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Androvett Blog

by Robert Tharp at 1:23:40 pm

We've all heard about how CEO's identify with sports coaches and borrow sports clichés ad nauseam. Here's an example of a big-time college program taking a page from the business world playbook.

University of Texas football coach Mack Brown apparently has no plans to leave any time soon. Obviously happy with Brown at the helm, the dilemma for UT has been how to retain highly regarded defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. The result was a page right out of the business school playbook and something called `succession planning," says labor & employment attorney Audrey Mross of Dallas' Munck Carter, P.C. To keep Muschamp, the university named him `head coach in waiting' and also gave him a hefty raise. In return, the school keeps a valuable coaching talent and provides peace of mind that the program is in good hands long-term. "The promise given to Coach Muschamp demonstrates what businesses will need to do to remain competitive -- attract and keep the best talent," Mross says. "It's no secret that the baby boomer generation is retiring in droves, so employers need to get creative to keep key players in place. However, the last thing an employer, or athletic director, wants to do is make these promises only to see employees get complacent, or lose ballgames, and be stuck with them or pay exorbitant buy-outs." For more information, contact Alan Bentrup at 800-559-4534 or at alan@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 12:10:17 pm

For Barack Obama, the road to the White House was punctuated with lots of talk about shaking up the federal tax law. You know, things like socking it to the bloated oil
companies. But a funny thing has happened as inauguration day approaches and all eyes are on the new president's first 100 days: namely, seismic changes to the playing field.

Attorney Robert Van Amburgh of Dallas' Hiersche, Hayward, Drakeley & Urbach says history shows that a canddiate's plans can undergo significant changes both before and after being presented to Congress.  "Making predictions about tax law changes is even more difficult based on our volatile economic climate," he says. "For example, during the campaign Mr. Obama expressed support for a windfall profits tax on oil companies. But with the steady decline in oil prices since the summer, there may not be the pressure for this type of tax."

And by the way, any changes made will not apply until the 2009 tax year. For more information, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

 

by Robert Tharp at 4:47:40 pm

File this one under: painful medicine. The struggling domestic automakers are in such poor shape in competitive terms that filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy just might be
what it takes to make them more viable operations, says attorney attorney William L. Siegel of Dallas' Cowles & Thompson. We've all heard the staggering statistics about how much the automakers pay on healthcare and other benefits. Under Chapter 11, the companies could reject or revise collective bargaining agreements, retiree benefits and other unprofitable contracts. "No amount of money is going to change the fact that, as things stand now, the Big Three simply cannot compete with the foreign-owned automakers," he says. "They need to take the same medicine that some of our domestic airlines took in filing bankruptcy, and in doing so will come out leaner and more competitive." While the automakers might emerge a little leaner, they'll still have to work on building cars that people want to buy. For more information, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or at rhonda@androvett.com

by Robert Tharp at 3:21:30 pm

The technology behind U.S. Patent No. 7,292,151 is pretty complicated stuff, but for Houston attorney W. Mark Lanier the issue at the core of a lawsuit he filed on behalf of the small patent holder against Nintendo is simple.

"Using someone else's technology without permission is theft," says The Lanier Law Firm founder. "Nintendo makes video games where you get to play a thief, but that doesn't give them the right to be one."

The patent in question, held by Ohio tech company Motiva, involves technology used to create a "Human Movement Measurement System" based on a handheld device. The Motiva lawsuit charges that Nintendo used the patented technology in the Nintendo Wii to reproduce users' movements on display screens. If previous cases are any indication, Nintendo may have a big target on its chest in this area. In May, the game maker was hit with a $21 million verdict in a similar patent infringement case. In that case, jurors found that Nintendo infringed several patents to produce the Wii remote control device.

by Robert Tharp at 11:56:56 am

Attorneys at Dallas-based Heygood, Orr, Reyes, Pearson & Bartolomei secured $16.5 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries Monday after arguing that drugmaker ignored serious risks assocated with the painkiller patch in order to reap profits.

Days after a 38-year-old mother of three died in 2004 while using a defective Durogexic painkiller patch, the woman's family received a letter in the mail from the pharmacy that

filled her prescription, warning that the drug had been recalled out of safety concerns. On Monday, a Chicago jury awarded more than $16 million to the family of Janice Dicosolo, who used the Duragesic patch for chronic pain associated with a neurological condition called reflex sympathetic dystrophy. The patch is designed to give a slow, constant dose of the drug fentanyl, a powerful pain killer 100-times stronger than morphine.

