Tech Company Interactions Move Back to the Courtroom
Q: Are the courts up to speed with respect to tech-related disputes?
In the early days of the technology revolution, the sentiment among newly-emerging tech companies was that tech was evolving too fast for the old-fashioned laws and the outdated legal system to keep up. This resulted in many tech companies opting to fly loose and take liberties with their behavior—hoping either to not get caught infringing upon another business’s rights or to find enough success to defend any claim by the time it caught up with them. Tech companies often relied on software programs instead of the courts to help govern their interactions with others, utilizing software like spam blockers and trademark infringement detection programs.
But things are changing and many now well-established tech businesses are finding their way back to the courtroom in an effort to “protect their turf.”
Companies are seeking looser protections for labor. We previously highlighted the difficulties that app-based, gig-economy companies like Uber and GrubHub have faced in court recently. These companies exert a considerable amount of control over their drivers yet still classify them as independent contractors rather than employees for financial reasons. However, the drivers are instituting class actions seeking classification as employees, along with all the perks and benefits that go with employment.
Other companies are seeking looser protections for copyright, including 3D-printing businesses. Cheerleader uniform giant, Varsity Brands sued upstart Star Athletica claiming the stripes and other patterns on their uniforms infringe on Varsity’s copyright. The United States Supreme Court will hear the case to rule on the useful articles versus artistic creations argument. Meanwhile, 3-D printing businesses that can’t afford defending a copyright infringement lawsuit await the high court’s ruling, which is expected to include specific language clarifying the copyright rules as they relate to design and functionality, useful articles and artistic creations.
Businesses seeking to follow Uber, GrubHub and other companies classifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees should seek the guidance of experienced Labor and Employment Law attorneys to avoid the potential financial pitfalls of a successful class action challenge to the classification. Likewise, companies concerned about possible copyright infringement should contact a law firm experienced in Business/Corporate Law.
If you need an Employment and Labor Law attorney or need help with an Employment Litigation or Business/Corporate Law matter, Carico Johnson Toomey LLP is conveniently located right in the South Bay area of California and offers years of experience and expertise. Call (310) 545-0010.
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