I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I’VE NOTICED CERTAIN
anglicisms creeping into everyday American English.
One is “spot on,” which I take to mean “exactly right.”
I like it. It sounds good, for one thing, especially when
uttered with the right accent.
Why the musing about Brit word usage? Because I’m
going to use another one: We at Corporate Counsel are
chuffed about an award we won in late March at the
annual Jesse H. Neal Awards luncheon here in Manhattan. “Chuffed” means delighted, but I prefer how
chuffed sounds; somehow it conveys our delight in a
punchier way. The winning article, in the news story category, was a cover article written by senior reporter Sue
Reisinger about the General Motors Co. ignition-switch
debacle, “The Lawyers Were Here.” The story was a dissection of the actions—and inaction—of the automaker’s
legal department as the ignition switch problems came
to light. Reisinger did what has become her specialty:
She fashioned a gripping narrative from a paper trail
and pointed out where events turned south.
We seem to have a thing (and a winning streak) when
it comes to reporting auto defects. Last year, executive
editor David Hechler won a slew of awards for his
examination of the disarray at Toyota in a feature story,
“Lost in Translation,” following allegations of unintended acceleration and electronic faults in
several best-selling automobile models.
Of course, we don’t have a special
animus toward automakers. It’s just
that their troubles were big, public
ones that left a big paper trail, and
which provided good lessons for most
of our readers not to follow. In any
event, we’re thrilled, er, chuffed,
about the award.
But let’s talk about
this month’s issue.
If it’s May, it’s usually a feature story
about China. Why?
It’s a powerhouse,
and Chinese workers
assemble our smart-
phones and other
electronics, sew a lot of our clothing, and in general
make 21st-century life possible. But after a few years of
China-as-the-frontier-of-capitalism coverage, the story
has changed. Chinese companies aren’t content to be
the world’s factory floor. Chinese companies are now
themselves designing smartphones, crafting autos and,
in general, doing their own thing, for the benefit of Chi-
nese and global companies.
This maturing of their market has led to an interesting development. Western companies and governments
have historically gotten on China’s case for what they
see as outrageous intellectual property violations. We’ve
all seen the fake handbags, the bogus BMW SUVs, the
facsimile iPhones and, even, prerelease Apple Watches
(an American reporter bought one and when he started
it up, it was running a version of Android.).
But with the maturation of some big Chinese companies, now they would like a stronger IP framework,
one that protects what they design and manufacture.
Senior reporter Lisa Shuchman, our IP reporter, looked
into claims that China’s IP regime has improved. She
reports back that there’s been progress, along with some
rough spots. Check it out on page 52.
We’ve packaged it with an interview with an attorney who worked on a recent deal between a Chinese film
company and a Hollywood studio. Here, too, he points
to a maturation. Some of it is technology driven—the
decline of physical DVDs makes control over genuine
online content easier. Finally, our colleague, The Global
Lawyer, otherwise known as Michael D. Goldhaber
(himself a Neal winner this year), weighs in with a story
about how American protectionism has hurt Chinese
producers. Needless to say, we’re chuffed about Goldhaber’s award too.