In House

In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog


Canadian Lawyer magazine suggested last month that lawyers should have emotional intelligence -- and especially corporate counsel. There's quite a debate going on about whether lawyers should even use their emotions (unrelated to a separate debate about whether lawyers have emotions).

Well, it's either a bunch of granola-and-Birkenstocks nonsense or it's something that we should have been paying attention to all along.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has frequently been criticized as a "rogue" court, and the Supreme Court has been reining it in of late. (Of course, the Federal Circuit was also helped with the resignation of former Chief Judge Randall Rader, who never met a patent he wouldn't enforce.)

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court took the Federal Circuit down a notch again, in the long-watched case Teva Pharmaceuticals v. Sandoz.

Trademark tacking is a jury question, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court said in Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank, resolving a circuit split about whether it's the judge or the jury who makes that determination.

The High Court upheld a decision of the Ninth Circuit (take a picture; it'll last longer) finding that it was the jury that should decide whether facts exist to support trademark tacking. The Ninth Circuit, like the trial court, found in favor of Hana Bank.

Last year, the Supreme Court all but destroyed Aereo, a company that made its money by streaming over-the-air broadcasting to people's computers and mobile devices.

Because Aereo, unlike cable TV companies, didn't pay broadcasters and content providers for Aereo's "performance" of their work, the Court found copyright infringement. At worst, the decision could have doomed all streaming services.

Back in 2011, we learned that several Silicon Valley companies agreed not to poach each other's employees, resulting in suppressed wages. The class ended up in federal court and looked close to a settlement by April of last year.

Judge Lucy Koh, however, rejected the proposed $324 million settlement, which would have resulted in $5,000 per employee in the class. Koh said the settlement wasn't reasonable, given that each employee would walk away with $3,750 after attorneys' fees and that an expert for the plaintiffs calculated damages in the billions.

Almost a year later, we have another proposed settlement.

With the National Labor Relations Board trying to push the envelope in making corporations jointly liable for labor violations of their franchisees, California has quietly pushed the envelope across the desk and into a mailbox. (Is that how that metaphor works?)

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1897 into law. It took effect January 1, along with about 900 other new laws, but it promises to have a huge impact on how business is done.

From pomegranate juice to something I understand: beer. Lagunitas, maker of hoppier-than-thou India Pale Ales (IPAs), filed a lawsuit against the other national brewer of IPAs, Sierra Nevada, claiming trademark infringement.

But after negative reaction on social media, Lagunitas owner Tony Magee announced late Tuesday the company planned to drop the lawsuit, SFGate reports.

What was the issue? No, Lagunitas wasn't brazen enough to claim that it owned the letters "IPA." Rather, like POM Wonderful, it claimed that the packaging design on Sierra Nevada's IPA was too similar to Lagunitas'.

It's no secret that America's workforce is getting older. The Baby Boomer generation is currently approaching the age where they qualify for the senior discount at Denny's.

While that's great for workers 65 and older who love cheap breakfast, it's not so good for companies that are losing employees to retirement. About a quarter of HR professionals who responded to a Society for Human Resource Management survey about older workers said the loss of talent due to retirement will be a problem within the next 10 years.

And with aging workers comes new legal challenges for your company that go beyond just losing people to retirement.

Thanks to Apple, Beats Electronics -- makers of those oh-so-hip headphones with the lowercase "B" on them -- has deeper pockets than when it was just Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. Apple scooped up Beats, Iovine, and Dr. Dre back in August for $3 billion.

Monster, which formerly designed and made "Beats by Dr. Dre" headphones, wants a piece of that. It's suing Dre, Iovine, and electronics maker HTC for what Monster calls "corporate betrayal" relating to HTC's 2011 acquisition of an ownership stake in Beats.

Another year, another bunch of huge fines for car makers. It's an inauspicious beginning for Honda, which just agreed to a $70 million settlement with the Department of Transportation over its failure to report deaths, injuries, and warranty claims to the federal government.

What did Honda do to draw the government's ire?