By Emily Hoort
Attorneys General Demand Removal of Craigslist’s “Adult Services” Section
ScrippsNews reports that attorneys general in at least 18 states have demanded that Craigslist remove its adult services section. A failure to comply with this request will likely lead to a court battle, with possible charges that Craigslist is aiding and abetting illegal activity. There may also be legislative action calling for reforms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and Communications Decency Act. These statutes generally protect websites, such as Craigslist, from third parties’ illegal actions on their sites. Some observers point out that removing the adult services section will likely shift illegal sexual solicitations elsewhere, and will result in losing many of the screening benefits of a website such as Craigslist. Indeed, according to The Boston Globe, Craigslist has many screening and tracking safeguards in place that are stronger than other classified advertisement platforms.
Update: The New York Times reports that Craigslist has blocked access to its “adult services” content, replacing the link with a “censored” label.
Individuals Can Pursue Lawsuits Against Companies Who Label Products with Expired Patent Numbers
The Wall Street Journal reports that on Tuesday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington held, in Stauffer v. Brooks Brothers, that patent lawyer Raymond Stauffer can pursue claims against Brooks Brothers stemming from the apparel chain marking its bow ties with expired patent numbers. It is illegal to erroneously label products with the wrong patent numbers, and individuals are allowed to sue for such mislabeling on the government’s behalf. Penalties range up to $500 per item, and successful plaintiffs are allowed to keep one-half of all penalties; they must submit the other half to the government. The Federal Circuit’s decision reversed a lower court ruling that dismissed Mr. Stauffer’s case for lack of standing. Bloomberg notes that this decision strengthens similar lawsuits against more than 350 companies.
Hewlett-Packard to Pay $55 Million to Settle Kickback Allegations
The Wall Street Journal reports that Hewlett-Packard has agreed to pay the U.S. Government $55 million to settle allegations that H-P paid illegal kickbacks to other companies for recommending H-P products to federal agencies. The Economic Times notes that this Justice Department case arose after whistleblowers revealed that H-P and other companies paid each other “influencer fees” for recommending their products to U.S. government agencies. H-P denies any wrongdoing, stating that it entered this $55 million settlement because it believes it will be best for stakeholders to resolve the matter and move forward.