The High Cost of an FCPA Violation


Violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) can lead to hefty penalties. Indeed, individuals who violate the FCPA, and their employers, could be on the hook for a variety of penalties described below. Businesses need to be aware of these potential consequences in order to appropriately perform risk-based analyses and determine what level of compliance program to utilize. The FCPA’s penalties make it clear that automotive companies conducting international business cannot afford to ignore FCPA compliance. Continue reading this entry

Health Conscious? The EEOC Is Expanding Incentives for Employees' Spouses


Employee wellness programs are frequently a source of ulcer-causing angst for auto employers, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is making moves to treat some of the underlying issues. In late October, the EEOC issued a proposed rule to amend Title II of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) that would “allow employers who offer wellness programs as part of group health plans to provide limited financial and other inducements… in exchange for an employee’s spouse providing information about his or her current or past health status.” On its face this may appear to be a minor issue, but in reality, this change helps auto employers with large insured work forces avoid inadvertently violating GINA’s broad employee protections. Continue reading this entry

Making the FCPA “Reasonable” — Exceptions & Affirmative Defenses


So, we have covered the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act’s (“FCPA”) scope, but the FCPA anti-bribery provisions also contain certain exceptions and affirmative defenses. These exceptions and affirmative defenses attempt to carve out legitimate payments to foreign officials, so the FCPA does not unreasonably hamper international business. Be wary, however, because prosecutors narrowly interpret these exceptions and affirmative defenses. Moreover, as most FCPA cases settle, the prosecutor’s perspective will ultimately drive the settlement negotiations and the prosecutor may have a different view of an automotive company’s payments to the foreign officials. Continue reading this entry

Who Owns the Patent?: The Validity of Automatic Assignment Provisions


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is currently considering a petition for en banc rehearing of the “automatic patent assignment” rule announced in the Court’s 1991 decision in FilmTec Corp. v. Allied-Signal, IncSee Alexander Shukh v. Seagate Tech. (Fed. Cir. 2015) (en banc petition). In FilmTec, the Federal Circuit determined that a contract that assigns (i.e., “do hereby assign”) potential future inventions from an employee/inventor to an employer is an effective transfer of title of those future inventions to the employer. These agreements are particularly helpful for employers, such as those in the automotive industry where employee migration is a fact of life. Having an employment agreement that includes an automatic assignment provision can mitigate some of the issues associated with obtaining assignments of inventions to the employer after an employee inventor has left the company, since one can argue that such inventions were prospectively assigned to the employer prior to conception of the invention. Continue reading this entry