iVLG News Roundup Week 6 2014: Secret Apps and Insider Trading; Microsoft’s Path Forward; Paper and the Importance of Registering Trademarks
Rising “Secret” Apps Could Affect Securities Laws Regarding Insider Trading
Apps that allow users to send anonymous and semi-anonymous messages may cause trouble for securities regulators looking to avoid the type of insider trading that has recently been in the news with the SAC saga. The app “Secret” was launched recently, and Silicon Valley startup rumors and more than occasional passive-aggressiveness seem to be among the most shared “secrets”. While some of the rumors were debunked, including the rumor that Evernote was going to be acquired, others, including that Google is planning to buy Squarespace, have yet to be debunked.
These anonymous sharing apps, including Snapchat, Whisper, Secret, among others, have varying degrees of anonymity, especially given recent data breaches, but the potential affect of these types of apps on insider trading and related securities law enforcement is apparent. Still Snapchat data may be available even after being “erased”, Whisper uses geo-location, and Secret is based on a network of identifiable friends, which would all provide at least circumstantial evidence on the unscrupulous. Violating securities laws by trading on inside information remains a bad idea.
Microsoft Names Nadella New CEO
As we discussed last week, Satya Nadella was top pick to replace Steve Ballmer as CEO of Microsoft. Nadella was named the company’s new CEO on Tuesday, effective immediately. The pick was widely seen as safe, but has so far been mostly praised. Though Microsoft’s stock price remained relatively flat.
Trademark Battle Looming for Facebook?
An app that won awards for being one of 2012’s top apps has become embroiled in a trademark issue centered around its reliance on common law trademarks as opposed to a registered trademark. On the same day Facebook announced its new service “Paper”, the app maker behind “Paper” filed a trademark application with the USPTO. The company Fifty Three, who has been using the name “Paper” for its app for years, had previously only filed for trademark protection for the “Paper by Fifty Three” designation. This gave Facebook the opportunity to name a service with just the word “Paper” and have an argument for non-infringement under the Lanham Act. Fifty Three has asked Facebook to “Move fast and make things” rather than “Move fast and break things.” It would seem Facebook is looking at an infringement suit unless it decides to change course, though whether it would be successful with a trademark infringement lawsuit is difficult to predict.
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