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Houston Business & Commercial Law Blog

Non-compete dispute for Texas boiler business

Employees acquire valuable information about your business, and firsthand knowledge of its operations, during the course of their employment. Moreover, employers often invest significant resources to educate and train their employees. How can a business protect itself from a former employee vying for its clients? One way is through a non-compete agreement.

In general, a non-compete agreement is a contract in which an employee agrees not to compete in the marketplace with the employer. To be enforceable, "a covenant not to compete must be (1) ancillary to or part of an otherwise enforceable agreement and (2) contain reasonable limitations as to time, geographic area, and scope of activity that do not impose a greater restriction than necessary." Fomine v. Barrett, 01-17-00401-CV, 2018 WL 6376500, at *3 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 6, 2018, no pet.).

Apple and Qualcomm settle worldwide after two years in dispute

Tech giants Apple and Qualcomm had just begun trial last week when they announced an agreement to dismiss all lawsuits worldwide. Details of the settlement are scarce, but the deal includes Apple paying unspecified royalties for the use of Qualcomm's patented mobile chip technology for the next six years. Qualcomm will continue to supply Apple with mobile chips for its iPhone products.

Keeping proprietary information safe in business litigation

Discovery is the crucial stage in the litigation process where parties seek to obtain the evidence they need to support their positions. Since parties may generally obtain "discovery regarding any matter that is not privileged and is relevant to the subject matter of the pending action," broad swaths of documents and information are often requested.

January figures have made CRE investors cautious

Simmering trade disputes, volatility in equity markets and slowing growth are causes of concern for real estate investors, and there seems to be little consensus about how best to cope with these looming problems. Demand for commercial properties remains strong in Texas according to experts, but the market has cooled in recent months. These mixed signals have prompted many of the state's developers and investors to eschew speculative deals and remain loyal to conservative strategies that have served them well in the past.

Handling risky commercial real estate markets

Investors in Texas who have commercial real estate assets or who are considering investing in commercial real estate may be interested to know how to successfully navigate in an uncertain market. There are many factors that can create anxiety and uncertainty in the commercial real estate industry. However, taking certain steps to remain agile enough to respond quickly to unexpected changes can help investors avoid being left behind.

FMLA and employee family members

Many Texas companies are subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act. FMLA allows leave from work not only for an employee's own health reasons, but also when an employee has a relative with a serious health condition. Intricacies in this aspect of the law can cause confusion for employers and potentially leave them open to charges of discrimination.

Commercial real estate attracts prominent investors

Commercial real estate in Houston and around the country can be a profitable investment, something that is reflected in the growing interest of high-net-worth investors in these projects. While commercial real estate projects have long been appealing for more local or smaller investors, a range of high-profile companies and individuals have become involved in an array of real estate ventures. Of course, urban real estate has long been an appealing investment, given the vast growth in value and the scope of many urban projects, which may be valued in the high millions of dollars.

Water company and model in contract dispute

A bottled water brand popular among many Texas consumers is engaged in a legal battle with a model who has become known for her association with the company. Model Kelleth Cuthbert found her way into photos and videos at the 2019 Golden Globes by showing up behind celebrities on the red carpet while serving bottles of Fiji Water. Photos and videos featuring the model went viral on the internet, and she became known as "Fiji Water Girl." After the exposure, Fiji engaged in an online advertising campaign using Cuthbert's images with the water brand.

Cuthbert sued Fiji, saying that she was pressured into signing a fake contract with Fiji and that her image was being used without consent in the marketing campaign. Now, the company is returning fire; Fiji countersued Cuthbert for breach of contract. The water company said that the model and her representatives agreed to be paid $90,000 to serve as a brand ambassador for one year. She signed the documents while being video recorded at Fiji's office and allegedly agreed to the water company's use of her name and image, including in cardboard cutouts. The company said that the model took the only signed copy of the documents and destroyed them, but it retained the recording of the signing.

Amazon in lawsuit with Woody Allen

In 2018, rumors emerged suggesting Amazon was looking to dump Woody Allen from the 2017 four-movie contract signed between the two parties. The first of the four films, "A Rainy Day in New York," was filmed in 2017 and has yet to receive a release date. The long wait for a release date coincides with the timing of the #MeToo movement in which Allen was implicated, leading some to believe that the stalled release is intentional.

Woody Allen has responded to the delay by filing a lawsuit in New York for breach of contract. Allen is seeking $68 million from Amazon for allegedly "reneging on its promises" stated within the contract. The lawsuit alleges that Amazon was aware of the 25-year-old claim that Woody Allen molested his daughter prior to entering the contract; therefore, the molestation claim may not be grounds for terminating the contract. Allen also claims the molestation allegation is false.

How blockchain could change commercial real estate

Investors and others who are involved in Texas commercial real estate may have heard about the disruptive potential of blockchain. For instance, blockchain may bring about the advent of the smart contract. Smart contracts tend to allow for greater transparency between parties in a deal, which can increase trust between those parties. It may also result in the deed to a property being transferred immediately after the contract's conditions are met.

Furthermore, blockchain may help to prevent fraud in the commercial real estate sector. This can save hundreds of millions of dollars in costs related to fraud. Using a blockchain enables investors and others to verify who owns a property and where funds for a purchase or other investment have come from. It also allows interested parties to look through every transaction related to a property to verify that it occurred correctly.

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