In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

H&M Drops Lawsuit Against Street Artist

There's a case to be made that a graffiti artist may own copyrights to the scribbles on your property.

For now, however, that case will not be made. A clothing company had sued a street artist who claimed copyright for wavy lines he etched on a wall, but now the company has withdrawn the complaint.

H&M, a multi-national clothier, voluntary dismissed its case against the popular artist. Basically, the company said, "my bad."

The litigation over whether Monsanto's flagship weed killer, Round Up, causes non-Hodgkins lymphoma heated up earlier this month. The federal district court was treated to a parade of experts expressing competing opinions on the safety of Round Up.

Notably, reports from the closing day of testimony explain that Judge Chhabria expressed skepticism as to the plaintiffs' experts, going so far as to call it "highly questionable at best and maybe junk science." And if that wasn't enough, the distinguished federal jurist is quoted calling epidemiology a "highly subjective" and "loosey goosey" field.

Software Company Accuses Military of Copyright Piracy

What happens when you put a bunch of young people in a room with a lot of computers?

In the case of the U.S. military, copyright violations happen. Hundreds of thousands of them, according to a lawsuit.

But is it really a surprise? When it's possible that even monkeys can copy a Shakespearen play, it had to happen.

In the eyewear business, the newest big player may only have 1 percent of the four-eyed market share, but if the pre-IPO investors are right, they could be in for a big post-IPO payday.

Warby Parker, the ecommerce-first, and affordable, eyewear retailer, is making headlines after its most recent round of funding raised $75 million at a valuation of $1.75 billion. For eyewear with nerdiness as the defining characteristic, the incredibly popular brand is expected to continue growing until its IPO, at least so long as Millennials keep buying those oversized frames. Though pundits seem to disagree about whether the IPO is around the corner or a far off bend.

Lawsuit Claims Walmart Issued Misleading E-Commerce Results

As if general counsel didn't have enough hats to wear already, the stock market cap is coming out for Walmart's in-house attorneys.

Walmart shares fell as much as 2.45 percent after news of a whistleblower suit, alleging the company "issued misleading e-commerce results." A wage dispute by warehouse workers might have been better because this lawsuit comes from the former director of business development.

Tri Huynh said he was wrongfully fired for raising concerns about the company's "overly aggressive push to show meteoric growth in its e-commerce business by any means possible -- even, illegitimate ones." That's right, clean up on aisles 1 through 22.

The Theranos debacle abruptly shot the company in the foot and into the spotlight all at the same time. As the story has developed over the past couple years, quite a few details have emerged about the SEC's charge of massive fraud against the company, it's CEO Elizabeth Holmes, and president Sunny Balwani.

Recently, SEC announced that it has reached a settlement as to Theranos and Holmes, but is still pursuing Balwani. The settlement requires Holmes to divest her super-majority hold, give back almost 20 million shares, pay $500,000, and give up control of the company she founded. Additionally, as part of the settlement, Holmes cannot be the CEO or director of a publicly held corporation for a decade. In earlier compromises, Holmes and Theranos agreed not to run clinical labs for a period of years and also agreed to pay millions in fines.

#MeToo, Microsoft? Big Numbers in Gender Discrimination Case

Women at Microsoft in U.S.-based technical jobs filed 238 internal complaints about gender discrimination or sexual harassment between 2010 and 2016, according to newly released court records.

In a proposed class action, the plaintiffs cite the numbers to allege the company routinely denies pay raises and promotions to women. With up to 8,000 possible plaintiffs, the numbers are daunting.

For a company with 124,000 workers worldwide, however, the complaints represent less than two tenths of a percent of the total workforce. Still, in the #MeToo times, it's enough to make general counsel take a second look.

The #MeToo movement has resulted in some serious corporate shake-ups and PR nightmares. Billionaire Steve Wynn, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, and even the former Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, have all been ousted as a result of the public's support for victims of sexual harassment.

But not all #MeToo claims have resulted in widespread public backlash. One Silicon Valley startup faced a #MeToo charge and lawsuit without being publicly eviscerated, and what it did in response should serve as a guide for other companies that get called out.

Most employers have clear anti-retaliation policies that pretty much mirror what the law says. The basic policy, in essence, says: If you or someone files a complaint against the company (or you), then you, others, and the company, will not retaliate.

However, the word retaliate is rather vague and even high ranking officials within a company might not fully grasp how anti-retaliation laws work. And while everyone surely received some level of training during their onboarding, companies would be wise to at least retrain management on anti-retaliation practices after an exposure incident.

Life for billionaire Steve Wynn has certainly taken a turn. After accusations of sexual misconduct surfaced against him, and $7.5 million paid out in related settlements, shares of Wynn's company plummeted by 10 percent, or more than $2 billion. Wynn personally lost a quarter billion. And it gets worse from there.

A settlement was reached in Wynn's ongoing litigation with Universal Entertainment to the tune of $2.4 billion. Universal filed suit to force the redemption of shares in Wynn's company after Wynn and Kazuo Okada, his former business partner, had a falling out.