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San Diego Business Law Blog

Homebuyers may find it easier to shop online

In the future, California homebuyers may find it easier to locate the home of their dreams using their smartphone. This is because a merger of the two largest online real estate websites is expected to create new synergies. Zillow recently announced that it will acquire its biggest rival, Trulia, for approximately $3.5 billion, making it the largest player in its field. The combined company plans to be the leader in helping homebuyers locate desired property using their smartphones and tablets.

Zillow and Trulia, each founded about a decade ago, are first and second, respectively, in the online real estate market. Together, they have changed the way many homebuyers locate property, moving them away from traditional real estate agents to searching online for homes using any number of search criteria. Over 100 million unique visitors access the two sites monthly. Zillow is famous for its "Zestimate," an estimate of the home's market value derived from public records and user-generated information.

Supermarket deal could result in closure of California stores

In a deal approved by shareholders on July 25, Safeway will be sold to Albertsons for approximately $9.2 billion. Safeway is the parent company of Vons, a competitor of Albertsons in California. Before the deal can become final, it must receive approval from the Federal Trade Commission, which could require that some of the merged company's stores be closed for competitive reasons. Safeway is strong in Northern California and the Bay Area. Both Albertsons and Vons operate stores in Southern California.

If approved, the sale will create a new supermarket chain with more than 2,000 stores and more than 250,000 employees. It will be almost as large as the Kroger chain, which has about 2,600 stores. Safeway representatives say that they are unsure of how the sale will affect the chain's loyalty card program, which has been very popular in the Bay Area and provides additional discounts for repeat customers.

Understanding 4 types of intellectual property for businesses

California businesses may be interested in an overview of some of the different types of intellectual property protection available. These methods for protecting valuable assets can be an important part of doing business.

Differentiating between the various types of intellectual property can sometimes be difficult for businesses. Copyrights and trademarks, which can often protect the same things, might be confused for each other. A copyright protects the author of a work by giving exclusive control over the duplication and use of that work. A trademark, on the other hand, is meant to protect consumers by ensuring that when they buy a brand name, they are getting products exclusively from the source.

Investment firm and software developer reach settlement

San Diego business may be interested in the conclusion of one multi-million dollar intellectual property infringement lawsuit that has been fought for nearly five years. The companies have settled and both appear to be satisfied with this conclusion.

In 2003, financial software firm Business Logic, based in Chicago, began to provide investment firm Ibbotson Associates when software technology to help its clients manage their 401(k) accounts. In 2009, Ibbotson was acquired by another Chicago-based company, Morningstar. After the purchase, Morningstar began development on its own software to track and manage 401(k) investments. Business Logic then filed a lawsuit against Morningstar, alleging that they misappropriated Business Logic's trade secrets and breached contracts between their firm and Ibbotson in developing this new software.

Dish disapproves of merger between Time Warner and Comcast

Many California residents may have heard about the pending merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast that is being reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission. Satellite-TV provider Dish Network has announced its own opposition to the business merger and has petitioned federal regulators to block it.

According to Dish, the merger between Comcast and Time Warner would result in the new company's widespread control of national broadband infrastructure and television channels and influence approximately one in three U.S. homes. Moreover, Dish expressed concerns that the company that results from the merger would be free to impose itself upon television content providers. For these reasons and more, Dish says the merger proposal should be denied. A Comcast representative stated that Dish disapproves of its merger because Dish does not want its competition to become stronger.

Important steps to take when preparing to sell a business

California business owners may be interested in an article detailing some of the steps that should be taken when preparing to sell a business. Finding and proving the business's worth to potential purchasers can be a daunting task, but with the right moves and some professional help, it can prove successful.

Reports show that in the last three years, acquisition prices have grown by 30 percent. In this climate, business owners should be aware of some issues to keep in mind when preparing to sell their company. First, the owners should assess their willingness to be purchased, including discussing any pertinent legal and taxation issues that could come with a sale. Next, an analysis of the company's readiness for purchase should be done. This includes having a professional do a valuation of the company and being prepared to discuss market positioning and other metrics that can make the company attractive to buyers.

TRI Point Homes $2.8 million merger: largest of its kind

According to reports, the California-based TRI Pointe Homes Inc. has recently merged with the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company. As one of the 10 biggest public homebuilders in the United States, the deal is also the biggest mergers among homebuilding companies, settling at $2.8 billion. In the merge, TRI obtained Winchester Homes, based in Bethesda.

A representative for TPH Pointe said that it will retain Winchester's present operational team members as well as the company name which has been in place for 35 years. Besides Winchester, Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company owns four other homebuilder companies including Trendmaker Homes in Texas, Maracay Homes in Arizona, Quadrant Homes in Washington State and Pardee Homes in Las Vegas and Southern California. Winchester, which builds homes around the region of Washington, is reported to have built an estimated total of 12,000 townhome communities and single-family homes located in the D.C. areas of Virginia and Maryland.

Tyson Foods purchases Hillshire Brands

Companies and businesses in California and across the nation are watching as Tyson Foods and Hillshire Brands came to a merger agreement just a couple of days after a similar deal to merge Pinnacle Foods with Hillshire Brands fell apart. The $6.6 billion deal between Hillshire and Pinnacle suffered serious criticism, which resulted in a bidding war for Hillshire. Pilgrim's Pride, backed by JBS, a Brazilian company, was also interested in a business merger but offered $8 less per share than Tyson Foods. However, industry speculation is buzzing that the price might have been too high. The expected savings of Tyson Foods through the acquisition of Hillshire Brands is about $300 million annually. Industry experts think that Tyson became over-anxious in the bidding war, which boosted the price of the company. Although they could recoup their losses, it could take a few years.

Hillshire Brands formerly operated as the Sara Lee Corporation and focuses most of its business on packaged meats along with frozen baked products. The wholesaler sells to grocery stores, warehouses and food retailers across North America.

Implications of the AT&T-DirecTV merger

On May 18, AT&T announced its intent to acquire DirecTV, the California-based satellite TV service provider. During the months following the announcement, news of the merger received resistance from members of congress, as did AT&T's unsuccessful efforts to acquire T-Mobile in 2011. Other acquisitions in 2014 that have drawn criticism from Congress include the Sprint-T-Mobile merger and the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal. Congress does not have direct jurisdiction over the mergers, but it does have influence over the regulating committees that do.

Upon receiving regulatory approval, AT&T is expected to acquire DirecTV for $48.5 billion. The telecom's CEO contends that the move may serve as a bargaining advantage with TV programmers and could generate downward pressure on prices. DirecTV's national coverage may help augment AT&T's U-Verse service, which is only available in 21 states. The telecom would be increasing its customer base by 38 million video subscriptions between the Latin and U.S. markets. The announcement came shortly after the No. 1 cable provider, Comcast, expressed its intent to purchase the No. 2 provider, TWC.

Determining when to file for a trademark

A common concern for entrepreneurs in California who are starting a new business is when they should establish their trademark. Some may wish to immediately trademark their name, while others may prefer to wait until they are ready to commence operations. There are certain factors that should be considered regarding the timing of submitting a trademark application.

A company receives rights recognized under common law when it begins to use its name in commerce. This allows companies to have a right to their name once they start selling their product or service without officially having to register their name. However, these basic rights pertain to the geographic location where the trademark is utilized and protection that the court might lend if another party uses the same name or a similar one. Companies are more protected when they officially have their trademark registered.

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watkins firm a professional corporation

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