by Kyle Colona on July 9, 2012
Prior to Facebook’s now infamous Initial Public Offering, the social networking behemoth entered into a strategic alliance with Yahoo to share a host of Web technologies.
But then something went awry about a year ago as Yahoo filed a patent infringement case against Facebook, claiming the company violated some its oldest Web tools. Facebook responded with a countersuit over certain web technologies that it had otherwise acquired.
Now the New York Times Dealbook is reporting that the two Internet pioneers have reached an accord to settle the legal hostilities. The settlement comes on the heels of the recent executive shakeup at Yahoo. The Internet service provider is trying to right itself in the wake of the bogus credential scandal of former CEO Scott Thompson. And settling this case is part of that process.
In sum, the two companies have agreed to cross-license all their patent holdings to prevent future suits but there is no financial payoff included in the pact for Yahoo.
FTC Halts Two Bogus Debt Consolidation Outfits
As the much ballyhooed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau struggles to get its sea legs, the Federal Trade Commission remains on the case to protect the public from consumer finance scam artists.
Most recently, the FTC announced last week that it had ceased operations of two debt consolidation outfits. One of these firms is even alleged to have impersonated federal government agencies. The two firms agreed to settlements with the FTC that ban them from the business of debt relief services.
This is part of the FTC’s “continuing crackdown on scams that target consumers in financial distress.”
The original consumer protection sheriff obtained one settlement against a telemarketer who claimed it was “affiliated with federal consumer agencies” before steering people into bogus debt relief, tax relief and mortgage assistance relief services by making deceptive claims. The other settlement concerns FTC charges against an outfit that charged consumers hundreds of dollars in up-front fees, based on empty promises to modify their credit cards.
Meanwhile the CFPB is busy furnishing their new offices and other important consumer matters.
NFA Cracks Down on California Capital
The National Futures Association has permanently banned California Capital Trading Group and two of its brokers in connection with “bad trade recommendations and commission fluffing.”
The NFA is the self regulatory outfit in the futures sector that is charged with policing futures markets much like Finra does on the securities exchanges.
In this case, the Trader Daily reports that the Whittier, CA-based California Capital “maximized commissions but left little opportunity for the customers to achieve and overall profit.” Further, the firm did not dispute a variety of NFA findings including a claim that inflated commissions meant that trades typically feature a breakeven point in the 50% to 99% range while so-called “total round-turn fees” were in the $90 to $95 range which is said to be far above market norms.
The NFA also works closely with the CFTC on these matters and the agencies have various documents warning retail customers about the risks of derivative investing.
SEC Names New Director of Division of Investment Management
The SEC announced last week that Norm Champ has been named Director of the agency’s Division of Investment Management.
He had previously had the role of Deputy Director of the securities watchdog’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE). He assumes the new position today.
The Investment Management unit is designed to protect investors and promote capital formation by keeping an eye on the “multi-trillion dollar investment management industry.”
Prior to joining the SEC staff in 2010, Mr. Champ was general counsel for 10 years as well as a member of the executive committee and a partner at investment management firm Chilton Investment Company, a multi-national adviser to private funds and managed accounts.
“Norm has proven himself to be a natural leader and an expert at managing programs that bolster our financial markets and protect investors,” said SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro.
CFTC Reopens Comment Period on Margin Requirements for Un-cleared Swaps
The CFTC originally published a notice in the Federal Register in April 2011 of a proposed rulemaking to establish initial and variation margin requirements for un-cleared swaps.
The comment period closed on July 11, 2011 but a final rule was held up as the commodities sheriff was busy harmonizing its margin requirements for un-cleared swaps with the EU’s Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.
Now, the two outfits have released a “consultative paper” on this rulemaking that is being made available to the public on the Basel Committee’s website (www.bis.org).
In light of yet another delay in getting a Dodd Frank rule off and running, the Commission has decided to reopen the comment period on the proposed margin rule to allow interested parties to comment, and these are due to the Commission by September 14, 2012.
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Kyle Colona is a New York-based freelance writer and a Feature Writer for CompliancEX> and the Wall Street Job Report. He has an extensive background in legal and regulatory affairs in the financial services sector and his work has appeared in a variety of print and on-line publications. You can find him on linkedin.