Category: Business Law

Philadelphia Business Lawyers: New Report Released on Trademark Litigation

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Trademark litigation is a niche area of the legal field, with over 4,000 cases filed last year. Lex Machina, a legal analysis company, recently conducted a comprehensive study on trademark litigation. The report examined all aspects of trademark cases and defined metrics such as number of filings and amounts of damages awarded. The Trademark Litigation Report published findings that since 2009, trademark lawyers have filed nearly 25,000 cases, resulting in over nine billion dollars in damage payments over the course of five years.

The purpose of the study, according to Lex Machina, was to help business attorneys determine effective strategies for all types of trademark litigation cases by quantifying results from past cases. The Trademark Litigation Report is a useful resource for trademark lawyers, especially for its analysis of damage award payouts. The report determined that of the nine billion dollars in damages paid out, more monies have been awarded by juries rather than by judges. Furthermore, most cases are decided through default judgements.

Litigation Cycle of Trademark Cases

The litigation cycle of each type of case was also measured. Certain trademark cases reach an injunction stage much faster than other cases, specifically cases that involve cybersquatting. Copyright cases and patent cases take longer to get to the injunction stage, while cases involving false advertising almost always face a slow, lengthy process during both initial and long-term injunction.

Lex Machina has also conducted reports analyzing patent litigation in several different districts, and the trademark report follows the same patterns by looking at cases in high profile judicial areas such as the Southern District of New York, the Southern District of Florida, the Central District of California and the Northern District of Illinois. These courts deal with major and luxury fashion brands as well as music and film trademark cases.

The Trademark Litigation Report is divided into two sections; the first part of the report defines and analyzes metrics for the past five years of trademark cases, while the second section details how major retailers and brands have been involved in trademark law over the course of the study. Specific companies profiled include BMW, Nike, Chanel and Dunkin’ Donuts, and the report includes information on the overall outcome of each case.

Trademark Lawyers in Philadelphia at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green help Commercial Clients Avoid and Pursue Litigation When Necessary

At the Pennsylvania business law firm of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green our trademark lawyers in Philadelphia have experience representing business clients in claims involving commercial contract issues, intellectual property, trademark infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets, among other business law and commercial litigation matters. We provide experienced legal counsel on how to avoid trademark litigation and on how to pursue a trademark violation claim if one is warranted. Contact our Philadelphia trial lawyers today to schedule a consultation by calling 215-574-0600 or submit an online inquiry.

Philadelphia Whistleblower Lawyers : Vanguard Accused of $1 Billion Tax Fraud

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The city of Philadelphia is home to one of the most active jurisdictions for Qui Tam lawsuits. A Quit Tam suit is a type of lawsuit brought by a third party whistleblower on behalf of the government. In the United States, under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq., “an individual with knowledge past or present of fraud committed against the federal government may bring suit its behalf”. If their case recovers funds for the government, a whistleblower can be awarded substantial sums of money as a percentage of the settlement.

Pennsylvania based investment company Vanguard Group, which manages nearly $3 trillion in assets, is currently in the midst of a qui tam suit brought by its former employee David Danon, who alleges that the company illegally manipulated transfer pricing to keep costs artificially low. Danon’s suit states that after expressing serious concerns about the transfer pricing arrangements, the company brushed aside his concerns and eventually fired him.

Vanguard filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that as a former tax attorney for the company, Danon cannot file suit against them. Furthermore, Vanguard alleges that Danon improperly used privilege and confidential information to bring the suit.

The lead counsel in Danon’s suit, Stephen Sorenson of Thomas, Alexander & Forrester LLP remains optimistic about the suit, stating in an interview with Forbes Magazine that he is hoping for a hearing by early next year. The suit alleges a violation of federal and state tax laws, costing taxpayers more than $1 billion.

Philadelphia qui tam lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus and Green represent third party whistleblowers throughout Philadelphia and New Jersey.  If you or someone you know needs a whistleblower lawyer in Philadelphia call Sidkoff, Pincus and Green at 215-574-0600, or complete and online contact form to schedule a consultation today.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers: Whistleblower Retaliation Case

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A Fresno, California cardiac perfusionist is suing Community Regional Medical Center and a well-known cardiac surgeon for wrongful termination and retaliation after being identified as a whistleblower. Community Regional Medical Center was fined $75,000 in April of 2012 after James Robillard reported that the cardiac surgeon named in the suit left the operating room before closing his patient’s chest.  An inexperienced assistant was left to complete the surgical procedure, but did not perform it properly.  As a result, the patient’s heart stopped, causing him to bleed and be deprived of oxygen.  He was revived and put on life support but remains in a vegetative state in a nursing home.

