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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.

Heirs of Marvin Gaye win millions in copyright infringement suit

A jury in California sided with the family of the late R&B legend Marvin Gaye who sued singers Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke for infringing Gaye's copyrights with their song "Blurred Lines." An award of almost $7.4 million was granted to the artist's three children.

"Blurred Lines" was one of the biggest hit songs of 2013. Court testimony revealed that Williams and Thicke each earned over $7 million from the song. Williams and Thicke have been very successful, and Williams is a Grammy winner. The lead attorney for Williams and Thicke maintained that the performers had composed the song independently and only meant to emulate the classic R&B sound. Other legal critics of the verdict claimed that it would have a negative effect on other music professionals.

Settlment reached on large employee antitrust case

Despite earlier criticism from a U.S. District Court Judge in California, Apple Inc. and Google Inc. have reached a preliminary settlement in a suit about actions that violated antitrust laws. This $415 million settlement is reportedly the second largest settlement awarded to a group of workers.

One source reports that the judge presiding over this case cited that there was "ample evidence" that the companies conspired in order to avoid hiring the same employees, which might be construed as an antitrust violation, and the judge called an earlier settlement offer of $324.5 million insufficient. The $415 million settlement faces final approval in July, and around 64,000 technical employees would receive about $5,077 each from the settlement. If the case went to trial, it was suggested that the total damages could have been worth more than $9 billion.

Protecting intellectual property

Investors and entrepreneurs living in California may be interested in learning more about how to avoid trademark infringement and protect their own ideas. Trademark and patent exposure may present substantial problems as the business matures and becomes more successful. Many claim that small businesses are at a disadvantage when it comes to managing intellectual property, patent and trademark protection.

Government agencies suggest that as little as 15 percent of the small businesses conducting transactions overseas are aware that they need to file for additional protections. These types of establishments are often lacking the resources, expertise or knowledge required to prevent theft of any products, ideas or brands associated with the business. It is not uncommon to find businesses that have inadequate protections established for physical products or trademarks. Insufficient patent protection may lead to domestic disputes and extensive legal proceedings.

Ina Garten files suit over look-alike frozen dinners

According to court documents, Ina Garten, who is better known as the Barefoot Contessa, filed a lawsuit against a California company in a Manhattan federal court on Feb. 17. In her complaint, Ms. Garten alleges the company, OFI Imports, Inc., sold frozen dinners that looked like those marketed by her without permission.

Ms. Garten has a cooking show on the Food Network called "The Barefoot Contessa", and at one time operated a store on Long Island under that name. The frozen dinners were previously sold under a license from Ms. Garten by Contessa Premium Foods from February 2013 until the company went out of business in 2014. Reportedly, Ms. Garten had requested that OFI stop selling the meals, but the company reportedly refused to do so.

Contract breaches and remedies in California

Most businesses will enter into written contracts in order to procure or provide needed goods or services. In the event a party breaches a contract, the other business may suffer losses because of its reliance on the contract's performance.

In some cases, a contract breach may be relatively minor. In those instances, it is likely to be able to be resolved by the businesses without necessitating court litigation. For example, in the event that a business is late in providing goods, the two businesses may negotiate that the delinquent party pay the other the amount it lost due to the delay.

Symantec of California hopes to lower patent infringement damages

The maker of the Norton antivirus software, Symantec Corp, of Mountain View, Calif., lost its battle with Intellectual Ventures in a patent infringement case. A federal jury decided that Symantec had to pay $17 million in damages after finding that two out of three claims of patent infringement were valid.

Intellectual Ventures had initially sought $298 million in its suit against Symantec for allegedly infringing upon patents in its security software for email and Internet use. Lawyers for Symantec had tried during the pre-trial period to prevent Intellectual Ventures from asking for hundreds of millions of dollars when it was defending patents that it reportedly spent less than $1 million to acquire. This bid was unsuccessful, but a spokesperson for Symantec was somewhat satisfied that the jury had awarded a far smaller figure than the original demand. Even so, Symantec representatives still plan to consider options that could further reduce the $17 million figure.

Understanding construction defects

California residents might benefit from understanding more about the different types of construction defects that commonly occur. Most construction defects may be classified as subsurface deficiencies, construction deficiencies, material deficiencies or design deficiencies. These defects may be described as shortcomings furnishing the planning, design, inspection, supervision, construction or observation of construction when there is a quality of work that is beneath the buyer's reasonable expectations.

Some of the significant defects that are common include those concerning finishes, doors, glass and windows, moisture or thermal protection, electrical problems, mechanical problems, expansive soil, water intrusion or poor structural integrity. Subsurface deficiencies are common in places like Colorado and California where expansive soil may be a problematic. Building homes on surfaces lacking a stable foundation, such as hills, may cause several different problems, including subsidence or landslides. A poor foundation may also result in cracked floor slabs or other damage to the structure.

Chocolate legal war between Hershey and Cadbury

Chocolate enthusiasts and store owners are up in arms over the recent news regarding Hershey and Cadbury. California candy stores that sell Cadbury and Hershey chocolate products may notice the taste and packaging for snack items going through a transitional stage, especially after discovering the results of Hershey's lawsuit.

Although the United Kingdom's version of Cadbury Creme Eggs was changed after remaining consistent for several decades, Hershey's chose to keep their products the same. That motto for consistency may have led to their current lawsuit against LBB Imports. According to reports, Hershey's is accusing the British candy company of packaging its British Toffee Crisp candy in wrappers that resemble candy wrappers for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups made by Hershey's. The company is also accusing England's Yorkie chocolate bars of being too close to Hershey's York Peppermint Patties. In addition to similar candy wrappers and names, Hershey claims to hold exclusive rights to produce the Creme Eggs recipe for American consumers. It wants the original British variety banned in the United States.

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.

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Klein & Wilson

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

Phone: 949-631-3300
Toll Free: 877-857-0073
Fax: 949-631-3703

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