Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Fri 5/19 - MT TikTokers Sue, SCOTUS Clarifies Patent Enablement and Militia Collective Bargaining, FTX Wants a Refund, Federal Virtual Proceedings to End and DB Pays for Epstein

Fri 5/19 - MT TikTokers Sue, SCOTUS Clarifies Patent Enablement and Militia Collective Bargaining, FTX Wants a Refund, Federal Virtual Proceedings to End and DB Pays for Epstein

MT TikTok users sue for access, SCOTUS clarifies patent enablement and militias’ requirement to honor collective bargaining, FTX wants some money back, virtual proceedings in federal court end.

We have an interesting this day in colonialism, I’m sorry legal, history today: on May 19, 1848 Mexico ratified the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, ending the Mexican–American war and ceding about half of Mexico’s territory to the United States. The treaty did not explicitly list the territories to be ceded and avoided addressing the disputed issues that led to the war, such as the validity of Texas's independence and its boundary claims. Instead, it established the new U.S.-Mexico border, describing it from east to west as the Rio Grande northwest to the southern boundary of New Mexico, then due west to the 110th meridian, and north along the 110th meridian to the Gila River. From there, a straight line was drawn to one marine league south of the southernmost point of the port of San Diego.

Mexico conceded about 55% of its pre-war territory in the treaty, resulting in an area of approximately 1.97 million km². The region between the Adams-Onís and Guadalupe Hidalgo boundaries, excluding the territory claimed by the Republic of Texas, is known as the Mexican Cession. It includes present-day California, Nevada, Utah, most of Arizona, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.

The treaty protected the property rights of Mexican citizens living in the transferred territories and required the United States to assume $3.25 million in debts owed by Mexico to U.S. citizens. Mexican residents were given one year to choose American or Mexican citizenship, with over 90% opting for American citizenship. Article XI of the treaty addressed Indian raids into Mexico, but it proved unenforceable, leading to continued raids and later annulment in the Treaty of Mesilla.

The land acquired through the treaty became part of nine states between 1850 and 1912, including California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. The cost of the acquisition was $16,295,149, or about 5 cents per acre. The remainder of New Mexico and Arizona was later peacefully purchased through the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, which aimed to accommodate a transcontinental railroad. The construction of the railroad was delayed due to the American Civil War but was eventually completed in 1881 as the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Five TikTok users from Montana have filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the state's ban on the Chinese-owned platform. The ban, signed into law by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, is set to take effect on January 1, 2024, and prohibits TikTok from being offered on app stores operated by Google and Apple within the state. The users argue that the state is overstepping its authority by attempting to regulate national security and suppress speech, which they believe violates their First Amendment rights. They compare the ban to banning a newspaper due to its ownership or published ideas. Montana's attorney general, Austin Knudsen, who is responsible for enforcing the law, expressed readiness to defend it against legal challenges. TikTok, owned by China's ByteDance, has faced calls for a nationwide ban in the United States over concerns of Chinese government influence. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include a swimwear designer, a former Marine Corps sergeant, a rancher, a student of applied human physiology, and a content creator who earns revenue from humorous videos. TikTok has denied sharing data with the Chinese government and condemned Montana's ban as an infringement on First Amendment rights. The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Molloy, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton in 1995. Violations of the ban could result in fines for TikTok, but not users (for now).

TikTok users file lawsuit to block Montana ban | Reuters

The US Supreme Court has issued a ruling in a patent dispute between Amgen Inc. and Sanofi/Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., clarifying the scope of the patent law requirement known as enablement. The decision affirms a narrow interpretation of the requirement, allowing more pharmaceutical companies to compete in the same areas of research and development. The ruling prevents a single company from monopolizing an entire research area through broadly defined patents and raises questions about the validity of certain antibody patents. The court upheld a lower court's decision to invalidate two Amgen patents related to its cholesterol drug Repatha, emphasizing the need for patent applications to provide enough information to enable others in the field to make and use the claimed invention. The decision cites historical cases to support its interpretation of the enablement standard. The ruling is expected to have implications for the biotech industry, potentially de-risking projects for companies with antibody intellectual property and encouraging more research and development. Inventors are likely to file longer patent applications and focus on concrete examples to avoid invalidation of their claims. The decision also casts doubt on the convention of conservative amino acid substitutions being covered by patent applications.

In Amgen-Sanofi Decision, High Court Sticks to Patent Law Script

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in a 7-2 decision that state militias, including the Ohio National Guard, can be compelled to engage in collective bargaining with unions by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, stated that state militias function as federal agencies when employing technicians who have both civilian and military roles. As a result, the FLRA has jurisdiction over them concerning those employees. Ohio had argued that the U.S. Department of Defense, rather than state militias, should be responsible for negotiating with unions representing technicians. The decision upholds the power of the FLRA to hear disputes between the National Guard and unions, based on a ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2021. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented, contending that the FLRA's authority is limited to federal agencies and that National Guards do not become federal agencies solely through delegated tasks.

U.S. labor agency has power over state militias, Supreme Court rules | Reuters

Crypto exchange FTX, which filed for bankruptcy in November, has initiated legal action to recover over $240 million it paid for stock trading platform Embed. FTX has filed three lawsuits in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, accusing former FTX insiders, including founder Sam Bankman-Fried, Embed executives, including founder Michael Giles, and Embed shareholders of misconduct. FTX alleges that Bankman-Fried and others misused company funds to acquire stakes in Embed without conducting proper investigations. FTX closed the Embed acquisition just weeks before its bankruptcy, and the current CEO described the actions leading to the collapse as "old-fashioned embezzlement." FTX's recent attempt to sell Embed resulted in an offer of only $1 million from Giles, indicating a significant disparity between the acquisition cost and the company's actual value. FTX claims that Embed's software was essentially worthless and alleges that little investigation was conducted before the purchase. FTX seeks to recover $236.8 million from Giles and Embed insiders and $6.9 million from Embed minority shareholders.

FTX seeks to claw back over $240 million from Embed acquisition | Reuters

This is a bit of news that actually dropped last week, but kind of flew under the radar. The Judicial Conference's Executive Committee has determined that the COVID-19 emergency no longer impacts the operation of federal courts. As a result, a 120-day grace period will begin on May 24, during which federal courts can maintain remote public audio access to civil and bankruptcy proceedings, similar to the arrangements made during the pandemic. However, the grace period does not extend to virtual criminal proceedings, which ceased on May 10 as permission granted under the CARES Act expired. The Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management will continue to assess potential changes to the broadcasting policy for civil and bankruptcy proceedings based on data collected during the pandemic and is expected to present a report in September.

Judiciary Ends COVID Emergency; Study of Broadcast Policy Continues | United States Courts

Deutsche Bank has agreed to pay $75 million to settle a lawsuit filed by women who claimed they were abused by Jeffrey Epstein, the late financier. The settlement resolves a proposed class action and addresses accusations that Deutsche Bank facilitated Epstein's sex trafficking activities by failing to identify red flags in his accounts. Epstein was a client of the bank from 2013 to 2018. The settlement is subject to approval by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who has scheduled a preliminary hearing for June 1. Two similar lawsuits against JPMorgan Chase & Co, another bank associated with Epstein, remain unresolved.

Deutsche Bank to pay $75 million to settle lawsuit by Epstein accusers | Reuters

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at