United States: Business News Digest - October 2013

Last Updated: October 9 2013
Article by Robert L. Waldman

Venable attorneys produce periodic alerts and newsletters covering a variety of topics and practice areas. For your convenience, we have assembled below a collection of the latest alerts and newsletters from September 2013. To view the full text of an article, please click on the title of the piece.

NIST Holds Fourth Workshop on Cybersecurity Framework

On September 11-13, 2013, the National Institute of Standards and Technology held its fourth and – for now – final workshop on the preliminary Cybersecurity Framework. Discussion largely focused on how to promote executive engagement on issues relating to cybersecurity, implementation of the Framework, and what participation in the Department of Homeland Security voluntary program would look like.

Authors: Michael J. Baader, Jamie Barnett, Rear Admiral (Ret.), Dismas Locaria, Anthony J. Rosso, Brian M. Zimmet, Keir X. Bancroft, and Jason R. Wool

NIST Releases Draft Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework in Advance of Dallas Workshop

On August 28, 2013, the NIST released the first publically available draft of the preliminary Cybersecurity Framework, which is being developed at the direction of President Obama's February Executive Order on critical infrastructure cybersecurity.

Authors: Michael J. Baader, Jamie Barnett, Rear Admiral (Ret.), Dismas Locaria, Anthony J. Rosso, Brian M. Zimmet, Keir X. Bancroft, and Jason R. Wool

SEC Issues Risk Alert on Short Selling

The SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations issued a risk alert related to Rule 105 of Regulation M (which governs short selling prior to the pricing of certain offerings) on the same day they announced enforcement actions against 23 firms for violations of the rule. In the risk alert, the staffs of OCIE and other SEC Divisions provide guidance to the securities industry on compliance with Rule 105 based on their observations from related SEC enforcement actions and examinations conducted through OCIE's National Exam Program.

Authors: Michael J. Rivera and Parker B. Morrill

SEC Proposes Rule Requiring Public Companies to Disclose Pay Ratios

On September 18, 2013, the SEC proposed rules requiring public companies to disclose the median of the annual total compensation of all employees, the annual total compensation of the CEO, and the ratio of the median to the annual total compensation of the CEO.

Authors: Eric R. Smith, Carmen M. Fonda, and Parker B. Morrill

Allowing User-Generated Content on Social Media: Steps for Minimizing Nonprofits' Legal Risks

Allowance of user-generated content on social media pages controlled or operated by a nonprofit can raise a number of potential legal risks and liability issues, which are due in large part to the fact that the nonprofit may not have complete control over what a third party posts or displays.

Authors: Armand J. (A.J.) Zottola and Robert F. Parr

Banking Committee Begins Housing Finance Reform

The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs began its consideration of housing finance reform with a hearing titled "Essential Elements of Housing Finance Reform." Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) indicated in that the Committee will be holding a series of hearings on housing finance reform this Fall and hoped that it would be able to reach agreement on a bill by the end of the year.

Authors: Andrew Olmem and Hillary S. Profita

Clearance: How the SCORE Act and Other Initiatives to Reform the Security Clearance Process May Affect Government Contractors

In the wake of recent leaks of top secret information and attacks on military installations, Congress and members of the Obama Administration are taking a closer look at the security clearance process. Notably, a bipartisan group of Senators have proposed the SCORE Act, which aims to increase transparency in the security clearance process and revamp applicable policies and guidelines within the government.

Authors: William L. Walsh, Jr., Keir X. Bancroft, and Christina K. Kube

Federal Grant & Contract News for Nonprofits - September 2013

Unfortunately, as the 2013 government fiscal year comes to a close, we again face severe federal financial uncertainty. As such, organizations that rely on federal funding and federal support must plan for another, perhaps prolonged, government shutdown. These FAQs provide guidance on how agencies should handle matters relating to existing and anticipated contracts and grants, including awards, oversight, payment, etc.

Authors: Dismas Locaria, Melanie Jones Totman, Elizabeth A. Buehler, and Jeffrey S. Tenenbaum

Foreign NVOCCs Must Renew Registration with FMC by October 17

The Federal Maritime Commission issued a new rule earlier this year that, effective July 19, registered, foreign-based NVOCCs may take advantage of Negotiated Rate Arrangements, in lieu of published rates in their tariffs.

Authors: Ashley W. Craig, Elizabeth K. Lowe, and Amanda C. Blunt

Going Green: California Adopts Groundbreaking Safer Consumer Products Regulations

On August 28, 2013, California's Office of Administrative Law approved the Department of Toxic Substances Control's landmark Safer Consumer Products Regulations. These bold regulations are an integral part of the state's Green Chemistry Initiative to accelerate the use of safer products through a science-based process that evaluates chemicals of concern and identifies safer alternatives.

Authors: Todd A. Harrison, Claudia A. Lewis, Gregory J. Sater, and Erin E. Seder

The Impact of IRS Recognition of All Legal Same-Sex Marriages on Employee Benefit Plans

On August 29, 2013, the IRS issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17, which answers many questions raised by the Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Windsor earlier this summer. In Windsor, the Court held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional because it denied same-sex couples equal protection under the law.

