California visitors to Yosemite National Park will soon notice the return of familiar names for many of the park's lodgings and visitor destinations. This is because the national park has emerged victorious after a four-year court battle with its former concessionaire. As a result of the lawsuit, several names of iconic structures within the park had to be changed, including hotels, lodges and a popular ski area.
Jammin Java Corp. failed in its appeal of a ruling that awarded Hope Road damages for breach of contract and trademark infringement. Hope Road controls the rights to the works of the famous reggae artist Bob Marley. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the previous decision made in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The central district court had favored Hope Road with a partial summary judgment that ordered Jammin Java to pay damages of $2.83 million. This sum represented $2.46 million related to trademark infringement and $371,159 for unpaid royalties.
Two leading tax preparation companies that many California taxpayers routinely turn to for their annual tax-filing needs, Intuit-owned TurboTax and H&R Block, have been accused of deceptive business practices. This is according to two separate lawsuits filed in early May of 2019. Both companies are accused of violating the state's unfair competition law.
Businesses in California and across the country are paying more to defend themselves from class action lawsuits, even though there are fewer such cases than in the past. In many cases, the issues involved are often complex and expert-heavy. Between 2010 and 2014, companies spent decreasing amounts to defend themselves in these types of cases. However, from 2014 to 2018, spending has steadily increased once again, reaching $2.46 billion in legal costs in 2018.
Oral arguments on Jan. 8 in the Supreme Court focused on resolving a difference in how circuit courts interpret one aspect of copyright law, and this could affect some California businesses. The disagreement hinges on what qualifies as "registration". Some courts have used what is called the "application approach". In this approach, a work would be considered registered once the owner of the copyright submitted all necessary materials to the U.S. Copyright Office. Courts using the "registration approach" argued that registration had not taken place until a decision was made by the USCO.
Many California drinkers enjoy craft beers, and the breweries that produce them place great value on their brand names and trademarks. Saint Louis Brewery LLC had to go to court to defend its intention to trademark the surname Schlafly. The legal dispute progressed to a federal appeals court, where a 3-0 decision affirmed the company's right to the trademark. One of the judges said that the name had developed a secondary meaning as a beer brand beyond its origin as a surname.
Before the signing of the Defend Trade Secrets Act in 2016, state courts in California handled litigation for violations of trade secrets. Defenders of intellectual property can now bring these cases before federal courts when they want to charge another party with misappropriation of trade secrets.
Two major companies with California operations are engaged in a legal dispute following the failure of their planned corporate merger. Fujifilm filed suit on June 18 seeking more than $1 billion plus punitive damages from Xerox. Fujifilm alleges that Xerox abandoned the companies' planned $6.1 billion merger due to pressure from activist investors Darwin Deason and Carl Icahn.
California consumers may be interested to learn that Adidas and Skechers USA Inc. have ended a trademark dispute that dates back to September 2015. The companies announced a settlement on May 30.
Construction disputes in California and around the country can be ruinously expensive and damage reputations that contractors have spent decades building, but they are often settled quickly and inexpensively when the parties involved are open to alternative forms of dispute resolution. Even those who genuinely believe that talks are at loggerheads and further negotiations would be pointless may find that they have little choice in the matter; judges may refuse to allow construction disputes to proceed to court until all possible avenues to a settlement have been explored.