As of August 20, nearly 40,000 Facebook users are reported to have “claimed” an offer from Rosetta Stone to save “$350 off last year’s price on select Rosetta Stone products.” It appears that none of them actually received what they were promised. Is this a significant market failure?
Category Archives: Market Failure
Earlier this week, a 28-year old woman died after falling about 150 feet into the ocean when her parasailing harness apparently broke. This has predictably led to calls for more regulation.
Patent litigation is usually something that is off most people’s radar. The issues are highly complex, both technologically and legally, and usually the affected parties are the litigants themselves. There are exceptions, however, such as the ongoing case of Apple Computer v. Samsung Electronics, which has made the news because billions of dollars matt be at stake. Apple alleges that Samsung’s Galaxy S III infringes on patents it obtained with respect to the iPhone 5. Samsung says it developed the same innovations independently and has filed counterclaims against Apple. InformationWeek’s Charles Babcock provides a summary.
A long-standing issue in patent litigation is the extent to which parties use the courts strategically, either to to improve their negotiating position in licensing negotiations or just to hobble their competitors generally. Individual plaintiffs may litigate as long as the cost of litigation to any individual plaintiff is less than the expected value of actual or strategic benefits. They do not account for costs they impose on defendants or on the public at large. Thus, patent litigation may have substantial externalities.
One way to reduce these externalities is to require losers to compensate winners, such as by having to pay their attorneys’ fees (the so-called English Rule; see Wikipedia and PointofLaw.com). Patent attorney and blogger Gene Quinn highlights a recently introduced bill that would establish a version of the English Rule in certain patent litigation.
Pollution Tax or New Sales Tax?
The District of Columbia charges 5 cents for each disposable shopping bag
On January 1, the District of Columbia began imposing a a 5-cent “fee” on disposable shopping bags.
Is this a pollution tax, as its backers claim, or just another sales tax?
Washington Examiner reporter Alan Suderman says “Maryland lawmakers are pushing for tighter regulations on the mail-order bride industry.”
There is no question Maryland can write more regulations. But can regulation solve market failure?
The Panic of 2008 and subsequent recession have put a damper on the wine market, especially at the high end. As a member of too many wine clubs (still the best way to access fine West Coast wine from the East Coast), I have seen more discounting by wineries in the last six months than I observed in the previous six years.
So it should not be surprising to see a bevy of entrepreneurs pop up who are attempting to exploit these depressed conditions. The Los Angeles Times published an intriguing story by reporter Patrick Comiskey about new web-based vendors doing exactly what we’d expect (“Good deals go fast on wine websites,” July 8, 2009). Of the vendors Comiskey mentions, Wines ‘Til Sold Out seems to have the most unusual business plan: they sell tranches of a single wine, one at a time, first come first served, presumably (but not verifiably) until they are sold out — then move on to another wine.
After reading the article, I signed up with Wines ‘Til Sold Out to investigate.