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Lawsuit claims Uber founders stole trade secrets

On May 14, a man filed a lawsuit in California against Uber Technologies Inc. in which he claimed that he was the original inventor of the transportation network. Since it was founded in San Francisco in 2009, Uber has become a popular cellphone-based shared ride service that operates in 57 countries.

According to the allegations in the trade secrets lawsuit, the true inventor of Uber's 'idea, concept, coding design, appearance, application and prototype" was never compensated for his invention. The plaintiff claims that he began developing plans for the transportation network in 2002 and founded his company, Celluride Wireless Inc., in 2003. In 2006, the plaintiff says that he spoke to the future founder and chief executive officer of Uber about his ideas on a confidential basis.

Protecting business ideas from others

Entrepreneurs in California may benefit from learning more about the different strategies someone can employ to protect an original and unique business idea from being used by another party. In order to sustain profitability long-term, new entrepreneurs may need to understand more about how to protect their brand. People starting new businesses also need to avoid infringing on the trademarks owned by other parties. Trademark disputes often arise when two companies share a close similarity in their brands, designs or services.

Entrepreneurs are advised to put the time, effort and capital into researching the brand as well as the means to protect the brand from infringement. Business owners who decline to exercise legal options for safeguarding intellectual property may be forced into a settlement or changing the brand as their only recourse for protecting future earnings. A sudden change in a name or logo can be catastrophic to a budding enterprise.

Protecting intellectual property in California

Trademarks and copyrights offer intellectual property protection for businesses who come up with new ideas. However, an idea may unintentionally become popular or otherwise become noticeable thanks to social media. There are a variety of steps that a business owner can take to protect intellectual property and keep potential imitators from stealing an idea or creating similar marks or content.

First, a business may wish to file an intent to use trademark with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. What this does is establishes a date when the mark was first used that coincides with when it first enters the marketplace. In the event that someone tries to infringe on the trademark, a business can prove in court that it had formally protected that piece of intellectual property. If possible, businesses may want to register relevant domain names to stop others from capitalizing on a name or phrase.

ESPN seeks injunction against Verizon for breach of contract

ESPN is pursuing an injunction against Verizon as well as damages related to the telecommunications company's FiOS TV service. Viewers in California may not yet know that a new service allows them to customize pay-TV bundles, an attempt to compete against rivals such as Netflix and Sling TV from Dish Network.

ESPN filed the lawsuit on April 27, accusing Verizon of breach of contract with its new service. Speaking to reporters, ESPN said that it embraces innovative methods of providing quality content to consumers at value prices, but the pricing must be offered in accordance with its contracts. It is asking a New York court to stop Verizon from unjustly depriving it of the benefits that it should receive under their agreement. In response to the lawsuit, Verizon said that its customers have made it clear that they want choices, and the industry needs to focus on giving them that. The company believes it is well within its rights to offer these choices under existing contracts.

Judge rules Grooveshark's copyright violations were willful

California music lovers may be interested in a judge's recent ruling issued before the copyright infringement trial against music download giant Grooveshark. In its ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York stated that the violations by Grooveshark were willful and were made in bad faith, opening up the company to potential damages of $736 million.

At trial, the only issue that is left to be decided is the amount of damages the jury will assess. The judge's ruling allows the jury to consider awarding damages against the company of up to $150,000 for each of the 5,000 songs which are a part of the federal lawsuit against the company.

Small firm representation with large firm results

When your California business is considering hiring a law firm to handle a commercial dispute, you may may be uncertain about whether you should go with a large one or a small one. The answer to that question largely depends on the goals you are trying to achieve, and often, a small firm may be a better fit for your business over the long term.

Smaller firms often have a better ability to provide personalized care for their business clients, establishing relationships that are profitable and long-lasting for the companies they represent. Due to the large number of staff in a larger firm, the overhead associated with legal representation is often more substantial. The ability of small firms to utilize cutting-edge technology in helping to represent their clients also allows them to provide the same level of representation as that provided by a large firm, but at a fraction of the cost and with an ongoing emphasis on excellence.

Google faces a class action lawsuit in privacy policy dispute

A California tech giant is involved in a legal battle with their customers involving the use of personal information. Though the company attempted to stop the lawsuit, it has been given the go-ahead to proceed.

In September 2013, a customer who purchased an email app from the Google Play Store filed a class action contract dispute lawsuit against Google. The lawsuit claimed that the Mountain View-based search company was collecting personal information through another app, Google Wallet. Google was then making that personal information available to other app developers, such as the maker of the email app purchased by the plaintiff. The personal information collected included physical addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.

The interplay of social media and intellectual property

An important part of the business strategy for many California businesses is having an online social media presence. Many businesses have accounts with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter in order to reach a broader customer base. Sometimes, a business may stumble across a violation of their trademark or copyrighted work on the Internet, and they may wonder what to do about it.

Some violations may actually benefit a business if the person is a blogger promoting the business's product, for example. Businesses may want to choose to ignore violations of this type. Other violations, such as a company's registering the business's name on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, may be more problematic. Businesses may also find content for which they own the rights has been copied and posted elsewhere.

SCOTUS ruling on trademark usage

California businesses and owners who are obligated to submit to the discretion of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board may not have the right to undertake further litigation once a decision has been handed down, according to a ruling from the United States Supreme Court. In a 7-2 decision, the Court held that a precedent exists for the TTAB to hold ultimate discretionary authority concerning certain trademark law decisions.

The decision, which involved a case concerning intellectual property and unfair competition practices, bolsters the authority of the TTAB to render administrative and binding judgement in certain cases. This is known as issue preclusion, in which a decision rendered administratively on a particular point of law by a duly authorized body such as the TTAB may not be challenged in further litigation. Writing for the majority, one justice argued that the notion of issue preclusion eliminated the plaintiff's right to pursue court-based civil action on the matter once the TTAB's decision was made.

Deceptive trade practices in California

When a business or individual engages in behavior that is designed to mislead others about the qualities of a product in order to get them to purchase it, the activity is called a deceptive trade practice. Federal law provides a uniform law that applies to such activities in all states, and the practices are also prohibited under state law.

The Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, or UDTPA, is the federal law that addresses deceptive actions. The act prohibits businesses and individuals from making deceptive representations about a product. An example of a covered activity would be odometer tampering, but the act covers all misrepresentations made to induce a sale.

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Klein & Wilson

Klein & Wilson
326 Old Newport Blvd.
Newport Beach, CA 92663

Newport Beach Law Office Map Phone: 949-631-3300
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