Corporate & Commercial

Last month, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion resolving a long-standing circuit split concerning when a copyrighted work is considered “registered” for the purposes of initiating a copyright infringement lawsuit. The Supreme Court held that a lawsuit for copyright infringement can only be filed after the U.S. Copyright Office actually issues a registration certificate for the work. The case, Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC, centered on whether Fourth Estate, an online news organization, could sue Wall-Street.com for copyright infringement after the defendant canceled its license agreement but continued to display Fourth Estate’s content on…
Two Minnesota farm wineries brought a challenge to a Minnesota Farm Winery Act restriction mandating that in order to have the benefits of the Farm Winery license (direct to consumer sales, and direct to retailer sales) they make their wine from a “majority” of grapes grown or produced in Minnesota. The act does not mandate that they grow the grapes themselves, just that a majority of the grapes they use in their wines come from Minnesota. They argue that the purpose of this “in-state” mandate “was giving a commercial advantage to Minnesota ingredients at the expense of out-of-state ingredients.” The…
Looks like this one has a good chance of passage. As we wrote about before on this bill, many new rights (in line with those available to wineries and breweries) are in store for Illinois craft distillers if this amendment to the Illinois Liquor Control Act passes. These will include creation of two new classes of craft distillers – a class 1 and class 2 that can: Class 1 Craft Distiller Ability to self-distribute Increase from 2500 to 5000 gallons that can be used for self-distribution or direct sales to consumer from your tasting room for on or off…
Craft brewers in Illinois will achieve status as a separate class if the proposed changes to Illinois’s beer franchise law, the Beer Industry Fair Dealing Act (815 ILCS 720/1), pass. House Bill 3442 proposes to change the way craft brewers are treated in Illinois. Beer franchise laws like Illinois’s Beer Industry Fair Dealing Act developed as a way to keep large brewers from exercising their market dominance and substantial bargaining power in beer distribution relationships mandated by the three-tier system. They date back to a time when many distributors were small businesses forced to deal with national and even…
The district court granted summary judgment to a bank on a breach of contract claim where a bank customer was precluded from suing bank for payment of fraudulent checks because customer did not report fraud within 90 days of receiving statement containing copy of first fraudulent check, and account agreement specified that fraud was required to be reported within 90 days. Designer Direct, Inc. has a bank account with PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. Three of Designer Direct’s officers are authorized signers on its bank account. Between October 2016 and May 2017, Designer Direct’s former office manager, Kristiana Ostojic, forged…
Employers in New Jersey must review their current policies and practices to ensure compliance with a new statutory prohibition on the inclusion of non-disclosure provisions in employment contracts or settlements involving discrimination, harassment, or retaliation claims. The new law, signed by New Jersey governor, Phil Murphy, on March 18, 2019, and effective immediately, states that employers cannot insist that employees keep confidential the details of such claims or settlements. The law makes clear though that it should not be construed as prohibiting employers and employees from entering into non-compete agreements and confidentiality agreements relating to proprietary information, such as non-public
Presently, Illinois retailers cannot sell growlers of beer to customers. The privilege is reserved to Brewpubs and Breweries but it’s never been codified as a regulation or a law. Illinois Senate Bill 596 (as amended) changes that and introduces a “use of growlers” component to the current sanitation requirements found in Subsection 6-6.5 of the Illinois Liquor Control Act (235 ILCS 5/6-6.5). As currently enrolled the new law states that manufacturers (brewers), Brewpubs, and on-premise retail licensees, would be allowed to fill growlers (oddly, only three different sizes are called out in the statute – 32, 64 and 128 oz…
I’m sure you’ve been wondering what this is all about. A Patagonia branded beer from AB? A lawsuit from Patagonia over the use of their arguably famous mark? Well, dear reader, worry not. Here’s the Complaint (also embedded below). In short, the well drafted and detailed complaint is worth the read and lays out the reasons Patagonia believe that AB has made purposeful decisions to have it appear that their Patagonia beer is made by the Patagonia clothing company. Patagonia-v.-Anheuser-Busch-LLC-Complaint