Attorneys Jim Orr and Michael Heygood argued that Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc. and ALZA Corporation(both Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries) knew about problems associated with the patches, which are known to leak fentanyl in amounts large enough to kill. "They knew this patch was dangerous and defective but they continued to seel it and make money, and that's the only reason Janice DiCosolo is dead," says Orr. Last year, attorneys with Heygood, Orr, Reyes, Pearson & Bartolomei secured a $5.5 million verdict for the family of a 28-year-old Florida man who died while using the patch for hip pain. As reported by Bloomberg today, the patches generated more than $1.1 billion in sales for Johnson & Johnson last year. 

by Robert Tharp at 2:04:44 pm

Can a lawyer inflate fees for obtaining an extraorindary result? What's the latest CLE event for appellate lawyers? These are just some of the topics up for discussion on a new blog about Texas appellate law by attorneys at Dallas-based Cowles & Thompson, P.C.. The firm's distinguished appellate practice group started the Reverse & Render blog to provide timely information and insight on significant appellate cases and other useful information. The blogging team was created by Byron Henry, certified as an appellate specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Contributers include Mike Northrup, head of the firm's appellate practice and chair of the Dallas Bar Association's Appellate Law Section, and attorney David Oliveros.

by Robert Tharp at 3:52:47 pm

So you still think the `delete' button makes data disappear and what you type in text messages vanishes after you hit `send?' Who out there hasn't received the ubiquitous and unsettling mea culpa from an unknown business informing you that your personal information was on a data base that was stolen or somehow

 
comprised?

Welcome to the 21st Century, where there's hardly a civil case out there that doesn't involve the retrieval of electronic evidence from the myriad hardware we use these days to communicate, and CEOs stay awake at night fretting about computer security.

Computer forensics firm  Stroz Friedberg is capitalizing on the demand for its unique services and expertise, opening it's sixth office(this one in Dallas) along with a cutting-edge computer forensics lab. The growing firm attracts some of the brightest minds in the industry, almost exclusively from the ranks of former high-level prosecutors, federal agents and other industry leaders. Consider Erin Nealy Cox, who heads the Dallas office: a former federal prosecutor, Erin previously served as the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas - Dallas Division. She led major cyber-crime prosecutions across the United States as well as handling complex white-collar fraud, public corruption, intellectual property theft and child-exploitation cases. During her career with the Department of Justice, Ms. Cox also served as chief of staff and senior counsel for the Office of Legal Policy at Main Justice in Washington, D.C.

As the subpoenas fly related to the financial meltdown, the first step for many companies is to call such firms to determine where their data is and how to retrieve it. When firms are targeted by botnet attacks or malicious malware, Stroz Friedberg has the ability to get to the bottom of it. Stroz Friedberg helps clients in matters ranging from theft of intellectual property to lost laptops, click fraud to online review, load files to leaked confidential information, internal corporate data wiretapping to white collar defense investigations, database forensics to corporate hacking incidents, cyber-extortions to fabricated e-mails - and all other matters, digital and investigatory. The firm's broad client base includes public and private businesses, global corporations, law firms, government agencies and the courts.

by Robert Tharp at 9:09:30 am

It's been a long two years since a group of more than 2,000 former NFL players filed suit against the National Football Players Association, charging that the NFPA was

 
short-changing them out of lucrative royalties for electronic games, collectables and other merchandise. On Monday, the retired players scored a huge class-action victory in a San Francisco courtroom. Read more in the press release below:

McKool Smith Announces $28.1 Million Verdict In Retired NFL Players Lawsuit
Gridiron greats prevail in California class action claim against NFLPA
 
November 11, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO -- More than 2,000 retired professional football players scored a major legal victory in a San Francisco federal courtroom today when jurors awarded a $28.1 million verdict against the National Football League Players Association and its licensing and marketing division.

The verdict reached before the Hon. William Allsup in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California requires the NFLPA union and its subsidiary, Players

Inc., to compensate thousands of retired players. Jurors found that the defendants breached their fiduciary duty by failing to market retired players' licensing rights under a group licensing authorization contract covering the licensing of electronic games, collectables and other merchandise. The verdict included $21 million in punitive damages.

