23andMe: Regulating the Snake Oil Salesman

Crowds would gather when the snake oil salesman came around.1 His magical elixir could cure many ailments, from headaches to kidney problems.2 Before anyone realized that the cure-all was nothing more than mineral oil, the peddler was long gone with their money.3, 4 One of the more famous snake oil salesmen, Clark Stanley, made quite a name for himself in the early 20th century – enough to attract the government’s attention.5 In 1917, federal investigators seized his product, and upon finding that it was not what it claimed to be, Stanley was fined under the Pure Food and Drug Act.6 When the government exercised this FDA-precursor’s power, snake oil sales likely took a turn for the worse.7

The FDA is still cracking down on what it deems to be “snake oil salesmen” in the modern day. Most recently, the FDA has brought this charge … Read the rest

The Consequences of the Death of Net Neutrality

It’s inarguable that one of the greatest features of the internet is sheer freedom. Aside from a few highly regulated and illegal activities, every user is free to have a certain degree of anonymity and autonomy. However, internet service providers (ISPs) have been looking to crack down on certain types of users – those that use up more bandwidth than average. To further this end, AT&T has filed a new patent for “Prevention of Bandwidth Abuse of a Communications System”.[1] But is this really just an attempt to go after torrenters, file sharers and pirates, or is there a further motive here? And even if AT&T is being honest with whom it wishes to restrict, is this a symptom of a greater issue?

AT&T has been looking into different ways to reduce bandwidth congestion and increase profits. Take, for instance, the Sponsor program which allows companies to pay AT&T … Read the rest

Gossip in the Workplace: A Right or Privilege?

On November 28, 2013, Joslyn Henderson filed a complaint against her former employer, Laurus Technical Institute (Laurus), with the NLRB’s Regional Office in Atlanta.[1] The complaint alleged that Laurus violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by “maintaining and enforcing an overly broad ‘No Gossip Policy,’ and by suspending and terminating the charging party for violating the ‘No Gossip Policy’ and engaging in protected, concerted activities.” [2] As expected, Laurus filed a timely answer effectively denying any and all unlawful conduct.[3] The legal issue presented in this case was whether or not an employer can implement a workplace policy effectively prohibiting all communication between employees that the employer deems to be “gossip” or not contributing to workplace productivity.

 

Laurus operates a private, for-profit technical school with three campuses in Georgia: Decatur, Jonesboro and Atlanta.[4] Henderson worked as an admissions representative at Laurus’ Decatur Read the rest

Go U, NU(nionize): Are College Football Players Student-Athletes or Student-Employees?

On January 28, 2014, the National College Players Association, on behalf of a group of Northwestern University football players, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) seeking to form a union.  While the college pay-for-play debate is well documented, a request for union representation by such athletes is unprecedented.  There is no denying that collegiate athletics, with its TV revenue, licensing fees, merchandising, and ticket sales, has become a multi-billion-dollar industry.  However, NU players claim that their central concerns are related to health, education, and other basic rights, not salaries – at least not yet.  In an official statement released by Northwestern, the University has taken the position that, while it is “proud of [its] students for raising these issues,” not only are student-athletes students, not employees, collective bargaining would “not advance the discussion” of relevant topics.  If college football players get recruited, much like Read the rest

Apple v. Samsung: Tech Trial of the Century

Smart phones and tablet computers are the central focus of the famous legal dispute between technology moguls, Apple and Samsung. In a nutshell, Apple alleged that Samsung copied the look and design of their cell phone and tablet products. On April 15, 2011, Apple filed suit against Samsung alleging infringement on three of Apple’s utility patents and four of their design patents. Apple also alleged that Samsung infringed on their trademark and trade dress by intentionally implementing them into their product line.[1]  Apple accused Samsung of creating 28 devices which infringed on their intellectual property.[2]  Apple was most adamant about its design patent for a “rectangular slab with rounded corners [i.e., the iPhone],” which they claim Samsung used in a number of their cell phone designs.[3]   Meanwhile, Samsung filed a counter claim alleging that Apple infringed on their patents for wireless communications Read the rest

Would You Invest In Richard Sherman?