The patient’s family filed a medical malpractice suit against the hospital and surgeon in December of 2013.  When the case went to trial, all pertinent records were subpoenaed, including the whistleblower file.  James Robillard was identified as the person originally reporting the incident.  He was also identified by name in two news reports on the case, causing him loss of wages because other medical facilities were reluctant to hire him.

Robillard is seeking $25,000 in punitive damages, and another $10,000 in fines.  He claims that being identified as the whistleblower in this case has had such an effect on his professional career that he had to relocate to Monterey, California in order to find work.  Community Regional Medical Center and the cardiac surgeon named in the suit contend that the claims are absurd and report that Robillard was fired for violating hospital policy on patient confidentiality.  They claim Robillard accessed medical records of patients without authorization, and in doing so, caused a breach in the hospital’s patient confidentiality policies.  Patients were informed of this breach and Robillard was fired.

Community Regional Medical Center and the cardiac surgeon deny all of the allegations brought against them.  The surgeon named in the case filed a $25 million defamation lawsuit against Robillard, but has since had the case dismissed.  The surgeon has the right to refile in the future.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Represent Whistleblowers

Employees who report inappropriate and illegal business practices that have been wrongfully terminated may be protected by whistleblower laws.  If you or someone you know is in need of an whistleblower lawyer in Philadelphia, call Sidkoff, Pincus & Green at 215-574-0600 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation today.

The Philadelphia business lawyers of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green are located in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia and serve clients throughout the Philadelphia area, including Bala Cynwyd, Merion Station, Wynnewood, Darby, Narberth, Upper Darby, Sharon Hill, Cheltenham, Clifton Heights, Folcroft, Lansdowne, Drexel Hill, Elkins Park, Havertown, Glenolden, Ardmore, Gladwyne, Wyncote, Norwood, Holmes, Haverford, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers: Philadelphia Biotech Firm Pays $2.75 Million Settlement

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Philadelphia Biotechnology Company Hemispherx Biopharma has agreed to pay a $2.75 million settlement to resolve a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of shareholders. The plaintiffs allege that Hemispherx representatives made “material misrepresentations and omissions” concerning the success of clinical trials for the company’s latest drug candidate Ampligen while soliciting investments.

In 2013, the FDA rejected Hemispherx’s application to market Ampligen, a vaccine enhancer, after an advisory panel determined there was a lack of evidence to substantiate the drugs effectiveness. As a result, Hemispherx stock plunged in value by 43 percent, and the suit seeks to recover damages for investors who purchased or acquired common stock between March 14, 2012 and Dec, 2012. The proposed $2.75 million settlement cannot not be finalized until the final approval hearing scheduled to take place on July 22 at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia business attorneys at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. are experienced in handing all aspects of business law, commercial litigation and shareholder disputes. For more information, call 215-574-0600 to schedule a consultation or contact us online.

Philadelphia Commercial Lawyers: Angie’s List Sues Amazon

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Angie’s List, a US-based paid subscription supported website containing crowd-sourced reviews of local businesses, has sued Amazon Local alleging theft of intellectual property. All together, the federal lawsuit suit levels a whole host of charges against Amazon, including misappropriation of trade secrets, theft, computer trespass, civil conspiracy and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. According to the complaint, Angie’s List alleges that Amazon Local executives stole provider lists by signing up as members of the Angie’s List sight and copying provider profiles, member reviews, and other important proprietary information.

Angie’s List was founded in 1995 to create a national listing of home repair providers and other businesses where members that paying members can browse through and evaluate. In 2014, the company reported nearly $80 million in revenue. This past year, Internet retailing giant Amazon entered the home services procurement market through their subsidiary, Amazon Local. According to Angies List, “”Amazon Local has chosen not to devote the necessary time, resources and effort to compete legitimately with Angie’s List. … Instead, Amazon Local and its employees have chosen the shortcut of surreptitiously accessing and misappropriating Angie’s List’s proprietary information … through dozens (if not more) of Angie’s List membership accounts that were fraudulently obtained and misused’.

In the lawsuit, Angie’s Lists states that their membership agreement “”explicitly prohibits the use of Angie’s List’s accounts and information for commercial purposes”, contending that a dozen Amazon Local employees violated that contract. One of the defendants, Daniel Malamud, signed up for Angie’s List just after taking a job with Amazon Local. As an account executive for South Jersey, Malmud reviewed information for hundreds of service providers throughout the Philadelphia Area.

In a brief statement to the press, Angie’s List spokeswoman Cheryl Reed stated, “We welcome competition, but on fair and legal grounds.”

At Sidkoff, Pincus & Green, our dedicated team of Philadelphia commercial lawyers assist clients in a wide range of complex litigation matters. Our offices are located in Philadelphia and we represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call 215-574-0600 to schedule a consultation or submit an online contact form.


