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jerryking : lawsuits   24

Byron Allen Spares No One in Accusing Comcast of Racial Bias
Nov. 23, 2019 | The New York Times | By John Eligon.

The black entrepreneur has gone after civil rights groups and other black leaders to make his case. Some fear that protections dating to 1866 are in jeopardy.

Entrepreneur, Byron Allen, offers his life story as a model of African-American economic success.....Byron filed a $20 billion lawsuit against Comcast in 2015, contending that Comcast, after discussing a deal to carry six of his company’s channels, had turned it down in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The nation’s oldest federal civil rights law, it gives “all persons” the same right “enjoyed by white citizens” to “make and enforce contracts” and “to sue.”.......the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled last year that a lower district court had “improperly dismissed” it. Comcast appealed. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case......At stake before the court in oral arguments on Nov. 13 was not the specifics of his dispute with Comcast, but the standard for proving racial discrimination. The justices seemed to focus on the narrow question of whether a plaintiff like Mr. Allen must make the case that racial discrimination was the main factor or just a contributing factor in the early stages of litigation.........Comcast has vigorously defended its record on diversity and refuted Mr. Allen’s claims of discrimination, arguing that the six networks he wants it to distribute are not interesting enough for its lineup or aren’t distinct from current offerings. His demand that Comcast carry all of them in high definition and the price he is asking are unreasonable, the company said.........A key element of Mr. Allen’s argument centers on an agreement Comcast struck with black leaders and organizations in 2010 in order to get clearance to purchase NBCUniversal. As part of the deal, the conglomerate agreed to add four new African-American owned networks over eight years. Two of those networks were owned by Sean Combs, the mogul better known as Diddy, and Magic Johnson, the former basketball star and entrepreneur.
Mr. Allen has argued that the organizations that helped broker the deal — the National Urban League, Mr. Sharpton’s National Action Network and the N.A.A.C.P. — were essentially bought off by Comcast, which has donated money to them. The agreement provided only token investment in black-owned networks, Mr. Allen said, and has been used to justify blocking black entrepreneurs from getting a seat at the table......putting black faces out there.....isn't the same things as true economic inclusion......Comcast said it spent $13.2 billion on programming last year, but a spokeswoman declined to say what share of that went to black-owned networks........Sean Combs, surprisingly, has publicly backed Mr. Allen’s point of view and leveled his own criticism against the company for not providing proper support for his television network, Revolt.
“Our relationship with Comcast is the illusion of economic inclusion,” Mr. Combs said.....many black leaders have avoided expressing a firm opinion on whether or not Byron Allen was discriminated against by Comcast........The 2010 agreement between Comcast and the civil rights groups failed to position the black-owned networks for success, said Paula Madison, the former chief diversity officer at NBCUniversal who helped broker the deal. An issue raised during negotiations, Ms. Madison said, was whether the company would guarantee the networks a certain number of subscribers. In the end, Comcast agreed to launch the channels, with no guarantee of how many subscribers they would reach......Ms. Madison said she felt that Comcast had a duty to try to help the new black-owned networks succeed, because they were integral to the company’s gaining federal approval to acquire NBCUniversal. But at a time when streaming becomes dominant and cable operators are looking to shed channels, Ms. Madison said she believed Comcast executives would not blink if the black-owned networks went away.
“It’s laissez-faire,” Ms. Madison said of Comcast’s treatment of the channels. “It’s, ‘They want channels, we’ll give them channels.’”
African-Americans  Byron_Allen  CATV  Comcast  economic_inclusion  entertainment_industry  entrepreneur  lawsuits  moguls  NAACP  racial_bias  racial_discrimination  U.S._Supreme_Court  Weather_Channel 
november 2019 by jerryking
‘Lopping,’ ‘Tips’ and the ‘Z-List’: Bias Lawsuit Explores Harvard’s Admissions Secrets
July 29, 2018 | - The New York Times | By Anemona Hartocollis, Amy Harmon and Mitch Smith.
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One tries very hard to assess the candidate’s potential. Is he or she a self-starter? How much help has he had? Has the candidate peaked? How will he or she react to not being head of the class?

