November 22, 2010 by Dave Moore at 4:13:37 pm Recipe for a copyright dispute: Editor steals article about medieval apple pie
Who knew the humble apple pie has been around since the Medieval times, with recipes appearing in period cookbooks in Italy, France, Germany and even England, no less? When Gode Cooke blogger Monica Gaudio analyzed some of those recipes in a bylined article, editors at Cooks Source magazine found “A Tale of Two Tarts” so interesting that they took the article and published it as if it were their own.
After Gaudio confronted Cooks Source about the pilferage, she received an unapologetic response via e-mail:
“Yes Monica, I do know about copyright laws. … But honestly Monica the web is considered ‘public domain’ and you should be happy we just didn't ‘lift’ your whole article and put someone else's name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. ... We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me!”
Stories about this foodie tussle made more than a few news outlets. Munck Carter trademark and copyright lawyer Dyan House says the folks at Cooks Source were out of line when they failed to obtain Gaudio’s permission to reprint the article. She says it’s a common misperception that Internet content is public domain.
“The copyright owner -- in this case the author of the article -- has the right to distribute her work,” says House. “However, she did not transfer or lose any of her rights when she published it online.”
The run-in is just one case that demonstrates the lengths culinary experts will go to get different takes on an old recipe. According to the New York Times the pie has replaced the fancy cupcake as the latest in-demand dessert, and landing original recipes the delicacy is a serious business.
Suddenly, New York and San Francisco are national centers of pie innovation. In Brooklyn, a pair of sisters from South Dakota are integrating sea salt and caramel into their apple pie and inventing aromatic fillings like cranberry-sage and pear-rosewater. In the East Village, at Momofuku Milk Bar, the pastry chef, Christina Tosi, has transferred the buttery, caramelized flavors of apple pie into a layer cake, with apple filling between the layers and crumbs of pie crust in the frosting.
Some of the experimentation has led to oddities including pie milkshakes, pies baked in canning jars and a monstrosity called the cherpumple: three pies (cherry, pumpkin, apple) baked inside three cake layers, all terrifyingly stacked together with cream cheese frosting. (Yes, it is a turducken for the dessert course.)
November 22, 2010 by Robert Tharp at 1:20:17 pm You're going bankrupt? Congratulations!
A Chapter 11 reorganization seems to be just what the doctor ordered for GM, says Shackelford's Frances Smith
For all the stigma that the term "bankruptcy" carries, the legal remedy seems to be a powerful tonic to General Motors, which issued its first post-bankruptcy initial public offering on Nov. 19.
As Shackelford Melton & McKinley bankruptcy attorney Frances Smith tells Fox 4 reporter Shaun Rabb: “I think it’s been an amazing transformation for them. Back in June 2009, their stock was trading for less than a dollar a share. They had $46 billion in debt.”
Smith wasn’t exaggerating about General Motor’s plight. As CNN wrote in June 2009:
In the end, even $19.4 billion in federal help wasn't enough to keep the nation's largest automaker out of bankruptcy. The government will pour another $30 billion into GM to fund operations during its reorganization.
U.S. Judge Robert Gerber, the bankruptcy judge will oversee GM's bankruptcy, ruled Monday that GM will have access to $15 billion in government funds immediately. He will make a final ruling on bankruptcy financing approval on June 25.
Taxpayers will end up with a 60% stake in GM, with the union, its creditors and federal and provincial governments in Canada owning the remainder of the company.
The debt reduction that Chapter 11 bankruptcy offers companies seems to have injected new life in the auto maker, which employs more than 200,000 workers across the globe. Now, the American auto manufacturer only carries about $8 billion in debt. Smith, president of the DFW Association of Young Bankruptcy Lawyers, says that the debt relief that Chapter 11 reorganization offers can help change a company’s course.
“If a company is really in distress – and, you know, in 2009, GM was begging the government for money -- bankruptcy is a viable option for them,” Smith says.
November 17, 2010 by Robert Tharp at 4:54:07 pm Scales of justice can be a great equalizer
After defaming doctor who blew the whistle, physicians' group must pay $10.8 millionIt’s good to have the law behind you when you’re taking a stand.
