Minding Your Business

Proskauer’s perspective on developments and trends in commercial litigation.

$79.99 For Hand Sanitizer? New York AG Says Not While In My Hands

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Attorney General Letitia James has stated her office will be aggressive in prosecuting price gouging. On March 10, AG James stated, “we will not tolerate schemes or frauds designed to turn large profits by exploiting people’s health concerns.” The NY Office of Attorney General (“OAG”) is tasked with enforcing New York General Business Law Section 396-r, which prohibits parties from selling or offering certain goods or services at an unconscionably excessive price during an abnormal disruption in the market. Continue Reading

California’s Crackdown on the Price Gouging Gold Rush

In early March, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a consumer alert on price gouging. Two weeks later, police in San Diego arrested eight people for price gouging. The same week, investigations by Sacramento authorities prompted new warnings from local authorities. Since then, both the Governor and Attorney General have indicated price gouging will remain top of mind. Typically, price gouging laws extend for short periods — weeks or a month — but we now know that California price gouging rules will remain in effect through September. Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Holds Early Committee Appointment Necessary to Cleanse Conflict from Corporate Transactions

In Salladay v. Lev, the Delaware Chancery Court elaborated on how early a corporate board must take protective measures to shield a conflicted transaction from entire fairness review.

Salladay involved a motion to dismiss a challenge to a merger agreement based on alleged director conflicts at the target company. The defendants argued that the transaction was approved by an independent committee of directors and a shareholder vote, warranting deferential business judgment review and, in turn, dismissal. The court held that business judgment review was inappropriate because the independent committee only became involved in negotiations after they had begun—too late to “replicate the value-enhancing structure of an arms-length transaction”—and the shareholder vote was not fully informed. Instead, the much stricter standard of entire fairness applied, rather than the more lenient business judgment rule, and therefore dismissal was inappropriate. Continue Reading

Jeep Drivers’ Claims Come to a Screeching Halt: Hypothetical Hacking Threat Does Not Confer Article III Standing

On March 27, 2020, a five-year legal battle between three certified classes of Jeep Cherokee drivers and Fiat Chrysler came to a sudden end, when a federal judge in the Southern District of Illinois held that allegations that the vehicles were vulnerable to cyber-attacks did not give plaintiffs standing to sue under Article III of the Constitution. Continue Reading

First Circuit Treads “Unchartered Waters”: Holds Copyright Sublicenses Can Be Implied

On March 13, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in a case of first impression, held that a copyright licensee given the unrestricted right to grant sublicenses may do so without using express language.

The case, Photographic Illustrators Corp. v. Orgill, Inc., stems from a license Photographic Illustrators Corp. (“PIC”), a provider of commercial photography services, granted to Osram Sylvania, Inc. (“Sylvania”), a leading manufacturer of lightbulbs, permitting Sylvania to use PIC’s copyrighted photographs of Sylvania’s lightbulbs. The license provided that Sylvania had a “non-exclusive, worldwide license in and to all the Images and the copyrights thereto to freely Use, sub-license Use, and permit Use, in its sole and absolute discretion, in perpetuity, anywhere in the world.” The license also contained a requirement that Sylvania and its dealers and distributors would attribute the photographs that it used to market and sell Sylvania products to the PIC photographer who took them. Continue Reading

United Kingdom’s CMA Issues Guidance to Businesses on Co-Operation During the Crisis

As we reported here, the UK government announced that, as part of a package of measures to allow UK grocery supermarkets to work together to feed the nation during the COVID-19 crisis, certain provisions of UK competition law will be relaxed temporarily for the domestic food sector. The CMA has now published a document setting out its approach to business co-operation more generally in response to COVID-19.  Continue Reading

A “Dark Horse” Victory for Katy Perry: Central District of California Overturns $2.8M Copyright Verdict

Nearly eight months after a trial that culminated in an adverse jury verdict, pop singer Katy Perry recently achieved a “Dark Horse” victory, proving that the legal battle was “Never Really Over.” Continue Reading

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