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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.

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.

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Klein & Wilson

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

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Fax: 949-631-3703

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