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REWIND: International Business News #38

Posted on September 28th, 2012 | Author: admin

  • 3-D printing (sometimes called “additive manufacturing”), just like the industrial revolution that preceded it, will forever change the way goods are created and manufactured.  Experts predict that this technology will eventually fundamentally alter the manufacturing landscape, decentralizing production and rendering assembly lines, large production facilities (and the labor they employ) obsolete.  Some predict that this new technology will result in a return of the manufacturing to the U.S. and other mature economies that have left to find lower labor costs elsewhere.  For its part, the legal community will have to grapple with how this technology impacts intellectual property rights.  This technology will also raise interesting product safety/product liability issues.  Further, business transactions that involve this technology will have to deal with new concerns, such as heightened confidentiality risks.  The legal community will have to innovate to adjust.
  • In a case that could have widespread implications for both patent law and the health sciences both in the U.S. and internationally, the American Civil Liberties Union, along with other public interest groups, are before the United States Supreme Court requesting that two patents for genes associated with certain breast and ovarian cancers be invalidated on the grounds that such patents restrict scientific research and access to medical care.  This suit, captioned Molecular Pathology, et al. v. U.S. PTO, et al., is expected to resolve a lower court split on the issue of whether genes can be patented.
  • A new study highlights how easy it is to use shell companies for nefarious purposes, both in the U.S. and in other countries around the world.  The World Bank and other international business policy groups are advocating for less anonymity as a trade off for continued benefits that come with incorporation and limited liability.  The challenge for policy makers will be to balance the economic benefits derived from business anonymity with the need to prevent fraud, money laundering, terrorism and other criminal behavior.
  • We have seen the future – from the passenger seat!  California enacted legislation legalizing self-driving cars.  In response, California governor Jerry Brown directed the state’s department of motor vehicles to develop regulations for testing the new technology.  It will be interesting to watch discussion develop over the scope and effectiveness of this testing, and ultimately to see how the public reacts to this technology.  Google predicts that self-driving cars will be a reality for ordinary people in the next five years.  While this technology is predicted to dramatically increase roadway safety, the query is how these technological advances will impact automotive liability law.