The Business Litigators
The Business Litigators
The Business Litigators
The Business Litigators
Patrick Austermuehle and Andrew Murphy were selected by Super Lawyers as Rising Stars
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Super Lawyers named Illinois commercial law trial attorneys Peter Lubin and Vincent DiTommaso Super Lawyers and Illinois business dispute attorneys Patrick Austermuehle and Andrew Murphy Rising Stars in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle’s Illinois business trial lawyers have over thirty years of experience in litigating complex class action, copyright, non-compete agreement, trademark and libel suits, consumer rights and many different types of business and commercial litigation disputes.  Our Waukegan and Evanston business dispute lawyers, civil litigation lawyers and copyright attorneys handle emergency business law suits involving copyrights, trademarks, injunctions, and TROS, covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud. You can contact us by calling (630) 333-0000 or our toll-free number (877) 990-4990.  You can also contact us online here.

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Super Lawyers named Illinois commercial law trial attorneys Peter Lubin and Vincent DiTommaso Super Lawyers and Illinois business dispute attorneys Patrick Austermuehle and Andrew Murphy Rising Stars in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation and Consumer Rights Litigation. DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle’s Illinois business trial lawyers have over thirty years of experience in litigating complex class action, copyright, non-compete agreement, trademark and libel suits, consumer rights, shareholder freeze-outs, LLC member and shareholder disputes, partnership disputes, and many different types of business and commercial litigation disputes.  Our Wheaton and Naperville business dispute lawyers, civil litigation lawyers and copyright attorneys handle emergency business law suits involving copyrights, trademarks, injunctions, and TROS, covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud. You can contact us by calling (630) 333-0000 or our toll free number (877) 990-4990.  You can also contact us online here.

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In a case of “idea theft,” film industry defendants who argued the right to free speech protected them against a claim of stealing a screenplay that was later made into “The Purge” films were recently slapped down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Jordan-Benel v. Universal City Studios Inc., et al., No. 15-56045 (9th Cir., 2017).

In 2011, screenwriter Douglas J. penned a screenplay entitled “Settler’s Day,” depicting a futuristic landscape of lawlessness and chaos, which he registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Douglas’s agent submitted the screenplay to persons at United Talent Agency (UTA). After saying it would pass on the screenplay, UTA forwarded it to other clients of UTA, who allegedly adapted it into “The Purge.” The film and its sequel were released in 2013 and 2014, produced by Universal City Studios and four other production companies.

In 2015, Douglas filed a complaint for copyright infringement against UTA and the production company defendants, claiming breach of an implied-in-fact contract based on defendants’ implied agreement to compensate and credit him as a writer/creator should his idea be used. He alleged that defendants breached this agreement by using and profiting from his ideas without compensation or credit, seeking declaratory relief. Continue reading

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Super Lawyers named Illinois commercial law trial attorneys Peter Lubin and Vincent DiTommaso Super Lawyers and Illinois business dispute attorneys Patrick Austermuehle and Andrew Murphy Rising Stars in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle’s Illinois business trial lawyers have over thirty years of experience in litigating complex class action, copyright, non-compete agreement, trademark and libel suits, consumer rights, shareholder freeze-outs, LLC member and shareholder disputes, partnership disputes, and many different types of business and commercial litigation disputes.  Our Schaumburg and Evanston business dispute lawyers, civil litigation lawyers and copyright attorneys handle emergency business law suits involving copyrights, trademarks, injunctions, and TROS, covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud. You can contact us by calling (630) 333-0000 or our toll-free number (877) 990-4990.  You can also contact us online here.

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When a company changes its logo to just the letter, “P” it’s hard to believe a single letter of the alphabet could be trademarked, but that’s what PayPal appears to be claiming.

According to a recent trademark infringement lawsuit PayPal filed against Pandora, it’s more than just the letter. It’s also the color and style, both of which are very similar to the logo PayPal has had for the past three years.

Currently, PayPal’s logo is two blocky, overlapping Ps in sans serif, with no counter. A very dark blue P overlaps a light blue P.

Pandora’s new logo is a single, blocky, dark blue P, on the same color spectrum as PayPal’s logo. It also has the sans serif and absence of counter as PayPal’s logo. According to PayPal, the new Pandora logo goes beyond resembling PayPal’s logo and openly mimics it.

Despite the fact the two companies are working in very different industries, PayPal’s trademark infringement lawsuit is claiming that Pandora recently changed its logo in a deliberate attempt to cause confusion among consumers. Continue reading

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Despite stepping down as CEO of Uber, the ride-sharing start-up he founded, Trevor Kalanick’s troubles are far from over. On top of allegations that the company mistreats its drivers, discriminates against and sexually harasses women at work, and stole trade secrets from another ride-sharing service, Kalanick is now being sued by Benchmark, one of Uber’s investors.

In 2016, Kalanick proposed an amendment to Uber’s charter, giving him the right to nominate three new directors to the start-up’s eight-member board. At the time, Kalanick got Benchmark to approve the amendment, but Benchmark is now saying Kalanick deliberately misrepresented key information regarding the company and the amendment, and is now asking for the amendment to be voided.

