Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Economic Reforms in Europe: Is Latvia a Role Model to Follow?

The English-language German Deutsche Welle carries the headline:
Can Latvia be a role model for reforms in Europe?

Take a look.

Frankly, we do not know the answer to that question.

The economies of the various European Union countries are structurally quite different, so that one shoe will not fit all.

On the other hand, some valuable lessons can be learned from Latvia, especially from its successful reduction of spending in the government and public sector as a percentage of GDP, Gross Domestic Product.


Texas Patent Licensing Firm Denied Domestic Industry Status by the International Trade Commission (ITC)

We have previously warned at LawPundit that -- in our view, legally questionable administrative -- meddling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) in patent matters was not a good thing.

At the blog Corporate Counsel, Lisa Schuchman reports on the first ITC ruling now denying "domestic industry" status to a patent licensing firm in Texas.

See ITC Brings 'Domestic Industry' Issue to Patent Case.

The ITC was in a fix, because a contrary decision would have opened the floodgates to thousands of patent holders and patent trolls -- as "domestic industries" -- to apply for import bans on products they find to be competitive.

Why "patent trolling" by a company that few people know is any less a domestic industry than "patent trolling" by the ubiquitous Apple firm that produces the bulk of its products overseas is a question that defies any sensible legal answer. "Domestic industry" in the case of Apple is a mirage.

Obviously, the patent licensing firm was trying to stop imports of products which it claims violate its patents, and the ITC has only itself to blame for presuming in past cases involving e.g. the Apple firm that it had legitimate jurisdiction to supplant the decisions of "real" courts on patent matters with its administrative import-banning pronouncements by fiat. 

What possible need does any patent company have to resort to courts when the greater sanction of an import ban can be obtained prior to any judicial decision, simply by alleging a patent infringement and then asking for an import block from the ITC.

Our view is that the ITC should only be able to impose an import ban for violation of a patent that has been found violated via judicial review, otherwise the ITC is appropriating judicial functions which are reserved to the courts by the U.S. Constitution and certainly are not reserved to federal administrative agencies.


Filing Complaints with the Better Business Bureau regarding Disagreements Between Businesses and Customers

A customer having a disagreement with a business can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau at BBB Consumer and Business Reviews, Reports, Ratings, Complaints and Accredited Business Listings.

Crossposted to The Complaint Pundit.

Intellectual Property Cyber Theft Complaints Top the Agenda as U.S. and China Open Strategic and Economic Dialogue

U.S. opens China talks with cyber complaints, vow to boost trust is the headline in a Reuters Yahoo! News article by Paul Eckert and Anna Yukhananov.

Chinese cyber hacking is a major complaint on the agenda, and in view of recent disclosures of U.S. spying via NSA, one might expect confrontation between the two superpowers as to who is outdoing who in espionage, but as written by Brid-Aine Parnell at The Register in Snowden, schmoden. Let's talk about crushing hackers, say US 'n' China:
"Another official said that the US was focused on "cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property" in the talks and not on the alleged hacking in connection with PRISM into Chinese telcos and the country's Tsinghua University."
There appears to be a degree of tacit acceptance of the existence of state-sponsored espionage in the context of national security. To what degree that may also tangent intellectual property is of course a matter of debate.

Crossposted to The Complaint Pundit.

Latvia to Join the Eurozone as the 18th Member on January 1, 2014 as Beleaguered Euro Gets a Lift

The beleaguered Euro is given a lift as Latvia gets formal OK to join the euro, hopes it will bring growth despite economic problems. Latvia will formally join the Eurozone on January 1, 2014 thus making it the 18th member, as reported by the AP via the Washington Post.

Recall, with newly added Croatia, that the European Union now has 28 members, of which 10, after Latvia, will still retain their own currency. It is no surprise that economic and monetary union in the EU is taking a slow pace. Given European history, the surprise is that it is working at all.

We live in Germany and fly to Latvia regularly and are always puzzled by the apparent bias of some news reports about the Baltic and the European Union that can be read in the USA and elsewhere.

Rather than celebrating the tremendous changes and improvements that have been made in Russia and the former Soviet Union nations, there are many commentators who seem to prefer an Armageddon stance on Europe.

Contrary to reports and articles during recent years by persons who should know better, the Euro is not disintegrating and Europe is still alive and kicking.

There are of course problems, so what is new about that?
Life is a constant stream of problems -- and, ideally, solutions.

At the same time, there are new frontiers out there for Western democracy and capitalism, and almost all of those frontiers are in the East.

The countries there are developing their own versions of more liberal government and economic models than they had before, and these are, in spite of difficulties, far better than what existed not too long ago behind the Iron Curtain.

The CHANGE is remarkable. A functioning capitalist system and a political democracy are not forged in a day. A vibrant economy is dependent on the achievement of many long-term objectives that are essential economic factors.

People need to exercise reasonable patience in the amount of improvement that can by expected.

In any case, the conversion to the Euro should boost Latvia economically.

See also: Euro get 18th Member: tiny Latvia, at CNN Money.

We cite particularly to that article because it shows how subtle some of the Stateside bias against Europe can be. Latvia is not "tiny". Rather, it encompasses an area of 24,938 square miles, which would rank it 40th among American states and just above West Virginia with 24,230 square miles, but more than twice as large OR MORE in terms of area than each of the States of Maryland, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, or Rhode Island. Hence, Latvia is small in comparison to larger States of the USA or as judged by the size of nations, but it is by no means "tiny". Correctly, as far as Latvia is concerned, "small" is beautiful.

Hat tip to C.Z.


Complaining About the State of the Economy in Your State? Find Out the Most Improved States for Business in 2013

The Most Improved States for Business 2013
are revealed to us by Scott Cohn, CNBC Senior Correspondent.

New Debt Collection Complaint Resolution Procedures at the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)

As reported by Herb Weisbaum at Today Money, Feds will now help resolve debt collection complaints as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) implements new complaint resolution procedures designed to reduce unlawful debt collection. Weisbaum writes:
"Debt collection is a multi-billion dollar industry with more than 4,500 collection firms in the U.S.

Collections is part of the free market system, but debt collection complaints are common. Debt collectors generate more complaints to the Federal Trade Commission than any other industry."
CFPB director Richard Cordray is quoted to say:
"Consumers need options to help them secure fair and respectful treatment from those debt collectors that fail to abide by the law."
Of course, getting money out of anybody can be a tough job, so one also understands the other side of the coin. However, everyone has to "follow the rules", which is the name of the game in law.

Read the article in full.

The Complaint Pundit: A New Blog Focused on Complaints

We have just started a new blog, The Complaint Pundit, focused on complaints, which finds the law and other things that matter closer to the hearts of the real consumer public.
See the next posting.



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