Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Protecting your Trade Secrets

Through the years of my practice under the field of Intellectual Property, I have observed that many cases filed for violation of trade secret result in dismissal but for one technical reason.

What many claim as a trade secret is actually not within the definition of the law of what a trade secret really means.

If you are engaged in business of some sort and you are using a certain formula, process or design for a longer period that somebody is also using, it does not mean that you can immediately claim protection, when from the law for violation of trade secrets.

Before you raise your complaint in court, you must first have to examine the merits of your case. Maybe what you are claiming as trade secret are those ideas that are already known to the public.

In addition to this, several complaints in trade secret violation are filed by employers against their former employees.

How can one avoid this situation?

To prevent this, business proprietors or employers must require their employees to sign the non-compete and non-disclosure agreements. These vital documents prohibit them from disclosing trade secrets and help employers secure business information that may be used by employees against their interests in the future. At least with this procedure they can also have a legal recourse against their employee.

Under the law an employee who violated the non-compete and non-disclosure agreement may be subjected to financial liability aside from other sanctions provided by the state or federal laws.

Cases involving trade secret violations are often complicated and may involve many delicate issues that need to be addressed and proved. Hence, if you have any issues with regard to trade secret, the best thing to do is to seek the assistance of an attorney skilled in the field of Intellectual Property.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What to do during retirement

Retirement: from the root word “retire’, which means to rest or to relax. It is the point when an individual chooses not to work anymore or to have some sort of a retirement work.

When a worker reaches retirement age, he will receive a retirement benefit coming from the Social Security. Yet more and more people choose to semi-retire or to be employed part-time from jobs which are different from what they were doing when they were actually employed.

People’s classic idea of retirement entails not working at all. Some retirees may be hitting the beach or may be buying a house in the suburbs. Retirement can only give you short-term relaxation and leisure. But after that, what do you do? After going on a month-long vacation or after catching up with some old friends, what’s next? Nothing, you’re retired remember?

A lot of people cannot bear the idea of not doing anything at all. Solution: Semi-Retirement. People who have already reached the retirement age, or those who want to retire early, are trying to work part-time. What are the reasons? Well for one, they just don’t want to stop. They have to have something to do.

Another is thing is, their pensions and social security benefits may not be enough to sustain their lifestyle or their cost of living. Studies show that retirees are not getting enough pensions to cover their expenses. In order to offset their expenses with their earnings, they still have to work, although not around the clock.

For retirees, try to venture on something you are interested in. Put up a small flower shop or a grocery store. It is a lot better than not doing anything at all. Plus the additional money could help a lot.

Retirement Benefit Lawyer can help employees understand the pros and cons of Retirement; whether it be a Total or Semi Retirement. With the help of a retirement lawyer, you can prepare for your retirement without worries.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, unsuccessful by 4 votes

In California, predominantly in Los Angeles, people of different colors are emigrating mainly because of better work opportunities and lower cost of living.

The United States of America is identified as the “melting pot” of all races. However, it is sad to realize that some races think they are far superior to the others.

It was only recently when the Democrats were unsuccessful in the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act when the Republicans blocked the Bill by a vote of 52-46. The said act was supposed to extend the 180-day period in which to file discrimination claims. Passage of said bill could have given the employees 2 years to file a claim.

Republicans contend that the passage of said bill would only clog the already busy judiciary of discrimination cases already outside the prescribed period.

I disagree with the Republicans. The bill could have given employees, like Lilly Ledbetter, more protection from employers who discriminate them on account of their gender or age. Who cares if discrimination cases build up? Isn’t this all the more reason to push through with the bill? This would only mean that democracy is alive in this country. More people could have been encouraged to voice out their grievances.

Workers, especially women, do not usually disclose to other workers their salaries. As a result, the 180-day period appears to be too short to file a discrimination case.

The law and numerous court rulings point out that the interest of the people should be the country’s primary concern. Why then should the victims of discrimination be left with limited protection, just so the judges could have lesser work to do? Public interest is, I believe, by far more important than observing mere procedural technicalities.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Possible Damages in Patent Infringement Violations

Violations on the use of one’s trademark or product name and design constitute patent infringement. An infringement occurs when any party manufactures, sells, imports, uses and offers a patented technology. In simple terms, anyone who sells a product similar to an existing licensed product is considered a violation of the law.

The article, "Santa Ana Patent Attorneys File Patent Infringement Lawsuit to Protect Wheel Design Patent from Copying", posted on June 4, 2008, discusses how difficult it is to pursue litigation against violators of one’s patent rights.

The case stemmed from a patent infringement lawsuit initiated by the inventor of a wheel design against a company who allegedly sells a similar product with similar design. Although the complaint was filed almost a year ago, and a cease and desist letter was sent to the patent pirate, no response has been received yet.

Patent pirates should realize that they could be held liable for their actions under the law.

