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Baton Rouge Business and Commercial Law Blog

An end to the era of patent lawsuits in the tech industry?

For years, while the giant tech companies of the world have been growing in importance in all of our lives, behind the scenes they have been locked in legal battles with each other. Many, if not all, Louisiana residents rely upon devices, software or websites bearing names like Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft. In recent years, all of these companies have been at odds with each other in high-stakes intellectual property disputes. However, there are signs that this era of business litigation may be coming to a close.

Recently, Google and Microsoft announced that they had resolved more than 20 pending lawsuits in the United States and overseas claiming patent infringement in Android smart phones and Xbox video game technology. The disputes dated back to 2010, and involved claims that the companies owed each other billions of dollars in royalties.

Preventing religious discrimination in Louisiana workplaces

The American workplace is becoming religiously diverse as never before. Diversity and inclusion have become important aspect in today workplace. Thus, it is important for Louisiana employers to understand how they can prevent discrimination based on religion in their place of employment, and treat employees fairly and equitable.

One method that can help guard employers and hiring managers from intentionally or unintentionally behaving in a discriminatory manner with respect to evaluating and hiring potential candidates for employment is to establish objective criteria that any potential hire should meet to be eligible for employment. The criteria must be written in a clear and concise manner and must be adhered to anytime a potential hire is evaluated.

City of New Orleans embroiled in dispute with firefighters

Our Louisiana residents may be aware that the mayor of the city of New Orleans has been embroiled in a dispute between the city and its firefighters. The city has been involved in a legal battle with the firefighters union ever since it failed to pay back pay it owes to over 1100 firefighters, who are mostly retired, with a little less than 400 who are active and currently still on the government's payroll.

The dispute between the firefighter's union and the failure of the city to pay them resulted in a lower court issuing an order that would have placed the mayor of New Orleans under house arrest. However, the Louisiana Supreme Court recently granted a stay.

Does the Fair Labor Standards Act apply to all employers?

Louisianans may have heard of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and may wonder if it applies to them. First and foremost it is important to have a basic understanding of the FLSA is. FLSA is a federal law, which has instituted legal requirements for employers by establishing minimum wage requirements, overtime pay requirements, record keeping and child labor standards.

However, FLSA jurisdiction is limited and is not all encompassing. It does not regulate some issues that routinely arise in employment settings such as limit on hours an employee can work, pay raises, termination of employees, vacation, sick, severance and holiday pay.

Encana Corp. sells off its natural gas assets in Louisiana

Louisiana residents may be interested to know that the Encana Corporation has recently sold off all of its Louisiana natural gas assets. According to media reports, the transaction, which reportedly yielded Encana Corp. around $850 million, will be used to pay down some of its debt, which as of the beginning of the third quarter were reported to total roughly just over six billion dollars.

The assets were sold to two companies, GeoSouthern Haynesville LP and GSO Capital Partners LP, that have decided to co-own them in a joint venture. Part of the deal also includes having Encana transport natural gas over the next five years for GeoSouthern for a predetermined fee.

Experienced, competent lawyers businesses can rely on

Last week's blog focused on the topic of non-compete agreements in the business world, and need for a business to protect its trade secrets in today's competitive business environment. The legal mechanism of non-compete agreements is nuanced, and both old and new businesses in Louisiana may have to tackle the issue to stay competitive in the marketplace.

Here in Louisiana, those thinking of starting a business and those who have been in business for decades may find it helpful to learn that while they focus on making the business a success, business law attorneys with Dunlap Fiore, LLC, will apply their legal knowledge and use their business law acumen to ensure that no leaf is left unturned during every stage of their clients' business development.

Business litigation issues: what is non-compete agreement?

In today's volatile business environment, starting a business and staying in business in Louisiana can be tough, and the last thing a business needs is to lose valuable trade secrets that have taken time and money to accrue and cultivate only to have others reap the rewards without any of the expense.

To that end a common tool used by employers to protect their carefully guarded trade secrets is what is commonly referred to as a non-compete agreement. A non-compete agreement is essentially a contract that an employee accepts and signs as a prerequisite for accepting a position with an employer.

Business law and breach of fiduciary duty

Usually, the first step in determining if there was a breach of fiduciary duty between any two Louisiana business entities is to first establish that there was a fiduciary duty to begin with. Determining if there was a fiduciary obligation is primarily dependent on the nature of the relationship between the two entities in question. Some relationships have fiduciary obligations imputed between the entities involved as a matter of business law.

Some examples of such relationships are relationships involving trustees and beneficiaries, professionals such as attorneys and accountants, real estate agents and brokers, stockbrokers and financial advisers, and agents and their principals. In these types of business relationships a fiduciary duty is implied legally, and it's generally not a matter that is up for debate.

What are my obligations as an employer under the ADA?

This year marks the Silver Jubilee of Americans with Disabilities Act. Though the nation has come a long way in making public spaces and the workplace more accessible to people with disabilities, employers in Louisiana may not entirely understand how the ADA affects them and what their obligations are under the act. Misunderstanding between employers and people with disabilities can potentially result in litigation.

In essence, when the ADA was passed in 1990, the law made it illegal for any employer to discriminate against individuals with a disability who were otherwise qualified to perform the job. The ADA further expanded on this by outlawing discrimination against any person suffering from a disability in government services whether it's at the state or local level, as well as in public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications.

Louisiana based utility company gets approval for acquisition

Louisiana residents should be interested to know that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has finally approved Louisiana-based Cleco Corporation's proposition to be acquired by various infrastructure investors such as Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, and John Hancock Financial.

The acquisition offer was formally proposed late last year in October, which valued the Louisiana-based utility company at about $4.7 billion even after factoring in roughly $1.3 billion of the utility company's outstanding debt and liabilities. Both the company's shareholders and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S had already approved the acquisition.

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