Bethesda Business & Commercial Law Blog

McMahon’s hand raised in victory

Businesses in Maryland and throughout the country have a new champion. And she does not need an ornate title belt to prove it.

Perhaps Valentine’s Day softened the ever-deepening rift between Republicans and Democrats. Love in the form of bipartisanship was clearly, if not temporarily in the air on February 14. The U.S. Senate confirmed former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) chief executive officer Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration.

First Lady settles lawsuit with Maryland blogger

Maryland has made national news for a serious business lawsuit. Melania Trump, the current First Lady of the United States of America, has just settled a defamation lawsuit against a Maryland-based blogger. The defendant of the pending lawsuit settled shortly after a judge refused to throw out the lawsuit and the details are still undisclosed about the financial penalties. The blogger in this case, Webster Tarpley, chose to settle the lawsuit out of court for what lawyers are calling a "substantial sum" instead of taking the case through the courts. He likely did so on the advice of his attorney.

In this case, statements by the judge made it clear that he did not view the information published by the defendant as protected speech related to the campaign. That opinion would affect the likelihood of successfully defending against a defamation lawsuit. Settling eliminated the risk of a court order to pay even more by the courts. Business attorneys can provide advice and guidance about whether settling is your best option during a defamation or similar lawsuit.

Give me an "L"... for lawsuit

Football has many traditions, its most high profile being the Super Bowl. Fans fill the stadium and people around the world gather around their televisions to watch the annual NFC vs. AFC clash. For the diehard football fan, it will be their last chance for the season to cheer on their team.

Two teams that did make it to the annual championship game have little reason to celebrate. Their seasons ended sooner than they wanted. Any opportunity to cheer up at the start of their winter break ended with the service of legal papers.

Facebook’s quest for a new reality

As Facebook has become a shared reality for users worldwide to communicate with friends and family, the company is about to enter a new era: virtual reality. However, the transition to the growingly sophisticated, fully immersive technology has been anything but smooth.

Recently, Mark Zuckerberg replaced his trademark hoodie for a shirt and tie in his appearance before a Texas Court. He was there to do more than defend the reputation of his company. Zuckerberg was also validating the importance of virtual reality that goes beyond gaming and represents the future of social interaction at virtually all levels.

Will mandatory sick leave become a reality in 2017?

With the dawning of a new year, Maryland businesses face the prospect of a “common sense” measure that could become law. In December, Governor Larry Hogan announced a proposal to require paid sick leave, a bill that failed to pass the legislature in the past.

Current legislation attempts to find middle ground between the needs of employees and the state’s small businesses. However, initial opposition exists.

Vertical or horizontal merger? Conglomeration? Understanding M&A

Once you have built a profitable enterprise, you may start receiving offers for a merger or buyout. You're wise not to brush off them off. As your business grows and becomes more successful, the marketplace may become more competitive.

When you ignore serious offers for buyouts or mergers, you're making a decision. You're deciding to keep growing without the investment a partner company could bring. At the same time, you can't just grab the first offer you see. You need to determine if any offer for a merger or acquisition will promote your goals.

Court rules Obama's salaried worker overtime policy went too far

Although the Labor Department says it followed the comprehensive administrative rulemaking process required by law when implementing President Obama's executive order, a federal judge has ruled that the administration's overtime policy for salaried workers unlawful.

Obama announced the new policy in May, calling it "the single biggest step I can take through executive action to raise wages for the American people." Basically, it recognized the inherent conflict between businesses and workers when it comes to overtime pay.

Did the big banks and credit card companies collude on ATM fees?

When you grab some quick cash from an ATM, you expect to pay a fee. The size of that fee depends on whether the ATM is operated by your banking network or by a competitor. When you use a competing network, both that network and your own bank can charge you a fee. Of course, you might not have to pay any fee for money withdrawn from their own bank's ATMs. Are those rules clear enough?

If paying these fees infuriates you, you may have wondered why they never seem to go down over time. We would expect healthy competition to drive down excessive fees over time. We might even expect to see banks and credit card processors to cut fees from time to time in heavily advertised promotions. Or we might expect our banks to protect us from outrageous fees.

Don't let patent infringement damage your company

There may be few things more frustrating for a business than discovering that someone else is using your patented invention for his or her own financial gain. Another company may be selling a product or offering a service that uses a device your company designed and manufactured. It may not be identical, but if the similarities are striking enough, you may have cause to claim patent infringement. Patent infringement is a federal crime, and it can damage your business. 

Blood testing firm Theranos faces suits by Walgreens, Partner Fund

Theranos was once considered a superstar startup in Silicon Valley, attracting a number of hotshot venture capitalists to its board. Founded in 2003 by Elizabeth Holmes, the company's mission was to develop a solution for quick blood testing that required only a drop or two of blood. The idea was great, and that, along with all the attention and board expertise, got the company a valuation of around $9 billion.

Walgreen Co., operator of the second largest chain of pharmacy stores in the U.S., appeared to be moving quickly to swap out old-fashioned blood testing services and replace them with Theranos. In 2015, however, a series of negative articles by the Wall Street Journal questioned whether Theranos' proprietary technology even worked as described. Either way, federal officials sanctioned the company over its testing methods.

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