Moderna Sues Rival COVID-19 Vaccine Makers Pfizer and BioNTech

Moderna has said it is suing rival vaccine maker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, citing infringement on its patents in developing the first COVID-19 vaccine approved in the United States, alleging they copied technology that Moderna developed years before the pandemic.

The lawsuits set up a high-stakes showdown between the leading manufacturers of COVID-19 shots that are a key tool in the fight against the disease. “Moderna believes that Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine Comirnaty infringes patents Moderna filed between 2010 and 2016 covering Moderna’s foundational mRNA technology,” the US-based biotech firm said in a statement on Friday.

“Pfizer and BioNTech copied this technology, without Moderna’s permission, to make Comirnaty,” Moderna said. Pfizer and BioNTech said they have not fully reviewed the complaint, but expressed surprise over the litigation.

“The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine was based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology,” a statement said. “We will vigorously defend against the allegations of the lawsuit.” When the news broke, Pfizer shares fell nearly 1 percent, while BioNTech US-listed shares were down about 1.5 percent and Moderna shares slipped 1.7 percent.

The lawsuit, which seeks undetermined monetary damages, was filed in the US District Court in the state of Massachusetts. Moderna said the lawsuit would also be filed in the Regional Court of Dusseldorf in Germany.

Just a decade old, Moderna, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, had been an innovator in the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology that enabled unprecedented speed in developing the COVID-19 vaccine.

The mRNA technology used in the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech shots differs from that in traditional vaccines, which rely on injecting weakened or dead forms of a virus to allow the immune system to recognize it and build antibodies.

Instead, mRNA vaccines deliver instructions to cells to build a harmless piece of the spike protein found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. After creating this spike protein, cells can recognize and fight the real virus, hailed as a major advancement in the development of vaccines.

Germany-based BioNTech had also been working in this field when it partnered with the US pharma giant Pfizer.

Lawsuits can take years to resolve

Moderna said it had begun building up the technology in 2010 and patented work on coronaviruses in 2015 and 2016, which allowed for the rollout of its shots in “record time” after the pandemic struck.

The virus has killed at least 6.48 million people worldwide since 2020 and made nearly 600 million ill, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker. In addition to death and suffering, the disease has led to a reshaping of life ranging from a change in norms on working from home to a scrambling of supply chains and workforces.

Moderna said it pledged in October 2020 not to enforce its COVID-19-related patents while the pandemic continued, but less than two years later changed that stance as the fight shifted gears.“Moderna expected companies such as Pfizer and BioNTech to respect its intellectual property rights and would consider a commercially reasonable licence should they request one for other markets,” it said.

“Pfizer and BioNTech have failed to do so,” the firm added. Pfizer and BioNTech are already facing multiple lawsuits from other companies which say the partnership’s vaccine infringes on their patents. Germany’s CureVac, for instance, also filed a lawsuit against BioNTech in Germany in July. BioNTech responded in a statement that its work was original.

Moderna has also been sued for patent infringement in the US and has an ongoing dispute with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) over rights to mRNA technology. These types of lawsuits are not unheard of in the pharmaceutical industry, where patents can be worth billions of dollars, and can take years to resolve.

Source: Moderna sues rival COVID-19 vaccine makers Pfizer and BioNTech | Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

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The Rise and Fall of a Bitcoin Mining Sensation

It was 8:45 in the morning of June 13 when Bill Stewart, the CEO of Maine-based bitcoin mining business Dynamics Mining, received a call from one of his employees. “He’s like, ‘Every machine inside of our facility in Brunswick [​​in Cumberland County, Maine] has been taken,’” Stewart says. “That’s crazy. I couldn’t believe it.”

He alerted personnel manning another mining facility, in nearby Lewiston [in Androscoggin County, Maine], and told them to “be on their toes.” He thought a burglar was at large. Stewart had a theory on who might have taken the machines: In those days he had been wrangling with a customer, Compass Mining—a Delaware company that allowed people to buy mining machines and have them hosted in third-party facilities like Stewart’s—due to a dispute over energy bills. Stewart thought Compass had to pay for them; Compass believed their contract said otherwise.

A few days earlier, Dynamics had sent Compass a termination letter demanding payment, and shortly thereafter had switched the company’s machines off. Then, Compass Mining staffers had taken their equipment away from Brunswick, and they were about to enter the Lewiston plant to recover more machines. “They’re trying to get inside the building,” Stewart says. “And I’m telling my brother, who runs our security, ‘Do not let them into the building. We’re not ripping miners out of the wall. Do not let them inside.’”