Six years ago, Benchmark invested in what was then a tiny ride-sharing start-up, called Uber. It bought a 20% stake in the company, which has since grown to be worth billions of dollars. Kalanick and Gurley (and, by extension, Uber and Benchmark) remained close for years until Kalanick and Uber started getting hit by one scandal after another. At that point, Gurley began to put some distance between himself and Kalanick, finally joining other investors to push Kalanick out as CEO of the company.

Although he was forced to give up his seat on the board when he stepped down as CEO, Kalanick immediately reappointed himself to one of the board seats he controls as a result of the amendment he had added last year, and he still holds a 10% stake in the company. It’s not as much as Benchmark’s 13% stake, but it’s enough to make life at Uber difficult for anyone who opposes Kalanick – something he has allegedly set out to do. Continue reading

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Although most he said/she said cases can be difficult, if not impossible, to prove which side is in the right, when hearing a case against a person for allegedly acting inappropriately, consideration can be given to how strongly the accuser appears to believe what they’re saying, rather than what actually happened.

In the case of the charges David Mueller filed against Taylor Swift, her mother, and one of her managers, Judge William J. Martinez, of the United States District Court in Denver, dismissed the pop star from the complaint.

The allegations involve a meet and greet Swift gave before a concert at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Mueller and his girlfriend at the time, Shannon Melcher, posed for a photo with the pop star, at which point Swift claims Mueller put his hand up her dress and onto her bare buttock.

Out of shock and surprise and an unwillingness not to ruin the whole evening for the rest of her fans, Swift did not immediately react. But after her meet and greet was over, she allegedly informed security she had been groped, at which point they escorted Mueller and Melcher out of the building. Continue reading

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When John Oliver spoofed West Virginia coal magnate Bob Murray he was following in a tradition in our country that pre-dates the founding fathers.  Embedded in our constitution is the right to criticize public figures on important.  Lawsuits shouldn’t be used as a weapon to quash such speech.  Below is a photograph from a recent West Virginia ACLU brief attacking Murray for his use of allegedly frivolous libel lawsuits as part of a long running campaign to quash media criticism of him.

 

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The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was specifically designed to allow for the free and open discussion of public figures – notably politicians, but all public figures (celebrities, entertainers, influencers, etc.) are subject to a certain amount of public scrutiny.

Because the law recognizes that talk can do real damage, defamation is still a punishable offense, but it’s the responsibility of the plaintiff to prove the statement was false, the person/entity making the statement knew it was false at the time the statement was made/published, and that the plaintiff suffered actual damages as a direct result.

That’s a lot to prove, and yet many public figures continue to file often baseless defamation lawsuits for large amounts of money, apparently just in the hopes of getting the other side to shut up.

Bob Murray, who owns Murray Energy Corp., a coal company, has responded to a monologue John Oliver did on his show, Last Week Tonight, by suing Oliver, his writers, HBO, and Time Warner. Although the company insisted it does not file anti-speech lawsuits, Oliver pointed out on his show that, in addition to suing large media corporations, such as The New York Times, Murray Energy has also sued local newspapers, such as the Akron Beacon Journal, for as much as $1 billion. Continue reading

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Many people and organizations have long tried to get the NFL team known as the Redskins to change their name. The name is certainly offensive to most Native Americans and is a racial slur, but it’s not illegal to use it.

The football team has maintained a trademark on the Redskins name since 1967, but when they went to renew it in 2014, the trademark office refused, saying the name disparaged Native Americans. The team sued the trademark office in Virginia, where a trial judge ruled in favor of the trademark office. The team appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which is also located in Virginia, but that court put off ruling on the case until after the U.S. Supreme Court had given its ruling on Matal v. Tam, in which an Asian-American dance-rock band is seeking a trademark for their name: the Slants.

While the trademark office insisted the name was offensive, the band members said that was not their intention in coming up with the band’s name. Instead, they were looking to empower themselves and other Asian Americans by repurposing a derogatory term, much like the way homosexuals have taken ownership of the term “queer.”

All eight of the judges were unanimous in ruling in favor of the Slants, though their reasoning differed (Neil Gorsuch was not included in the decision, as the hearing was in January, prior to his appointment). Half the judges maintained a ban on trademarks for disparaging names would be in violation of the First Amendment, even when taking into account that judicial scrutiny for commercial speech tends to be relatively relaxed compared to other forms of speech. The judges pointed out that the First Amendment protects all speech, however hateful or offensive. Continue reading

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It’s a case of he said/she said, in which the claim and counterclaim are nearly impossible to prove, and outcomes have been historically unfavorable to women, even when there is solid evidence to prove their side of the story.

What she says happened:

While posing for a photo with David Mueller and his girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, Taylor Swift alleges Mueller reached up her dress and grabbed her behind. Despite her attempts to shift position, Swift alleges his hand remained firmly on that private part of her body and she says she has no doubt it was Mueller who groped her and that the groping was intentional.

Rather than confront the 6’3” and 200+ pound man, Swift waited until he had left, then notified security and her tour manager that the man had touched her inappropriately. Members of her staff tracked down Mueller and Melcher and escorted them out of the building. Swift’s team, including Frank Bell, who handles radio relations for Swift, contacted KYGO, the radio station where Mueller worked as a radio host, to complain, and two days later Mueller was out of a job. Continue reading