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Archive for the category: Federal Laws
  • Google Accused of Trade Secret Infringement

    In the past, lawyers for multiple small companies have accused search engine giant, Google Inc., of stealing and profiting from their clients’ trade secrets. In the case of VSL Communications, lawyers claim that Google did the same thing and left a paper trail of Post-it notes as evidence.   London-based VSL Communications is accusing Google of stealing its proprietary method for shrinking video and audio files without any sacrifice in sound or image quality. The suit, filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court this past month, claims that Google used those trade secrets to enhance all of its streaming and downloading technology including YouTube, Google Play and Google Earth.   The complaint alleges that Google coerced VSL into handing over trade secret information. A Google executive contacted VSL’s CEO to discuss the possibility of buying VSL’s video streaming and downloading technology. Google signed a nondisclosure agreement and VSL then provided the Google team with three CDs that contained working versions of its technology, 400 files and photocopies of additional VSL trade secrets as well as charts comparing the VSL technology with that of its competitors’. The complaint states that VSL did not know that”… behind the scenes, Google had devised a scheme to steal the VSL trade secrets and incorporate them into Google’s own products without compensating VSL for their use.”   After discussions between the two companies came to a standstill over eight months later, VSL decided the deal was not going to go through and asked Google to return its intellectual property. Google returned the disks but the files and material were now covered with Post-it notes that contained information including the following:   Google employees should delete any incriminating emails Google was concerned over the possibility of infringement regarding products in development Engineers at Google should “close eyes to existing IP” Google needed to speak with outside counsel about a non-infringement opinion Google should consider infringement lawsuit risk Concern over recklessness label on its infringement   The complaint alleges that Google began to amend its preexisting patent applications and file new applications using VSL’s technology. In early 2012, VSL noticed that Google’s software showed significant improvement after VSL had provided access to its files and, upon examination, VSL staff found that VSL technology had been used in the company’s publicly available code. The complaint states that “Defendants’ theft of VSL’s trade secrets pervades virtually every website and[READ MORE…]

  • Boating Safety Issues

    Most people already knows that drinking alcohol and driving a car is a dangerous combination, however, there is less awareness of the same dangers while operating a boat. Mix water, a boat and throw in alcohol and the results can be deadly. That’s why Governor Pat Quinn signed new legislation in July to improve boating safety. “This is something that never should have happened, there should have been more enforcement out there,” Jim Borcia said. Their 10-year-old son Tony was killed two years ago on the Chain-of-Lakes while tubing with his family. A boater, operating his boat while under the influence of alcohol and cocaine, ran the boy over as his family watched in horror. Tony and his family frantically waved their hands to the boater to get his attention, but he never slowed down. Tony’s family used their tragedy to change laws. “We know there are other Tonys out there that are in danger every weekend, every day, said Jim Borcia. “Unless things change, the mindset of boats shouldn’t be associated with partying, it should be associated with responsibility.” Since the tragic accident, the family has created the Y-Not Project in Tony’s name, and raised enough money to buy a boat for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to patrol the Chain-of-Lakes. In July, Gov. Quinn signed three new bills into law to increase boating safety. The first law will make punishment for boating under the influence more in line with driving other vehicles under the influence. The next bill will require boaters 16 and younger to pass a boating safety course and have a valid certificate, and the third law will require the operator of any boat to display a bright orange flag if they are towing a person. “From a little boy’s death has come the beginning of reform for boating safety in Illinois,” Morrison said. “Part of your pain has been turned into purpose,” she said to his parents, who have been pushing for changes in boating laws since his death. The bills, signed in July, increase the power of law enforcement officials and put new restrictions and requirements on boaters. Under one of them, a persons’ watercraft can be seized after multiple DUI offenses. In another, all people born after January 1998 will be required to take a boater safety course and hold a boater safety certificate before they can operate a boat with an[READ MORE…]

  • Adoptees To Get Birth Certificates

    In November 2011, a new Illinois law became effective that allows Illinois born adult adoptees to obtain non-certified copies of their birth certificates from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Adoptees must be at least 21 years old to apply. In most cases, the original birth certificate will list the first and last names of one or both birth parents. The exception is that the birth parents of adopted persons born after January 1, 1946, may have their names deleted from these copies. To remain anonymous, birth parents have to complete a Birth Parent Preference Form. Birth parents also have the right to indicate if they wish to have direct or indirect contact with their adult birth child as well as provide adoptees with non-medical background. Adoptees do not have to sign-up with the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange get a copy of their birth certificate but, if a birth relative has signed up and shared information, the Registry will inform the adoptee and send the forms to sign- up. If an adoptee signs up, any information that has been submitted will be sent to them. There is a $15 registration fee to sign-up on the Registry, but participants who complete the two-page medical questionnaire on genetically-transmitted diseases don’t have to pay the fee. If birth parents request that their information be removed from the copy of the birth certificate, adoptees can still request a copy that doesn’t include information regarding the birth parent who wants to remain anonymous; wait until a copy of the death certificate of the birth parent who requested anonymity has been filed ; or request that an intermediary from Confidential Intermediary Services of Illinois does a search for the birth parent after five years have passed since they requested anonymity. This state appointee will request updated medical information and reconfirm whether or not the birth parent is willing to release identifying information. This new law allows adoptees to access their records and answer questions about their past. While the information may be incomplete in order to protect the privacy of their birth parents, it is often enough for an adoptee to learn something as simple as the name they were born with.  