Such is the case with Dr. Neal Fisher, a Dallas pediatric anesthesiologist who was fired after questioning the billing practices of his employer, Pinnacle Anesthesia Consultants P.A., which provides obstetric anesthesiology services to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. While Pinnacle advertised itself as being “in-network” for all major health care plans, Dr. Fisher found that the group routinely generated higher fees by matching patients with out-of-network anesthesiologists.
After he raised questions about an increasing volume of patient and OB/GYN complaints, Pinnacle accused Dr. Fisher of abusing alcohol and drugs, charges he proved false.
Dr. Fisher hired the Rose•Walker law firm to argue on his behalf in a defamation and breach of contract suit. In 2007, a Dallas County jury ruled in favor of Dr. Fisher by a vote of 12-0. Now, the Supreme Court of Texas has refused to consider Pinnacle’s appeal, which ends the case. Pinnacle will have to pay Dr. Fisher $10.8 million.
“This is the ultimate and final vindication for a doctor who had the courage to speak out for patients and then suffer the consequences of a vindictive and greedy employer,” says attorney Martin Rose of Dallas’ Rose•Walker, who represented Dr. Fisher at trial. “Pinnacle fought this case relentlessly. This final victory is very special for us.”
To read the news release about the court decision, click here.
November 15, 2010 by Dave Moore at 9:47:05 am Don’t ‘Like’ your boss? Fine, but do it on your own time
With the advent of the Internet, who would have thought it would have made all of us Gutenbergs? We now own the keys to our own personal E-presses and can post whatever we want, anytime we want.
Make that almost anything, anytime.
At least, that’s what a Connecticut woman found out recently. She was fired for criticizing her supervisor via Facebook posts. The National Labor Relations Board has stepped in, arguing that workers’ criticism should be protected as free speech.
Houston employment attorney Rachel Steely of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP says blogging and email communication is not protected all the time.
“Of course you should be free to say what you think, but on your own time,” Steely says. “If an employee is spending work time complaining on Facebook, then termination is legitimate for using company time for personal reasons.”
Workers who enjoy social networking also need to be careful about any work-related details they might share, says Steely.
“For some, it is easy to say more than you realize and disclose confidential information, which would not only be grounds for termination but in some states could also result in criminal charges.”
November 11, 2010 by Robert Tharp at 4:57:40 pm When working requires more motivation than a crack of the whip
Perhaps your boss resembles Simon Legree more than Mary Poppins. If that’s the case, you’re probably not working at McKool Smith or 99 other Dallas-Fort Worth workplaces identified in this year’s Top 100 Places to Work 2010, which was published in the Nov. 7 issue of the Dallas Morning News.
McKool Smith, which has more than 70 attorneys and 100 staff members in Dallas, earned high marks in the midsize category for providing a hospitable and nurturing professional environment. The law firm placed 7th in a list of 37 mid-size Dallas-Fort Worth firms, the highest ranking for any law firm.
Writes Morning News business columnist and reporter Cheryl Hall:
Our panel of 48,517 experts – maids, doctors, car salespeople, customer service reps, you name it – shared unvarnished views by participating in our survey. We offered anonymity in asking how well their organizations lived up to 18 statements ranging from ‘This organization operates by strong value and ethics’ to ‘I feel well-informed about important decisions at this organization.’
November 8, 2010 by Dave Moore at 4:46:01 pm Even if – or especially if – your name’s Favre, your texts are not off limits
Practically everybody has hit “send” – or something harder -- when they didn’t mean to.
It’s a safe bet that if Tiger Woods could hit the “undo” button, he would have done so already.
Now come the allegations surrounding Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, who reports have it sent texted improper messages and pictures to a former New York Jets sideline reporter Jenn Sterger.
While Favre admits to leaving voicemail messages on Sterger’s phone, he’s refusing to acknowledge any other allegations.
Huffingtonpost.com describes the media circus and NFL flap that are swirling around Favre this way:
On Friday, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league was investigating the situation. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that after its investigation, the league will determine whether Favre violated the personal conduct policy.