In a lawsuit filed against Dynamics in the Delaware Court of Chancery on June 21, Compass Mining alleged that Stewart, having refused to foot the energy bill he was supposed to pay, had been “holding this valuable equipment hostage to gain leverage in negotiations.” The way Stewart tells it, he simply wanted the removal to happen in an orderly fashion as opposed to hastily and under cover of darkness. What’s more, he says, for a while he had considered continuing to host the machines on behalf of Compass’ customers, cutting out the middleman.

“Their customers were reaching out, saying, ‘Hey, can we just mine directly with you?’” Stewart says. The reason that couldn’t happen, Stewart says, is that Compass had not given its customers the identifying serial numbers of the machines they had bought, and there was no way for Stewart to know who owned what.

On July 5 the Court granted Compass’ request to get its machines back, but underlined that that should happen following a formal request to unmount and relocate the machines. Stewart says that during the removal, Compass’ team also grabbed one of Dynamics’ own servers—that is confirmed in an email by one of Compass’ lawyers to Stewart, mentioning how the server had been “inadvertently scooped up” and asking how to return it.

“Our team is laser-focused on serving our clients, and will do so in accordance with the contracts we have in place with our service providers, and by resolving any disputes arising from a fundamental misunderstanding of these contracts in a court of law,” Compass interim co-CEO Thomas Heller said in an email interview.

Even if Compass had prevailed, the optics of the row was terrible. Stewart had chronicled the dispute on Twitter as it played out—accusing Compass of owing him hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy bills, and of having essentially broken into Dynamics’ facility—and thundered at length against Compass in Twitter Spaces. After a vertiginous rise, Compass had spent the last few months in constant crisis mode, until—mere hours after Stewart had started tweeting about his early-morning showdown with the company—it decided to do away with its CEO.

At the center of that crisis was Russia’s war with Ukraine, and a bespectacled, curly-haired cybersecurity entrepreneur called Omar Todd. Todd, based in Australia, cofounded the pro-Julian Assange WikiLeaks Party in 2013—which went on to compete in the Australian national election and secure 0.6 percent of the vote; in 2016, he joined the pugnacious marine conservation charity Sea Shepherd as a director. In recent months, his work description has grown once more:

In his spare time, Todd is orchestrating an international legal effort to rescue thousands of bitcoin mining machines from Compass in Siberia. The approximately 4,000 mining rigs, whose value Bloomberg has reported at $30 million, are stranded in Russia due to Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The machines had initially operated in a Russian mining farm under a partnership between Compass, and Russian firm BitRiver. Compass had sold machines to ordinary users and installed them in a BitRiver facility for the price of the rigs plus the payment of a monthly hosting fee.

In April 2022, when the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated BitRiver a sanctioned organization, Compass ended its relationship with the company to avoid breaching the sanctions. BitRiver turned the machines off and told individual Compass customers who wanted to reclaim their valuable gear that all the machines legally belonged to Compass, according to evidence submitted in a California lawsuit brought against Compass by Veribi LLC, a Nevada-based customer, on July 1.

Both customers who had their serial numbers and those who did not discovered that, in BitRiver’s eye, they held no title to the devices they had purchased—unless Compass stepped in, the machines would stay in Irkutsk, Siberia. “Compass Mining refused to communicate with us and, unfortunately, refused to deal with the return of the equipment,” BitRiver spokesperson Andrei Loboda says in a WhatsApp message. Compass’ Heller describes that characterization as “false” in an email interview. “Compass’ management team will continue to make efforts to assist its customers while maintaining compliance with OFAC regulations,” Heller says.

With nowhere to turn, and millions in sunk costs, customers turned to Todd. “I floated to the top because I was the most public individual,” he says. Todd’s company SkyWiFi Pty raised tens of thousands of dollars through a Discord server for Compass customers. (Todd won’t say exactly how much, but public Discord messages suggest that it is north of $60,000.) He says these funds will be used to retain lawyers and other experts in the US, Russia, Australia, and the UK and broker a solution on customers’ behalf.

However, two lawyers featured on the list of advisers Todd provided to the crowdfunders—Erich Ferrari and Vasily Kuznetsov—say they had not in fact been retained and were not planning to work on the case; on August 1 Todd removed some names from the list and notified WIRED of the change in an email.

