Category Archives: Politics

Team Rubio, X-Men and Walking Dead Fans

On Monday I ran a story about how the team for Marco Rubio noted that they’re fans of Marvel and DC Comics‘ television shows and movies. It was a rather odd thing to include in a Presidential Twitter bio. After a few Tweets pestering them why they didn’t show any love for indie comics, I decided to go with an easier one. Now we know what they’re fans of.

So a series about the apocalypse and another that focuses a lot on tolerance/racism/and exclusion. Some lessons to be learned from both as the campaign chugs along.

 

 

 

Batgirl Fights for Equal Pay

In 1972 Batgirl, along with Batman and Robin, were in a PSA to advocate for Equal Pay. The fight continues 40 years later. Today is Equal Pay Day, it represents the additional 3 months and 14 days women must work every year to earn what men made the previous year. Gender pay exists and American women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man makes.

Rubio for President Likes Both Marvel & DC, No Love for Indie Comics

Well this might be new. The official Marco Rubio for President Twitter page touts its love for both Marvel and DC Comics‘ television shows as well as movies…. no love for all of the small press and indie comics? I’m sure shunning The Walking Dead fans is a winning strategy for no one….

rubio_twitter_profile

Gen Con Comments on Diversity, RFRA, and Inclusion

Gen Con has been vocal about their displeasure with Indiana‘s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, SB 101, and has threatened to leave Indiana once their current contract with Indianapolis is up in 2020. You can read about all of it here, here, and here.

Today, an amendment to the legislation was passed that says it can’t be used to discriminate against individuals due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. While some have been happy with the change, others still think it’s not enough.

Gen Con has released another statement through email about the latest legislative change.

If you have watched or read the news over the past week, you have seen nationwide feedback on Indiana’s RFRA legislation. Gen Con’s CEO, Adrian Swartout, released a letter to the Governor of Indiana, preceding the legislation’s signing, as well as two follow-up letters to our community on gencon.com with the intent of sharing our thoughts with the public. Simply put, Gen Con believes that diversity and inclusion are key to the success of our convention as well as to the state of Indiana.

Today, Indiana’s General Assembly overwhelmingly passed an amendment to RFRA, signed by the Governor, that will remove RFRA’s risk of discrimination or refusal of service statewide. The amended law will reflect Indianapolis’ own longstanding human rights ordinance which includes protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. With this amendment, no one can refuse you service under RFRA. Period.

We believe this is an important first step, but is just that, a first step.

The conversation on RFRA legislation has created a great dialog in Indiana, across the country, and at Gen Con itself. We know we always can do more to support diversity at our show, and are discussing some exciting new ways to increase our support for all attendees. Given the great response by Visit Indy, the Indy Chamber, Mayor Greg Ballard, and the businesses of Indianapolis, we believe that all attendees will continue to receive the warm response that we have enjoyed for more than a decade. We won’t stop pushing for more diversity and inclusiveness in Indiana, and we will include new concepts and partnerships into our preparations for Gen Con 2015.

Thank you for your feedback during this discussion! Many representatives from Indy also have asked us to express their gratitude to you for your overwhelming outreach and support. Your voice has been heard in Indiana, and Indy is excited to show you its appreciation for your support. We will continue to look for exciting new ways to improve Gen Con and our attendees’ experience.

Does the change to the legislation change your mind at all about attending?

Avaaz Uses Comics in a campaign targeting the Security and Exchange Commission

The international advocacy organization Avaaz have been using comic imagery in their campaign concerning corporate money and influencing policy and elections. The target of the campaign is the Security and Exchange Commission and its chair Mary Jo White who Avaaz feels aren’t performing their duty protecting investors.

She could be our superhero — but we’re still waiting for her to act.

In an email sent to their supporters:

Last month almost 40,000 of us signed a petition pushing back against the flood of dark money in US politics. Now Avaaz has teamed up with some of the country’s biggest good government groups to launch a major DC media blitz against the anonymous ‘dark money’ donations polluting our democracy!

We’ve blanketed Washington, DC’s Union Station with colorful comic book style ads targeting Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Chairwoman Mary Jo White, the superhero we need to save us from the menace of Dark Money Monsters. The ads (see below!) are getting a ton of buzz in town and the media is starting to pick them up too.

But we’re just getting started. To keep up the pressure, let’s take this creative ad campaign online and flood the SEC with comments showing them it’s time to unmask the dark money menace. It’s time for Mary Jo White to take action!

Tweet and Facebook the images and video below, targeting @SEC_News and using the hashtags #WhereIsMJW and #DarkMoney — let’s take these Dark Money Monsters off the walls of the DC metro and flood the SEC’s social media:

In the email they ask individuals to share the comic panels and video below. It’s very cool use of educating individuals about an issue using comic panels and imagery.

Gen Con Works to Protect LGBT Attendees After Discussion with Gov. Pence

For those new to the story, Gen Con, the largest game convention in North America, took a stand against Indiana’s SB 101 which would allow people to use their religion to discriminate against individuals amongst other things. With the legislation passed, the state has come under fire, with corporations freezing investment plans, and others refusing to travel there, along with calls for a boycott.

