Boston Business & Commercial Law Blog
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Running a business comes with a variety of risks. One of these risks is the possibility of facing business litigation in Massachusetts or in any other state. Patent litigation is a common occurrence. However lawmakers have recognized that some are misusing patent laws to sue numerous parties simultaneously in an effort to obtain a quick monetary return. In a response to these parties that misuse patent laws, otherwise known as 'patent trolls,' lawmakers addressed this problem with some key elements within the 2011 America Invents Act.
After the bill became law in Sept. 2011, owners of patents were no longer allowed to name multiple and unrelated defendants in one single complaint. Patent trolls did this by a process called a joinder, which allowed litigants to combine multiple legal issues to be heard in one hearing. The law restricting joinders was designed to make it more expensive for patent trolls to file patent lawsuits, which will deter forum shopping. As a result, the leverage held by patent trolls had been significantly limited.
Whenever a company sells a product to the public, it has a legal obligation to ensure that the product is safe for people to use. Many times, there are specific safety regulations with which a company must comply. However, other times it is not clear whether these rules and regulations apply to a specific product. This may have been the case in a recent business litigation case that involved a woman who died while sliding down an inflatable swimming pool slide in Massachusetts.
The woman's family sued the maker of the inflatable swimming pool slide, Toys R Us, following the tragic accident. The incident happened when the woman attempted to slide down the 6-foot slide head first. Unfortunately, as the woman approached the bottom of the slide it collapsed, causing the woman to slam her head on the pool deck -- which was made of concrete. She died as a result of her injuries.
Choosing to open a franchise is a popular choice among entrepreneurs because it allows business owners to utilize an established business model which has been proven to work. Therefore, the business owner does not have to 'reinvent the wheel.' However, along with being a franchisee in Massachusetts or anywhere else, there are various contractual terms which must be adhered to between the two parties. Unfortunately, a recent contract dispute has erupted between 7-Eleven and one of its franchisees.
The franchisor has attempted to evict the franchisee, claiming that the franchisee owes 7-Eleven Corp. a little over $10,000. However, the franchise owner has filed a lawsuit against the franchisor, claiming that the alleged amount owed is not substantiated. The franchise owner has invested $250,000 into the franchise location since he purchased it in 2004.
The ability to practice collective bargaining is an important part of American society. It helps allow workers to express their concerns regarding their employers without being silenced by large corporate business entities. However, when a group of workers cannot come to an agreement with an employer regarding employment matters, it may become necessary to pursue business litigation. This is what one group of Macy's workers has decided to do in Massachusetts.
The class action lawsuit is being filed on behalf of the cosmetics and fragrance workers at a particular Macy's store. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has recently given permission for 41 employees working in fragrance and cosmetics to be considered a single bargaining unit. However, several major business groups have been challenging how the NLRB has been deciding what constitutes a single bargaining unit for class action lawsuit purposes.
Although it is unfortunate, sometimes in business a company may be forced to lay off workers for a variety of reasons. However, there are times when workers in Massachusetts or elsewhere feel they were terminated for improper reasons. This may prompt some terminated employees to file a business litigation lawsuit against a former employer. Lab workers who were laid off are currently suing their former employer for breach of contract as well as wrongful termination of employment.
The 130 former lab workers are asking for restitution for the lost employment positions and income. One lawyer for five of the former employees argued in front of the jury that the workers were singled out for termination despite other workers having less seniority. The attorney alleges that this is a breach of the employment contracts which the lab workers were operating under.
Antitrust laws are designed to maintain competition between firms in the marketplace. Fair competition is an important aspect of a free market, capitalist society. These laws make sure that firms do not collude and make agreements with one another that result in suppressing competition. This also includes competition for recruiting and hiring talented workers in Massachusetts and elsewhere. However, seven major computer technology firms are currently being accused of doing just that and may now face further business litigation proceedings.
The first class action lawsuit against the computer technology firms had recently been dismissed. The judge in the case stated that the class of workers named in the lawsuit as plaintiffs was too broad. However, the judge did admit that the lawsuit does present significant evidence that the defendants did violate antitrust laws. Apple, Intel, Intuit, Adobe, Lucasfilm, Google and Pixar were named as defendants in the class action lawsuit.
Once Massachusetts contracts expire, the parties to the contract usually no longer have a legal obligation to one another. As the contract expiration date draws near, the parties often consider renewing it. However, sometimes one or both parties may not be pleased with some of the terms of the original contract. Negotiations typically ensue regarding proposed changes to the terms of the contract before a renewal is agreed upon. This is what happened during a recent contract dispute between Aetna and a local medical service provider.
The original contract between the insurance company Aetna and a local pediatric medical services provider was in place for four years. However, the contract expired in early November of last year. That left thousands of individuals under Medicaid without access to the particular local medical services provider. This became a serious issue, since this medical services provider was the largest in this particular county.
The gambling industry can be a profitable endeavor for those who obtain a license to open their own casino location. This right has been granted to many Native American tribes across the United States, including the Mashpee Wampanoag, which was granted a license by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Originally, the Commission issued exclusive rights to the southeastern portion of the state to the tribe. However, the Commission is now considering making the region available to other bidders. On the other hand, if the Commission does not open the region to other bidders, it could result in immediate business litigation lawsuits.
A state law which was passed in 2011 gave exclusive casino licensing to the Wampanoag in the southeastern portion of the state. However, since the license was granted, the tribe has faced steep legal and bureaucratic problems which have prevented it from making significant progress towards opening the casino location. Those who are looking to potentially bid on a license to compete with the tribe claim that the tribe will probably not be able to open a casino at least another 10 years, if ever.
Intellectual property is an important concept in the business world. The concepts of copyright and patents allow companies, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and anybody else who may have a good idea to further develop their concepts without fear of somebody else stealing the idea and cutting into their potential profits. Despite laws enforcing intellectual property some companies end up infringing on patents owned by another. This is why Mako Surgical Corp. initiated business litigation in Massachusetts as well as three other jurisdictions.
Mako is suing Stanmore Implants Worldwide and its affiliate companies for infringement of Mako's patent for computerized orthopedic surgical devices and software. The lawsuit claims that the defendants used technology that is similar to Mako's patent when creating Stanmore's Sculptor Robotic Guidance Arm. Mako specializes in manufacturing robotic hip and knee replacement products.
When a business opens in a neighborhood, it must take into consideration the concerns of the surrounding community. Although many businesses open without any problems, there are some businesses which face resistance from some neighbors of the business location. One restaurateur encountered this type of problem in Boston, which eventually escalated to a business litigation proceeding.
The restaurateur, the owner of Eat Drink Laugh Restaurant Group, wanted to open a casual eatery on Long Wharf in Boston Harbor. However, the surrounding community complained and claimed the restaurant would damage a popular harbor hangout spot. The dispute resulted in a litigation battle that lasted four years. After challenging a 2008 Boston Development Authority decision, the neighbors won a lower court decision.