A good outcome, Todd says, would be to transfer the machines to a Russian facility run by a non-sanctioned organization. Todd says that while Compass’ legal team has been cooperative, the company’s strategy has largely boiled down to watching and waiting. “Compass Mining is waiting for me to help them—they have no answers,” he says.

Customers rallying behind SkyWiFi have accused Compass Mining of blundering its way into this situation. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, many customers feared that their mining machines would be caught in the brewing geopolitical crisis, and some asked for the equipment to be removed. “I told them, ‘Listen, let’s move the miners out of Russia. It doesn’t make sense to continue to deploy there,’” recalls one customer, who asked not to be named because they still have ongoing business with Compass. “A lot of other people did the same.”

Compass’ response, in a March 4 Discord message, has earned meme status among its customers. The company’s then-CEO, Whit Gibbs, wrote that the situation was “‘business as usual’ and there is no reason to be worried.” Gibbs went on to underline BitRiver’s links to the Russian government, implying that they would make the operation safer. (BitRiver did not comment on these supposed links.) “If the situation changes, Compass will take swift action to remove all machines out of Russia immediately,” Gibbs added.

Compass did offer customers the option to get out of the contract and take their machines elsewhere, but Todd says it was unclear how that would play out. “Some people wanted their miners returned, and they were told that there’s just no shipping or logistics available,” he says. “Really, there was no choice for anybody apart from waiting for Compass.”

The customer says that when their business partner called Compass to inquire about pulling the equipment out of Russia, he was told that “they could not guarantee they could safely remove the machines.” According to emails shared with WIRED, the customer’s own request to deploy some of the machines they had ordered to a US facility instead of Russia was rebuffed by Compass. The customer says that between the cost of the machines marooned in Russia and the lost revenue due to their sitting idle, they have so far lost around $70,000.

The customer says that despite multiple requests, they still do not know their machines’ serial numbers. “Clients can easily obtain their serial numbers by contacting our Support team,” Heller says. Veribi, the Nevada company that is taking Compass to court in California on charges of breach of contract, negligence, conversion, and fraud, alleges a loss of over $1.5 million. From its evidence, however, it does appear to have received its 20 machines’ serial numbers.

On April 20, 2022, when the OFAC eventually decided to sanction BitRiver for “help[ing] Russia monetize its natural resources,” Compass sent a lawyerly email to its customers on April 21 announcing the ending of all relations with BitRiver. Compass asked for customers’ permission to sell their machines and recover at least some of the money, which Todd describes as “a fire sale,” a scenario that most customers—some of whom had paid up to $13,500 per mining machine—could not stomach.

As Compass’ Discord filled with angry customers, Gibbs delivered a curious barb. “You could have hosted in another country, you chose Russia. take some personal responsibility [sic]” he wrote. Gibbs declined to comment for this article. Eventually, the company shut its Discord server down for good. That, Heller says, was due to the fact that “using Discord to support thousands of clients was unstructured and lengthened our response times.”

After that, Gibbs had to “fall on his sword,” Todd explains. “There was just too much hype to the guy. He said too many things which turned out to be disingenuous at worst.” On June 28, Gibbs and Compass’ chief financial officer, Jodie Fisher, both resigned, with Heller and chief technology officer Paul Gosker stepping up as co-CEOs. It wasn’t only Compass customers, who by then had congregated on another unofficial Discord server, celebrating Gibbs’s departure; even some Compass employees expressed some relief.

In a Discord message posted the day after the announcement, Compass sales manager Andrew Nagel said that the two days after Gibbs’ resignation had been “the best days I’ve had in a long time.” He noted that Compass’ customer service had been “poor” for a long time. Even before the Russia affair, 2022 had been plagued by delays in the company’s US operations, culminating on June 27 in the public fallout with Dynamics.

Under the new leadership, the hope was, things would be different. But many Compass employees wouldn’t remain at the company long enough to see that happen. On July 7, the company announced the layoff of 15 percent of its workforce, as well as compensation and spending reduction across the board. The message was that Compass had grown “too quickly” and that had made it dysfunctional.

Compass is in many ways emblematic of a very specific age in crypto history. Buoyed by a pandemic-induced craving for novel risky assets, the price of bitcoin had grown vertiginously since late 2020, eventually touching its all-time high of $67,000 in November 2021. Compass Mining was incorporated in August 2020 with a business model predicated on the idea of allowing ordinary people—jocularly called “plebs” in the company’s now defunct Discord—to mine crypto.