 

After a hard fought NFC Championship game, Seattle Seahawks cornerback, Richard Sherman, used his postgame interview to let viewers know that he deserved recognition.[1]   Consequently, sports commentators had a field day breaking down every Sherman action in effort to determine the “motivation” for his postgame rant.[2] Some suggested that Sherman has been an underappreciated player throughout his career and he just wanted the recognition he felt he rightly deserved.[3] Well, thanks to Fantex Brokerage Services, Sherman and other under-appreciated players can put their money where their mouth is![4]

 

Fantex Brokerage Services developed a plan to partner with professional athletes in order to set up Initial Public Offerings (IPOs).[5] The company initiated deals with Arian Foster and Vernon Davis where each player would have been offered upfront payments in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings.[6] Unfortunately, both Foster and Read the rest

The Necessity of Corporate/NGO Partnerships

While corporations have historically committed human rights and environmental conservation violations, it is undisputed that they have taken several steps in recent years to reduce their negative impact on the world. Perhaps the most important fundamental change in the framework of corporate responsibility is the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The principles lay out three “pillars”: (1)the state’s duty to protect human rights, (2)the corporate responsibility to respect human rights and (3)the need for available remedies for victims of corporate abuses. [1] But can companies live up to these standards? NGO(Non-government Organizations)/Corporate partnerships may be the answer, but they are in dire straits.

   The Guiding Principles were released to open support by the business community, with companies like Coca-Cola calling them flexible and a great foundation for corporate responsibility.[2] However, while companies have endorsed them for the most part, they remain responsibilities and Read the rest

Hotel Conglomerates and AirBnB: The Tale of lobbyists thwarting a cheap stay in the Big Apple.

Some people refer to it as the City of Dreams. The Big Apple. The Melting Pot. The Capital of the World. Or the City that Never Sleeps. Regardless of the chosen alias or nickname, there is one universal truth about New York, New York.  That is—that it sure isn’t cheap! In fact, some would say that it’s outrageously expensive! So for all the accolades and attractions that have rightfully earned the city its share of global admirers, there exists a rather large barricade for those wishing to experience the city. A former candidate for mayor in New York City ran under the appropriately coined political party known as—“The rent is TOO damn high.”[i]  The average rent for an apartment in NYC? $3,017 a month.[ii] The average cost of purchasing a Manhattan apartment? $1.425 million.[iii] The average cost of a hotel stay in the city? A hair under Read the rest

Will You Tip the Pizza Delivery Drone? Commercial Drone Usage Now and in the Future

Unmanned aerial systems, also known as drones, have maintained a lasting presence in the headlines over the past few years, whether it was their applications in the United States’ wars or concerns about domestic use of drones for surveillance and law enforcement. Interestingly, drones are not limited purely to military and government use. The field is quickly expanding to include civilian and commercial applications. While hobbyists can now simply pick up a drone at stores such as Barnes and Noble[1], commercial usage of drones has yet to make a significant impact on our society as of yet.  Funding is abundant, however, so within the next few years, our society will change rapidly with the introduction of commercial drone use. One must ask him or herself: Will drones be buzzing around us within a few years, delivering items and performing services?

Drones can be used for any number of … Read the rest

Should Tax Credits as an Incentive for Higher Education be Eliminated?

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One of the biggest contributors to rising disparity in America today is the widening earnings gap between workers with college degrees and those without.[1] Higher education remains a good investment, even though some new grads are currently struggling to get jobs. Over the past two decades, lawmakers have progressively asked the tax code to direct all manner of social and economic objectives (e.g. home buying, adoption, attending college, trading in a clunker for a newer car, etc.). In regards to federal assistance for higher education expenses, tax credits and deductions are relatively new.[2]

 

Lawmakers have increasingly used tax credits to aid students in covering the cost of college. From 1997 [3], the first year these credits Read the rest

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