Authors: Harry I. Atlas, Thora A. Johnson, Lisa A. Tavares, and Jennifer Spiegel Berman

IP Buzz - September 2013

Featuring articles on the U.S. Chapter on Global Guide to Free Speech and Fair Use in Trademarks; the Federal Circuit reiterating certain standards for determining invalidity of design patents; and the legal parameters of "puffery."

Issue Editors: Martin L. Saad, Meaghan Hemmings Kent, and Elissa Brockbank Reese

License Exception Strategic Trade Authorization: Understanding How It May Work for You

As part of the ongoing Export Control Reform (ECR), certain "600 Series" items will now be eligible for export, reexport, and in-country transfer without a license under the revised License Exception Strategic Trade Authorization of the Export Administration Regulations.

Authors: Lindsay B. Meyer, Ashley W. Craig, Carrie A. Kroll, Rachel Miras Fiorill, and Matthew R. Rabinowitz

Mary Jo White Throws Down the Gauntlet: Vows to Wield the SEC's Full Enforcement Arsenal Against Corporate and Individual Wrongdoers

During a speech delivered to the Council of Institutional Investors last week in Chicago, SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White stated that the SEC would use its enforcement tools aggressively and creatively to ensure that its settlements "have teeth" and send a strong message of deterrence.

Authors: Michael J. Rivera and Hillary S. Profita

No Bar is Off-Limits: SEC Enforces 2004 Order Barring Accountant

In a rare and aggressive move, the SEC recently sought a court order enforcing an almost decade-old suspension of an accountant and forcing the accountant to disgorge over half a million dollars of compensation earned for providing prohibited services (plus pre-judgment interest).

Authors: Michael J. Rivera and Hillary S. Profita

October 15th Export Control Reform Changes Are Around the Corner: Take Time Now to Understand the Impact on Your Existing Licenses & Authorizations

The Final Rules transfer jurisdiction of many less-sensitive military items, which are currently controlled on the U.S. Munitions List and governed by the State Department's International Traffic in Arms Regulations to the Commerce Control List that are governed by the Commerce Department's Export Administration Regulations.

Authors: Lindsay B. Meyer, Ashley W. Craig, Rachel Miras Fiorill, Carrie A. Kroll, and Amanda C. Blunt

State Department Publishes Long-Awaited Interim Final Rule Amending ITAR Brokering Provisions

On August 26, 2013, the U.S. State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls published an Interim Final Rule that makes significant changes to the current definitions of "broker" and "brokering activities" in Part 129 of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

Authors: Lindsay B. Meyer, Ashley W. Craig, Rachel Miras Fiorill, Carrie A. Kroll, and Matthew R. Rabinowitz

Advertising News & Analysis

September 5, 2013 Edition

Featuring articles on "all natural" claims, new rules for running prize promotions on Facebook, and FTC settlements for deceptive advertising by automobile dealerships.

September 12, 2013 Edition

Featuring articles on using "puffery" in defense of advertising claims, the strong appeal of "Made in America" claims, and review site Yelp suing an attorney for posting fake reviews.

September 19, 2013 Edition

Featuring articles on the FTC's take on "native advertising," unveiling the redesigned All About Advertising Law blog, and what's next for the CFPB.

Private Fund Update

September 9, 2013 Edition

This update contains a summary of legislation relevant to private funds that has been introduced in the various Committees; a review of actions taken by the SEC during the August recess; links to relevant Congressional hearings taking place this week; and reports recently issued by Third Way, Privcap, Davis Polk and the PEGCC.

September 16, 2013 Edition

This update contains HFSC Chairman Hensarling's letter to SEC Chairwoman White regarding private equity fund registration; the SEC's announcement on enforcement priorities for hedge funds; the CFTC's concept release on risk controls for automated trading; last week's and this week's relevant Congressional hearings; materials released by the White House and Treasury marking the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis; and reports issued by Dallas Federal Reserve, SIFMA, and Third Way.

September 23, 2013 Edition

This update contains two noteworthy SEC enforcement actions against hedge funds; the SEC's new final rule on municipal advisors and proposed rule on pay ratio disclosures; CBO's long-term budget outlook for the U.S. (which is bleak); the Financial Stability Oversight Council's justification for designating Prudential Financial, Inc. as systemically important; summaries of relevant Congressional markups and hearings; and reports issued by Chamber of Commerce and SIFMA.

September 30, 2013 Edition

This update contains comments by ACG, PEGCC, IAA and others on the SEC's Proposed Rule on general solicitations; Chairman Gensler's update on timing for the CFTC's final margin rule; a change in policy by the CFTC's Division of Enforcement; Treasury Secretary Lew's letter to Congress stating when the government will hit the debt ceiling; summaries of relevant congressional markups and hearings; and reports issued by Redwood Capital and SIFMA.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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