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MoFo Tech

A blog dedicated to information, trend spotting & analysis for science- & tech-based companies

Takeover Makeover

A New Breed of Activist is Attracted to Tech and Life Sciences Companies

First there were the pirates of the 1980s and their swashbuckling raids of RJR Nabisco and other corporate booty. In the 1990s, blue chip companies legitimized the use of hostile M&A as a credible corporate strategy. Then came the mid-2000s wave of disruptive hedge fund activism. Today, shareholder activism is alive and well, though in shrewder forms.

 “With activism now its own asset class—one that is outperforming the stock market and many other asset classes—activist hedge funds remain focused on the takeover front and M&A transactions,” asserts Morrison & Foerster securities partner David Lynn. Continue Reading

Payments Hit the Road

With New Devices Making Mobile Payments Easier, Banks Are Getting A Run For Their Money

With New Devices Making Mobile Payments Easier, Banks Are Getting A Run For Their Money

The advent of mobile payments is changing consumers’ lives—and reshaping the competitive landscape for the companies that provide payments services to merchants.

Several new companies now offer solutions that use smartphones with small attached card readers or QR codes to accept payments. This gives merchants an easy, inexpensive way to get into mobile payments. As a result, these companies may soon be competing with traditional payments providers, such as banks, for merchants’ business. “These new non-bank providers are making the payment space a lot more competitive,” says Obrea Poindexter, a partner at Morrison & Foerster. Continue Reading

Wiped Out

If you thought Google was the only organization affected by the European Court of Justice’s May decision honoring a Spanish man’s right to have a newspaper story about him erased from its search rankings, you’d be wrong. In fact, following the court’s reasoning, other companies with European operations that republish third-party content—including databases, content aggregators, and social media users—may need to pay attention, says Karin Retzer, a partner with Morrison & Foerster in Brussels.

Under European data privacy laws, individuals may be able to request erasure of information not only if it was unlawful or incorrect but also if it was “inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant,” “excessive,” or not up to date. The ruling creates a quandary for organizations receiving erasure requests: erase information that readers may find interesting, or face possible legal action. The wisest course may be to assess each request on a case-bycase basis at this point, Retzer says. When Google set up a formal channel for individuals’ requests to be “forgotten,” it got 12,000 such requests—on its first day.


Entangled in the Web of Things

By finding new uses for data, the Internet of Things heralds a host of challenges

Within a decade, analysts say, the “Internet of Things” will have transformed our lives. Billions of Internet-connected devices will monitor our homes, businesses, cars, and even our bodies, using the data to manage everything from appliances to heart monitors. Companies like Google— which recently paid $3.2 billion for smart-thermostat company Nest Labs—are already racing to build the IoT. But businesses face fundamental questions regarding the ownership of data, protecting customer privacy, liability when devices fail, and more.

Continue Reading

New Issue of MoFo Tech Published

Issue Discusses Legal Impact of Unmanned Drones on Commercial Airspace

Drones, corporate takeovers, incubators, and even agricultural espionage. Those are just a few of the topics leaping off the pages of the new issue of MoFo Tech, the award-winning magazine on legal trends in technology and life sciences produced by law firm Morrison & Foerster.

The cover story for the latest MoFo Tech examines the ramifications of widespread commercial drone use in the United States. Amazon made news last year when it revealed an early-stage drone-delivery system was in the works, and experts say the commercial drones could become an $82 billion industry by 2025.

MoFo partner Bill O’Connor, who heads the firm’s UAS/Drones Working Group, cautions that if the US doesn’t issue specific usage regulations, drone manufacturers could move their business overseas to countries and regions with more guidance. Concrete state and federal regulations, as well as the application of existing tort and criminal law to drone use, are needed to address concerns about public safety and individual privacy.

Since 2009 MoFo Tech has been the only magazine exploring the intersection of law with technology and life sciences. Written by professional business and tech journalists, it has won the Content Council’s Pearl Award five years in a row and was named “Best New Magazine” in its class. Its global readership surpasses 10,000, reaching primarily C-level executives and general counsel at many of the country’s top tech and life sciences companies.

MoFo Tech offers unique content on the technology industry, combining top-flight journalism with expert legal analysis. I’m not aware of a comparable editorial offering that expressly looks at business news, policy, regulation, and legal trends, alongside feature stories, infographics, and interviews with leading tech innovators,” said Tessa Schwartz, co-chair of Morrison & Foerster’s Technology Transactions practice, who acts as co-managing editor for the magazine. “We are excited to offer a refreshed design, along with an outstanding team of contributors, terrific graphics, and insightful commentary from our industry-leading team of attorneys.”

Also in the new MoFo Tech:

  • Wildly unpredictable so-called FRAND license payments – based on Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory determinations – can have big implications for patent holders and licensees. MoFo Tech offers an intriguing infographic outlining big discrepancies in payments made across a variety of recent patent lawsuits involving Wi-Fi chips.
  • Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group CTO Sam Sahana discusses how he is revolutionizing the switch to digital film through private investments and innovative viewer experiences.
  • An interview with Evan Burfield and Donna Harris, co-founders of Washington, D.C.-based incubator 1776, on bringing tech startups together with the capital’s power players, and the critical importance of mentoring.
  • “Share and Share Alike” analyzes the recent promise by electric car company Tesla that it will not sue over its patent-protected technology, the latest in a series of moves by tech companies making their patents public. These non-assertion pledges are designed to spur innovation and open markets, but MoFo’s Billy Schwartz, part of the Technology Transactions Group, says that many of the related legal issues (such as whether pledges still hold after transfer or sale of patents) have yet to be resolved – or even come to light.
  • Plant breeders need to beware of agricultural espionage: “A pound of seeds for certain tomato varieties is worth more than a pound of gold,” says MoFo partner Rachel Krevans, chair of the IP Litigation Practice Group, in a news story about safeguarding intellectual property assets down on the farm.

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