Additional Blogs of Interest

Intelligence Officer Who Shared Secrets With China is Sentenced

Posted by Whitcomb, Selinsky, PC Staff on Sep 30, 2019 4:10:00 AM

On September 24, 2019, former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officer Ron Rockwell Hansen was sentenced to 10-years in federal prison after pleading guilty in March 2019 to one count of attempting to gather or deliver national security information belonging to the United States to the People’s Republic of China.

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Tags: International Law

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS ALERT – RUSSIA MAKES BOLD MOVES

Posted by Joe Whitcomb on Aug 30, 2017 11:06:11 AM

If you’re involved in international business, the country to watch right now is Russia.  Moves by the country which seems intent on isolating itself could impact your business.  Russia recently announced its plans to ban or limit agricultural imports from countries that had imposed sanctions on it.  Dmitri A. Medvedev, Russia’s prime minister, announced that “all beef, pork, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and Norway” would be banned for one year.

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Tags: International Law, International Trade Law

Four Common Legal Opinions On Patents

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on May 1, 2017 1:12:00 AM

When it comes to obtaining patent protection for a new and non-obvious invention, there is a lot to consider. Obtaining intellectual property rights in the form of a patent often requires a huge investment of time and financial resources. However, the benefits of obtaining patent protection can far outweigh the upfront costs.

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Tags: International Law, Intellectual Property

Export Administration Regulations (EAR) Focused on Hacking

Posted by RMDLG Staff on Jan 17, 2017 1:31:00 PM

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has added five Russian entities to the Entities List that are now prohibited from doing business with the United States because they are involved in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy of the United States.  This is meant to be a “tongue-in-cheek” reminder that the Federal government has export licensing requirements and the failure to follow these requirements results in a ban on doing any import/export-related business.  These entities violated the Government's Export Administration Regulations when they engaged in illegal hacking operations.

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Tags: Government Contracts, International Law

International Patent Decision Not Good for InterDigital Inc.

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on Jan 12, 2015 10:10:54 AM

 

Last week, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) upheld, with modifications, its Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) June findings that neither ZTE Corp.’s devices nor Nokia’s phones (now made by Microsoft Corp.) violated InterDigital Inc.’s international patent rights. The ITC stated that it would release the reasoning in more detail in an upcoming opinion.

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Tags: International Law, International Trade Law

Anti-Dumping Order is A Trade Win For U.S Steel Pipe Makers

Posted by Joe Whitcomb on Dec 22, 2014 10:18:32 AM

Why do anti-dumping measures benefit U.S. steel manufacturers? On August 22nd, U.S. Steel producers were handed a big win in an international trade case against six nations for dumping gas and oil pipe onto the United States market.  This decision comes after a complaint was filed last year by U.S. steel companies against foreign manufacturers who were, according to the U.S., “negatively impacting the U.S. steel production companies with their unfair trading standards.”

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Tags: International Law, International Trade Law

U.S. ITC Issues Groundbreaking Stay on Cease and Desist

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on Dec 22, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Why did the USITC issue a stay on a cease and desist order?

On June 11, 2014, the United States International Trade Commission (“Commission”) issued a stay of a cease and desist order (“CDO”) for the first time in its history. The stay was issued in In the Matter of Certain Digital Models, Digital Data, and Treatment Plans for Use in Making Incremental Dental Positioning Adjustment Appliances, the Appliances Made Therefrom, and Methods of Making the Same.

Background

The Commission instituted the investigation on April 5, 2012 based on Align Technology, Inc’s (“Align”) complaint that ClearCorrect Pakistan, Ltd. and ClearCorrect Operating, LLC (collectively, “ClearCorrect”) infringed upon seven of Align’s patents in violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act, which prohibits the importation of articles into the United States that infringe on U.S. patents.

