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California Business, Insurance And Environmental Law Blog

Reasons why an insurer might deny your small business claim

Put yourself in the shoes of a small but profitable business, that purchased an insurance policy to protect itself from being ruined in the case of an unforeseen event. Then, imagine the exact event you protected your business against comes to pass and your insurer has denied your claim.

An insurance denial could ruin the financial viability of your business operations, so it's important to investigate the issue to determine your legal rights and options.

The importance of protecting intellectual property

There are many factors to consider when creating a new company, and protecting intellectual property is one of the most important. While not every startup has information that seems as secret as a famous recipe or formula, almost all companies in California have some kind of proprietary data that is worth protecting. A variety of legal tools are available to shield IP.

California and 47 other states have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (USTA) in order to help companies protect their intellectual property. The USTA describes a trade secret as a type of information, such as a program, technique, pattern, formula or process. This information has economic value to the company as a result of not being widely known. Unlike other types of IP, trade secrets do not require registration and do not have any expiration date.

Microsoft finalizes acquisition of GitHub code repository

Open-source software development site GitHub is now being acquired by one of the largest giants in corporate software, Microsoft. Earlier in the year, Microsoft announced its $7.5 billion acquisition of the site, which offers a space for coders and software developers to provide and collectively improve code for a range of programs. As of Oct. 26, Microsoft announced that the acquisition had been completed, but that GitHub will continue to be run as an independent business with its existing platform, community and philosophy.

The CEO of the firm, now called Microsoft's GitHub, said in a blog post that he was excited about the deal and looking forward to creating an improved environment for software building. The code repository is widely used to house documentation and projects, and many tech giants have built strong relationships with the platform over the years. In addition to Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google all use GitHub. There have been some critiques of the software giant's acquisition of the code repository, but many developers have said that they will wait to see how Microsoft will approach GitHub's way of doing business.

Red Hat acquisition could position IBM to succeed in cloud market

With the acquisition of Red Hat, IBM could expand its business in the cloud computing sector in California and globally. Red Hat brings a chance for the legacy technology company to gain market share against competitors like Amazon and Alphabet that are leading players in the cloud market.

The chairman of IBM's board said that purchasing Red Hat gives IBM the means to compete strongly as a provider of the only open cloud solution for businesses. The $34 billion purchase price represents an investment meant to alleviate the problems caused by the lackluster performance of IBM's artificial intelligence technology known as Watson.

Insurance companies fail to settle with wildfire victims

Insurance is often viewed by many in today's modern world as a necessary expense. It may be required by law or mandated as a condition of a private contractual agreement. For whatever reason people carry insurance, there are two certainties -- no one likes to pay the premiums, but they expect insurance companies to step up to the plate and take care of the covered losses. For one group of California residents, however, some insurers are intent on denying coverage.

In 2017, there was a string of unprecedented California wildfires, including one that devastated several thousand acres in Santa Rosa. Among the victims of the so-called Wine Country wildfire were over 30 homeowners from one mobile home park. Today, one year after the fire, they are still awaiting a settlement from their insurance companies.

Whole Foods settles environmental litigation

A major supermarket has agreed to a settlement in a case regarding the mishandling hazardous waste and other materials throughout California. Whole Foods Inc. was ordered to pay $1,643,500 million by a Yolo County Superior Court judge. The funds will go to settle a civil environmental prosecution against the well-known natural foods market. There were 21 California district attorneys and city representatives involved in the case against the supermarket chain.

Of the settlement funds, over $200,000 will go to support projects to improve the environment in the area. Some funds will also go to prosecute other companies for violating environmental laws in counties that lack funds and expertise to investigate these kinds of violations. Santa Barbara County's district attorney expressed pleasure with the settlement, saying that a fair resolution had been reached. Whole Foods, along with two other companies, had allegedly mishandled different kinds of hazardous materials over a five-year period, including batteries and hazardous cleaning chemicals.

Mergers and acquisitions can increase organizational value

One of the most important factors in getting value from mergers and acquisitions in California is integrating the companies to keep trading with existing partners smooth and to promote organizational efficiencies. The mergers and acquisitions process can be roughly broken down into four steps. They are conducting due diligence, coming to agreement, integrating the companies and attaining value.

The due diligence step involves an examination of the business that is to be acquired or the businesses to be merged. In a deal that is well-run, due diligence will include assessment of every facet of the operation, including accounting, finance, human resources, research and development, intellectual property and technology. The point of this step is to ensure that the buyer knows what it is buying so that the parties can move toward agreement.

Steps to take if your business insurance claim is denied

When you purchase a business insurance policy you don't do so with the idea that you'll absolutely make a claim in the future. Instead, you hope you never have to do so, but realize that protection is important nonetheless.

If the time comes to make a business insurance claim, you'll contact your company for more information on the process. It's your hope that things go as planned, but you never know what could stand in your way. It's possible to receive a denial, either over the phone or by mail, which will put you in a more challenging spot.

Health care giants to merge after approval received

People in California may experience a change in how they access health care, as leading pharmacy chain CVS has been granted approval for its merger with health insurer Aetna. The two companies had previously announced their plans to merge, but their path to approval was cleared by the Department of Justice after Aetna announced that it was selling off its Medicare Part D drug plan business. The insurer divested that segment of the company to WellCare Health Plans for an undisclosed sum of money after regulators expressed concerns about an overlap with CVS' Part D plan.

According to the Department of Justice, the divestment of that plan cleared the way for the merger, creating a new integrated pharmacy and health insurance company. CVS is the largest drugstore chain in the country, and it announced that it would pay $69 billion for the insurance firm. CVS not only has a retail business in pharmacy; it also provides benefits management programs through its Caremark unit as well as Medicare Part D plans.

Getting SBA loans

The United States Small Business Administration backs loans that entrepreneurs in California and the rest of the country can use for almost any type of business purpose. The loans have competitive terms and rates, longer times for repayment, smaller down payments, guardrails for going through the loan process and a wide selection of loan options. Almost any small business that is in operation and is providing a service or product is able to apply for SBA loan. However, it is important that small business owners who apply for the loans understand how they work.

Small businesses can only obtain SBA loans through approved lenders; the funds are not loaned directly to the enterprises by the SBA. The SBA provides guarantees for the loans and establishes guidelines so that entrepreneurs can get approved easier and lenders can enjoy lower risk.

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