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Austin Business And Probate Law Blog

Heaven Hill sues Bob Dylan's whiskey company

Intellectual property in Texas is protected by federal law. Heaven Hill, a Kentucky-based whiskey maker, is suing Bob Dylan's whiskey company over allegations of trademark infringement.

The lawsuit alleges that the mark used by Heaven Hill is so similar to one used by Heaven's Door whiskey that the similarity could cause confusion among consumers. Heaven's Door is a reference to Bob Dylan's song titled "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."

Resolving disputes when a business dissolves

Business owners in Texas may want to bring an end to their enterprise for a number of reasons. Whether the company has been a great success and it is time for retirement or a particular venture did not thrive as expected, it is important for an entrepreneur to be certain that everything about the company is dealt with properly. If you are thinking about ending your involvement in a business, it can be important to understand the next steps.

Some business transitions may happen when business partners have different visions for the future of a project and one partner decides to move on separately. In other cases, an individual wants to transfer ownership as they plan their own future in retirement after a sale. In either case, there are a range of legal and financial requirements that can accompany this type of change. Business owners may want to work with a lawyer in order to protect their interests and achieve an efficient solution.

Photographer's copyright upheld in Marilyn Monroe photos

Marilyn Monroe fans throughout Texas may be interested to learn that the copyright protection of a photographer, Bert Stern, was recently upheld for a number of famous photos of Monroe. One federal district court judge ruled that a trust for the photographer's heirs rightfully holds the copyrights for 2,571 photos taken by Stern in June 1962. Taken weeks before the star's death, they are widely esteemed as some of the most iconic celebrity photographs of the period.

The photographer's trust filed suit against twin sisters who had served as Stern's assistant before he died. The trustee, Stern's widow, alleged that the two had violated the photographer's copyright by selling prints and modified versions of some of the photos on the internet. The sisters claimed that Conde Nast, the publishers of the photos in Vogue magazine, was the real copyright holder for the images and that the trust did not have standing. They also filed separately to allege that the widow refused to provide them with a bequest given them by Stern, and they claimed the photographer had given them permission for the online sales while he was alive.

3 things to know about professional negligence claims

Owning a business in Austin, like any other area, comes with a certain amount of risk. For instance, imagine you saved money for years to start your own accounting practice. The first few years of owning your own practice may be hard and require long hours with little profit. The risk you took by investing most of your savings may seem like it might not pay off. However, after a few more years, your business is thriving and you have even had to expand your office to accommodate additional staff. You might begin to feel more secure and that risks and threats to your practice are almost non-existent.

Unfortunately, one threat that will remain for the entire time you operate your business is a professional negligence lawsuit. These types of lawsuits are becoming more commonplace across Texas as well as the rest of the country. If you own a business, here is what you should know about professional negligence claims.

Litigation of intellectual property and trade secrets increases

As information has become easier to share in the digital age, protecting trade secrets through litigation has become a more popular tool for a variety of companies. Due to the passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act, or DTSA, many of these cases have gone from Texas to federal jurisdiction, making the stakes even higher. DTSA disputes can involve everything from patent violations to misappropriation of trade secrets. More than a thousand cases have been filed since the law passed in 2016.

Two sectors using DTSA the most are healthcare and life science. Some of the biggest companies in these industries, including well-known pharmaceutical firms and medical device businesses, have filed major lawsuits in federal court. Representatives from some of these companies have claimed that many of these cases are the result of ex-employees stealing information and passing it on to competitors.

Issues stall action on Glen Campbell estate

Texas fans of Glen Campbell may have heard that the late singer's will is being contested by three of his children who were not included in it. Campbell, who had Alzheimer's disease, died in August 2017.

The will was filed by his wife and has an interim administrator who was also Campbell's publicist. His lawyers have filed a motion saying that because the court gave him only limited powers, he has been unable to move forward with the estate. The motion also says the challenges to the will have caused delays. There was a deadline for filing the estate inventory on May 8, but that was given a six-month extension to November.

What business owners should know about reverse mergers

Texas companies may be able to use a reverse merger to transition from a private company to a public one. This is done by trading its shares with those of a public shell company. A shell company can be registered with the SEC prior to the reverse merger taking place. One of the benefits of this strategy is that a company doesn't have to raise capital to go public.

There is also less risk that the deal will be cancelled because of unfavorable stock market conditions. When a company goes public, it enjoys greater liquidity and may trade at a higher multiple compared to a private company. Initial investors may be able to cash out or otherwise get the benefit of additional liquidity for their investment. However, in such a transaction, it is important to determine that the shell company is not tainted in any way.

Netflix sues Relativity Media over contract breach

Netflix subscribers in Texas may be interested to learn that the streaming giant has filed a lawsuit against Relativity Media, alleging that the studio breached an exclusivity contract when some of its content landed on competing streaming services. Relativity is currently going through bankruptcy proceedings in New York.

According to the complaint, Netflix paid $9.6 million for exclusive rights to stream the films "Beyond the Lights," "The Lazarus Effect" and "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death." It also paid $2.9 million to stream the movies "And So It Goes" and "Hector and the Search for Happiness." However, competitors Amazon and Starz also ended up landing rights to the films.

Fighting over an estate? These probate tips can help

There is nothing worse than the thought of fighting over an estate after a loved one has passed on. Unfortunately, it's not out of the question that you could find yourself in this position at some point.

If the time comes, you need to understand how the probate process works, where you fit in and the steps you can take to put yourself in position to feel good about the end result.

Targeting strategic buyers

Entrepreneurs in Texas can take certain steps to position their businesses for acquisition. By targeting strategic buyers, such as a competing business, another company in a related industry, or a larger business in the same industry, entrepreneurs can reap more than one benefit.

Strategic buyers tend to focus on acquisitions that can enhance the operations, products or services of businesses that they already own or work for. As a result, they are able to receive better returns on the investments they make. This often leads them to pay more for their acquisitions.

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