On May 6, 2013, the presiding administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Robert K. Rogers, Jr., issued his final initial determination.  He found that ClearCorrect violated Section 337 with respect to six of Align’s seven patents, finding no violation as to the seventh. The ALJ recommended the Commission issue cease and desist orders directed against ClearCorrect. On April 3, 2014, the Commission affirmed-in-part, modified-in-part, and reversed-in-part the ALJ’s initial determination.

Flash Forward a Year

In May of 2014, ClearCorrect moved to stay the CDO pending appeal to the Federal Circuit pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act. Under the Act, the Commission will only issue a stay of a CDO where the party seeking the stay 1) makes a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits, 2) shows that he would suffer irreparable harm without a stay, 3) shows harm to other interested parties, and 4) shows a public interest.

The Commission takes a flexible approach to applying the test and thus, even if the movant cannot demonstrate a likelihood of success, the Commission may still issue a stay where the movant presents an “admittedly difficult question” and demonstrates that the harm factors fall in its favor.

The Decision

Ultimately, the Commission issued a stay of the CDO because it determined that ClearCorrect presented an “admittedly difficult question” and the balance of hardships tilted in favor of Clear Correct.

The Commission agreed with ClearCorrect that the meaning of “articles” under Section 337 was a difficult question as evidenced by the prior extensive legal analysis of the issue.  The Commission next balanced the harms and found that ClearCorrect’s potentially “immediate and irreparable ruin,” even if ClearCorrect ultimately won on appeal, outweighed Align’s “price erosion” claims. In particular, the Commission noted ClearCorrect’s claim that, absent a stay, it would almost certainly immediately discontinue operations or drastically reduce its workforce of 115 employees.

The Commission stressed that the issuance of its first-ever stay was made under exceptional circumstances and that it should not be viewed as a sharp departure from its prior determinations denying stays.

Stay Informed

If your business is involved in international trade, the experienced attorneys atWhitcomb Law, P.C. can advise and guide you in protecting your business and products.

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Tags: International Law

Experience and Past Performance Factors

Posted by Joe Whitcomb on Dec 22, 2014 9:05:00 AM

Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) returned from the Labor Day Holiday to determine whether the Department of the Army properly picked its role play partner. The Army’s Request for Proposals (RFP) sought offers to provide civilians the chance to perform battlefield role-player services for military exercises. The Army’s RFP stated that it would award the contract to the lowest-priced, technically acceptable offeror. As is typical in the world of government procurement, nothing is quite that simple.

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Tags: Government Contracts, International Law

What is a Tax Inversion & Can it Save your Company Money?

Posted by Joe Whitcomb on Dec 21, 2014 7:33:00 PM

Apple, Inc. made headlines this year when it managed to avoid over $70 million in taxes that the U.S. said the company owed to the federal government. Estimates vary as to the amount of money Apple keeps offshore, but the numbers are consistently in the billions of dollars range.  In fact, forty and fifty billion dollars are numbers seen in some recent news stories on international tax.

Inversions

The Apple issue is not an uncommon issue with large corporations.  You could replace the name Apple with almost any other famous company (Starbucks, GE, Facebook, etc.), and you’d see similar news stories.  Through access to the best and brightest attorneys, CPAs, and business minds internationally, they utilize international accounts and business deals to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

Inversions are one such technique.  In a tax inversion, a domestic company creates or purchases an international company and then claims that the country in which the new company is located is its domicile country for tax purposes.  The strategy has worked, very well, for many companies over the past 30 years.  But in the words of Bob Dylan: “the times they are a changin’…”

Proposed Legislation

News outlets often hate the perceived unfairness of large companies avoiding taxes when individuals and small businesses tend to do their civic duty and pay their fair share.  The federal government dislikes it because the tax bills these companies are avoiding are huge.  Millions, if not billions (some even say trillions) of dollars are at stake.

Congress is split in its opinions, largely along party lines.  However, there is a growing belief amongst both parties that tax inversions need to be stopped.  Democrats have managed to put forward several bills with strong Presidential backing that are making companies nervous.  The proposed legislation would deem companies who get more than half of their business from the US as US companies for tax purposes.  The more controversial part of the potential legislation is that it would be retroactive to May 2014.

