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Orange County Business & Commercial Law Blog

When a business owner suspects their business has been defrauded

Fraud can be devastating to a business. For one, it can be a major drain on the financial resources of a company. Also, fraud within a business can destroy trust among important players in the business, such as partners in the business. Trust among these individuals can be an incredibly important thing for a business. Thus, fraud has a real potential to throw a company off the rails.

It can be a very delicate situation when a business owner suspects that a business partner or some other person involved in the business has committed fraud against the business. On one hand, it is very important to do everything one can to protect the financial well-being and security of one's business. One the other hand, it is also important to avoid doing things that could end up unnecessarily destroying the relationships among the different individuals involved in the business if it turns out the business partner or associate the fraud suspicions arose in connection to didn't actually do anything wrong or inappropriate.

Online concerns for small businesses on Small Business Saturday

We are less than two weeks away from a very big day for small businesses here in the United States. This day is Small Business Saturday, which is on Nov. 28 this year. This day aimed at promoting shopping at small businesses has been growing increasingly popular, and small businesses can end up seeing quite a bit of business on it.

On days where there is a lot of business, getting things just right can be important for a small business. Thus, Small Business Saturday is something small businesses may want to make preparations for. This includes online preparations. 

Popularity of subterranean spaces growing in Orange County

It appears that many homes here in Orange County are expanding downwards rather than outwards or upwards. Specifically, it is becoming more and more popular here in Orange County to have large subterranean spaces built onto homes.

When one thinks of subterranean spaces, one might think of small basements aimed primarily at storage. The new subterranean space trend, however, is pointed towards larger subterranean spaces that are aimed at being additional living space in a home and which are meant to be full of amenities.

Anti-pirating law helped Volkswagen scam EPA

California residents may not realize that a law designed to stop people from pirating music and movies made it possible for Volkswagen's emission cheating scandal to occur. However, the U.S. Copyright Office may soon change that.

Volkswagen hid software in 10 million "clean diesel" cars that allowed them to produce passing grades on emissions tests but revert to illegal levels of emissions while driving on roadways. Fooling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is not easy, but the German automaker was able to pull off its scam because of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Section 12 of the DMCA makes it illegal to hack the digital locks manufacturers place on their products. The law, which was established in 1998, was intended to stop people from copying CDs and DVDs, but it isn't platform specific. It applies to all digital programming, including the software on phones, appliances and cars.

The changing landscape of intellectual property law

California businesses are currently able to protect most things they create through the nation's intellectual property laws. This body of law is highly complex and has developed since the country's founding. The face of this law is changing, as new ideas about ownership emerge with the ubiquitous nature of new technologies and the explosion of the Internet.

Currently, businesses are able to avail themselves of protections through the use of trademarks, copyrights or patents. Trademarks are used by companies to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Patents are used to protect new inventions or new features, and copyrights are used to protect both intangible and tangible works of art.

Google's scanning of books ruled as fair use

California book lovers may be pleased to hear about the latest ruling in the Authors Guild case against Internet giant Google. The case has been ongoing for 10 years, and recently was ruled on by a three-judge panel of a New York appeals court.

The Authors Guild has sued Google for Google's plan to scan all existing books into its services, allowing people to read small portions of them. According to Google, the readable portions are then linked to stores where the books can be purchased and libraries where they can be checked out. The Authors Guild filed the lawsuit, asserting that Google's actions violate copyright laws.

Copyright infringement case against Jay Z begins

Opening arguments in a copyright infringement case against rap superstar Jay Z and producer Timbaland were heard in a California courtroom on Oct. 13. The suit was filed eight years ago by the nephew of deceased Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi.

According to media reports, Jay Z and Timbaland are accused of illegally sampling a Hamdi love ballad called "Khosara, Khosara" on Jay Z's 1999 hit "Big Pimpin." Both defendants argue that they properly purchased the rights to the song from EMI Music Arabia and an Egyptian company. Timbaland even claims to have signed a $100,000 check as payment.

Creator of Bikram Yoga defends copyrighted yoga sequence

California residents may have heard about a popular yoga practice called Bikram Yoga. It is a series of 26 yoga poses and two breathing exercises that are performed in a 100-degree room for an hour and a half. Bikram Choudhury, the yoga guru who developed it, has copyrighted his yoga sequence and sued several of his former students for teaching it.

Although it is known that ancient yoga poses, or asanas, are in the public domain, there is debate over whether Choudhury has the right to trademark a signature series of asanas. Many people argue that copyrighting yoga sequences goes against the spirit of yoga, but Choudhury's sequence may be viewed as a creative expression such as dance choreography or a pantomime.

"Happy Birthday To You" is now part of the public domain

Most people in California sing 'Happy Birthday To You" without thinking about copyright infringement. However, the famous song has only recently been added to the public domain. On Sept. 22, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the copyright for 'Happy Birthday To You" was not valid, and the copyright owners can no longer collect royalties for the song.

After two sisters composed 'Happy Birthday To You" in the 1800s, Clayton F. Summy Co. acquired rights to the song and then sold those rights to Warner/Chappell Music Inc. in 1988. In the recent court case, the federal judge found that Summy Co. had never actually obtained the rights to the song lyrics, and no valid copyright of the lyrics ever existed. The judge's recent decision to release 'Happy Birthday To You" into the public domain was the result of a lawsuit that was filed by Good Morning to You Corp. two years before.

Lawsuits over trademarking search results

California investors might be interested in understanding more about how the judicial system manages trademark disputes associated with search engines. The focus of these court battles typically centers on third-party trademarks used in search returns and advertising. Critics argue that these types of trademarks may be used to confuse Internet users looking for a specific product or brand.

Several courts have already held that any of these third-party trademarks simply diverting consumers from sponsored results or keywords may not qualify as actual infringement. However, if the trademark owners proves that the results or keywords create confusion based on the presentation or use of the trademark, it may be considered to be infringement. One trademark owner recently accused Amazon of using algorithms to confuse consumers when searching for products not available on Amazon.com.

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Klein & Wilson
4770 Von Karman Avenue
Newport Beach, CA 92660

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