The president has some opinions on the subject [TechDirt]:
Obama: A couple years ago we began a process of patent reform. We actually passed some legislation that made progress on some of these issues. But it hasn’t captured all the problems.
The folks that you’re talking about are a classic example. They don’t actually produce anything themselves. They’re just trying to essentially leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them. Sometimes these things are challenging. Because we also want to make sure that patents are long enough, and that people’s intellectual property is protected. We’ve got to balance that with making sure that they’re not so long that innovation is reduced.
But I do think that our efforts at patent reform only went about halfway to where we need to go. What we need to do is pull together additional stakeholders and see if we can build some additional consensus on smarter patent laws.
Further: “Senate Judiciary Committee Hears from Cato on Gun Policy” [Ilya Shapiro, citing contributions by David Kopel, Randy Barnett, etc.] And while Bing’s real-time reaction tracker isn’t a scientific voter survey (though the sample size is large, and there’s a partisan breakdown) it seems I was not alone in being put off by President Obama’s demagogic “they deserve a vote” State of the Union wind-up on gun control. [Mediaite]
And here’s Cato’s response video with scholars Michael Tanner, Julian Sanchez, Alex Nowrasteh, Simon Lester, John Samples, Pat Michaels, Jagadeesh Gokhale, Michael F. Cannon, Jim Harper, Malou Innocent, Juan Carlos Hidalgo, Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus and Neal McCluskey.
In Manhattan federal district court this morning, Chevron filed the declaration of a former Ecuadorian judge, Alberto Guerra, who describes how he and a second former judge, Nicolás Zambrano, allegedly allowed the plaintiffs lawyers to ghostwrite their entire 188-page, $18.2 billion judgment against Chevron [in the Lago Agrio environmental litigation] in exchange for a promise of $500,000 from the anticipated recovery.
The bribery charge is completely new, and the ghostwriting charge is more sweeping and better substantiated than before.
Since some readers may be having a hard time keeping all the case’s scandals straight, here’s a précis. Chevron has now presented evidence of two distinct, large-scale, ghostwriting frauds which, among other problems, it maintains, taint the Ecuadorian judgment.
Complicating Chevron’s claims of vindication — and opening an avenue for the plaintiff’s camp to argue against giving any credence to the new allegations — the oil company acknowledges that it has made and intends to go on making payments of “living expenses” to the former Ecuadorian judge, now resident with his family in the United States. Read the whole thing here.
Curious fact: As a senator, Barack Obama did see fit to intervene in the Chevron case — on the side of the Ecuadoran government. After meeting with an old basketball buddy — the abovementioned Mr. Donziger, who stands to make billions of dollars as the plaintiffs’ attorney in the case — Barack Obama wrote a letter to the U.S. trade representative arguing that Ecuador’s actions should not be held against the regime when negotiating trade privileges. Donziger, with the help of a $10,000-a-month lobbyist, also got Andrew Cuomo to threaten to intervene in the case, even though the jurisdiction of the Empire State stops well north of Ecuador.
A. “Buried in the middle of the penultimate paragraph.”
Q. “Where, amid a long rant against the D.C. Circuit’s decision striking down most recess appointments by the President (“A Court Upholds Republican Chicanery”), would you expect the Times to concede that the practice of holding pro forma sessions to stymie such appointments was pioneered under Democratic Senate rule as a way of restraining President George W. Bush?
No prizes, as distinct from amusement value, in demonstrating what the New York Times thought of the practice back then.
Labor/employment law: the last four years, and the next [Daniel Schwartz series: first, second, interview] “Some Thoughts on the Meaning of a Second Obama Term for Labor and Employment Law” [Paul Secunda]
Dan Mitchell rounds up many of the significant state ballot measures [Cato] California official voter guide is 144 pages long; “As usual, almost all of the proposals being put before voters are bad.” [Josh Barro, Bloomberg; coverage of Prop 37 on genetic labeling here, here, etc.]
And as some readers will recall, I am hoping voters in Maine, Washington and my own state of Maryland vote to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples, and that voters in Minnesota reject a constitutional amendment to the opposite effect.
While I’d rate the debate stylistically as a draw (this time Obama actually studied for the test) I’ve a feeling Romney may have made further voter inroads by continuing to emphasize his Massachusetts-moderate side. “Obama just talks the game on ‘assault weapons,’ but I actually got a bill passed” must be the unlikeliest Republican applause line of the evening. And was Romney really bidding to get to the left of Obama on education spending and government-guaranteed contraceptives, to name but two?
Highlights of my Tweets as part of the Cato debate-Tweet team, as usual in reverse chronological order:
Will the Obama administration’s much-publicized restrictions on new coal burning electric plants really crimp the economy of the Midwest? Or, given that the market for new plants appears to have tipped decisively toward natural gas for the foreseeable future, do they amount to a “regulatory nothing-burger?” [Jerry Rogers and Peter Van Doren (Cato), Forbes, via David Henderson]
With prospects for the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) having fallen to zero in Congress, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been busy instead issuing rulings expanding the legal prerogatives of labor unions. One that has the business community up in arms concerns “micro-unions,” in which a union designates a bargaining unit smaller than would be considered natural under Board precedent, but within which it thinks it can muster a voting majority. We covered the issue last year, and a ruling this May confirms that the NLRB is headed down this controversial path. I summarize at Cato at Liberty.
Visual representation of debate result (courtesy Chris Fountain) “Obama should have spent more time in court” [David Frum] “Can you imagine the rewards points we earned by paying for wars with the national credit card?” [@BCAppelbaum via @TPCarney]
Various bloggers have prepared questions for Romney and Obama on topics that include the so-called gender pay gap, the mislabeled Employee Free Choice Act, and Rep. Paul Ryan’s view of unions. [ABA Journal]
Romney’s view of government benefits as politically hypnotic mirrors a “gratitude” fallacy advanced by many progressives [Julian Sanchez, Cato]
Ascendancy of “constituent services” on Hill is a bad sign on many levels [Fred Bernstein, NYT]
Dems vs. ACLU: platform vows to obliterate Citizens United [Damon Root]
Union-backed “Protect our Jobs Amendment” (POJA) ballot proposal, constitutionalizing “collective bargaining” concept, would take Michigan down path of Italian labor law [Emilio Rocca, CEI "Open Market"]
Yale unions defeat uniformed-worker unions in battle to take over New Haven government [NH Independent] SEIU almost had Connecticut-5 House seat in pocket, till FBI arrested candidate’s finance manager [PSI]
Checking up on the outcome of a 1995 class action co-repped by attorney Barack Obama [Hans Bader]
Get your copy today!My new book tackles the question of why so many bad ideas come from the law schools. "Cutting-edge commentary, hard-hitting, witty, astute." -- Publisher's Weekly. "Excellent... A fine dissection of these strangely powerful institutions" -- Wall Street Journal.