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Showing posts from May, 2006

Klaatu barada nikto

I am living without critical technology. Just like in The Day the Earth Stood Still , minus Gort the big robot. Obviously, it is not my computer or an internet connection. No, it is my garage door opener, which mysteriously stopped working yesterday. Now, when returning home, I need to stop, get out of my car, bend over to reach the handle, and lift the door (preferably with my legs so as not to hurt my back). It is amazing to me how much I have taken for granted this masterpiece of engineering. For most of my life, I never gave a second thought to how the garage door would open. According to this link , the electric garage door opener was invented in 1926 by one C.G. Johnson by what is now Overhead Door Corporation. I do not know why he was overlooked for a Nobel Prize of some kind. Same goes for the guy who invented air conditioning (which is another story of technology on the fritz in my house). This event has caused me to take stock of my tech-dependent life. Suddenly, with a ma

Caution: Courts at Work

A couple interesting decisions have come out recently. Well, I read them recently. In Gilda Indus. v. United States , the Federal Circuit had to deal with a motion to dismiss a case for failure to state a cause of action for which relief can be granted. The underlying question was whether the Court of International Trade can give any relief to a company that wants its product, imported toasted bread (really), removed from the list of products from the E.U. subject to retaliatory duties. The duties were imposed to compensate the U.S. for the E.U. policy on meat raised with the use of hormones. There are a bunch of good issues in the case, but a few are worthy of note. First, once again, the CAFC has reminded practitioners that a protest is not the only way into Court to challenge a liquidation. In this case, Customs had no authority to decline to collect the retaliatory duties imposed by the USTR. So, the Court reminds us, there was no point in filing a protest. This is the sa

Freaks on a Plane

I had to go the Washington this afternoon. I am amazed that American flies as many aging regional jets as it does. These little planes are really close quarters. The whole time I had my notebook open, I was worried that the guy in front of me would lean back and crush my display. Why is it that airplane seat backs are so perfectly designed to catch a display in the cavity where the tray table stows? It seems almost intentional. Across the aisle was a plain enough, slightly geeky looking guy with an iPod and a notebook stuffed in the magazine pocket. I am pretty sure that is a violation of some FAA rule. Shortly into the flight, I noticed that he had a large stack of 3 x 5 cards in front of him. These cards were printed with a reproduction of the cover of the business book of the moment, Freakonomics . I have not read this book. I tend to avoid anything written by anyone who describes themselves as a rogue. I tend to think "rogue" is an adjective to be applied by others. Soo

A Mac in Black: Apple Introduces Its New Laptop Line - New York Times

First, Apple switched to Intel processors. Then, it became possible to boot to Windows on a Mac or run Windows in parallel on a Mac. Now, this article says new Mac notebooks come in corporate black. What is the world coming to? It looks like Apple will soon be safe for work. Will a corporate IT guy soon be able to say "No one gets fired for buying Apple?"

On The Road Again

Finally! I have been anticipating the return of commuting to work via my bike. It's been a long winter and the weather has been teasing me with the possibility of a ride to and from work. Every time it has looked do-able, I have had a meeting, a trip, or something to carry that prevented a ride to work. Note to partners and would be thieves: I don't bike with my laptop. Monday and Tuesday, I was ready to go but made the serious mistake of listening to the weather forecasts. Both days were supposed to end in rain but turned out just fine. This morning looked very nice but, again, showers were predicted for the afternoon. I gave up listening to the forecast and headed out on my bike at 7:00 this morning. The ride was surprisingly easy for the first of the year. I averaged 15 miles per hour on busy streets. I did not switch gears much; staying manly in the middle cog and big chain ring. I'd shift to the small chain ring at intersections and to get started from a stop. Incid

Suddenly, it is all Inside the Beltway

Customs law used to be about classification and valuation, penalties and marking. These days, it seems CBP is just as likely to be caught up in some political mess as it is to be worried about basic legal compliance by importers and exporters. Now that the U.S. Customs Service has morphed into a bureau of the Department of Homeland Security and swallowed chunks of the Immigration and Naturalization Service along the way, the agency seems to be much more about Washington and politics. Several recent happenings show that to be true: The on-again, off-again idea of merging Immigration and Customs Enforcement with Customs and Border Protection. This is essentially putting the agency back together. Customs used to include Special Agents who's job it was to conduct investigations involving both criminal and civil violations. One would think that those hard working folks would have plenty of reasons to share systems and resources with the folks at Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures

Where's Larry?

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Otherwise occupied. Be back soon.

Two Blog-Worthy News Items

Sausage, Sugar Cane Found In Diaper Man's New Fingerprints Don't Fool Customs Neither story requires much comment and neither really has to do with the law in a jurisprudential sense. Just bizarre anecdotes from the wacky world of international crime. Thanks to the blog fodder spotter in the office who forwarded these to me.

Object Lessons

Last week, I was at the Federal Circuit arguing a case. While waiting for my case to be called, I watched two other arguments. As usual, one was a patent case. It had to do with whether a company trying to sell bingo-style games had infringed a patent. I started wondering if the trial had included expert witnesses on bingo. I suspect that testimony would likely come from senior citizen women and Catholic priests. The second case involved attorney's fees in an appeal by a veteran who was originally denied benefits for injuries due to exposure to Agent Orange but got the case remanded for further investigation. This post is primarily for my students and associates in my office (who I know are reading this blog). The message is simple: Preparation Matters! The guy arguing the veteran's case did a fine job. He had a folksy country-lawyer way about him and was obviously comfortable before the court. The issue was whether a remand makes the veteran a prevailing party. The Court seem

All About CAFTA-DR. What About Bolivia?

Customs has revised the instructions to the field for dealing with CAFTA-DR claims. The one issue it does not cover is whether we have to continue to call this agreement "CAFTA-DR." It seems like we should declare the Dominican Republic to be part of Central America and call it a day at "CAFTA." Also, has anyone figured out how to pronounce USAFTA, the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Is it "us afta" or "oo safta?" Anyway, from a substantive point of view, this memo pretty much lays out what you need to know about making a CAFTA claim, CAFTA verifications, and retroactive textile claims. If you are interested in that stuff, read it. A more interesting drama is playing out in Bolivia where the President Evo Morales is threatening to nationalize natural gas production facilities. According to this NY Times article , he plans to start with an audit of foreign companies while negotiating new contracts. If the negotiations don't go