Mayhall Fondren Blaize

Baton Rouge Business & Commercial Law Blog

Theft of trade secrets is a common issue in business litigation

Intellectual property disputes are a regular aspect of business litigation cases in the Louisiana state and federal courts. These kinds of cases can be complex and of great importance to the litigants. Business litigation attorneys are adept at guiding their clients through such litigation by using their broad experience to extract the best outcome for the client.

An example of intellectual property litigation between two massive companies has been occurring for the past year between Waymo, a self-driving car subdivision of Google's parent company Alphabet, and Uber, the ride-hailing international giant. Waymo sued Uber alleging that Uber wrongfully acquired its self-driving technology by purchasing a company called Otto. The case recently went to trial in another state. 

Business and commercial law rules may help fund new startup

A Louisiana entrepreneur who wishes to start up a business must obtain financing to do it right. One option that exists where a bank loan is refused is to tap into one's 401(k). This is not necessarily recommended in many situations, and it carries the risk of losing a good chunk of the retirement fund if the business is not successful. In business and commercial law circles, however, there are some mitigating factors or strategies that may make it feasible in some cases to use the 401(k) as a springboard to starting a new business.

One possible option is to use the retirement account as collateral for a bank loan. Some 401(k) plans do not allow this, and it must be checked prior to going forward. The main benefit of this transaction would be that as one continues making the payments on the loan, more equity is gained back into the security, i.e., the retirement fund. Even if the business does not succeed, paying on the loan will eventually free up the retirement funds.

Oil and gas law analysts have muted optimism for industry growth

The year ended with oil prices in Louisiana being around the $60 per barrel mark, which was a high point for prices within the past several years. However, the growth is not sustained enough to clearly say that significant drilling for oil will start up in the state this year. A glut of cheaper shale-derived products could flood into the market causing another reduction in prices.

Experts predict that the current price increase will set off a rush to produce oil from shale, thus once again bringing down prices. The current administration in Washington recently announced a plan to open nearly all offshore coastal waters for energy development. Basically, the plan would open most of the eastern Gulf to leasing for oil exploration for the first time since 1988.

Business law attorney is critical in the company's startup stage

A business starting up in Louisiana will do well to follow some beginning principles of business formation. First, a legal structure must be chosen to house the business. This can include a business corporation, partnership, LLC, sole proprietorship or certain permeations of those entities. This first critical decision will hopefully have the input of an experienced business law attorney and a tax consultant or CPA.

Perhaps the most popular and flexible business structure today is the LLC, or Limited Liability Company. As the name implies, it affords the first protection that any startup will be concerned about, i.e., that there be protection from personal liability. It is risky enough to put one's investment on the line but to have one's personal assets be exposed to the debts of the business is too much stress for most small business owners.

Business law attorneys facilitate acquisitions and mergers

Financial asset management companies are often acquired or merged with other similar entities in Louisiana and elsewhere. As in all acquisitions and mergers, business law attorneys will play a major role in facilitating the successful completion of the transaction. Where regulatory approval is required, the attorneys will be directly and indirectly involved in that process.

Whitney Bank has recently announced the acquisition of a financial management concern to complement its business. Whitney is a subsidiary of Hancock Holding Company. Whitney will purchase the trust and financial management business owned by Capital One Financial Corporation. The price paid for the business has not yet been revealed.

Evolving business law principles may prevent major crises

Handling crisis situations is becoming an expected mode of operations for most business entities. Lessons can be learned from observing how some of the largest companies handled major crisis situations in the recent past. In many cases, their response was less than helpful, and resulted in fueling the flames of the crisis rather than putting the events to a gradual but definitive end. Evolving business law principles in Louisiana and nationwide give some clues on how to best handle a crisis and preventing it from becoming a full-blown catastrophe.

What allows a minor crisis to escalate into a major public relations disaster? Experts believe that the lack of a prepared response is the main cause that fuels a runaway spiral of bad press after the report of a problematic event has surfaced. They also believe that the critical time to act properly is in the first few days after the events are revealed.

Business litigation lawsuit claims breach of insurance contract

In Louisiana and other states, when an insured customer fails to pay the premiums owed to its insurer for ongoing coverage, the insurer may notify the insured that it will cease to provide further coverage as of a certain date. After the policy lapses for nonpayment, the company may file a business litigation lawsuit against the former customer for the past premiums that remain due. Every insurance policy is a contract between the insurer and the insured, and a lawsuit for unpaid premiums is generally based on a cause of action for breach of contract.

An example of a typical business litigation suit for failure to pay premiums was initiated recently in another state. The Nautilus Insurance Company sued Iskcon New Vrindabon, an unincorporated Hare Krishna community, for the amount of $6,771.70, plus interest and costs. The complaint filed by Nautilus alleges that demand for payment was sent to the defendant organization, but it failed to pay. It alleges counts for breach of contract and also for unjust enrichment.

Recent business litigation has Apple and Qualcomm in hot dispute

The world of high-tech mobile devices involves putting a lot of proprietary information together to make a working unit suitable for mass marketing. This inevitably means that breach of contract and intellectual property disputes will arise during the course of a product's public life. In Louisiana, such disputes often appear in the dockets of the business litigation courts.

On perhaps the highest scale that such disputes arise, two well-known companies have jockeyed back and forth over these kinds of issues for several years. Apple Computer and chipmaker Qualcomm have been in and out of the courts arguing about their contractual  obligations to each other and the alleged breaches of proprietary obligations committed by each other. Apple began the recent volley of disputes back in January when it complained that Qualcomm was demanding unfair royalties.

Business litigation: Consumer class-action suits to be limited

Bankers and credit card lenders have long been protected from certain kinds of consumer class actions, both in Louisiana and nationwide. Generally, the courts have in the past enforced provisions in the consumer's contract with the lender that call for arbitration to resolve disputes and which prohibit the filing of class action lawsuits against the institution. In recent years, however, many consumers have challenged the right of banks and other institutions to control their remedies in the business litigation arena.

The main challenge to these clauses is the assertion that they are unconscionable. Consumers have claimed that they have no bargaining power to change the provisions and therefore the agreement is not an "arm's length" transaction that contains the mutual assent of both contracting parties. Usually, the arbitration provisions and class-action prohibitions are inserted in mass preprinted forms that are sent out with credit card approvals.

Business and commercial law firms guide mergers/acquisition

When a business in Louisiana contemplates a merger or acquisition it may be one of the most important actions that it has faced. In the context of the business and commercial law landscape, the transaction may have a great impact on its industry and the consuming public. That is why the choices, procedures and options selected by the company must be done under the guidance of experienced mergers and acquisitions attorneys from the beginning of the process through to the end.

The economic benefits to a participant in a merger or acquisition can be substantial, with a large influx of capital and a final entity that is bigger, stronger and more versatile than ever before. Often the acquisition of a smaller company or a division of a larger company is accomplished with the goal of expanding into the product line made and marketed by the smaller company or division. A great deal of planning and strategy must go into such a decision so that all future developments are familiar in advance.