Philadelphia Business Lawyers: Breach of Contract

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To establish a breach of contract, there must be a legally binding contract (agreement) or bargained-for exchange that is then not honored by one or more of the parties to the contract. If one party fails to perform the contract in its entirety, or prevents the performance of the contract by the other party, the situation is easier to understand. The situation becomes more complex when the argument is over something subjective in nature, such as the quality of product, or the timing of work. The party who breaches the contract by not performing or improperly performing opens a possible claim for damages by the other party. When the contract is breached, the non-breaching party is relieved of his commitments under the contract.

The court in Giacone v. Virtual Officeware, LLC, 2014 WL 7070205, at *17 (W.D. Pa. Dec. 12, 2014) determined that a new sales strategy deployed at Virtual Officeware, LLC (“VOW”) resulted in a breach of contract. The Plaintiff was demoted during a restructuring of VOW’s sales department and lost benefits that accompanied his title, then forced to resign once he was no longer receiving compensation that was promised by his contract. VOW contended that their new strategy was not a breach because the employment agreement came before the restructuring of the department. The Defense also argued the commission terms in the agreement were only attached due to a mutual mistake.

The court found the employment agreement was a valid contract, which was breached by the Defendant. The violation caused the Plaintiff to lose his title, repeat customers, and commissions. Judgment was entered in favor of the Plaintiff in the amount of $883,871 for lost wages and $220,968 in liquidated damages.

Philadelphia commercial contract lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. are experienced in handing all aspects of business law and commercial litigation. Our dedicated team of commercial contract attorneys in Philadelphia assist clients in a wide range of complex litigation matters, including breach of contract. Call us at 215-574-0600 to schedule a consultation or submit an online contact form.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers: Shareholder Rights

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Recognized as the world’s largest asset management company, BlackRock is urging its portfolio companies to allow shareholders to nominate directors, a process also known as proxy access.  While BlackRock is leading the way in this most recent corporate governance campaign, the company has no plans to extend this right to its own investors at this time. This has put the company at odds with some of its leading shareholders, as well as its own corporate governance group.

BlackRock has become a leader in investor opinion, with high financial stakes in the majority of the leading companies in the United States. BlackRock has been proactive in their efforts to give shareholders a meaningful voice in corporate board elections. By engaging the public and private sectors, the company has significant influence on the voting process at annual meetings and has the ability to unseat entrenched board members and ensure a diverse presence in the boardroom.

Proxy Access to Shareholders

Three of BlackRock’s largest investors – Norges Bank Investment Management, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, TIAA-CREF and T Rowe Price – support proxy access. In fact, T Rowe Price may grant director nomination rights to its shareholders within the year.  In March, Norges Bank will likely be introducing proxy access to its portfolio companies. A spokeswoman for Norges Bank said that proxy access will be on their agenda for all future dealings with corporations in the United States. She added that United States companies are expected to take a leadership role in proposing proxy access when deemed appropriate.

According to the head of BlackRock’s Americas corporate governance team, proxy access is a shareholder right, one that is essential to ensuring director accountability. That said, BlackRock believes proxy access should only be granted to shareholders if a company demonstrated serious corporate governance failings.  Maintaining the right to nominate directors helps to keep board members aware of shareholder concerns.

In most cases, BlackRock has voted in favor of director nomination rights for those shareholders who maintain more than three percent of a company for more than three years.  This may not apply to small companies or if a shareholder has too much power.

Opponents of proxy access argue that the companies are in the best position to nominate directors. Others say that there are technical difficulties surrounding the verification of shareholders’ qualifications. BlackRock has said that proxy access is currently not a topic of priority for their shareholders, although they intend to have an ongoing dialogue with their shareholders about this governance issue, one that continues to evolve.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Represent Clients Facing Shareholder Disputes

Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. are experienced in handing all aspects of business law and commercial litigation. Our dedicated team of commercial contract attorneys in Philadelphia assist clients in a wide range of complex litigation matters, including shareholder disputes. Our highly reputable Philadelphia trial lawyers are conveniently located in Philadelphia and we represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call 215-574-0600 to schedule a consultation or submit an online contact form.

Philadelphia Wage and Hour Lawyers: Walmart Violation of Minimum Wage Laws

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A federal judge ruled in May that Walmart’s pay policies regarding truck drivers violate California labor laws. Walmart truck drivers filed a lawsuit claiming that they were not paid at least minimum wage for all time spent working. According to Walmart’s pay policies, truck drivers are paid by mileage and activity; however, drivers are not compensated hourly for time spent during inspections, rest breaks, fueling, weighing cargo, and completing paperwork.

