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A federal appeals court dealt another blow to New Jersey's efforts to legalize sports gambling Tuesday, upholding a ruling that the state's betting law conflicts with federal law and shouldn't be implemented.

The case was heard by a three-judge panel at the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, and the state could seek to have the case re-heard by the full appeals court. But Tuesday's ruling more likely means New Jersey's last chance to legalize sports gambling is to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

A spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie didn't immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday, but in the past Christie has said he would go to the nation's highest court if necessary.

Voters passed a sports betting referendum in 2011, and last year New Jersey enacted a law that limited bets to the Atlantic City casinos and the state's horse racing tracks. Bets wouldn't be taken on games involving New Jersey colleges or college games played in the state. Christie said at the time that he hoped to grant sports betting licenses by early this year, but those plans were put on hold.

The NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and the NCAA sued the state last year, and the NCAA moved several of its championship events out of New Jersey, though it later relented.

The leagues said the betting law could harm the sanctity of the games. In a court deposition, MLB commissioner Bud Selig said he was "appalled" by Christie's actions.

Attorneys for the state had attacked the 1992 federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act on several constitutional levels. They argued the law unfairly "grandfathered" Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware, which each had some form of sports gambling at the time, and said the law violated state sovereignty and equal protection provisions and trampled the authority of state legislatures under the 10th Amendment.

Acacia Research settles patent litigation

  Litigation  -   POSTED: 2011/01/20 13:14

Acacia Research Corp., a company that buys and licenses patents, said Wednesday that its subsidiary, Video Enhancement Solutions LLC, reached a settlement agreement with Denon Electronics LLC.

The settlement resolves a patent litigation case that was pending in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Acacia also said its Telematics Corp. subsidiary entered into a patent license agreement with FleetMatics Group Ltd. The pact resolves patent litigation that was pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Telematics' technology generally relates to systems for displaying mobile vehicle information on a map. This technology can be used in navigation and fleet management systems that combine wireless communication with GPS tracking and map displays.

In related news, Acacia also said its Unified Messaging Solutions, LLC subsidiary has entered into a licensing agreement with Microsoft Corp. covering a range of patents related to web-based e-mail and voice mail messages. Another unnamed unit acquired rights to a patent for radiation therapy technology.

Wis. Senate approves lawsuit reform bill

  Litigation  -   POSTED: 2011/01/19 21:15

The state Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would dramatically rewrite Wisconsin's legal rules to make it harder for people to sue companies.

The vote moved the bill within one step of clearing the full Legislature. The Assembly was poised to take up the measure on Thursday and send it on to Republican Gov. Scott Walker for his signature.

The Republican-authored bill would make it far more difficult to prove liability cases against businesses and cap damage awards. The measure is a key segment of what Walker has dubbed his job-creation agenda.

Lawyer for dialysis patients plans appeal

  Litigation  -   POSTED: 2010/01/06 14:52

The attorney representing dialysis patients once treated at Grady Memorial Hospital plans to ask the Georgia Supreme Court to reinstate the complaint he filed against Grady.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville recently dismissed the complaint; attorney Lindsay Jones filed his notice of appeal on Tuesday.

The hospital, citing financial losses, closed its dialysis clinic in October.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of about 50 plaintiffs, most of whom are illegal immigrants. Grady has been paying for the patients to get treatment at Fresenius, an outside provider. The hospital, however, has said it can't pay for such services forever and has urged patients to find other long-term care solutions.

Grady spokesman Matt Gove declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Judge weighs motion in Dow litigation

  Litigation  -   POSTED: 2009/02/11 19:18

Attorneys for Dow Chemical have asked a Delaware judge to disqualify an opposing law firm in a dispute over whether Dow should be forced to complete a proposed $15 billion buyout of specialty chemical maker Rohm & Haas.

Dow attorney David Bernick argued Wednesday that the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz has an ethical conflict in representing Rohm & Haas because it has advised Dow in the past on key strategic issues and has a continuing relationship with the Michigan-based chemical giant.

But Wachtell attorney Marc Wolinsky said Dow cannot prove a continuing relationship with his law firm, and that any confidential information it might have received from Dow in the past would not give Philadelphia-based Rohm & Haas a material advantage in the current litigation.

Wolinsky also said Dow has known since June 2008 that Wachtell Lipton was representing Rohm & Haas, and that Dow has waited too long to object.

Chancellor William Chandler III told attorneys that we would rule on the motion for disqualification by the close of business Wednesday.

Dow has said that it cannot complete the buyout as planned because of global economic conditions and the decision by a state-owned Kuwaiti petrochemical firm to pull out of a joint venture that would have provided Dow with several billion dollars, some of which would have been used to acquire Rohm & Haas.

A trial to determine whether Dow should be forced to complete the acquisition using a bridge loan or other financing scheme is set to begin March 9.

Vonage Granted Stay in Verizon Patent Case

  Litigation  -   POSTED: 2007/04/25 16:16

The US Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit ruled Tuesday that Internet phone company Vonage can subscribe new customers while it appeals a lower court finding that it infringed three patents held by Verizon Communications, Inc. In the wake of the finding, US District Judge Claude M. Hilton issued an order prohibiting Vonage from subscribing new customers. Vonage will also continue paying a 5.5 percent royalty rate on all future sales to an escrow account while the appeal is pending. The appeals court scheduled oral arguments for June 25.

Verizon filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Vonage in June, accusing it of violating seven Verizon patents. On March 8, a federal jury returned a verdict finding that Vonage had violated [Verizon press release; Vonage press release] three voice-over-Internet Protocol patents held by Verizon, awarding Verizon $58 million dollars in compensation plus future royalties amounting to 5.5 percent of Vonage's revenues if Vonage continues to use the patented technology. Hilton, saying he did not wish to irreparably harm Vonage's business, issued the partial injunction as a less severe punishment than one he initially proposed, which would would have disrupted phone service for Vonage's 2.2 million existing customers. Vonage lawyers argued in response that the ruling would "slowly strangle" Vonage because it would be unable to compensate for customers that routinely switch services in the highly competitive industry. Vonage lawyers projected that the phone service would lose approximately 650,000 subscribers over the course of next year. Earlier this month, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an emergency stay of the injunction.

Vonage customers overseas should not be affected by the Internet voice company’s recent legal troubles, according to a company spokesman.

“We don’t anticipate any changes or interruptions in phone service as a result of this litigation, so we advise customers to continue using their service as they always have,” said John Yocca, Vonage public relations manager, in a written response to a query from Stars and Stripes. “There are many options available to us and we are prepared to implement them as necessary.”

Rates for the Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, technologies that allow consumers to make calls over the Internet aren’t expected to change, either, he added.

Last week, a federal judge said he would issue an injunction barring Vonage Holdings Corp. from using Internet phone call technology patented by Verizon Communications Inc., but delayed signing the order for two weeks.

Vonage currently offers service in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom, but Yocca said customers can take their Vonage devices anywhere in the world where VoIP is legal and a high-speed cable connection is available.

Servicemembers arriving in South Korea before June 1 can continue using Vonage and other U.S. VoIP companies to make international phone calls. Those arriving in country after June 1 will be required to use a South Korean VoIP provider.

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