According to CoinDesk, in its first two months of operations, Compass sold $11.4 million in mining rigs to its customers, and by March 2021, it was raising $1.7 million from cryptoland household names such as Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital. Before even celebrating its first anniversary, Compass was throwing a yacht party in Miami. But in 2022, when growing inflation, Russia’s warmongering, and high-profile industry scandals brought crypto prices down—with a sector-wide loss of about $2 trillion—Compass, like many others, started experiencing problem after problem.

Still, even after this fallout with its own customers, Compass’ reputational damage is nothing compared with the more serious financial difficulties that many other bitcoin mining companies, including some publicly listed ones, are facing. “In Compass’ model they deal with retail, which has a really strong voice online, so their issues are broadcasted to the public with a speakerphone,” says Ethan Vera, cofounder and chief operations officer of crypto-mining infrastructure company Luxor Mining.

“But the 2021 mining cycle has left many companies in a tough position. Over-leverage, too rapid growth, and purchasing machines at the top of the cycle is the common theme that will lead some companies to bankruptcies or fire sales of their assets.”

By:

Source: The Rise and Fall of a Bitcoin Mining Sensation | WIRED UK

More contents:

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The company also reported a worse-than-expected loss of $270 million, or 35 cents per share—compared to expectations for a loss of 7 cents per share and a profit of $66 million in the second quarter last year.

In its earnings release, Twitter blamed the disappointing performance on advertising industry headwinds associated with broader economic concerns and uncertainty around Musk’s deal to buy Twitter and take it private.

The firm says it’s not hosting an earnings call, issuing a shareholder letter or sharing financial projections with the deal still in flux.Twitter also disclosed it spent about $33 million related to the acquisition in the second quarter and $19 million on costs associated with layoffs, including some affecting about a third of the firm’s recruiting team.

Twitter stock futures were down 2% to about $38.50 within minutes of the announcement; shares have plunged more than 40% over the past year, while the S&P 500 has fallen about 16%.

Twitter stock has been on a wild ride since Musk acquired a 9% stake in the firm in April, announced a bid to acquire it at a massive premium weeks later and then decided he was “terminating” the deal earlier this month. Shares skyrocketed as much as 60% as the deal gained traction, but soon started collapsing as Musk voiced concerns about fake and spam accounts on the platform. Though Twitter’s board had already approved the takeover, Musk backed out on July 8, pushing shares down nearly 40% from their April highs.

On July 12, Twitter’s board sued Musk for backing out of the deal, asking a Delaware judge to order the billionaire to move forward with the agreement. The trial is being scheduled for October, according to Twitter on Friday. In a note to clients, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives called Musk’s decision “a disaster scenario for Twitter,” predicting a long legal battle for Twitter to either force the deal through or get Musk to pay a $1 billion termination penalty.

$30 billion. That’s Twitter’s market value on Friday, roughly 22% below Musk’s proposed takeover bid.

I’m a senior reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill..

Source: Twitter Posts $270 Million Loss In First Earnings Report Since Elon Musk ‘Terminated’ $44 Billion Takeover Deal

Critics by:

Twitter and Elon Musk are scheduled to face off in a five-day trial in October over the billionaire’s change of heart about buying the social media company for $44 billion. The decision from Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick, the chief judge at Delaware’s Court of Chancery, was a blow to Musk, whose lawyers sought a trial early next year. But with the Twitter deal now in limbo, McCormick agreed to fast-track the trial during a hearing over Zoom on Tuesday.

“The reality is that delay threatens irreparable harm to the sellers and Twitter,” McCormick said in her ruling from the bench. “The longer the delay, the greater the risk.” Earlier this month, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO said he was calling off the deal because of concerns over how many accounts on Twitter are fake or spam. Last week, Twitter sued Musk to force him to go through with the purchase, accusing him of using the issue of automated bot accounts as a pretext to get out of a deal that was no longer good for him financially.

The October trial date is a win for Twitter, which had requested an expedited four-day trial in September. The uncertainty caused by Musk’s threat to pull out of the deal “inflicts harm on Twitter every hour of every day,” Bill Savitt, Twitter’s lead lawyer, said at the hearing. Musk’s lawyers argued they need more time to investigate his concerns over Twitter’s user figures, and that a trial should not take place before February.

