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Cleveland Business & Commercial Law Blog

Ohio mayor seeks alternatives to hospital outside ownership

The mayor of Akron has called for the merger of his city's two main hospitals, Akron General Medical Center and Summa Akron City Hospital, in a measure he feels would hold off the need for outside ownership of the facilities and eliminate the duplication of costs. Don Plusquellic made his plea during his State of the City address.

Recently, Summa entered a deal that gives an auxiliary of Cincinnati's Catholic Health Partners a minority ownership interest. Akron General is now in the hunt to find a larger partner as well. A Summa spokesperson said that before it entered the deal with Catholic Health Partners, it had approached Akron General about a possible combination, but it was determined that the two business models would not mesh.

Ohio businesses, be careful with non-disclosure agreements

Many businesses routinely use confidentiality agreements and non-disclosure agreements to protect intellectual property. Depending on the circumstances, though, such agreements may prove to be ineffective, as demonstrated by a recent federal district court case. After signing a confidentiality and non-disclosure covenant, a recipient of confidential information created and sold a product similar to the one created by the disclosing party. After terminating the relationship a few months later, the recipient continued to sell the product, which resulted in the business litigation.

The product's creator sued to protect its IP, but the court rejected its arguments for several reasons. The creator asserted that it disclosed information because the recipient was a partner. However, the disclosure was made prior to forming a partnership. The creator also was not able to convince the court that it had made reasonable efforts to keep its design files secret, since it did not have confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements with the designer or manufacturer of its product.

Viacom, Google settle lawsuit

Ohio residents who enjoy watching video clips on YouTube may be interested to know that the media conglomerate Viacom has settled the copyright infringement suit it filed against Google a year after it acquired YouTube in 2006. The terms of the deal were not announced, but it is believed that Google will not have to pay Viacom any money in the settlement. In addition, the companies announced that they look forward to working together on future projects.

Viacom's position in 2007 was that YouTube infringed on Viacom's copyright by allowing users to upload copyright videos to the site. Viacom stated that close to 160,000 clips from its owned material was posted to YouTube and had amassed 1.5 billion views. Google took the position that they had no way of knowing if the site users had permission to post the material on its website or not.

It is never too late for business owners to start exit planning

Ohio business owners may be interested in an article looking at some timetables for exiting out of the business. For those who wish to retire or sell their companies, planning is an important step in the process, and it is advisable to start sooner rather than later.

Exit planning for business owners involves a few different aspects, including tax considerations and dealing with succession issues. Depending on the amount of time that a person has left in the business, the options for exit planning can be slightly different. However, no amount of time is too small to start on this important step toward selling the business.

Aerospace companies involved in long-running legal battle

A Ohio founded aerospace company known as Eaton Corp. has been trapped in business litigation since 2004. The legal clashes are between Eaton and Frisby Aerospace, a rival company. The issues began when Eaton filed suit, claiming that Frisby had hired six engineers who then stole Eaton trade secrets and used them in their work at the other company.

Eaton points to evidence recovered in an FBI raid of a Frisby facility near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The raid revealed plans and parts specifications for several sensitive military projects from Eaton. The engineers at Frisby have stated that the documents were not special and accidentally brought from Eaton when the workers changed employers. Eventually, the claim was thrown out, but Frisby filed an ongoing countersuit.

Former "Friends" star loses breach of contract lawsuit

Many Ohio residents are likely to have been fans of the hit T.V. show "Friends." Although the show ended in 2004, the actors on the show continue to earn money for residuals when the show earns money from sales, projects or reruns. In 2008, actress Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe on the show, was sued by her former manager for $50,000 in fees from residuals. The lawsuit recently ended with a verdict in favor of the manager for $1.6 million for past and future economic losses.

Kudrow did not dispute that she and her ex-manager had made an oral contract, which ended in 2007. The oral contract provided that the manager would receive 10 percent of whatever Kudrow earned in income while he was her manager. Kudrow's ex-manager alleged that Kudrow was in breach of contract for not paying him a percentage of her residuals earned.

Courtney Love sued by psychiatrist for past due payment

Cleveland residents may be interested in the latest legal troubles for singer, actress and designer Courtney Love. Ms. Love was recently sued by a psychiatrist, who claims that she owes him more than $48,000. The one-page business litigation summons was filed in New York County Supreme Court.

The psychiatrist claims that Love owes $48,250. He is also seeking interest, costs, attorney's fees and any other compensation the court finds reasonable. He claims that Love has owed him the money since November 2010. The suit is officially for breach of contract, account stated, money due and owing and unjust enrichment.

Mayor seeks money from NFL

Along with the rest of the world, many Ohio sports fans enjoyed this year's Super Bowl. However, the big event may not have been as enjoyable for the mayor of Secaucus, New Jersey, who is claiming that the NFL breached a contract that it had with the city to use facilities to help stage the halftime show.

The mayor says that a member of the host committee emailed him about using two parking lots in conjunction with the Super Bowl, which was held in East Rutherford, New Jersey. A week before the game, he received an email notifying him that alternative plans had been made. Now the mayor is seeking $25,000 from the football league. The letter from the mayor is asking $20,000 for the school district and $5,000 for the fire department, both of which were staffed for the big game. A spokesperson from the league says Touchdown Entertainment was responsible for the halftime entertainment and may have been making arrangements with the city, not the NFL.

Bank suing ATM company for losses

Ohio-based Diebold, Inc. is the subject of a lawsuit recently filed by Webster Bank in which the ATM manufacturer is accused of failing to protect more than $11 million in cash. The Connecticut-based lending institution with an estimated $20 billion in assets filed a 19-page complaint in the contract dispute. Both parties reportedly agreed that services involving the movement of money from the machines could be subcontracted. However, the agreement stipulated that any subcontractors be properly insured.

Webster alleges that Diebold failed to adhere to that agreement and acted negligently when it turned over millions of dollars in cash to another company in New York for transportation. Instead, the second company did not complete the deposit of the monies they collected in a timely manner. The bank further alleged that upper management in the company 'floated" the cash, took millions of dollars from the bank and customers and illegally used the money to run their own business.

Legal dispute between Ericsson and Samsung ends

Ohio business owners may have heard of a recent settlement between two international technology firms. Ericsson and Samsung have been involved in a number of legal disputes regarding patents and licensing fees. The business litigation disputes are related to wireless technology that is currently in use in a wide range of equipment, including smartphones, tablets and other devices. The patent disputes have been on-going for several years and involve multiple lawsuits. Some of those lawsuits had been filed with the United States International Trade Commission and are related to the use of patented technology found in a wide range of Samsung's products.

The two companies have a history of using business litigation to obtain a more beneficial royalty structure regarding the use of such technology in their products. Another case in 2007 resulted in an agreement for lawsuits in both the United States and Europe. In the 2007 case, Samsung agreed to make payments to Ericsson. However, the latest dispute suggested that Ericsson was charging unreasonable license fees from Samsung.

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