Those who shop at Walmart in California or elsewhere throughout the country may have heard about the partnership between the company and Tesla. However, Walmart has filed a lawsuit in the state of New York against Tesla saying that solar panels placed on top of seven different stores caught on fire. According to the lawsuit, the solar panels were not installed properly and were inspected by employees who were not properly trained to do so.
Unfair competition is essentially a business tort. This makes it a civil wrong, not a criminal violation. However, unfair competition standards are established under both federal law and California state law, both of which allow an aggrieved business to sue the offending business for monetary damages and injunctive relief to halt the illegal behavior. The relevant federal laws are found under copyright laws, trademark laws and the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. Section 1125.) Unfair competition does not refer to monopolies or antitrust violations.
California blockchain investors may be interested to learn that Harrison Hines, the founder of the Token Foundry, is suing a former business partner for breach of contract. His lawsuit was filed in the New York County branch of the Supreme Court of the State of New York on June 5.
Lawsuits filed in California on May 6 allege that two of the nation's largest tax preparation companies defrauded low-income filers by using deceptive and misleading practices. The companies supposedly made it difficult for taxpayers to access the Internal Revenue Service's Free File program. In the lawsuits, the Los Angeles City Attorney accuses H&R Block and Inuit of violating California's unfair competition law. The litigation asks for injunctions to put an end to the alleged deceptive practices and seeks restitution for filers who paid for tax preparation services even though they qualified for the Free File program.
Some art aficionados in California may have heard about a dispute between companies owned by two prominent art collectors involving a mixed-media work by Frank Stella that has resulted in a lawsuit against another gallery. The lawsuit was filed by Artemus in July in the New York Supreme Court against the Paul Kasmin Gallery. It alleges that the gallery falsified documents related to the Stella work.
Some California residents may be aware that Fujifilm and Xerox were in talks about a merger. On June 18, Fujifilm filed a lawsuit against Xerox for reneging on the deal. Fujifilm is asking for more than $1 billion and punitive damages since Xerox walked away from the $6.1 billion transaction.
California residents who follow business news may be aware that Adidas and Skechers have been embroiled in disputes over sneaker designs for more than two decades. Adidas filed a lawsuit in September 2015 alleging that the Onix sneaker made by Skechers was a virtual copy of its iconic Stan Smith shoe, and the German company's arguments were convincing enough to persuade a judge to prohibit Skechers from selling athletic footwear featuring a three-stripe design or the Supernova name.
Unfortunately, unfair competitions can hurt many consumers and businesses in California. Practices that are deemed to be unfair include trademark infringement, false advertising and misappropriation of trade secrets. Both state and federal laws aim to protect consumers and businesses from being hurt by such illegal acts. Consumer protection laws are generally distinct from those that protect companies from such activities.
Californians who are planning to launch new websites should take care to avoid several common pitfalls involving intellectual property. If business owners are not careful with their website launches, they may be sued in court. It is important for businesses to conduct due diligence before they launch their websites.