Tag Archives: Court
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider whether to let states force out-of-state online retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases in a fight potentially worth billions of dollars pitting South Dakota against e-commerce businesses.
South Dakota is asking the nine justices to overturn a 1992 Supreme Court precedent that states cannot require retailers to collect state sales taxes unless the businesses have a “physical presence” in the state.
The state, appealing a lower court decision that favored Wayfair Inc, Overstock.com Inc and Newegg Inc, is being supported by President Donald Trump’s administration.
A ruling favoring South Dakota could eventually lead to online customers paying more for many purchases.
Such a ruling could help small brick-and-mortar retailers compete with online rivals while delivering up to $ 18 billion into the coffers of the affected states, according to a 2017 federal report. The justices are due to decide the case by the end of June.
South Dakota depends more than most states on sales taxes because it is one of nine that do not have a state income tax. South Dakota projects its revenue losses because of online sales that do not collect state taxes at around $ 50 million annually, while its opponents in the case estimate it as less than half that figure.
The justices will hear the case against a backdrop of Trump’s harsh criticism of Amazon.com Inc, the dominant player in online retail, on the issue of taxes and other matters. Trump has assailed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, a newspaper that the Republican president also has disparaged.
Amazon, which is not involved in the Supreme Court case, collects sales taxes on direct purchases on its site but does not collect taxes for items sold on its platform by third-party venders, amounting to about half of total sales.
South Dakota is supported by industry groups representing major retailers that have brick-and-mortar stores, and therefore already collect state sales taxes. The National Retail Federation, which supports the state, has a membership that includes Walmart Inc and Target Corp, as well as Amazon.
E-commerce companies supporting Wayfair, Overstock and Newegg include two that provide online platforms for individuals to sell online: eBay Inc and Etsy Inc.
The 2016 South Dakota law requires out-of-state online retailers to collect sales tax if they clear $ 100,000 in sales or 200 separate transactions. The state sued a group of online retailers to force them to collect the state sales taxes, with the aim of overturning the 1992 precedent.
Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham
The U.S. government’s Supreme Court battle with Microsoft Corp over whether technology companies can be forced to hand over data stored overseas could be nearing its end, after federal prosecutors asked that the case be dismissed.
President Donald Trump on March 22 signed a provision into law making it clear that U.S. judges can issue warrants for such data, while giving companies an avenue to object if the request conflicts with foreign law.
“This case is now moot,” the U.S. Department of Justice said, citing the newly passed legislation, in a 16-page court filing on Friday that requested the dismissal.
The Supreme Court on Feb. 27 heard arguments in the case, which had been one of the most closely watched of the high court’s current term. Some justices urged Congress to pass a law to resolve the matter.
Microsoft and the Justice Department had been locked in a dispute over how U.S. prosecutors seek access to data held on overseas computer servers owned by American companies. The case involved Microsoft’s challenge to a domestic warrant issued by a U.S. judge for emails stored on a Microsoft server in Dublin relating to a drug-trafficking investigation.
The bipartisan new law, known as the Cloud Act, was supported by Microsoft, other major technology companies and the Trump administration. But civil liberties groups opposed it, saying it lacked sufficient privacy protections.
Microsoft, which has 100 data centers in 40 countries, was the first American company to challenge a domestic search warrant seeking data held outside the United States. The Microsoft customer whose emails were sought told the company he was based in Ireland when he signed up for his account.
A representative for Microsoft did not immediately return requests for comment on the Justice Department’s filing.
Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Alex Dobuzinskis; Additional reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by Will Dunham and Jonathan Oatis
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Mexican mogul Carlos Slim’s America Movil must allow competitors to use its network and infrastructure, essentially holding up aspects of the 2014 telecoms reform.
The court said the obligation imposed by the reform on America Movil, Mexico’s largest telecommunications firm, to lend interconnection services to competitors does not violate its rights.
“Because the constitutional decree itself recognized that there are certain obligations that are imposed on the preponderant economic agent, which will expire once there are conditions of real competition in the market,” it said.
The case was filed by America Movil’s Telmex unit.
A central pillar of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s reform sought to bolster competition by giving other companies free use of Slim’s network, which grew from the former state monopoly he acquired in the 1990s.
The policy was later abandoned by the government after the country’s Supreme Court ruled in August that America Movil’s interconnection rates should be set by the telecommunications regulator, not legislators.
The IFT telecommunications regulator said in November that America Movil would be able to charge rivals 0.028562 peso per minute for calls to its network as of Jan. 1. Competitors can charge 0.112799 peso per minute for mobile calls to their networks, it said.
Rival AT&T Inc calculated that for every peso cent America Movil can charge for interconnection fees, the company’s competitors in Mexico would collectively pay about $ 20 million per year.
America Movil declined to comment.
Slim holds about two-thirds of mobile phone subscriptions in Mexico.
Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Stephen Coates
LONDON (Reuters) – Uber [UBER.UL] will defend its right to operate in London in a court hearing on Monday after the app was deemed unfit to run a taxi service and stripped of its license in its most important European market.
Regulator Transport for London (TfL) shocked the Silicon Valley firm by rejecting its license renewal bid in September, citing its approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers.