  • Reebok Fined for Its Toning Shoes Ad Campaign

    Reebok International has agreed to pay a $25 million fine to settle charges of false advertising stemming from claims that its “toning shoes” provide extra muscle strength to wearers, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).   The settlement funds will be used to provide consumer refunds, which will be made available either directly from the FTC or through a court-approved class action lawsuit. “The FTC wants national advertisers to understand that they must exercise some responsibility and ensure that their claims for fitness gear are supported by sound science,” said David Vladeck, head of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau. The suspect Reebok advertisements claim that the toning shoes strengthen hamstrings and calves by up to 11 percent more than regular sneakers, and tone the buttocks by up to 28 percent more, according to the FTC.  Reebok discontinued the ads during the middle of the FTC’s investigation. Ads for toning shoes, which are designed to be slightly unstable, claim that the shoes strengthen muscles by requiring wearers to work harder to maintain stability in unstable shoes. Despite agreeing to pay the fine, Adidas, which owns Reebok, has stated that it disagrees with the FTC’s assessment and stands behind the claims made about its toning shoes. Several other companies advertise toning shoes, including New Balance, Skechers, Ryka, and Avia.  In fact, Skechers acknowledged in an August filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that ads for its Shape-ups and other toning shoes were under investigation by the FTC. The Reebok advertising claims were made through print, television and Internet advertisements, beginning in early 2009, Reebok made its claims through print, television, and Internet advertisements.  The claims also appeared on shoe boxes and retail store displays.  The shoes touted in the advertisements include Reebok’s EasyTone and RunTone running shoes, which sold for $80 to $100, and Reebok’s EasyTone flip-flops, which retailed for about $60 a pair. Consumers are advised to carefully evaluate advertising claims for fitness gear and exercise equipment.  For more information see, the FTC’s alert How’s that Work-out Working Out?  Tips on Buying Fitness Gear .   Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. ANKIN LAW OFFICE LLC Chicago Workers Compensation | Chicago Personal Injury | Chicago Motor Vehicle Accidents Chicago Wrongful Death | Chicago Social Security Disability | Chicago Class Act ion Lawsuits

  • CPSC Database Faces Its First Legal Challenge

    The first lawsuit in connection with the new Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) database has been filed.  As we reported, the CPSC launched a website at www.saferproducts.gov to serve as a consumer products safety database.   The site allows consumers to submit reports of harm or risks of harm from various products, including household products and baby gear, and to research safety information about products by searching the database of past consumer complaints. The CPSC notifies the manufacturer within five days of any complaint filed against it.  The manufacturer then has 10 days to respond to the complaint by (i) submitting a response, (ii) challenging the complaint as false, or (iii) asserting that it will disclose a trade secret.  If a response is filed, it appears alongside the complaint in the database.  If a manufacturer claims that a complaint is false or that it would disclose a trade secret, the CPSC uses its discretion to decide whether to withhold the complaint or publish it in the database. The lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in Maryland by “Company Doe” on October 17, 2001, seeks to prevent the CPSC from publishing an incident that allegedly harmed a child. The lawsuit also seeks to keep any related evidence or documents regarding the allegations, including the identity of the company, under seal. The database has been criticized for its potential for inaccuracy, but supporters of the website point out that because manufacturers have 10 days to respond to any complaints, there is plenty of time to correct any inaccuracies and to remove any material inaccuracies from the database before the information is made public.  Moreover, manufacturers are permitted to post comments alongside any complaints. According to a spokesman for the CPSC, as of September 2011, the CPSC received 383 material inaccuracy claims from companies, 204 of which involved a consumer naming the wrong company – a mistake that be easily corrected. The Chicago product liability attorneys at Ankin Law Offices represent a number of clients in connection with product liability and personal injury lawsuits stemming from defective or dangerous products.  If you have been injured by an unsafe product, contact us to discuss how we can help you protect your legal rights and obtain the compensation you deserve. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and[READ MORE…]

  • Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act

    Congress is currently considering draft legislation that would prohibit the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) from ordering any employer to close, relocate, or transfer employment under any circumstance.  The legislation would effectively prevent the NLRB from restricting where an employer can create jobs in the United States.   The bill passed the House of Representatives on September 15, 2011 by a vote of 138-186.  The legislation is currently pending before the Senate. The National Labor Relations Act currently allows the NLRB to order employers to close or relocate American workplaces, which threatens jobs and business growth throughout the country.  For instance, on April 20, 2011, the NLRB filed a complaint against The Boeing Company for opening a plant in South Carolina and ordered the company to transfer the operation to Puget Sound, Washington instead – despite the fact that no union employee at Boeing’s Puget Sound facility had lost his or her job as a result of the proposed South Carolina plant.  If the NLRB is successful in pursuing its “restoration order,” not only will thousands of South Carolina jobs be destroyed, but employers and job creators throughout the country will be deterred from expanding operations across the country. Accordingly, Congress has proposed the legislation to prohibit the NLRB from mandating where employers open, close, transfer or relocate operations and employment. Some worry that the passage of the legislation would effectively remove any checks on corporations’ ability to weaken unions and intimidate employees asserting their rights by removing regulations that prohibit companies from closing factories or shifting work in retaliation to union and employee action.   The AFL-CIO, one of the many unions that oppose the legislation, the legislation would make it easier for employers to ship jobs overseas and eliminate jobs for American workers.   Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. ANKIN LAW OFFICE LLC Chicago Workers Compensation | Chicago Personal Injury | Chicago Motor Vehicle Accidents Chicago Wrongful Death | Chicago Social Security Disability | Chicago Class Act ion Lawsuits  

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