Does he or she have the core values, confidence, perspective and flexibility to adapt and thrive? Not surprisingly, companies and others prefer applicants who have what a law firm where I later recruited called “a can-do attitude.”
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........The case has been orchestrated by Edward Blum, a longtime crusader against affirmative action and voting rights laws, and it may yield him a fresh chance to get the issue before the Supreme Court. The court turned away his last major challenge to university admissions, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, in 2016.

[Read: How other Ivy League schools are coming to Harvard’s defense.]

The debate goes back to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. The assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 was a turning point, pushing colleges to redouble their efforts to be more representative of American society.

But Asians were an overlooked minority despite a long history of discrimination. .......The plaintiffs say that the personal rating — which considers an applicant’s character and personality — is the most insidious of Harvard’s admissions metrics. They say that Asian-Americans are routinely described as industrious and intelligent, but unexceptional and indistinguishable — characterizations that recall painful stereotypes for many people of Asian descent. (The applicant who was the “proverbial picket fence” was Asian-American.).........Professor Khurana, the Harvard College dean, acknowledged that Harvard was not always perfect, but said it was trying to get its practices right.

“I have a great deal of humility knowing that some day history will judge us,” Professor Khurana said. “I think that’s why we are constantly asking ourselves this question: How can we do better? How could we be better? What are we missing? Where are our blind spots?”
admissions  affirmative_action  Asian-Americans  blind_spots  Colleges_&_Universities  discrimination  diversity  Harvard  Ivy_League  lawsuits  race-blind  race-conscious  selection_processes  biases  elitism  ethnic_stereotyping  meritocratic  students  racial_disparities  1968  core_values 
august 2018 by jerryking
Kleiner Perkins, Disrupted - NYTimes.com
By DAVID STREITFELD MARCH 9, 2015.

The last decade has not been as kind to Kleiner. Entrepreneurs have less need of venture capitalists and their cash, because it is cheaper to start a company and they now have other funding sources. Kleiner also had self-inflicted wounds: An ambitious bet on alternative energy companies, also known as green tech, did not work out as well as hoped, and many opportunities were missed in consumer Internet companies. When the events at issue in the trial took place — roughly 2008 to 2012 — the firm downsized.

A struggling firm in a struggling industry is, as all connoisseurs of digital disruption know, bound to be filled with unhappiness....Kleiner was a firm in flux, Mr. Hirschfeld recalled. One woman he talked to said Kleiner “seemed to be moving from a brand called KP to a brand of individuals that are part of KP. It was now becoming more of a cult of personality, and each personality had its own brand.” ...Kleiner is coming off at the trial as a place where, whatever its undoubted excellence, the loudest people win, the most aggressive win, and those who can find a mentor by sucking up win. This does not sound like a family, a meritocracy or even a place that is a successful investor over the long term.

Why didn’t Kleiner realize this in 2012, when Mr. Hirschfeld submitted his 26-page report?

Perhaps the firm was focused on the narrow issue: whether Ms. Pao was the subject of discrimination. Mr. Hirschfeld’s answer was no, and so maybe the details did not matter.
venture_capital  Kleiner_Perkins  disruption  gender_discrimination  women  personality_cults  self-inflicted  Silicon_Valley  Ellen_Pao  John_Doerr  personal_branding  lawsuits  unhappiness  digital_disruption 
march 2015 by jerryking
Jenkins: The Jury Has Spoken—Think Different - WSJ.com
August 28, 2012, 7:07 p.m. ET

The Jury Has Spoken: Think Different
Samsung's loss is Microsoft's opportunity.

Microsoft is a pygmy in the smartphone business though, unlike Google, Microsoft troubled itself to design a smartphone operating system that does everything a smartphone must without being an iPhone knockoff.

