Oregon is the home of many high-tech companies and, as such, its courts entertain quite a bit of litigation regarding disputes relevant to such companies. One area of constant business litigation between high-tech companies involves allegations of misuse of intellectual property. For example, two giant companies battling over proprietary rights and other contractual matters have been Apple Computer and the chipmaker, Qualcomm.
The success of a startup company in Oregon or anywhere else can be plagued by normal growing pains. Sometimes, more specific allegations may be made to check a company's forward progress. When the allegations are made through business litigation filed in a federal court, the company will have to face the claim head-on.
Disputes over the alleged theft of trade secrets is a common form of controversy that is litigated in Oregon and throughout the nation. The typical trade secrets case often involves allegations by a company that one or more former employees took secrets with them and made money in some way or another by implementing those secrets. An example of business litigation regarding trade secrets was recently reported in the national press; it pertains to a federal case in another jurisdiction.
In Oregon and all other states, the Federal Communications Commission is the federal agency that regulates the licensing of the broadcast media. The agency oversees and enforces the body of federal regulations that govern the operation, management and licensing of radio and tv stations. Disputes are properly take up in the administrative law area of business litigation. Recent pronouncements from the executive branch of our government have challenged the right of some broadcast news stations to keep disseminating opinions and reports that are unfavorable to the President.
In Oregon and other states, it is not unusual for business law attorneys to be involved in counseling companies or individual shareholders regarding disputes within the ownership elite of the company. When the company is a public one, there may be highly visible campaigns for election of candidates to a seat on the board of directors. In fact, one of the biggest boardroom battles in recent history is now playing out for a seat on Procter & Gamble's board. Sometimes, these conflicts regarding ownership and management control can result in business litigation.
It is a sad fact of American life that families that work together do not always stay together. Some of the most ruthless, prolonged and bitter controversies are conducted by family members, including by parents, children and siblings, against each other. Business litigation in Oregon and elsewhere is sometimes marked by these kinds of intractable conflicts.
Jurisdiction is a difficult concept to grasp in many business litigation matters. The court where a lawsuit is filed must have the power to hear the business litigation case, or the court will dismiss the matter for lack of jurisdiction. The defendant company may appeal the grant of jurisdiction by the court and bring the issue into play in that matter. Issue of jurisdiction may arise in Oregon state and federal courts as well in the courts in all other states.
Under what basis may the shareholders of a corporation in Oregon and elsewhere bring a class action lawsuit to vindicate rights against a company that has engineered a merger with another company and maneuvered other substantial changes that allegedly diluted the shareholders' stock? The short answer to such business litigation issues is that the claim is allowed when there is a direct injury to the shareholder's ownership interest as opposed to the interest of the corporation. The issue came up recently in another state when a group of shareholders brought a lawsuit seeking class status against the company, a medical device maker known as Medtronic.
It is not unusual in Oregon and elsewhere for former executives to be pitted in litigation with the companies that they previously served, and in some instances, by the companies that they founded. This type of business litigation is currently occurring in several high-profile cases. One of the cases from another state involves the former chief executive and founder of Cirrus Aircraft.
Trademark disputes are a common aspect of business litigation in Oregon and nationwide. Sometimes it is a battle of giants, where a company claims that one of its competitors has used a trademark that is deceptively similar to its own. It can be a small company being challenged in a business litigation case by a large company claiming that the startup has tried to use the larger company's own special brand identification to its own use. There may be a claim for damages for the lost profits caused by deceiving the public into buying the product with the pirated trademark, and a request for an injunction.