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San Diego Business Law Blog

HP buys California private-cloud company Eucalyptus

Hewlett-Packard Company is acquiring the private-cloud software company Eucalyptus for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition represents a departure for HP from its standard public-cloud offerings. Eucalyptus provides cloud software that facilitates the aligning of a company's data center with application programming interfaces, such as those of Amazon Web Services, a direct HP competitor.

As part of the business acquisition, HP will be gaining the services of Mårten Mickos, the chief executive of Eucalyptus, who will report to HP's chief executive, Meg Whitman. This may explain recent comments by Mickos about the benefits of OpenStack, the open-source cloud software HP uses for its public-cloud offerings. In an August blog post, Mickos praised OpenStack for its ability to proved highly customized, complex deployments to both large and small vendors.

Closing a seller's permit in California

Retail businesses are generally required to file for a seller's permit in California. When the business closes, it is necessary to close out the seller's permit as well. The first step in the process is to fill out BOE-65, Notice of Close Out for Seller's Permit. Once it is received, the form will be reviewed, and the person who submitted the application may be contacted for more information if necessary.

Those who are planning on changing ownership should contact the BOE's Customer Service Center. Failure to do so could cause the original owner to be liable for any taxes that the new owner incurs. If the business is to be sold, any inventory that is sold to the new owner or to other businesses may be exempt from any sales taxes.

ALS Association drops trademark plans

The ALS has dropped efforts to trademark the terms "ice bucket challenge" and "ALS ice bucket challenge after receiving negative feedback. The phrase "ice bucket challenge" is a generic one and generic phrases are generally not eligible to be trademarked. However, even if the group had been able to get the trademarks, it may have been difficult to use them in California and elsewhere for a variety of reasons.

One issue is whether or not the ALS Association would want to stop other charities from fundraising through their own ice bucket challenge. It could also stop people from using the term on social media, which could also deter fundraising. As the term was used weeks before being connected to the ALS Association, some feel as if it would be unfair to claim ownership of it.

Tyson Foods settles antitrust concerns with DOJ

California businesses may want to know more about the U.S. Department of Justice's Aug. 27 announcement that Tyson Foods will sell its Heinold Hog Markets division. The sale, which is part of an antitrust settlement reached with regulators, will allow Tyson to complete its purchase of Hillshire Brands Co. for approximately $7.8 billion. According to the announcement, the agreement was reached after the DOJ had filed a lawsuit claiming that the proposed transaction would violate antitrust laws.

Tyson Foods, headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, is the largest meat producer in the U.S. Its 2013 sales were $34.4 billion. During that same time period, Heinold Hog Markets had revenues of approximately $270 million, according to the Justice Department. A spokesperson for the department said that the settlement will be good for U.S. hog breeders, as it will promote competition when selling sows.

Analyzing Google's most successful acquisitions

california businesses may be interested in some of the successful and unsuccessful acquisitions made by one Silicon Valley giant. Financial experts say that some of these acquisitions have led to increased profit and market reach.

In the last decade, Internet search giant Google has purchased 145 companies, with a total acquisition cost of more than $23 billion. While not all of these have been successes, experts say that three in particular have proven to be smart moves. The most successful acquisition may be YouTube, purchased in 2006 for a $1.6 billion price tag. Reports indicate that the online video site has made Google $5.6 billion just in the last year. In 2005, Google purchased the rights to the Android mobile operating system for $50 million and kept its owner on to lead further development. Just nine years later, Android is the operating system for an estimated 80 percent of the smartphones that will be sold in 2014. Google's 2007 purchase of online advertisement company DoubleClick for $3.1 billion is seen as a successful addition to their display ad reach.

TWC-Comcast merger getting increased scrutiny

The planned merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is getting extra scrutiny from regulators in California. Officials in the state say that Comcast must prove how the transaction would improve broadband service within the state as well as boost service to low-income people and college students. A review of the proposed merger by state officials is scheduled to be completed by December 2014.

After that review is completed, the Federal Communications Commission will then weigh in as to whether to approve the merger. The FCC started its formal review process in July 2014 and the public comment period is in effect until Oct. 8. In addition to some questions from government regulators, other media companies are not happy with the proposal and want the FCC to not allow it to go through. Dish Network has been one of the more vocal opponents of the deal and claims that it could create a monopoly.

Intellectual property in the food industry

Many business owners and entrepreneurs in California understand how important protecting intellectual property is for maintaining growth. Infringement of intellectual property has been particularly contentious in the food industry, since so many companies sell the same products.

Kellogg has sought legal action against Exxon twice over similarities between their tiger mascots, introduced in the 1950s and 1960s, respectively. Kellogg initially declined to pursue a lawsuit, and Exxon's tiger faded off the market in the 1980s. Years later, the two companies ultimately settled a 1998 lawsuit filed by Kellogg after Exxon brought the tiger back to market its convenience stores. During June 2014, Hershey started filing lawsuits against marijuana dispensaries in Washington and Colorado that were selling products alleged to be knock-offs of their popular brand names and packaging.

Ensuring that all bases are covered in a business continuity plan

California businesses may be interested in information about how to make a business continuity plan more comprehensive and useful. By paying attention to just a few important issues, the utility of the plan can be greatly increased. A business continuity plan exists to provide guidance in the event that there is a large change or disruption in the business environment. There are three main issues that many otherwise-complete business continuity plans fail to address.

The first is the failure to plan for a failure or breach by one of the company's vendors. Vetting the company's vendors for flexibility and resiliency can go far when determining responses to difficult scenarios. Another important aspect of the plan deals with the organization of the plan itself. When disaster strikes, the vital information must be available and ready to use as soon as possible. When a plan is organized according to the various potential scenarios, less work must be done right away to filter out what must be done right away and what is irrelevant in that particular situation.

Disney unable to avoid infringement lawsuit

Investors in California may be affected by an infringement lawsuit Disney has been unable to avoid. A federal judge recently denied Walt Disney Company's motion to have the case dismissed. A woman sued the company for infringement during March 2014, claiming the 'Frozen" trailer featured the same plot as a short movie she had already made and held a copyright on. 'Frozen", the most recent 3D animated movie released by Disney, has already earned more than $1 billion in global revenue.

The plaintiff claims that aside from Disney using different animals for the characters, the plots of the movies seemed to be identical. The U.S. District Judge agreed, asserting that the plots and sequence of events were too similar to conclude that no reasonable juror could perceive similarities of expression and ideas between the two. However, the judge did not agree that other 'Frozen" trailers identified by the plaintiff infringed upon her copyright as well.

Artist seeking royalties in Angry Birds case

California residents may be interested in the story of a woman who claimed that she designed and licensed several Angry Birds designs in 2006 is filing a lawsuit against Hartz Mountain Company. She claims that the company then sold her designs to video game company Rovio, which netted Hartz millions of dollars in profits that were improperly earned from her intellectual property. The suit alleges that her last royalty check from Hartz was in 2011 for $40.66.

According to a five-year licensing agreement signed between the artist and Hartz as quoted in the lawsuit, there was to be no transfer of intellectual property from the artist to Hartz. The suit asks that reasonable royalties be paid to the woman for her intellectual property rights. Although not the subject of the lawsuit, Rovio is named in it, and Rovio has been fighting another legal battle against Young Star Toys & Gifts accusing it of creating knockoffs of the Angry Bird characters.

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