When a court or jury determines that someone has infringed on another’s patent, the infringer can face several penalties. Violators face the following penalties for patent infringement:
  • The infringer will be required to pay a certain amount of money to the patent owner, which are made up of several components.
  • An infringer will have to pay money to compensate the inventor for the wrongful use of the patented invention. The specific amount, which can be determined by either a jury or the court, is calculated by figuring out what the infringer would have had to pay if he had legally licensed the invention, which is known as a royalty rate.
  • Under special circumstances, the court can take this royalty amount and awards triple the amount, known as “treble damages.” This is done where the infringer was found to act willfully or intentionally, knowing there was a patent in existence and infringing anyway.
  • The infringer is also likely to be required to pay interest on the money owed as well as the patent owner’s court costs (not his attorney’s fees but, rather, things like the money spent filing documents with the court)
  • the court will often issue an injunction, which is an order that the infringer stop infringing the patent and never do so in the future

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Salient Federal Laws Prohibiting Employment Discrimination

You cannot avoid discrimination. As long as there are people who single out and show prejudice against persons who they think are inferior to them, then discrimination persists.

But the government does everything to fight this wrong. The legislatures have enacted a number of laws to counteract this problem. These legislations’ main purpose is to put an end to inequality and provide equal opportunity most especially in employment.

What are the Federal Laws which protect employees from Employment Discrimination?

• Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII – this law considers it unlawful for an employer, employment agency, labor organization or joint labor management committee to discriminate workers on account of the following:
1. Their Race;
2. Their Skin Color;
3. Their Religion;
4. Their Sex; and
5. Their National Origin

• Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) – this law prohibits employers, labor organizations or its agents to discriminate against employees on the basis of sex, by paying one employee wages at a rate lower than that of another although both rendered equal amount of work and the performance of which required the same skill and ability.

Exception: When payment is made pursuant to:
1. The Seniority system;
2. The Merit system;
3. Quality/Quantity production; and
4. Differential other than sex

• Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) – this law makes it illegal to discriminate employees on account of his age by:
1. Refusing or failing to hire or fire employees;
2. Limiting, separating or classifying employees in a way which deprives them employment opportunities or advancement; and
3. Reducing the wage rate of an employee.
• Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Titles I and V – this law make illegal discrimination against employees on account of their disability by providing equal opportunity in employment. The law orders that no covered entity shall discriminate against individuals who are otherwise qualified and have met employment requirements in regard to:
1. Job application procedures;
2. Hiring;
3. Career advancement;
4. Discharging;
5. Compensation and wages;
6. Job trainings; and
7. Other employment privileges.

• The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Sections 501 and 505 – these laws prohibit employment discrimination against disabled persons in the federal sectors.

• The Civil Rights Act of 1991 – this law provides aids employees who are victims of intentional employment discrimination in the form of monetary compensation and other protections. The purposes of this law, as mentioned in Sec. 3 of said Act are as follows:

1. to provide appropriate remedies for intentional discrimination and unlawful harassment in the workplace;
2. to codify the concepts of "business necessity" and "job related";
3. to confirm statutory authority and provide statutory guidelines for the adjudication of disparate impact suits under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and
4. to respond to recent decisions of the Supreme Court by expanding the scope of relevant civil rights statutes in order to provide adequate protection to victims of discrimination.

In order to avail of the protections provided by these laws, the discriminated employee should first hire Employment Discrimination Lawyers. This kind of lawyers are the ones that you should be calling in case you have been a victim of discrimination in your employment. They possess the necessary skills and knowledge to defend your case. Contact an Employment Discrimination Lawyer as soon as possible.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Other Prevalent Issues as Race Discrimination

Race discrimination may be considered as one of the most common forms of discrimination in the workplace. Despite growing cultural diversity in today’s workforce, it seems unimaginable to realize that racial prejudice still exists.

The article, "Weight Bias is as Prevalent as Racial Discrimination, Study Suggests", posted on March 28, 2008, brings to one’s attention the growing occurrence of discrimination against obese or overweight people, particularly women.

According to Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University, discrimination against obese and overweight people is rising and as prevalent as race discrimination in the workplace.

In order to arrive at this conclusion, the research team obtained data regarding this type of discrimination and compared it with the existing information on race discrimination from the National Survey of Midlife Development. The results revealed that weight bias is as prevalent as race discrimination in the workplace.

The study also showed that women are more likely to experience this type of discrimination and other forms of interpersonal maltreatment than men are.

Most alarming, the author of the research study also indicated that weight bias is more common than all the types of discrimination such as those based on age, gender, physical disability, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs.

To prevent discrimination, here are some of the laws enacted to guarantee the protection of one’s rights:

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 - Prohibits employment age discrimination against individuals who are at least forty, but less than sixty-five years old.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 - Title I and V prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals who have disabilities, because of their disabilities.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 - Title VII prohibits discrimination in compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1991 - Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to strengthen and improve Federal civil rights laws, provide monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination, and for a variety of other reasons.
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - Sections 501 and 505 prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the Federal government.
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963 - Prohibits wage discrimination between men and women who work jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, in the same establishment and under similar working conditions.