Volume 5, Issue 18
PATENT TROLL LEGISLATION SIGNED INTO LAW
Governor Dayton has signed the Network’s primary legislative issue for 2016, the Patent Reform Act, into law. Minnesota Credit Union Network staff have been engaged for nearly 18 months with a variety of other interest groups in crafting compromise language that would ultimately be acceptable to all of the stakeholders, as well as the Legislature.
Patent trolls often buy large numbers of patents, many of which are vague and overly broad, and proceed to send threatening letters to those attempting to develop products or supply services they argue infringe their patents. These letters often threaten legal action unless the alleged infringer agrees to pay a licensing fee, which can often range from the tens of thousands to even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many times the entities that receive these letters settle out of court and pay the license fee because fighting the matter in court can be extremely costly and take years to settle.
The problem is getting bigger - The Government Accountability Office estimates the total number of defendants sued by patent trolls more than tripled from 834 in 2007 to 3,400 in 2011. Credit unions in several states, including Illinois, California and Texas, have received demand letters from trolls on dubious claims of infringement of the technology they use to initiate transactions via credit union websites.
After recognizing a potential future vulnerability for credit unions and small businesses in Minnesota, Network staff identified and brought together a wide range of coalition partners, helped draft bill language that all parties could agree on and met with dozens of legislators to explain the issue and advocate for its passage. The bill passed unanimously in both houses, and was signed into law last week.
With questions, contact MnCUN Political Advocacy Director Ryan Smith by email or call (651) 288-5533.
MnCUN partners with local and international organizations to support climate-smart exchange program with Germany
The Minnesota cities of Duluth, Elk River, Morris, Rochester and Warren have been chosen to participate in Climate Smart Municipalities, a new international ideas and technology exchange program that is part of the German government’s Transatlantik-Programm, honoring the European legacy of George C. Marshall, the originator of the Marshall Plan.
According to project lead Sabine Engel, each community will be paired with a community in Germany, which is known for its systems approach to solving energy challenges and has set a goal of 80 percent renewables by 2050, for a hands-on problem-solving partnership aimed at applying university research to solving energy-related environmental challenges on the ground. Representatives from the Minnesota cities will travel to the state of North Rhine–Westphalia in July, where they will visit climate-smart energy facilities and work with their partner communities to develop specific strategies for reducing their energy footprint while boosting their local economy.
Other partners in the project include: Germany’s federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy; the Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Agriculture, Nature Protection and Consumer Protection in the state of North Rhine–Westphalia; the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and Natural Resources Research Institute; the Minnesota Department of Agriculture; the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board; the Minnesota Department of Commerce; the Great Plains Institute; and Ever-Green Energy.
“It is a unique opportunity to be involved in this innovative program,” said Mara Humphrey, vice president for governmental affairs with the Minnesota Credit Union Network. “Minnesota credit unions are local, engaged, cooperative businesses that give back to our communities. Our employees, our members, our families live here, so we are excited to partner with our cities to tackle clean energy. It is an issue that affects all of us.”
With interest or questions, contact MnCUN Vice President – Governmental Affairs Mara Humphrey by email or by phone at (651) 288-5523.
NCUA releases new video module, best practices for merging credit unions
Upcoming Regulatory Compliance Effective Dates
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CUNA Mutual Group releases 2015 Annual Report
Last week, CUNA Mutual Group released its 2015 Annual Report.
“In the report, you'll see more than just information on our strong financial performance. You'll see stories about how we're working with credit unions to empower hardworking Americans with financial security,” said CUNA Mutual Group Media & Reputation Strategist Jess Noelck, CUDE. “You'll see how corporate social responsibility is ingrained in the way we do business, and that we're committed to serving credit unions and their members for generations to come.”
Download the full report.
CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name of CUNA Mutual Holding Company, its affiliates and subsidiaries. CUNA Mutual Group's insurance, retirement and investment products provide financial security and protection to credit unions and their members worldwide. With more than 75 years of true market commitment, CUNA Mutual Group's vision is unwavering: To be a trusted business partner that delivers service excellence through customer-focused products and market-driven insight.
For more information about CUNA Mutual Group, contact MnCUN Vice President – Network Service Corporation John Ferstl by email or at (651) 288-5505.