Walmart contends that drivers were compensated by discretionary pay for other activities and that the company is not required to pay truck drivers for layover time because drivers are not under Walmart’s control during layovers. US District Judge Susan Illston ruled that drivers are under Walmart’s control during layovers due to Walmart policies which specify designated locations for layovers; therefore, Walmart truck drivers are entitled to collect at least minimum wage for time spent on layovers. Walmart may have to pay its truck drivers $100 million in back pay to comply with California minimum wage laws.

Philadelphia wage and hour lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green represent clients in all matters concerning employment law including wage and hour disputes, FLSA violations, discrimination claims, overtime claims and more. Our team is comprised of highly skilled Philadelphia business lawyers adept in trial litigation and complex negotiations. Contact Sidkoff, Pincus & Green online or call 215-574-0600.

Philaelphia Business Lawyers: Bad Faith

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Punitive damages and attorneys’ fees may be awarded for Bad Faith claims in Pennsylvania. An insurance company acts in bad faith when it does not have a reasonable basis for denying benefits under an insured’s policy and the insurance company knows or recklessly disregards its lack of a reasonable basis in denying the claim. MGA Ins. Co. v. Bakos, 699 A.2d 751, 754 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1997). Additionally, the court may award interest on the amount of the claim from the date in which the claim was made in an amount equal to the prime rate of interest plus 3%. Id.

In Bonenberger v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 791 A.2d 378, 379 (Pa. Super. 2002), the Court held that Nationwide acted in bad faith by failing to adequately evaluate Plaintiff’s injuries after a car crash. The Superior Court upheld the Trial Court’s findings that Nationwide “disregarded Plaintiff’s medical records, conducted no independent medical examination, and made no reasonable evaluation based on Plaintiff’s presentment.” For these reasons, the Superior Court affirmed the lower court’s awards for punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

Philadelphia trial lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call 215-574-0600 to schedule a consultation or submit an online contact form.

Philadelphia Wage and Hour Lawyers: Overtime Pay Dispute

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Two meat-delivery drivers have filed a class action suit against their employer, alleging they were denied overtime pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA.) The employer argues that they were not obligated to pay the drivers overtime wages, because they fell into the motor carrier exemption. The defendants brought the case before a New York judge for summary judgment and were subsequently denied the motion, citing issues of fact.

The men worked as delivery drivers for a New York-based meat distribution company. Their primary duties were transporting products stored at the New York warehouse for delivery to in-state customers. Many of the products stored at the warehouse were ordered from outside of New York. The most significant fact being argued in the case was whether the men were truly engaged in interstate commerce and therefore fell into the motor carrier exemption for overtime.

Exemptions to FLSA Overtime Rules

Exemptions to the FLSA’s rules on overtime applies to drivers, driver’s helpers, loaders, and mechanics who are within the authority of the Secretary of Transportation and whose duties affect the safety of operation of motor vehicles in interstate commerce. The interstate commerce requirement is satisfied if the goods being transported within the borders of one state are involved in a practical continuity of movement in the flow of interstate commerce. Simply put, if the company received goods from out of state with a fixed intent that they be transported to a specific customer who had ordered the item, regardless of whether it was stored temporarily intrastate, the motor carrier exemption applies. However, if the final destination of items brought in from out of state is not known at the time of delivery to the warehouse, then the exemption does not apply.

Determining when Intrastate Movement is considered Interstate Movement

An earlier Supreme Court decision created a framework for determining whether intrastate movements are “interstate” for the purposes of the motor carrier exemption. In that case, the court discussed three circumstances when goods were brought from out of state but sold and distributed to customers within the state.

  1. Goods purchased by the wholesaler or distributer upon order of a customer with the definite intention that they be carried at once to the customer.
  2. Goods obtained by the wholesaler or distributer to meet the needs of specific customers in agreement with an understanding, contractual or otherwise, although not for immediate delivery.
  3. Goods are brought to the warehouse in anticipation of customer need, rather than upon prior orders or contracts.

The court held that the goods in the first two categories remain in interstate commerce until the time they are delivered to the retail customers. Goods in the third category, however, can only be considered interstate commerce if there is specific evidence relating a product to a particular customer.

The owner of the meat distribution company presented the court with a list of approximately 100 special orders from out-of-state suppliers to be delivered to specific customers in-state. The judge declared the document inadmissible, on the grounds that it was lacking in sufficient detail including dates and costs, and did not appear to have been made in the normal course of business. Summary judgment was denied and the case will proceed to trial at a later date. Attorneys for the plaintiffs estimate that their clients are owed more than $60,000 in overtime pay from the defendants.

Philadelphia Overtime Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green handle Overtime Disputes

Philadelphia overtime pay lawyers of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green are highly skilled business and employment litigators with experience representing employees with overtime claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Call 215-574-0600 today or submit an online contact form to arrange a consultation with one of our qualified Philadelphia overtime dispute lawyers. Our office is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and we represent clients throughout the Philadelphia and South Jersey regions.