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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thinkers & Doers: Feb. 27, 2014

Professors Robin Feldman, Leo Martinez, Rory Little, Scott Dodson, Research Fellow Brian Pascal, Margaret Fujioka '82, Gregory Korbel '02.

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Leo Martinez 

Professor Leo Martinez weighed in on the questionable good fortune of a Gold Country couple who found $10 million in rare coins buried in their backyard.

Leo MartinezThey will probably owe close to half of that sum in federal and state income tax, whether or not they sell the coins.

The couple, who have not been publicly identified, found the coins in cans buried in their backyard in February 2013. According to Martinez, that means they will owe tax on the estimated value of the coins by April 15 to avoid a penalty and interest.

"They are like any other people who find property, and whether they sell it slowly or fast," it will be considered income, Martinez told the San Francisco Chronicle. Read more here.

Rory Little

Rory LittleProfessor Rory Little provided real-time analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on a case about consents to unwarranted searches, for SCOTUSblog.

"Unsurprisingly (see my post-argument analysis here), this morning the Court ruled in Fernandez v. California that Georgia v. Randolph is a “narrow exception” to the normal rule that “police officers may search jointly occupied premises” without a warrant “if one of the occupants consents.”

Read the full analysis here. Follow Little on Twitter here.

Scott Dodson

Professor Scott Dodson was quoted in the Daily Journal about the 9th Circuit’s decision to rehear en banc a ruling in a potential mass action over the pain medication propoxyphene, sold under Darvon and other brand names.

Scott DodsonReturning the case to state court under the circumstances at issue sets up a conflict with a 7th Circuit precedent set in 2012, In re Abbott Laboratories Inc., 698 F.3rd 568 (2012).

If an en banc court reverses the panel and keeps the case in the federal system, that outcome could cast doubt on section 404, a longstanding California procedure designed to coordinate cases with similar fact patterns.

"If that procedure is effectively preempted by CAFA, it would have important federalism implications," Dodson said. "The California procedure is designed to ease the burdens on California courts [by synchronizing otherwise repetitive discovery and courtroom proceedings]. If CAFA is interpreted broadly, it has the potential to take those procedural innovations away and federalize them under Congress' CAFA standards."

Robin Feldman

Robin FeldmanProfessor Robin Feldman was quoted in Fortune magazine about the so-called patent trolling cases pending in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Though not directly involved in the cases, Fortune 500 companies ranging from tech giant Apple (AAPL) to consumer goods powerhouse Procter & Gamble (PG) are interested enough in the outcome that they have submitted briefs, as has Feldman.

"The fee award cases are among the most significant intellectual property cases the Supreme Court will hear this term . . . because of their potential impact on patent trolling," Feldman told Senior Editor Roger Parloff. "With virtual impunity, more and more entities are spinning questionable patents—or patents aimed at inappropriate targets—into golden income streams and competitive advantages."

Read more here. Read Feldman's brief here.

Brian Pascal

Research Fellow Brian Pascal spoke with the media about the ramifications of the recent Target data breach, in which the personal credit card information of as many as 110 million customers were compromised.

Brian PascalTarget reported financial results for the quarter during which it suffered the high-profile data breach, revealing how badly the company was stung by the security lapses.

In the three months ending Feb. 1, net earnings dropped by 46 percent compared with the year-ago fourth quarter, from US$961 million to $520 million. Profit dropped by more than 40 percent from the same period a year earlier, while earnings per share were 81 cents, down from $1.47 last year.

"As far as I can tell, this kind of economic swing in response to a data breach is largely unprecedented," Brian Pascal, research fellow, told the E-Commerce Times.

"In the past, companies have suffered some financial hits following news of major data breaches, but not to this scale," he said. "I think one of the most difficult things about data breaches, both from the consumer side and from the business side, is their sheer unpredictability. Target's data breach arose from an email-based attack on one of their heating, air conditioning and refrigeration vendors." Read more here.

Margaret Fujioka

Margaret Fujioka ’82, the new mayor of Piedmont, CA, was profiled in the Contra Costa Times. “I will walk in the shoes of these great mayors who preceded me, particularly the women mayors," said Fujioka, who is the first Asian American woman to serve on the council. Read more here.

Gregory Korbel

Gregory Korbel ’02 was named to the Board of Directors of Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley. He is a partner at Miller Morton Caillat & Nevis in San Jose.

Read more Thinkers & Doers here.

--Feb. 27, 2014

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