The decision yesterday in Liu v. Four Seasons Hotel, Ltd. creates another pitfall and need for employers in Illinois worrying about the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. We wrote a little while ago about the parade of horribles unleashed by the Illinois Supreme Court in determining that an actual injury is not necessary to receive the liquidated damages available under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. Fingerprints are likely the way most employers might be in violation. Time clocks, door locks and other 21st Century revamps of 20th Century employment practices incorporate useful updates like accepting fingerprints or retinal…
Although non-compete agreements were originally invented to keep executives from running off to competitors with trade secrets and/or client relationships, many businesses have started taking advantage of noncompete agreements by including them in employment contracts with all their workers – even those at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder. Workers earning minimum wage (or close to it) doing things like making sandwiches and entering data into a computer system are being made to sign employment agreements that prohibit them from working in any capacity for a similar company. Despite the fact that these are unskilled jobs (often held by…
As fewer physicians are forming their own practices, they are finding one potential disadvantage to hospital or physician group employment: non-compete agreements. Physician employment contracts, particularly for specialists, increasingly include non-compete agreements or non-solicitation agreements (sometimes referred to collectively as restrictive covenants). This can lead to expensive, protracted legal disputes when doctors attempt to leave one physician group for another or desire to form their own practices. Further, many patients lose contact with their doctors when they switch practices. In a recent survey of nearly 2,000 primary care doctors in 5 states, 45% of the physicians surveyed had covenants-not-to-compete…
“[W]hen an artist’s work has touched people so significantly, there are often usurpers that want to capitalize on that connection. A strong brand attracts parasites that attempt to create profits through no work of their own, based on the popularity of and love for an artist.” Strong words from this complaint recently filed by Biggie’s estate against the company that makes Yes snowboards. The estate claims that the company sold items utilizing an image if Biggie without obtaining the estates permission. The image cited in the complaint is that of Biggie in front of the World Trade Center from
State regulators, brewers, vintners and distillers benefit from clear and precise laws detailing functions and rights like contract brewing and custom crush arrangements. Idaho recently took a step that other brewers looking for clarifying legislation may find helpful in crafting their own state statutes. The state defined contract brewing through providing definitions of the two parties to such an arrangement: (d) “Contractee brewer” means a brewer producing fewer than thirty thousand (30,000) barrels of beer in aggregate annually, including any beer manufactured outside the state of Idaho, that enters into a contractual relationship with another brewer to produce beer on…
Where a class of consumers sued an energy company for breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment, the district court dismissed some, but not all, of the claims. The district court found that the consumers had sufficiently alleged that the energy company violated its agreement to charge rates for electricity based on market conditions and that the consumers had pled a claim for unjust enrichment in the alternative. However, the court found that the consumers failed to allege adequate details of a fraudulent scheme. Verde Energy USA, Inc. was sued by a class of consumers in federal court for the…
The FDA will hold a May 31, 2019 public hearing to give stakeholders an opportunity to provide the FDA with additional input relevant to the Agency’s regulatory strategy related to existing products, as well as the lawful pathways by which appropriate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds (including CBD) can be marketed. With a goal of understanding how the FDA can make those legal pathways more predictable and efficient. Industry members, stakeholders, and others interested in cannabis related products and regulations may provide the FDA the comments and can even ask to make a presentation at the hearing but must…
What’s in a geographic descriptor? Would advertising implying a connection to Hawaii, say, be actionable if a craft beer, craft spirits, or wine isn’t made in Hawaii? What about Japan? You’ll have to ask Kona and Asahi about those issues, but what about saying something like “local” to describe your product when you’re not made in the state where you’re using that language? Turns out that can cost you. Bimbo Bakeries recently took U.S. Bakery to task for false advertising and trade secret claims. The primary issue we’re concerned with here is that Bimbo accused US of falsely advertising that…