstrating their support for the removal of the current general solicitation ban on private securities. We are confident that this is a promising step in the right direction, and look forward to their recommendation becoming a reality after the allocated thirty days of public comments.”

Is Google more afraid of Amazon than of Apple?

Monday, August 20th, 2012

AmazonWhile Apple Inc. is trying to subdue Google’s rival Android mobile operating system the company really worrying Google executives is not Apple but Amazon, says The Business Insider.


Because Google makes most of its money from people searching for potential items or services to buy and many people are starting to bypass the search engine to search directly on Amazon.

According to digital measurement service comScore, for instance, searches on Amazon rose 73 percent in the last year.

As Amazon introduces devices such as the Kindle Fire tablet, more sophisticated Kindle eReaders, and possibly a Kindle phone – all tied directly to Amazon’s store – the situation gets even worse for Google.

So, says Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson, “Amazon scares Google more than anything Facebook or Apple are up to.”

While Google may indeed see Amazon as a serious competitor, we suspect the firm isn’t crazy about the recent patent victories Apple won for many of the basic features of a mobile smartphone operating system.

In fact, Google’s Motorola Mobility unit has has filed a patent infringement complaint against a number of iPhone features, including its Siri voice control.

Google acquired Motorola Mobility’s portfolio of thousands of patents in May amid speculation it would use them to battle Apple and its iPhone.

The patent infringement case seeks a ban on U.S. imports of iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. Apple maintains that phones using Google’s Android operating system infringe on its iPhone patents. What a merry-go-round

What do you think? Will Google and Apple eventually end up in a stalemate in the smartphone patent wars?

Is the search giant in danger of losing ground to Amazon?

–Allan Maurer

Judge rejects class action settlement in Facebook suit

Monday, August 20th, 2012

FacebookHas Facebook ever used your personal information in one of its “Sponsored Stories” ads? A United States District Court Judge in San Francisco rejected a proposed class action settlement of a suit against the company for doing so.

Consumer Watchdog praised Judge Richard Seeborg’s rejection late Friday afternoon of a proposed settlement in a class action suit against Facebook for using its users’ personal information in “Sponsored Stories” advertisements without their consent.

“This decision does much to defend the integrity of the class action process,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director. “The way this deal was proposed there was no real benefit for class members.”

In his decision in Fraley v. Facebook Justice Seeborg wrote:

“In this instance there are sufficient questions regarding the proposed settlement that it would not be appropriate simply to grant the motion and postpone resolution of those issues to final approval.”

Read Settlement here:

Consumer Watchdog had opposed the settlement saying that proposed deal “is not fair, adequate or reasonable and provides no direct or indirect benefit to class members.”

“Under the proposed settlement Facebook is poised to continue to misappropriate its users’ personal information without their consent,” wroteLaura Antonini, Consumer Watchdog staff attorney in objecting to the settlement.

“Indeed, Facebook recently expanded Sponsored Stories to its mobile platform, an arena where the misappropriation of personal information has far reaching and potentially dangerous consequences; the proposed settlement does not address this major expansion.”

In his order Friday Judge Seeborg raised concerns about these area of the proposed deal:

— The propriety of a settlement that provides no monetary relief directly to class members.

— The amount of $10 million cy pres award, money going to charities. “Assuming that it may be appropriate to approve a settlement that provides for no cash distribution to class members in this case, the question will remain as to whether $10 million in cy pres recovery is fair, adequate, and reasonable,” the Judge wrote.

— The injunctive relief.

— The amount of attorney’s fees, which could total $10 million.

Technology is transforming the legal field (infographic)

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Robert HalfJust as technology has reshaped how we communicate and do business, it also is making a significant impact on the practice of law. A just-released industry report from Robert Half Legal explores how emerging technologies are affecting management strategies in law firms and corporate legal departments, and changing how legal services are delivered.

The report, Technology’s Transformation of the Legal Field, is part of Robert Half Legal’s 12th annual Future Law Office project, which also includes video interviews with leaders in the legal profession.

For its annual Future Law Office project, Robert Half Legal surveys lawyers among the largest law firms and corporations in the United States and Canada, conducts research to assess how legal organizations might operate in the future, and obtains the insights of key Robert Half Legal staffing and recruiting professionals throughout the company’s branch network in North America.

Key Findings

  • Law firms are making a greater investment in IT. Nearly six in 10 (59 percent) lawyers interviewed for the Future Law Office project said their law firms will increase spending on technology in the next two years. Law firms plan to purchase software (79 percent), hardware (72 percent), desktop PCs (62 percent), laptops (49 percent), tablet PCs or handheld computers (44 percent) and smartphones (41 percent).
  • Web-based tools are improving client communication and the delivery of legal services. Lawyers surveyed said their law firms used e-filing systems (83 percent), meeting or audio-conferencing tools (79 percent), document storage sites (58 percent), collaborative or information-sharing sites (51 percent) and client portals or extranets (30 percent).
  • Law firms’ office footprint is shrinking. With mobile devices and wireless networks enabling lawyers to work remotely from any location, law firms are reducing the size of their offices and reconfiguring workspaces.
  • Technology is leveling the playing field. With firms of all sizes now using similar products, services and tools, small firms and solo practitioners are able to establish a bigger presence online and, in some cases, better compete with larger firms.
  • Corporate legal departments are using tech tools to manage higher workloads. Nearly one in three in-house counsel (30 percent) interviewed said their legal department’s greatest challenge is reducing budgets/controlling costs. They are utilizing technology solutions to streamline communications with outside counsel and improve efficiencies.
  • Technology has dramatically changed the realm of discovery. As the amount of electronic data grows exponentially, e-discovery remains both a growth area and a challenge for law firms and their corporate clients.

Law Firms Take a Strategic Approach to Technology
“Technology has changed the practice of law – from the way legal teams prepare for trial and present cases, to how they communicate with clients and colleagues,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “Knowledge-sharing platforms, portals and intranets are being used by an increasingly mobile legal workforce. These systems, along with laptops, tablet computers and smartphones, have become essential to law firm productivity.”

A growing number of firms are marketing their professional services to different audiences via social media, the research found. However, law firms using these online networks, as well as cloud computing-based services to store data, must address new privacy concerns regarding the security of privileged information. This has prompted many firms to allocate additional resources toward protecting their systems and safeguarding confidential data.

Corporate Legal Departments Use Technology to Reduce Costs
Software designed to monitor expenses and improve the work process is gaining in popularity among corporate legal departments, the research showed. “Many companies are using project management tools to track spending, and streamlining workflow with group calendaring and online collaboration tools,” Volkert said.

Technology is influencing the type of work being assigned to outside counsel, as well. “While litigation and e-discovery projects are typically outsourced, if internal teams have access to the same software programs and systems as their law firms, general counsel might keep certain matters in-house to contain costs,” Volkert said.

The full report is available to download.