Impact on Business Deals

The looming potential that the legislation will pass has lit a fire under many international companies.  Companies have been pushing to create and close deals quickly.  Many like Medtronic and AbbVie (make of the drug Humira) have announced plans for tax inversion deals. If the retroactive legislation does pass, these deals could be subject to financial penalties or could be forced to unwind.

In response to the threat of retroactive legislation, many firms are now protecting themselves by adding clauses to their merger and acquisition deals that allow them to back out if Congress takes prompt, retroactive action. The closer Congress gets to a deal, the faster companies seem to be announcing these deals; the faster companies are completing deals, the greater the urgency Congress feels.  It’s a fascinating circle and should be watched closely by anyone engaged in international business or trade.

Make Informed Decisions

All of the companies that make headlines for their international tax reducing ventures have counsel that assists them in weighing the risks and legalities of moves they make; and you should, too.  Representation can be even more critical for small to mid-sized businesses that can sacrifice entire operations if they make a faulty move.

The attorneys at Whitcomb Law, P.C. can provide sound legal counsel for your international business transactions.

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Tags: International Law

Decrease in Trade Deficit: Good News For U.S. Exporters

Posted by Joe Whitcomb on Dec 21, 2014 6:21:00 PM

What is a decrease in the trade deficit and what does it mean for U.S. Jobs Numbers?

Businesses involved in international trade were pretty happy recently when the Commerce Department announced that the total July exports of $198.0 billion and imports of $238.6 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $40.5 billion, down from the $40.8 billion in June.

More specifically, July imports were $1.6 billion more than June imports of $237.0 billion. This is the lowest deficit since January. Overall, the Commerce Department has reported that the growth in exports has steadily outpaced the growth in imports during the month of July, which has resulted in the narrower deficit.

trade deficit occurs when the value of a country’s imports is greater than the value of its exports. This means that the country’s balance of trade is negative. This economic indicator is monitored by international and domestic businesses alike. The numbers themselves don’t reveal much: it simply shows that a country imports more than it exports. However, when considered in the context of other economic indicators and the general business environment, it can be an indication of an economy’s health and help businesses identify and react to the international trade environment.

A deficit is in some ways positive: it can indicate that residents of a country have enough money to buy more than the country produces. The negative side of that fact is that it is linked to increased outsourcing of jobs. This is due in part to more citizens buying goods that are imported instead of domestic imports, often because of cheaper prices. As a result, domestic businesses in this country lose business and are no longer able to produce goods that are competitive with goods produced by China and India. For this reason, many leaders propose reducing the trade deficit so that domestic jobs can increase in the country.

Though the trade deficit has narrowed by only a small amount; it is exciting news for the U.S., which has been holding a consistent trade deficit since 1980. Historically, the U.S trade deficit was due to high imports of oil and consumer products such as iPhones, toys and other products imported from countries such as Asia and India. There is not much that the U.S. can do when most of its products are imported from foreign countries. Look at the products that lie around you and try to find the “Made In…” sticker, and you’ll most likely find yourself surrounded by products that have been imported.

This recent trade deficit has been largely perceived as a positive sign for the US economy, particularly for exporters since the decrease has been attributed to an increase in the export of goods and services, not a decrease in imports. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the following categories of goods all saw increases in exports: automotive vehicles, parts and engines by $1.7 billion; industrial supplies and materials by $1.3 billion; capital goods by $0.4 billions; and foods, feeds and beverages by $0.6 billion.

Services saw a smaller incremental increase of $0.1 billion from June to July, but more notably, they have increased $2.4 billion since July of last year. This increase came from increases in travel by $1.0 billion, transport by $0.6 billion, financial services by $0.4 billion; and other business services by $0.4 billion.

International Business Attorneys

If you found this article interesting, there’s a good chance you’re involved in international business of some type. Let the attorneys at Whitcomb Law, P.C. navigate the legal environment for you so you can focus on keeping up with industry news and running your business.

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Tags: International Law

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