With millions on the line, and the state made out to look like bigots, Governor Mike Pence is doing what he can to spin the legislation claiming it’s for religious protection. It doesn’t help the Governor was surrounded by bigots when he signed the legislation, nor refused to answer a simple yes or no when it came to a question about LGBT discrimination on This Week.

Gen Con updated its community, saying they spoke with the Governor and disagree with his take on the legislation and situation. They are working with the Mayor of Indianapolis to ensure con-goers are not discriminated against and have a good time.

They are also urging the Governor, and other elected officials, to amend the legislation to make it clear and protect individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender orientation.

“We believe freedom from discrimination is a fundamental human right.”

The biggest news is the convention has halted its “expansion into Lucas Oil Stadium, and plans for further expansion into other hotel convention spaces.

The convention is urging individuals to write elected officials and call the Governor’s office, though his phone has either be disconnected or voice mail filled since this all started.

Gen_Con_Pence_SB_101_3.30.15

Marvel heads before the Supreme Court tomorrow. We get the scoop.

Supreme CourtWhile everyone was focused on Marvel‘s possible legal battle before the Supreme Court concerning the rights of Jack Kirby, Marvel had another case that actually is making it before the high court tomorrow.

Marvel and Stephen Kimble are getting their day in court, as Stephen Kimble, et al., Petitioners v. Marvel Enterprises, Inc. will be heard before the Supreme Court on March 31. It’s one of two cases before the court that day.

To get the scoop as to what we might expect, we got to talk to Mike Fein of the intellectual property group of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott LLC about the court case.

Marvel ComicsMike Fein is a member of the intellectual property group of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott LLC, which is co-chaired by Roberta Jacobs-Meadway. Along with his colleagues, Mr. Fein has extensive experience advising clients about patent scope, validity and enforceability, as well as in obtaining and litigating patents. He is also well versed and experienced in representing licensors and licensees of patents and related antitrust laws, both in the U.S. and internationally. Mr. Fein earned his law degree from Rutgers University School of Law and his undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania.

But, before the actual Q&A, here’s a bit of a disclaimer.

This article is intended to keep readers current about a topic in intellectual property law, and is not intended to be legal advice nor to create an attorney-client relationship. The article expresses the personal opinion and views of the author. If you have questions, please contact the Philadelphia office of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC, at 215.851.8400.

Graphic Policy: The court decision that’s being debated is the previous decision in Brulotte v Thys Co. What was that court case? Can you sum up for us what the case is about in layman’s terms?

Mike Fein: Whether this Court should overrule Brulotte v. Thys Co., which held that “a patentee’s use of a royalty agreement that projects beyond the expiration date of the patent is unlawful per se.”

GP: In the description of the case before the Court, they said that decision was “a product of a bygone era” and “the most widely criticized” of the Court’s intellectual property and competition law decisions. How often does this case come up and why is it so criticized?

MF: In the decision being appealed, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals contrasted the Brulotte rule with Aronson v. Quick Point Pencil Co., 440 U.S. 257, 262-66, 99 S.Ct. 1096, 59 L.Ed.2d 296 (1979), in which the Supreme Court found that patent law did not preclude the enforcement of an agreement to provide royalty payments indefinitely where no patent had issued. The Court of Appeals said that “the Brulotte rule in this case arguably deprives Kimble of part of the benefit of his bargain based upon a technical detail that both parties regarded as insignificant at the time of the agreement.” They quoted the following criticism from a 7th Circuit in an earlier opinion which said

The Supreme Court’s majority opinion reasoned that by extracting a promise to continue paying royalties after expiration of the patent, the patentee extends the patent beyond the term fixed in the patent statute and therefore in violation of the law. That is not true. After the patent expires, anyone can make the patented process or product without being guilty of patent infringement. The patent can no longer be used to exclude anybody from such production. Expiration thus accomplishes what it is supposed to accomplish. For a licensee in accordance with a provision in the license agreement to go on paying royalties after the patent expires does not extend the duration of the patent either technically or practically, because … if the licensee agrees to continue paying royalties after the patent expires the royalty rate will be lower. The duration of the patent fixes the limit of the patentee’s power to extract royalties; it is a detail whether he extracts them at a higher rate over a shorter period of time or a lower rate over a longer period of time.

GP: Are there any recent cases the Supreme Court has heard that might give us an idea on how they might rule?

MF: Recent Supreme Court decisions have been anti-patent and have caused tremendous upheaval and invalidation of thousands of previously-thought to be valid patents in the biotech and computer-assisted method fields. They are usually influenced by the Solicitor General’s amicus briefs. The Solicitor filed one in the Kimble v. Marvel urging the court to affirm the decision below and uphold the Brulotte rule since it is not anti-competitive.

GP: What are you expecting from the judges when they hear the case?

MF: They will ask questions as usual, except for Justice Thomas.

GP: There were quite a few amicus curiae filed, some in support of neither party. Have any of them stood out to you?

MF: Just the Solicitor’s, as mentioned above.

GP: How far and wide would the impact be if Marvel were to decide the case for Kimble? Seems like it’d be pretty wide reaching and have a massive impact on things.