Andrew Rossman, Musk’s lawyer, called Twitter’s request for a September trial “completely unjustifiable,” saying it would take months to analyze Twitter’s data and consult experts. He said Twitter had already dragged its feet about sharing information that Musk said he needed to vet the company’s estimates of fake accounts.

“The answers that he got were alarming,” Rossman said. “The runaround that he got from the company was even more alarming.” Savitt accused Musk of trying to “sabotage” the deal and run out the clock past April 2023, when the $13 billion Musk has lined up from banks to fund the deal expires.

“Mr. Musk has made perfectly clear he has no intention of keeping any of his promises,” Savitt said. “Candidly, we suspect that Mr. Musk wants to delay this trial long enough to never really face a reckoning.”Twitter argued Musk’s fixation on bots is a distraction from the question facing the court: whether Musk broke his legal agreement to buy the company.

Twitter has long said that it estimates less than 5% of daily users are not real people. Musk says he believes the true figure is much higher, but has not presented any evidence for his claim that Twitter is misrepresenting the prevalence of fake accounts on the platform.

Related contents:

Twitter’s Lawsuit Against Elon Musk: The Big Picture The Wall Street Journal

Devin Nunes drops California lawsuit against man he claims was ‘Twitter cow’s’ spouse The Tribune, California

16:30 Fri, 22 Jul
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As Crypto Losses Hit Investors, Litigation Picks Up

Lawsuits over cryptocurrency losses are mounting across the country, as investing in digital tokens and coins has become mainstream and the money at stake has increased significantly.

Even before the recent plunge in crypto prices, the industry already was seeing an uptick in lawsuits, which have come in several forms. Many of the cases have been fueled by investors who allege some digital coins were hyped and sold under false pretenses. Some proposed class-action suits allege pump-and-dump schemes involving celebrity promoters. Others allege that some digital tokens are unregistered securities or that cryptocurrency issuers were deceitful in their marketing.

Collectively, the lawsuits speak to both the troubles and successes of a maturing industry.

‘‘We’re seeing all of the normal kinds of litigation that you would see in more traditional companies.

— Jason Gottlieb, a partner at Morrison Cohen

“We’re seeing all of the normal kinds of litigation that you would see in more traditional companies,” said Jason Gottlieb, a partner at Morrison Cohen LLP who tracks cryptocurrency litigation. Mr. Gottlieb said the industry also was attracting an influx of plaintiff and defense lawyers who realize the crypto market is no longer “some obscure backwater for a small gaggle of techno-libertarian nerds. It’s a real business.”

Among recent lawsuits is a case filed in a California federal court over losses in the stablecoin GYEN. The suit accuses GMO-Z.com Trust Co., the issuer of GYEN, and crypto exchange Coinbase Global Inc. COIN -11.15% of advertising the stablecoin as being pegged to the Japanese yen, thereby providing a safer investment than more volatile cryptocurrencies. But when GYEN began trading on Coinbase in November, it immediately became untethered from the yen, leading the coin to spike in value and then drop 80% in one day, the lawsuit alleges. A similar peg break occurred in May 2021 when GYEN became available on a separate exchange, according to the lawsuit.

Kenneth Donovan, 27 years old and a plaintiff who began investing in cryptocurrency in 2019, said he bought $335,000 worth of GYEN last year after reading its white paper and learning the New York Department of Financial Services had authorized GMO-Z.com to issue stablecoins in the state.

In a matter of hours, he said, his investment plummeted to $3,000, wiping out nearly his entire life savings. Before the loss, he, his wife and their young daughter lived comfortably off his investments and gig work for Uber and DoorDash driving shifts, Mr. Donovan said. “I live paycheck-to-paycheck now.”

Some GYEN investors were risk-averse individuals who saw the cryptocurrency’s purported stability as a way to safely enter the crypto market, said Elizabeth Kramer, a partner at Erickson Kramer Osborne LLP, which filed the suit—its first crypto class-action complaint. GMO-Z.com didn’t respond to a request for comment.

A spokeswoman for Coinbase declined to comment on the litigation. Coinbase said in a blog post in January that the break in parity between GYEN and the yen in November was the result of market conditions specific to GYEN. Coinbase didn’t cause the break, the company said in the post.

John Jasnoch, a partner at Scott + Scott, said his firm has “gotten bullish on crypto” and is handling six cryptocurrency cases, with more in the pipeline. His portfolio includes three proposed class-action suits filed this year over investment losses in SafeMoon, a blockchain-based digital token that charges investors a 10% fee when they sell the asset. SafeMoon founders said the levy—half of which is redistributed to current investors—discourages sales of the token and encourages long-term holding.