Uber’s 40,000 drivers, representing around one in three of all private hire vehicles on the British capital’s roads, can continue to take passengers until the appeals process is exhausted, which could take years.
The legal battle pitches one of the world’s richest cities against a tech giant known for its forays into new markets around the world that have prompted bans, restrictions and protests, including by drivers of London’s famous black cabs.
Uber’s lawyers will begin their appeal at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday, in what is expected to be a largely administrative hearing designed to set a date for a fuller hearing next year.
Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi has apologized to Londoners and met TfL Commissioner Mike Brown in October for what both sides described as constructive talks.
Brown told Reuters in November that “there are some discussions going on to make sure they are compliant.”
Months of legal wrangling are likely unless the Silicon Valley app, valued at around $ 70 billion with investors including Goldman Sachs (GS.N), can come to a new arrangement with the regulator.
“We continue having constructive discussions with Transport for London in order to resolve this,” an Uber spokesman said ahead of the hearing. “As our new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said, we are determined to make things right.”
Losing its London license was just one of many blows to Uber this year as a stream of executives left amid controversies involving allegations of sexual harassment and issues surrounding data privacy and business practices.
In Britain, Uber is looking to appoint a new boss after Jo Bertram announced her departure less than two weeks after London’s decision.
It also faces potential problems in the northern English city of Sheffield where its license has been suspended and in Brighton, southern England, where local officials extended the firm’s license for only six months to give them more time to consider the outcome of the dispute in London.
Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Keith Weir
(Reuters) – Over 30 technology companies including Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Facebook Inc. (FB.O) on Friday urged a U.S. patent court to disregard drugmaker Allergan Plc’s (AGN.N) contention that its transfer of some of its patents to a Native American tribe shields them from the court’s review.
Two trade groups comprised of tech industry leaders argued in a joint brief submitted to the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board that the board has the right to review the validity of patents covering the dry eye medicine Restasis that Allergan transferred to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in a deal announced in September.
“This panel’s statutory authority to review whether the Restasis patents were properly granted as a matter of federal law does not and should not depend on the identity of the patents’ owner,” said the trade group.
Allergan is arguing the tribe’s sovereign status means the patent review board, an administrative court, has no jurisdiction over the transferred patents. The tribe agreed to exclusively license the Restasis patents back to Allergan in exchange for ongoing payments.
Many technology companies have praised the patent court, saying it is a low-cost and efficient way to cancel dubious patents used to bring abusive lawsuits. They fear that, if upheld, Allergan’s strategy could be widely adopted and used against them.
The case before the patent board stems from a challenge to the Restasis patents brought by generic drug companies led by Mylan NV (MYL.O). Generic makers had been blocked from selling their own versions of the blockbuster medicine until the patents expired in 2024.
But a federal judge in Texas already invalidated the Restasis patents in a separate proceeding, rendering Allergan’s tribal deal effectively meaningless. The company had said it did not object to federal court review of its patents but felt the administrative process was unfair.
Despite that ruling, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board is hearing arguments on whether it must accept Allergan’s tribal immunity argument.
A group of prominent law professors, including Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School and Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California at Berkeley, submitted a brief on Friday siding with the tribe and Allergan.
“Far from being a scheme to shield patents from review, the agreement from the Tribe’s perspective is part of its economic development plan,” the academics said. “The Allergan-Mohawk contract reflects exactly the sort of economic entrepreneurship that Congress has been urging upon tribes.”
Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Anthony Lin and Andrew Hay
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – An Austrian law student cannot bring a class action suit against Facebook’s Irish unit over alleged privacy violations in an Austrian court, an EU court adviser said on Tuesday, but can sue the company in his home country on his own behalf.
Arguing Facebook violated privacy rules, Max Schrems is claiming 500 euros ($ 576) in damages for each of some 25,000 signatories to his lawsuit, one of a series of European challenges to U.S. technology firms and their handling of personal data.
“A consumer who is entitled to sue his foreign contact partner in his own place of domicile, cannot invoke, at the same time as his own claims, claims on the same subject assigned by other consumers,” the EU top court’s Advocate General Michal Bobek said.
The advocate general, whose opinions are not binding but usually followed by the court, said allowing a class action suit in this case would lead consumers to choose the place of the most favorable court.
Privacy activist Schrems, who had argued that individual lawsuits on user privacy would be “impossible” due to the financial burden on users, said a ruling in line with the advocate general’s opinion would still allow him to set a precedent.
“In the advocate general’s view, I can at least bring a ‘model case’ at my home jurisdiction in Vienna, which may enable us to debate the illegal practices of Facebook in an open court for the first time,” Schrems said in a statement.
Facebook said the advocate general’s opinion supported the decision of two courts that Schrem’s claims could not proceed as a class action.
While common in the United States, class action suits are rarely recognized in Europe.
“It is not for the Court to create such collective redress in consumer matters, but eventually for the Union legislator,” the Advocate General said.
Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels; additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla in Vienna; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and John Stonestreet
The appeals ruling acknowledged that so-called cloud computing had changed the landscape for storage, letting companies hold customer data in …