MF: I don’t think the impact would be that great. Know how agreements can be in perpetuity. There are other ways around Brulotte if the parties really bargain for post patent expiration royalties.

GP: This is one of two cases Marvel could have had before the court, the other being the lawsuit concerning Jack Kirby. In your opinion, which of the two was more perilous for Marvel?

MF: The Jack Kirby case involved the Spider-Man and X-Man copyrights, much more valuable than the toy involved in the Kimble case.

GP: Any guesses on how they might rule in Kimble v Marvel?

MF: I guess they’ll affirm.

Ben Affleck Confirms Senator Leahy will be in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Actor Ben Affleck, who will be donning the cape and cowl as Batman in next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, confirmed at a Senate hearing that Senator Patrick Leahy will indeed be in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Affleck is a co-founder of the Eastern Cong Initiative and was testifying before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Diplomacy and National Security about the situation in the Congo (alongside Bill Gates) where he said:

To Senator Leahy, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my co-star in Batman. The role is marginally smaller than mine but I understand you’re quite good.

Senator Leahy is a diehard Batman fan, and has appeared in numerous films and voiced characters which led some to speculate if he’d be in the latest film to feature the Dark Knight. Leahy is also a vocal proponent for Hollywood (especially when it comes to intellectual property), often fighting their battles for them in the Hill, which calls into question his numerous appearances.

(via ABC News)

With SB 101 Signed, What Will Gen Con Do? Follow Salesforce?

Gen_Con_LetterOn Tuesday we brought you the news that Gen Con, the four day gaming convention (and one of my favorite conventions of the year) sent a letter to Indiana Governor Mike Pence warning the convention may leave the state if SB 101, the supposed “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” was singed into law. The convention, as many else also feel, felt the legislation is discriminatory, and would “allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees.”

The Governor is so proud of the bill, he signed it into law in a private ceremony. Indiana becomes the first state this year to enact such legislation out of the dozen or so states in which similar proposals have been introduced.

The fallout from the legislation signing was quick and fierce. Salesforce, on the the top software as a service companies out there, has decided to “dramatically reduce” their investment in Indiana. The CEO of the company Marc Benioff said in a series of Tweets:

gen-con-logoGen Con isn’t the only convention to take place in the state. Awesome Con expanded this year to host a convention in Indianapolis as well. We’ve reached out to both conventions for further comment as to their plans or reactions, but have not heard back as we went to press.

Geek conventions don’t have the best record when it comes to these things. In 2010, Arizona signed into law SB 1070 which some say unfairly targets Latinos, and is a violation of the civil rights of all Arizonans. Boycotts of the state due to the law cost the state over $141 million in 2010. Announced in 2010, but launched in 2011, the Amazing Arizona Comic Con was launched, though calls for boycotts were still in full effect. We questioned the choice of not just the convention, but those attending and supporting it. Companies who “champion” diversity and inclusion, and “pushing comics forward” have had no issues pumping money into the economy of a state which clearly cares little of these things. Though, in fairness, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill similar to the one Gov. Pence just signed into law. So, they just dislike people of darker skin there, but homosexuals are ok.

We’ll keep on this story as Gen Con has promised a follow up letter today. The convention in 2011 committed to stay in Indianapolis until 2020.

Pence released the below statement after signing the pill into law:

Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith.

The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.

One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.

Fortunately, in the 1990s Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—limiting government action that would infringe upon religion to only those that did not substantially burden free exercise of religion absent a compelling state interest and in the least restrictive means.

Last year the Supreme Court of the United States upheld religious liberty in the Hobby Lobby case based on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but that act does not apply to individual states or local government action. At present, nineteen states—including our neighbors in Illinois and Kentucky—have adopted Religious Freedom Restoration statutes. And in eleven additional states, the courts have interpreted their constitutions to provide a heightened standard for reviewing government action.

In order to ensure that religious liberty is fully protected under Indiana law, this year our General Assembly joined those 30 states and the federal government to enshrine these principles in Indiana law, and I fully support that action.

This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it. In fact, it does not even apply to disputes between private parties unless government action is involved. For more than twenty years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never undermined our nation’s anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in Indiana.

Indiana is rightly celebrated for the hospitality, generosity, tolerance, and values of our people, and that will never change. Faith and religion are important values to millions of Hoosiers and with the passage of this legislation, we ensure that Indiana will continue to be a place where we respect freedom of religion and make certain that government action will always be subject to the highest level of scrutiny that respects the religious beliefs of every Hoosier of every faith.

And a Tweet by the Governor:

President Obama Talks Comics. Asks Your Origin.

In an email sent to supporters, “President Obama” (in quotes because it’s not like he sends these emails), talks about growing up and his enjoyment of comic books, citing Conan the Barbarian and Spider-Man, and that every character has an origin story.

The email goes on to ask individuals to write Organizing for Action about their “origin story.”

It’s very cool to see this in an email “from” the President, but it’s SPIDER-MAN people!!!!!

Read the email below, with identifying data scrubbed.

obama_comic_email

(HT BH)

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