Microsoft may genuinely have believed there's a better way than Apple's of organizing a user's interaction with a mobile device. Microsoft may have concluded there was no future in merely making another Apple knockoff, then trying (thanklessly) to give birth to a third app ecosystem around it.

Maybe Microsoft was just worried about lawsuit vulnerability. Whatever the reason (how's this for irony?), Microsoft was the company to "think different" and create a mobile operating system "for the rest of us"—i.e., an alternative to Apple's vision. The result is Windows Phone 8, the operating system behind the oft-praised but slow-selling Nokia Lumia 900....a too-weak patent system can be as bad for competition as a too-strong one. Until Friday's verdict, it was just too easy for Google-Samsung to gain a dominant share by copying Apple's innovations and giving them away for free. That's especially true of the subtle feedback Apple figured out how to provide users through a touch-screen. Google's business model, Apple could be forgiven for thinking, is more like piracy than competition.

Apple's lawsuits are not without strategic design, of course. The aim is to raise the cost to handset makers of using Google's "free" Android software—one reason Samsung, not Google, was the target of Apple's legal vendetta....But the verdict has an ironic potential. With Android seeming less "free," handset makers now have more incentive to get behind real innovation, such as Microsoft's promising but negligibly patronized operating system. Sooner rather than later, in other words, we might have a choice not just between Apple and fake Apple.

Microsoft and other innovators still face a monumental hurdle, it's true, in a lack of apps. What would really hasten the icejam breakup would be more decisions like one recently from the Financial Times.

The FT has decided to stop making Android or Apple apps or other ecosystem-specific apps in favor of a universal app riding on the mobile browser layer, using the tool set known as HTML5.

By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.
Apple  Samsung  Microsoft  Holman_Jenkins  patents  patent_law  ecosystems  Android  HTML5  knockoffs  think_differently  legal_strategies  lawsuits  litigation 
august 2012 by jerryking
Why Are Hedge Funds Allowed to Invest in Litigation?
Jul 3 2012 | The Atlantic | Lisa Rickard.

the spread of third-party litigation financing, or TPLF.

You probably haven't heard of TPLF. It's a fairly recent creation, originating in Australia and now landing on the shores of the U.S. In essence, TPLF is the practice of hedge funds and other investment firms providing funds to plaintiffs' lawyers in order to conduct litigation. If the case is won in court or settled, the investor is repaid out of the proceeds of the lawsuit, usually with an extremely high rate of return. The investors, therefore, have a direct stake in the outcome of the case.

Proponents of TPLF say that providing this new funding stream increases access to the courts. But U.S. courts are already widely accessible. For instance, a plaintiff can hire an attorney on a contingency fee basis, a practice that is prohibited in most other developed countries.....we've seen how TPLF benefits funders and hurt litigants. But the biggest loser from TPLF might be society at large. This is because we all rely on an impartial civil justice system to resolve disputes in a fair and expeditious manner. When TPLF debases that system by putting investor profits ahead of justice, society is the loser
hedge_funds  litigation  investors  class_action_lawsuits  lawsuits  third-party 
july 2012 by jerryking
New Breed of Patent Claim Bedevils Product Makers - WSJ.com
SEPTEMBER 1, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By DIONNE SEARCEY. New Breed of Patent Claim Bedevils Product Makers.
lawsuits  patents  patent_law  patent_trolls 
september 2010 by jerryking
Paul Allen Sues Apple, Google, Others Over Patents - WSJ.com
AUGUST 28, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | Dionne Searcey.
Patent litigation in general is on the rise, in what is becoming a
lucrative endeavor. Ocean Tomo, a Chicago-based merchant bank that
tracks the intellectual-property market, values the licensing market at
as much as $500 billion. Mr. Allen's lawsuit comes amid high-profile
successes of firms such as NTP Inc., which enforce patents without
making products and have been called "patent trolls" by critics. Courts
have tried to rein in patent litigation, with mixed results, and
Congress has yet to act on legislation that would do the same....patent
licensing strategy
Paul_Allen  patents  patent_law  Ocean_Tomo  intellectual_property  patent_trolls  lawsuits 
august 2010 by jerryking
SEC Chief's Big Bet on Goldman - WSJ.com
MAY 15, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By MONICA LANGLEY , KARA
SCANNELL, SUSAN PULLIAM And SUSANNE CRAIG. This account of how the SEC
decided to pursue Goldman and how the Wall Street giant responded is
based on dozens of interviews with regulators, executives, traders,
lawyers and other people with knowledge of the situation....The suit is
shaping up as one of the most explosive confrontations in Wall Street
history, pitting the world's most profitable securities firm against a
regulatory agency with a battered reputation as a watchdog. The decision
to proceed without unanimous agreement from the commissioners—unusual
in such a high-profile case—exposed the agency to accusations that its
actions were influenced by politics despite its nominally independent
status. The agency denies any political agenda.
Goldman_Sachs  SEC  Wall_Street  decision_making  legal_strategies  lawsuits  big_bets 
may 2010 by jerryking
No time like bankruptcy for squeezing competitors
July 13, 2009 |The Globe & Mail | George Stalk Jr.

