News and Recent Events

Yesterday, the SEC issued an enforcement order regarding Munchee’s token offering and SEC Chairman Jay Clayton released a general public statement on cryptocurrencies and ICOs.  For those who previously read our post about the SEC’s report in the DAO, much of this might not be a surprise – although the SEC staff did answer the call of discussing so-called “utility tokens.”

The SEC action against Munchee is notable to us because Munchee had at least some argument that its tokens had utility. As quick background, the Munchee app is built around a crowd-sourced restaurant review concept.  The Munchee app was built before the token offering.  The Munchee tokens (MUN) were designed to function as an internal currency for “use in the Munchee app for rewards and interactions.”  Munchee had a somewhat polished white paper, replete with disclaimers and carefully avoiding terms such as “ICO” and “investors,” and a management and advisory team with relevant technical and industry experience.  For those of us working in this space, this fact pattern is familiar – and did not feel like the edge cases that had previously caught the ire of the SEC, such as a massive loss of investor capital or a recidivist promising 1,354% profit in less than 29 days.

So what takeaways can other potential token issuers glean from the Munchee order? How much “utility” is needed?
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One of the more interesting phenomena in early-stage investing is the recent emergence of initial coin offerings (“ICOs”), token generation events (“TGEs”), or similar distributed ledger or blockchain-enabled means for raising capital. Much has been written, including by many skilled lawyers in the technology sector, about whether the tokens issued in these structures involve “securities” – and, frankly, some of it is unhelpful. Hungry for something that seems like crowdfunding, but that actually works to raise meaningful capital for promising technology initiatives, many in the technology space really want these
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DLA Piper is pleased to announce the launch of Prize Promotions Around the World, an updated edition of our popular handbook.

Prize Promotions Around the World is an online tool designed to assist companies across the globe in managing the early development stages of a prize promotion, such as a sweepstakes or a skill-based contest, and to bring to their attention potentially problematic issues.

Key features include:

  • Additional jurisdictions, now with over 35 countries
  • Expansion of topics, including rules on judging and sanctions
  • Interactive map, highlighting the range of


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From our colleagues Paolo Morante, Steven E. Levitsky, Laura Kam and Adam Steene:

The Federal Trade Commission has announced its annual revision to the jurisdictional thresholds under the Act. The new thresholds will go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, which is expected in the next few days.

Under the new thresholds, no transaction will be reportable unless, as a result of it, the acquiring person will hold voting securities, assets, or noncorporate interests of the acquired person valued above $80.8 million (increased
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In this recent post to our fellow DLA blog – Technology’s Legal Edge – our colleague Giulio Coraggio identifies some of the legal issues that are being sorted out with respect to the Internet of Things, including the following:

  • Is “industrial” data personal data?
  • How do you protect data and IoT technologies?
  • Who is the owner of the data?
  • Is data kept secure?
  • What liability if things go wrong?

He also notes some EU-specific questions.  His full post can be found here.
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The US Department of Commerce announced that it will begin accepting applications for Privacy Shield certifications beginning on August 1.

For US organizations collecting personal data from the EU, the past year has been an anxious one, as the European Court of Justice invalidated the EU-US Safe Harbor program in October 2015 and the terms of a far-reaching General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have been promulgated to replace the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive. Among other things, one of the major impacts of the GDPR – when it takes effect in May 2018 – is that it will apply to US businesses that sell to, make services available to or somehow target data subjects in the EU – even if those US businesses have no operations or affiliates in the EU. With the GDPR looming, the issue of cross border data transfers and the significance of the Privacy Shield program for US businesses are likely to become even more relevant.
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The pace of innovation and adoption in technology – fast and getting faster – has long presented a stark contrast to the deliberate pace of change in the law. That contrast is greater than ever today, as entrepreneurs and established tech companies alike accelerate the time to market and the speed of global expansion. With that as a backdrop, DLA Piper’s Global Technology Summit, scheduled for September 27-28, 2016, at the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, California, is expecting record attendance, and representatives from major tech players such as
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Compliments of Jason Smith of Kidder Mathews, attached is a Seattle-area office real estate market review for Q1 2016. Here is a short summary:

  • General leasing activity improved significantly outside of the Seattle and Bellevue central business districts (CBDs), which had led the region coming out of the recession.
  • Regional first quarter absorption was just over 670,000 s.f., a bit off the 2015 pace, but well above the previous ten years; this left the regional vacancy at 7.87%.
  • Rental rates continue to move up at a steady but modest rate,


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Today, April 14, 2016, the EU Parliament adopted the long awaited General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Regulation will have a considerable impact on all organizations based in the European Union that process personal data, but also on organizations based outside of Europe providing services to the European market. The GDPR contains many key changes, among them a single set of rules applicable across all member states, stricter requirements for transparency and consent, and tougher enforcement. Non-EU companies whose businesses target EU countries will also be subject to the Regulation.
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Article prepared by and republished courtesy of our colleague Matthew Grosack; originally published here: https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2016/03/commercial-use-of-drones/.

The varying commercial applications of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) – more commonly referred to as drones – across multiple industries poses a number of opportunities and challenges for companies both big and small.

On the one hand, UAS will give companies access to unprecedented insight and analytics into business operations and provide customers with new and potentially cost-effective commercial services. On the other hand, the commercial use of UAS is currently subject to regulatory scrutiny at both the federal and state levels, increasing liability exposure for prohibited uses or unauthorized operations.

As this technology becomes more mainstream and companies incorporate UAS into day-to-day business operations, it is important to consider the fluid and changing legal and regulatory framework governing what is and is not permitted.
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