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Orange County Business & Commercial Law Blog

Apple and Ericsson go to court over licensing dispute

According to sources, Apple Inc. and Ericsson have filed lawsuits against each other due to a licensing dispute. Apple filed a lawsuit in California claiming that Ericsson is charging excessive fees for use of its patents and that the patents themselves may not be essential in devices that Apple makes. Ericsson filed a lawsuit in Texas district court asking for a determination as to whether or not its fees are fair.

Although the two companies have been negotiating a new licensing deal for two years, there has not been much progress. Apple says that Ericsson wants the company to pay royalties based on the total value of each device sold. Currently, Apple uses basic technology developed and patented by Ericsson in its popular iPhone. However, Apple wants to pay royalties on a smaller base.

California city files suit against Deepak Chopra, others

On behalf of OSI Systems, the City of Irvine filed a civil lawsuit against multiple defendants. The lawsuit is based on allegations of the defendants manipulating testing results for the company, misleading the company about its financial health through reports and creating products beyond the scope of the company's contracts.

All of the defendants reportedly held top management positions at OSI. The lawsuit is a shareholder derivative one. OSI's clientele includes the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Administration for the company's electronic components manufacturing business.

How do fair use laws affect copyright protection?

Copyright laws enforced in California and throughout the United States protect a wide variety of material considered to be original works, such as literary work, art, music, videos, software and motion pictures. The purpose of copyright protection is to prevent a person's original work from being stolen and used by another for gain, usually financial in nature. The law does, however, provide a provision for using what would normally be copyrighted work called fair use laws.

As long as the use of a work falls under the terms of fair use, it is not considered copyright infringement. Generally, if the work is being used for the purpose of critique, commentary, or news reporting it is not a violation of copyright law. The use of materials of education or research, including copying such materials for classroom use, is also fair use. This is the provision that allows teachers and students to, for example, make copies of textbook pages or workbook pages without violating the law.

Protection of trademarks and company information

As many California business owners may know, a company is often identified by its trademark. In addition, a business has proprietary information that it may not wish to share with others if it is associated with the company's success, like a secret formula. Protecting trademarks or trade secrets is an important aspect that may be overlooked.

Trademarks may be registered or not. Once a trademark is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the business may use it nationwide. Registering the trademark makes it easier to contest another company's use of the same or similar trademark. Not registering a trademark may lend itself to problems concerning trademark infringement in the future.

Microsoft takes legal action against scam

As many readers may know, viruses and digital scams have become relatively common. However, according to a recent article, Microsoft is taking an proactive approach to what has become a well-known and successful online scam that it suggests is a direct abuse of the company's trademark. The computer company has recently filed a lawsuit in California.

The scam, allegedly perpetuated by Omnitech Support, has employees pretend to work for Microsoft or a Microsoft partner when talking to customers. They inform customers that they have a virus or other malware that can only be removed by their certified technicians, and they convince the customer to give them direct control over the computer using remote software. Once the scammers have access to the computer, they can gain a great deal of personal information, and they install other malware programs that will continue to steal customer information and often result in continued poor computer performance.

Handling a non-performing business partner

If a California business owner is dissatisfied with the performance of a business partner, certain actions can be taken to resolve the dispute. How the situation is dealt with depends on a variety of factors, including how the business is organized and the contents of any written agreements regarding this kind of situation.

When a company is organized as corporation, individuals who own the majority of its stock can generally vote on whether or not to remove a non-performing partner. If a company is legally designed to function as a partnership or the non-performing partner owns at least 50 percent of the shares in the company, this method is not valid.

Breaching a sales contract

A sales contract is any contract between a buyer and a seller where the seller agrees to provide a certain product or service and the buyer agrees to provide some type of payment. Once both parties sign, the contract is legally binding, and the customer may sue if the terms described in the contract are not carried out. Sales contracts are common, and it is worthwhile for California residents to understand how they work.

Breaching a sales contract can occur in a variety of ways. If the product provided does not match the description in the contract, that is considered a breach. If a service is provided, then the service must match the description, and providing a different service would constitute a breach. The seller must also follow through on service agreements, such as promised warranties. These are considered material breaches because they go against the core intention of the contract.

Supreme Court to hear patent defense claim involving Cisco

A multi-million dollar lawsuit between California-based Cisco Systems and a competitor has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, after the justices agreed to hear an appeal of a $64 million verdict from earlier on in the case.

The case centers on patent law. Commil USA LLC accuses Cisco of infringing one of its patents on a piece of wireless-transmission technology. Commil won at trial and was awarded a $64 million verdict.

Understanding the value of protecting business trademark rights

When your California business invests time, money and manpower into developing a brand and the goodwill that goes with it, the resulting trademark is worth protecting. This trademark is an important and valuable asset that identifies your company as the source of your products. When competitors take advantage of this and attempt to capitalize on that goodwill and value, our firm may be able to help.

If you don't defend your mark against unscrupulous use of a confusingly similar mark by competitors, you may put those hard-earned rights in jeopardy. Additionally, the goodwill may be tarnished by the existence of lesser-quality knock-offs on the market. Consumers may believe that the original product and any trademarks associated with it are signs of poor quality.

Band sue Sirius XM for copyright infringement

On Sept. 22, a federal judge in California ruled in favor of the popular 60s band The Turtles that had filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Sirius XM Holdings Inc. According to the judge's ruling, a California law about copyrights of sound recordings made before 1972 was not limited to control over live performances of the songs.

The Turtles are a band that is most recognized for their 1967 hit song 'Happy Together". In August 2013, the band's copyright infringement lawsuit against the satellite broadcasting company was moved from state court to federal court. According to the band, Sirius XM used their music without permission and did not provide them with any compensation. The band is seeking more than $100 million in damages.

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