In bankruptcy, your competitor's major issue is a shortage of cash - which is what led it into bankruptcy in the first place. Take advantage of it.

You can put pressure on that shortage by further straining your rival's ability to generate cash, or boost the cash it needs to run its business, forcing your competitor to yield market share, customers, product and service offerings. It is fight versus flight for the bankrupt competitor.

How to raise the cash ante? Consider some of the following tactics:

Introduce extended terms. Offer your competitors' customers longer payment terms. Your rival will either lose the business of customers that bite, or be forced to do the same, thus reducing its ability to generate much-needed cash.

Consignment pricing, where the customer pays only after the product is sold, is the ultimate extended term and will be difficult for a competitor in bankruptcy to match.

Boost marketing expenditures. Raising your advertising and point-of-sale spending will have a similar effect: Either your competitor will also have to spend more, or risk losing customers that you attract.

Lengthen the "tail" of the revenue stream. Add more after-sale services and spiffs - if your competitor has to do the same, it will raise the cash costs of getting and keeping customers.

Launch more products. New product development and introduction eats up a lot of cash - and a cash-short competitor is unlikely to be able to do the same. If you go all out, introducing many more new products than a bankrupt competitor possibly can, you could make your rival's offering obsolete in the minds of customers, forcing it into fire sales in a panic to raise cash.[JCK: panicked selling off of assets]

Pursue your competitor's most profitable customers (perhaps identified via geofencing). Good management teams know where their company makes and doesn't make money. Great management teams know this about their competitors.

This insight can be used to target customers, geography, products and services of the bankrupt competitor to gain market share.

The competitor will be hesitant to counter your move against its most profitable customers because it needs the cash these customers generate. It will be more likely to maintain the status quo with these customers in the hopes the cash will keep coming.

Lawsuits. Now is the time to file the lawsuit you've always wanted to. Your bankrupt competitor will not have the discretionary resources to fight and will likely come to terms quickly.

There are also broader strategies to consider. Among them:

Sell against the competitor. When companies are in trouble, customers may worry that they won't be around to service products or provide future upgrades.

This fear can be a powerful weapon: These customers may be persuaded to take their business to companies on a sounder footing.

Go after the best talent (poaching). Anxiety about the plight of the competitor will be just as rampant among your rival's employees and suppliers as it is among customers. You can leverage that angst by going after top talent and strong suppliers - and offer terms and conditions that your competitor will have a tough time matching.

Force the sale of attractive assets held by your bankrupt competitor. A competitor in protection is not its own boss. The creditor committee is likely to care more for the cash it can get from an asset sale than who buys the assets.
bankruptcies  BCG  competition  competitive_advantage  consignment_pricing  geofencing  George_Stalk_Jr.  hardball  lawsuits  marketing  new_products  offensive_tactics  poaching  product_development  selling_off  supply_chain_squeeze  tough-mindedness 
july 2009 by jerryking

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