Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2014

Congress.gov Adds New Features

As we noted back in November, the popular legislative website THOMAS.gov is now redirecting its users to the Congress.gov platform. More recently, Congress.gov introduced Advanced Search and Browse features to its database, and also incorporated the Appropriations table from THOMAS.

The Advanced Search feature allows users to search in 21 different data fields, including Bill Text, Bill Summary, Committee, Sponsor, Cosponsor, Policy Area, Bill Official Title, and Bill Popular Title. You may search all legislation going back to the 93rd Congress (1973-1974), or limit your search to current legislation. Multiple data fields may be used in a single search. To add or remove a data field, you simply click on the plus or minus icon. You then specify whether you want to search for documents that contain or do not contain your search terms. This is a useful feature that allows you to increase the accuracy of your search. For example, if you wanted to search for all current bills in the Senate…

Fed Announces New Transparency Policy

The Federal Reserve Board announced on Monday that it will begin publishing a semi-annual report providing information on applications and notices filed with the Federal Reserve for approval of activities such as mergers, acquisitions, and formation of holding companies. According to the announcement (published as SR letter 14-2), the purpose of the new report will be to “enhance transparency in the Federal Reserve’s applications process and provide the banking industry and general public with better insight into the issues that could prevent the Federal Reserve from acting favorably on a proposal.”

When Federal Reserve staff recommend denial of a proposal to the Board, the filer is notified and given the option to withdraw the application or notice. Withdrawn applications are typically noted on the Fed’s public H.2 Release. The new semi-annual report will provide data on the number of approvals, denials, and withdrawals, as well as information on the reasons for withdrawals. As no…

Can State Laws Combat Patent Trolls?

As discussed in my last post, in the 2015 legislative session Texas may consider using state consumer protection law to combat patent trolls. Attorneys General of Vermont and Nebraska, for example, have separately taken action against patent trolls by suing under state consumer protection laws. More recently, Vermont enacted legislation that is specifically aimed to combat patent trolls. But do states have the power to regulate patents at all? And is that the best avenue for relief from patent trolls? Let’s look at some different perspectives:
Federal Patent Law & States
Due to federal law, states cannot enact their own patent laws. Federal courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions relating to patent and patent infringement (28 U.S.C.A. § 1338). The Vermont law states that a person “shall not make a bad faith assertion of patent infringement.” (Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 9, § 4197 (West 2013). If a patent asserter (i.e. patent troll) is accused of asserting its patents in bad…

Global Health and Human Rights Database

The Lawyers Collective and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University recently launched the Global Health and Human Rights Database.This free resource provides access to case law, national constitutions, and international instruments regarding the right to health and other health-related rights from over 80 countries.It also includes plain language summaries of case law as well as 200 English translations of case law that were previously not available in English.

All resources can be accessed via a full-text search.However, browsing options are available as well.For case law judgments, you can also browse for materials by county, by topic (such as health systems and financing or mental health), or by specific human right (such as right to health or right to life).For constitutions, you can sort by region (such as Africa or Europe) or by specific human rights.Finally, for international instruments, you can sort by region or by legal status (such a…

Canada Signs Tax-Sharing Agreement with U.S.

Reuters is reporting that Canada has signed a tax information sharing agreement with the United States. This means that the Canadian government has agreed to share information on U.S. taxpayers obtained from Canadian banks with the I.R.S. The ultimate goal of this agreement is to prevent offshore tax evasion by U.S. citizens who seek to hide their assets from their home country to avoid paying taxes. According to the article, similar agreements have been made between the U.S. and 22 other countries, including a recent agreement with Hungary. By signing the agreement, Canada was able to avoid the stricter guidelines of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, Pub. L. 111-147, 124 Stat. 97-110 (2010), passed by Congress on March 18, 2010. According to the article, this act would have mandated that Canadian banks disclose information on U.S. citizens' accounts that are more than $50,000 and would have implemented a 30% withholding  tax on foreign entities that are non-compliant. Inste…