Fergus, A Law Office
Contact Fergus, A Law Office, Today 866-256-5487
Finding Creative Solutions For Complex Problems

San Francisco Civil Litigation Blog

Photo-editing app claims competitor infringed on property

The way a business operates, including the way it creates its goods or distributes its services, can be extremely valuable information.

After all, if this information were known to competitors, then the process could be copied or undermined in a way that lures consumers to the competitor.

Tesla accuses former employees of stealing trade secrets

As several companies rush to develop successful self-driving car technology, the competition has become fierce and at times, contentious. Recent lawsuits, including Tesla’s lawsuit against four former employees and the start-up company Zoox, prove these companies' commitments to safeguard critical proprietary information.

The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Northern California, alleges that four former employees obtained select proprietary information and trade secrets from Tesla to pass on to their new employer, Zoox. The company even learned of two of the former employees emailing themselves key Tesla documents from work email addresses.

The basics of intellectual property licensing

Intellectual property can carry a significant amount of value. A brand can be distinguished by and build a reputation on its trademarks, and copyrights and patents can be a major source of income.

When any of these forms of intellectual property are infringed upon, legal action can be taken to stop the illegal use and recover compensation for damages suffered.

Civil litigation and the subpoena power

Successful civil litigation requires not only an understanding and appropriate application of the law, but also an ability to think on one's feet. While television and movies will have you believe that litigators can craft compelling legal arguments on the fly, the truth is that there is a thorough amount of preparation that goes into civil litigation. It is this preparation that allows for effective litigation.

One major piece of this preparation is the subpoena power. A subpoena is a court-ordered demand for either one's appearance in court or the production of documents. The former is the most commonly thought of. Here, an attorney subpoenas witnesses so that they are compelled to appear in court to testify, and if they don't, then they will face penalties. Subpoenas for documents, known as a subpoena duces tecum, requires the subpoenaed party to provide documents and other tangible materials.

Entertainment law: Jackson's estate claims HBO breached contract

The terms of a contract can have a tremendous impact on the way business is conducted in the entertainment industry. This means that those who fail to take active steps to protect their rights may see themselves being taken advantage of. For this reason, those engaged in the entertainment industry, especially when it comes to contracts, should carefully consider seeking out legal assistance before moving forward with an agreement.

To see an example of the power of contracts in the entertainment context, one need only look at a recent lawsuit filed by Michael Jackson's estate against HBO. The lawsuit centers on a 1992 contract between the parties whereby HBO agreed not to disparage Jackson's image or reputation, or the image or reputation of his agents or music. Jackson's estate claims that HBO's upcoming two-part series, Leaving Neverland, which focuses on accounts from two man who have accused Jackson of molestation, breaches the terms of that 1992 contract. There may be as much as $100 million at stake in this case.

Civil litigation and the importance of depositions

Effective litigation requires skill in the courtroom. Oftentimes, those who are embroiled in civil litigation need to be skillful in making and meeting objections, as well as questioning favorable and adverse witnesses in order to succeed. While an attorney must be able to think quickly on his or her feet to successfully litigate, a strong foundation created through thorough preparation can go a long way.

That is why it is important for plaintiffs in civil litigation to engage in discovery, whereby information is obtained from the defendant and other individuals and businesses that have relevant information. One critical part of this process is the deposition.

U. S. Copyright Royalty Board raises songwriter royalties

The United States Copyright Royalty Board has finalized a royalty increase for songwriters.

The Copyright Board proposed a 44 percent increase in streaming revenue for songwriters last year. Now it's finally a reality. However, companies like Spotify may challenge the increase in court.

What is the difference between fair use and public domain?

If you produce art or entertainment in the United States, your copyrighted work is protected from entering the public domain for a certain number of years. In 2019, the largest amount of previously copyrighted work will enter the public domain where anyone will be able to use the material for free.

The public domain can be a confusing area of copyright law. Some entities publish material that is still under active copyright as “free use.” If this is the case, how do you know if your work is protected?

Netflix sued for alleged trademark infringement

Many of us remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books that were popular during the '80s and '90s. Most people don't realize just how wildly popular the series has been, though. The fact is that the series has sold more than 265 million copies worldwide. This means that the intellectual property associated with Choose Your Own Adventure has significant value. This is why the series' publisher recently filed a trademark lawsuit against Netflix for its film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

The lawsuit claims that Netflix has confused audiences by drawing an association between its film and the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. The film is interactive in nature, allowing the viewer to choose which direction the plot moves during given points. There is even one scene in the film that references the book series. The book series' publisher, Chooseco, states that Netflix sought a license but never received one. The lawsuit also claims that a cease and desist letter was sent to Netflix, but the film continues to stream online. Chooseco is seeking $25 million in damages.

Entertainment law and the preliminary injunction

Those who enter into the realm of entertainment typically wind up possessing a bundle of rights. An individual may acquire copyrights to a number of creative works, but the protections don't end there. For example, an individual has the right to prevent others from benefiting from his or her likeness without authorization. Personality and life rights can have tremendous value, too, so those who infringe on those rights can wind up stealing significant financial resources.

Once these violations are spotted, legal action can be taken. However, the legal process can take some time to play out. So what happens to the wrongful use of a copyright, likeness, or personality? Well, unless additional legal action is taken, a defendant can continue to use them until it is proven that such use is wrongful in nature. By seeking a preliminary injunction, though, an individual may be able to put a halt to such action until pending litigation is decided.

Email Us For A Response

Serious Help For Serious Legal Problems

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

  • American Bar Association | Defending Liberty | Pursuing Justice
  • AV | Martindale-hubbell | PeerReviewRated | for ethical standards and legal ability
  • Bar Register | Preeminent Lawyers | 2017 | Martindale-hubbell
  • Gray S. Fergus | 5/5.0 / Peer Rating | Heigh Ethical Standing
Icon Office Address

Fergus, A Law Office
535 Mission Street 14th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

Toll Free: 866-256-5487
Fax: 415-537-9038
San Francisco Office Location

Icon Phone Number
Back to Top