Number 1 (2020-2021)
Date posted: 2-21-2021
Ripple Labs provides an international payment network that allows financial institutions to transfer money more cheaply and quickly than traditional international payments. Ripple’s native digital currency, XRP, supports global payments by acting as intermediate currency between different currencies, eliminating correspondent bank’s need to hold deposits in foreign currencies. In an ongoing class action lawsuit, XRP purchasers claim that the digital asset qualifies as a security under federal securities laws and that Ripple illegally offered and sold XRP as an unregistered security. Given Ripple’s rising prominence as a tool for financial institutions, this pending case will impact cryptocurrency markets and international payments. Because XRP is most likely a security subject to regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), this matter poses an existential threat to the Ripple network. This note examines the legal issues leading up to the Ripple litigation and explains why XRP is most likely a security. It concludes by discussing the SEC’s likely approach to Ripple’s unregistered Initial Coin Offering (ICO).
Topic: Technology, Digital Currencies
Date posted: 2-21-2021
The 9/11 terrorist attacks brought on financial losses that caused insurers and Congress to reevaluate how the United States approaches terrorism risk coverage. Congress quelled concerns of insurers evading coverage of future terrorist attacks by enacting the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act in 2002. This Note considers the difficulties presented by the out-of-date language employed by Congress in 2002 and proposes amendments so that the Act more clearly covers acts of cyberterrorism, which are ever-growing in their destructive potential.
Topic: CyberCrime, International
Date posted: 2-21-2021
The proliferation of free or low-cost investment apps has disrupted the financial industry in recent years. Major brokerage firms have been pressured to go to zero fees due to intense competition from their fintech counterparts. While these apps have extended their products and services to those underserved by traditional brokers, some of their practices raise consumer protection concerns. Namely, the practice of “payment for order flow,” which helps fintech startups sustain a zero-commission model, could lead to subordinating customers’ best interest to market makers who acquire their retail orders from these fintech startups. Further, “cash management accounts,” newly popular among fintech startups with an ambition to compete with chartered banks raise questions about the use of idle customer assets and the protections afforded to these accounts in case of liquidation. This Note considers the products and services of these investment apps in the context of existing U.S. regulations and regulators for broker-dealers, investment advisors, and chartered banks. To illustrate this, this Note analyzes the potential consumer financial protection issues arising out of these fintech-based investment platforms’ distinctive business models and the services they provide.
Topic: Technology, Investing
Date posted: 3-7-2021
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies will shape societies by the values they are programmed to respect. In part because of anti-competitive Chinese practices such as forced transfers of intellectual property (IP), companies based in the U.S. have lost the ability to compete in several fields. To avoid losing competitiveness in AI/ML sectors, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) should promulgate rules blocking Chinese investors from acquiring ownership interests in U.S. companies when that ownership would allow access to material nonpublic technical knowledge of AI/ML. Such a categorical blacklist approach will limit forced transfers of IP and increase the influence of American values on the development of AI/ML technology.
Topic: CFIUS, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning
A Fresh Start: Surveillance Tech and The Modern Law Firm
Titus R. Willis
Date posted: 3-12-2021
The legal community is rapidly evolving: firms are more beholden to clients than ever, associates are growing more competitive with one another, and younger firm employees are more willing than ever to subject themselves to surveillance from their employers. These evolutions come alongside a boom in surveillance technology. Tech companies now provide services that can track every keystroke a lawyer makes on a company computer, analyze the content of their computer screens, or even develop algorithms to measure employee productivity. How does the modern law firm respond to these new technologies? How do they weigh their obligations to clients with the privacy considerations of their employees? This Note examines these key questions and makes a comment about the honor of the legal profession along the way.
Topic: Surveillance Tech, Law, Technology
Date posted: 5-12-2021
Music and technology have always been intertwined and recently the developments of streaming and social media have opened the door for artists to elevate their place in the music industry. The growth of social media engagement is undeniable and in 2016 streaming platforms led to the music industry’s first earnings increase in fifteen years, with double digit gains each year since—a change to the status quo that cannot be ignored. The technological moment provided by streaming and social media gives lesser-known artists, especially when they are backed by superstars, a unique opportunity to challenge traditionally label friendly record deals. These technologies provide artists with the ability to grow their fanbase and increase their bargaining power before reaching the negotiation table with a label—giving them more leverage to maintain ownership of their music and receive more artist friendly contracts.
Topic: Technology, Social Media, Music Streaming
Tribal Lending After Gingras
Date posted: 5-13-2021
Online payday lenders pose serious risks for consumers. Yet, for years, these lending companies have skirted state regulation by pleading tribal sovereign immunity. Under this doctrine, entities that are so affiliated with tribal nations that they are “an arm of the tribe” are immune from suit. Without comprehensive federal regulation, tribal sovereign immunity has served as a trump card at the pleading state for online payday lenders. The Note argues that change may be on the horizon. In the recent decision Gingras v. Think Finance, the Second Circuit held that the Supreme Court’s holding in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community permitted injunctive suits against tribal affiliates, acting in their official capacity off reservation, based on state law. If other courts adopt the Second Circuit’s reasoning, states and consumers will be far better equipped to tackle online payday lenders.
Topic: eCommerce, Media & Communications
Federalism in the Algorithmic Age
Date posted: 6-24-2021
Topic: Patents & Technology
Food for Thought: Intellectual Property Protection for Recipes and Food Designs
Kurt M. Saunders and Valerie Flugge
Date posted: 9-19-2021
As any chef will tell you, cooking and food preparation is a creative, sometimes innovative, endeavor. Much thought and time is invested in selecting ingredients, developing the process for preparing the dish, and designing an interesting or appealing look and feel for a food item. If this is true, then it should come as no surprise that recipes, food designs, and other culinary creations can be protected by various forms of intellectual property, namely: trade secrets, design and utility patents, trade dress, but usually not copyright. This article considers how intellectual property law has been applied to protect recipes and food designs, along with broader issues relating to how these rights may overlap and their implications for competition.
Topic: Copyrights & Trademarks, Patents & Technology
Date posted: 1-9-2022
Topic: Patents & Technology, Health & Biotechnology