The plaintiffs allege that SafeMoon was a pump-and-dump scheme in which it used celebrities such as boxer Jake Paul, musician Nick Carter and rapper Lil Yachty to promote the tokens on social media. SafeMoon founders encouraged purchases of the token while selling off their own holdings as the trading volume remained inflated, the plaintiffs allege.

Lawyers for SafeMoon, Mr. Paul and Lil Yachty didn’t respond to requests for comment. In a court filing in one of the suits, a lawyer for Mr. Carter denied that his client acted as a promoter for SafeMoon and asked a judge to dismiss the complaint. As lawsuits grow, firms that do defense work are seeing increasing demand for representation from crypto companies and trading platforms that want to avoid legal liability and regulatory scrutiny.

Ian McGinley, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, said crypto firms are eager for help navigating “an atmosphere where the rules are not particularly clear.” Facing a lightly regulated environment, some crypto investors have looked to courts to answer core legal questions for the industry, such as whether digital tokens are securities that should be subject to the same regulations as stocks.

In one closely watched federal suit, crypto investors have accused Coinbase of violating securities laws by acting as a seller of unregistered tokens. The platform has asked a judge in New York to dismiss the case, arguing that it matches buyers and sellers but doesn’t transact directly with users. It also says the tokens aren’t securities.

The value of digital money reached a peak of nearly $3 trillion in November before plummeting by about $1.7 trillion in recent months. The crypto market’s volatility over the past six months and the recent plunge of popular cryptocurrencies will likely lead to more suits in the future, lawyers say. Coming litigation will likely focus on alleged misrepresentations around the strength of the technology of certain coins, said Mr. Jasnoch, the Scott + Scott partner.

“It will be cases involving bigger projects that promise the moon and the stars and have just been battered by the market when all these promises didn’t come true,” he said.

By James Fanelli

Source: As Crypto Losses Hit Investors, Litigation Picks Up – WSJ

Critics by : Sam Skolnik 

Cryptocurrency litigation is soaring, prompted by a surge of investors in the space, and US proposals promise more rules to fight over in coming months and years. Crypto has generated more than 200 class action lawsuits and other private litigation as of this month, up more than 50% since the start of 2020, according to Morrison Cohen, which tracks the activity. Half of all crypto litigation are class actions or private suits, according to the firm’s data.

“There’s been a steady stream of cases from regulators, but what’s really exploded is private litigation,” said Jason Gottlieb, chair of Morrison Cohen’s white collar and regulatory enforcement practice group in New York. The rise in litigation is encouraging Big Law operations to bolster their crypto practices. Firms including Jenner & Block, Goodwin Procter, and Morrison & Foerster in the last few months have added new crypto partners to their rosters, including former fraud prosecutors, securities litigators and investment funds lawyers.

The litigation growth comes at a tumultuous time for crypto. A backer of the collapsed TerraUSD stablecoin lost $3 billion in cryptocurrency reserves in a failed effort to restore its peg to the dollar, Bloomberg News reported Monday. Bitcoin on May 12 hit its lowest level since 2020 and was down 50% from its November high, according to Bloomberg. Perkins Coie has so much activity on the crypto front that it holds weekly team calls, typically including 50 to 70 firm attorneys, said Joe Cutler, firmwide co-chair of the firm’s fintech industry group. “We have content coming out of our ears,” he said.

At Latham & Watkins, more than 700 lawyers worked on crypto or blockchain issues in 2021 alone, said Yvette Valdez, co-chair of the firm’s global digital assets and Web3 practice. “The market is exploding, not just at the partner level but at the associate level too,” Valdez said. The result is a buyer’s market for lawyers, as firms see colleagues leave for general counsel positions at crypto companies, said Joshua Ashley Klayman, U.S. head of fintech and head of blockchain and digital assets for Linklaters in New York.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, Binance Holdings Ltd., is looking to hire more than 30 lawyers, Bloomberg Law reported Monday. Another cryptocurrency exchange, Bittrex Global GmbH, hired a Shearman & Sterling senior associate late last year to be its general counsel.

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ExxonMobil loses bid to dismiss AG Healey’s climate change lawsuit

Massachusetts’ highest court on Tuesday rejected a bid by ExxonMobil to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the state that accuses the oil giant of misleading the public about the role its fossil fuels play in causing climate change.