The jury of eight women and two men reached their decision following nearly three weeks of trial. The original claim was filed nearly two years ago with professional football legend Herb Adderley as the class representative.

Mr. Adderley and the victorious former NFL players were represented by attorneys from the national law firms of McKool Smith, P.C., and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. The McKool Smith team included firm principal Lew LeClair, senior counsel Jill Naylor and associates Brett Charhon and Anthony Garza. The Manatt, Phelps group included firm partners Ronald S. Katz, Chad S. Hummel and L. Peter Parcher, in addition to associates Ryan S. Hilbert and Noel S. Cohen.

"This verdict is a great victory for the men who devoted their lives to building professional football," says Mr. LeClair of McKool Smith, attorney for the retired players. "We are thankful the jury decided to right this wrong."

During trial, several former NFL stars testified about the benefits promised by the union that were never received, and the difficulties in gaining information about the NFLPA's finances and licensing agreements.

McKool Smith has more than 95 attorneys in DallasAustinMarshallNew York and Washington, D.C., handling commercial and intellectual property litigation for national and international clients. The firm is recognized as one of the premier litigation law firms in the United States, having earned significant courtroom victories for clients such as American Airlines, BearingPoint, Ericsson, Electronic Data Systems, Medtronic Inc., and Sony Ericsson.

To interview Mr. LeClair about the verdict, please contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 office or 214-728-6747 cell.

by Robert Tharp at 4:11:31 pm

It's just irresistible to think about what might be on the top of the list for the Obama administration's first 100 days. The Honeymoon Period will be in full effect. Will there
be significant movement on health care? Military justice? Many think an important union-organization bill could be on the agenda. Labeled the `New Deal' of the 21st century, the Employee Free Choice Act is a bipartisan amendment to the National Labor Relations Act that would radically alter how unions are organized by bypassing the need for an election. Instead of a secret-ballot election, a majority of workers would simpy have to sign a card in order to unionize. "Obama has been a staunch supporter of the EFCA and there's no reason to believe it would not pass if reintroduced," says  Gardere attorney Celeste Yeager. "And if so, states such as Texas, where there has historically been little union activity, will prove to be fertile grounds for unionizing efforts. To prepare, employers need to make sure their management teams are properly trained and communication avenues remain open and non-combative." For more information, contact Robert Tharp at 800-559-4534 or robert@androvett.com.

by Robert Tharp at 3:46:40 pm

For the first time in history, the U.S. government has seized control of a criminal gang's identity by taking control of its logo. As a result, those now caught wearing the Mongols motorcycle gang logos on patches, clothing, jackets etc... "shall surrender for seizure all products, clothing, vehicles, motorcycles ... or other materials bearing

the Mongols trademark, upon presentation of a copy of this order," according to news reports.

So if the government can seize the registered trademark of a biker gang, might it someday do the same in a case where it accuses a business of a crime? That's at least a possibility, says trademark attorney Dyan House of Munck Carter following federal indictments of 79 people accused of crimes associated with the Mongols motorcycle gang and the forfeiture of its mark. "Say a business is accused of wrongdoing as we investigate our nation's financial meltdown," asks Ms. House. "Might the government walk in and seize that business' trademark along with other assets?"

My question, what does this mean for all those bikers out there who no doubt have their gang logo tattooed somewhere on their bodies?

For more information, contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or mark@androvett.com.  

by Robert Tharp at 11:16:49 am

Workplace discriminaton attorney Stephen Drinnon: Rising EEOC complaints show that employers have room to improve
While President-elect Barrack Obama's election victory is historic and monumental, it's important to note that workplace discrimination and harassment complaints

continue to rise at alarming rates, says Dallas attorney Stephen Drinnon of The Drinnon Law Firm. EEOC complaints last year increased at the highest rate in more than a decade. Drinnon has secured numerous trial victories and settlements in such cases and is actively representing a Dallas man whose employer allowed co-workers to subject him to racial epithets scrawled on walls of his workplace, and terrorize him with a noose hung over his work station. "Discrimination and harassment take many forms and affect workers in blue collar jobs as well as executive positions," Drinnon says. "This is a particularly grievous case that goes beyond unfair treatment to threats of physical harm. Unfortunately, racial discrimination has not been eliminated but is on the rise." For more information, contact Robert Tharp at 800-559-4534 or at robert@androvett.com.