Deadspin posted a story on Thursday saying that when Favre played for the Jets, he sent voicemails and photos of his penis to Jenn Sterger, a Jets game hostess at the time. The website also reported that Favre pursued two female massage therapists who worked for the team
Dallas family law attorney Brad LaMorgese offers a quick solution to those who want to avoid a replay of what’s facing Favre right now: Just don’t send.
LaMorgese, who practices at McCurley, Orsinger, McCurley Nelson & Downing, says that high-profile athletes and everyday citizens should treat their texting and e-mailing as if it were public record. Because, through the power of court subpoena, it readily could be.
“Any e-mail can came back and haunt a person by being used as evidence of cruel treatment, or to justify a lopsided property division” in a divorce case, LaMorgese advises. LaMorgese speaks to the danger of social media in a recent YouTube broadcast.
LaMorgese says an offhand text message one day can become irrefutable evidence the next.
November 5, 2010 by Robert Tharp at 1:27:01 pm Police officers shelve Remington 700 rifles
The police department in Portland, Maine, has discontinued its use of Remington 700 rifles following a CNBC special report documenting a long history of safety and design concerns associated with the popular rifle.
The CNBC investigation revealed thousands of customer complaints and featured dramatic video footage by Portland officers showing a rifle firing repeatedly when an officer touched the bolt. The report, “Remington Under Fire: A CNBC Investigation,” also documents how Remington officials have long known of safety problems associated with the rifle’s trigger mechanism, yet resisted recalling the model or implementing design changes that would have corrected the problem.
Writes USA Today, Police Chief James Craig told the Portland Press Herald he was unaware how many other complaints there were until he viewed the CNBC report.
"I don't want to run the risk of having an accidental discharge like this where it puts an officer's or community member's life in danger," Chief Craig told the newspaper. He later confirmed to CNBC that the department's five Remington 700s have been taken out of service.
Product liability attorney Jeff Hightower from Dallas’ Hightower Angelley is featured in the CNBC report, which aired repeatedly in October on CNBC stations. Hightower is a national leader in ongoing legal battles on behalf of those injured and killed by misfires resulting from defective trigger mechanisms in Remington 700 Series Bolt Action Rifles. “I applaud CNBC for bringing this issue to the national stage,” Hightower says. “I’ve seen too many cases where people were injured when the Remington 700 went off without anyone pulling the trigger.”
November 4, 2010 by Dave Moore at 2:52:57 pm When stealing some Z's can cause trouble
As the leading authority in the treatment of sleep apnea and snoring, Texas-based The Snoring Center would love nothing more than to see more of us stealing more Z’s on a regular basis. But the firm believes a rival clinic has taking the stealing Z’s concept too far, wrongly using proprietary information and other trade secrets to open a competing operation.
In a federal lawsuit filed this week in Dallas, The Snoring Center claims that a group of San Francisco businessmen fraudulently obtained its trade secrets, business strategies and financial records, then opened a competing business in California. Texas lawyer calls it "A snoozer of a suit."
At the heart of the suit are efforts to defend the methods, strategies and marketplace developed by The Snoring Center, which was founded by board-certified otolaryngologist Craig Schwimmer to treat snoring and sleep apnea using a minimally invasive, office-based procedure.
“Dr. Craig Schwimmer established The Snoring Center as the first medical practice of its kind in 2004, and now is the recognized leader in the clinical treatment of these potentially serious health conditions,” says attorney Michael Hurst of Gruber Hurst Johansen & Hail, lead counsel for The Snoring Center. “Based on Dr. Schwimmer’s business model and experience, The Snoring Center draws patients from across the United States. Apparently it also draws the interest of those wanting to unlawfully and maliciously capitalize on this success. ”
It’s estimated that 75 million Americans suffer from sleep-disordered breathing. Sleep apnea has been linked to increased blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and other serious health issues.
The suit states that the defendants – including four corporate entities -- inveigled their way into Dr. Schwimmer’s confidence by posing as investors or potential joint venture participants.
The Snoring Center litigation shows that while imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery, it can also lead to a hefty law suit.
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