The lawsuit filed in 2019 by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey alleges Exxon launched an effort, “reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s long denial campaign about the dangerous effects of cigarettes,” to deceive consumers and investors about climate change.

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Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court upheld a lower court ruling that rejected the company’s argument that a state law shielded it from the lawsuit.

A phone message seeking comment was left with Exxon, which has denied spreading disinformation about the contribution of fossil fuels to global warming.

In a congressional hearing last year, the company’s CEO, Darren Woods, told lawmakers that its public statements on climate “are and have always been truthful” and that Exxon has “long acknowledged the reality and risks of climate change” and “devoted significant resources to addressing those risks.″

The Massachusetts lawsuit says Exxon engaged in a “sophisticated, multi-million dollar campaign” to sow doubt in climate science and downplay the link between fossil fuels and climate change. The lawsuit says Exxon also undertook “greenwashing campaigns” in an effort to portray itself as environmentally responsible.

“Rather than honestly disclose and mitigate climate change risks, ExxonMobil’s misrepresentations about and failures to disclose those risks have delayed the needed transition to clean energy around the world and make these existential climate-driven threats to the global economy more likely to occur,” the complaint says.

Healey called the court’s ruling a “resounding victory” in the state’s efforts to “stop Exxon from lying to investors and consumers.”

“Exxon’s repeated attempts to stonewall our lawsuit have been baseless, and this effort was no different. We look forward to proceeding with our case and having our day in court to show how Exxon is breaking the law and to put an end to the deception once and for all,” she said in a statement.

Lawyers for Exxon argued in court documents that the company’s statements about climate change and energy policy were “protected petitioning activity” even if they were made to defend the company’s reputation.

But the top court said the law Exxon claimed should protect the company in this case doesn’t apply to government enforcement actions brought by the attorney general.

It’s the latest twist in years long battle between Massachusetts and Exxon. The company previously unsuccessfully sued Massachusetts in an effort to block Healey’s investigation into Exxon and climate change.

By: Alanna Durkin Richer

Source: ExxonMobil loses bid to dismiss AG Healey’s climate change lawsuit | WBUR News

ExxonMobil said today it plans to grow shareholder value by delivering solutions that help meet the global need for energy and for lower greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change. Darren Woods, chairman and chief executive officer, outlined how the company’s strategy leverages its capabilities and competitive advantages at the annual meeting of shareholders.

  • Annual Shareholders Meeting highlights company’s plans to play a leading role in the energy transition
  • Strategy focused on five priorities to sustainably grow shareholder value
  • Streamlined business structure to take advantage of technology, scale and integration

“We have opportunities to play a leading role in helping society achieve its net-zero ambitions and in meeting the world’s growing demand for energy and essential products,” said Woods. “Recent events have reminded us how globally connected energy markets are. They’ve also underscored the importance of our role in creating sustainable solutions that improve quality of life, while supporting a lower-emissions future.”

ExxonMobil in April streamlined its business structure to consist of three core businesses – Upstream, Product Solutions and Low Carbon Solutions – to fully leverage the company’s competitive advantages of scale, integration, technology, functional excellence and highly skilled workforce.

ExxonMobil is focused on five key strategic priorities to sustainably grow shareholder value:

  • Leading industry in financial, operational and environmental performance, including across key metrics of safety, reliability, greenhouse gas emissions intensity reductions, earnings and cash flow growth.
  • Being an essential partner through creation of innovative solutions for customers, partners and stakeholders.
  • Upgrading the company’s advantaged portfolio to ensure it leads competition and delivers value across a range of external environments and through volatile and evolving markets.
  • Continuing to innovate, providing solutions that meet the growing needs of society reliably and affordably. This means new products, technologies and approaches that better meet today’s and tomorrow’s needs and can be deployed at scale to create meaningful impact.
  • Developing the company’s workforce and maintaining a diverse and engaged organization that provides every individual unrivalled opportunities for personal and professional growth with impactful work meeting society’s evolving needs.

Woods highlighted the company’s strong performance in 2021, noting that earnings significantly improved to $23 billion and cash flow from operating activities totaled $48 billion, the highest since 2012. Future plans include structural cost savings of $9 billion per year by 2023, compared to 2019, and more than $15 billion of investments through 2027 on initiatives to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

They include investments to reduce emissions from company operations and to advance critical technologies like carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and biofuels, which together are expected to develop into multi-trillion-dollar markets in the decades ahead.

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