Jan 26, 2022 • 5M

🗞️ A Forced Landing For The Points Guy?

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FIRST UP, SOME EXCITING NEWS: We've raised a new round of funding, as covered in Inc Magazine. This round will allow us to continue expanding our talent network, and improve our product experience for you.

This Week: The Supreme Court takes up Affirmative Action, The Points Guy is under fire, and a clarification of what NFTs actually are. Plus, the Afghan refugee crisis weighs on immigration lawyers, and upholding the Texas abortion ban.

🎓 Deciding Admissions

The hits have been coming in quick succession for the country's elite universities. First, the Varsity Blues scandal revealed a world of bribing and access reserved for the wealthy. Earlier this month, an antitrust suit was brought against a dozen universities. Now, the US Supreme Court is taking aim at Affirmative Action, questioning if it’s a discriminatory admissions model.

In two cases this week, SCOTUS will not only be considering how Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill use affirmative action in admissions, but 43-years worth of legal precedent around race and admissions, says NPR.

Who Is Edward Blum?

Conservative lawyer Edward Blum is behind both the Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill cases. Before his crusade against the admissions system, he worked on cases that led to the 2013 gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Verdict

Before this newest make-up of the Supreme Court, it would have been safe to assume that 43 years of legal precedent would keep Affirmative Action standing. However, with the court's shift on Roe v. Wade, anything now seems possible.

🛩️ A Forced Landing For The Points Guy?

The Points Guy has long been a resource for individuals looking to understand and maximize credit card points and airline miles. Now, with a new feature that would let users connect multiple points and miles accounts through The Points Guy's website, American Airlines says TPG is going too far and has sued to block the feature citing an anti-hacking statute. 

  • American is claiming that, by granting access to user log-in info to The Points Guy (an unauthorized third-party), their internal servers are being breached. Moreover, TPG's display of American Airlines's logo constitutes copyright infringement.

  • The Points Guy is “choosing to fight back against American Airlines on behalf of travelers to protect their rights to access their points and miles so they can travel smarter,” Brian Kelley, founder of the site, told The Verge.

Struggling To Take Off

Airlines have been struggling to maintain their loyalty programs during the pandemic, as frequent fliers suddenly found themselves flying much less frequently. American Airlines lowered minimum miles requirements for their various tiers, and streamlined the branded credit card so it would earn members a single sum of points, notes the New York Times. These measures are done to maintain loyalty programs, which are sometimes worth more to airlines than the entire market capitalization of their company.

The Verdict

With the airline industry still reeling from the pandemic, American seems to be very touchy about its loyalty program, its relationship with its customers, and who has access to its user data.

👾 IT vs NFT

NFT ownership does not equate to intellectual property ownership. That's the lesson Spice DAO is learning after purchasing an NFT of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s production book for Dune at Christie's for $3 million. 

The Decentralized Autonomous Organization originally planned to "tokenize" the book after their purchase, reports Wired, but has since reversed the decision after being made aware that owning an NFT of a work does not allow for producing derivatives of it or otherwise reproducing it.

What Is NFT Ownership?

An NFT is simply a digital referent to an object. That is, owning an NFT of the production book for Dune means simply owning a digital link to it, but neither the physical object itself or the IT behind it. One of the main reasons artists have jumped on the NFT trend is that they are still entitled to the royalties generated by NFTs of their work. Of course, since this whole field is very new, legal precedent for what ownership means and doesn't mean is still largely unlitigated.

The Verdict

Critics of NFTs are no doubt pointing to Spice's comeuppance as proof that the digital tokens are worthless. However, as the kinks of the NFT market are still being ironed out, this is a necessary-if-obvious matter to be publicly sorted out.

📤 What Else We're Forwarding

Immigration Woes: The Afghan refugee crisis is adding tremendous strain to already-stressed immigration attorneys, reports the ABA Journal. Immigration law is acutely focused on trauma, which is wearing many attorneys thin. 

Triple Take: The Supreme Court has once again allowed Texas to block abortion access, according to the Washington Post. For the third time since Texas enacted its abortion law, the high court sent a case aimed at overturning Texas's ban back to a lower court which upheld it.

🎧 What We’re Listening To

This week, we’re listening to a conversation that our Founder and CEO, Raad Ahmed had with EJ Lawless for the HR Tech Go-to-Market Podcast. Raad covers how he approached validating Lawtrades as a legal marketplace, and dives into the intricacies of a double-sided marketplace platform. He also discusses how he leveraged it to meet the needs of both the independent lawyers joining, and the scaling pre-IPO tech companies sourcing outside counsel for their in-house legal team.

Raad on Building a Legal Marketplace

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See ya next week!

✌🏽 Raad