The High-touch Legal Services® Blog…for Startups!

© 2009-2016 Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law

Trade Secrets Receive Federal Protection

Photo of volumes of the United States Code, symbolizing DTSA protection of trade secretsThis post discusses the civil and criminal protections for trade secrets available since May 12, 2016 under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA).

Relevant definitions in the DTSA roughly follow – with numerous modest differences – those in the Uniform Trade Secrets Act , which has been adopted, with various modifications, by almost all states. (more…)

Apple-FBI “Backdoor” Blog on Quora

Picture of FBI logo and Tim Cook symbolizing the Apple-FBI "backdoor" disputeI am fascinated by the Apple-FBI dispute concerning opening a “backdoor” to an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino killers. As a result, I recently created the Apple-FBI “Backdoor” Blog on Quora.

The blog’s first two posts list:

  • Significant court filings and orders for that case.
  • Quora questions and answers that help explain the nature and details of the Apple-FBI dispute.

I intend to update those posts over time, and to add new posts when it is appropriate to do so.

Photo credit: Apple vs. the FBI: A Closer Look – Late Night with Seth Meyers

Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law +1 510-547-0545 dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.

Yes, a Stranger Can Cancel Your LLC!

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about how a stranger can cancel your LLC or corporationThis post discusses how (amazingly!) an unauthorized stranger can cancel your LLC (limited liability company) or corporation. It is based on a Quora question that I answered. See What prevents someone from filing a restated certificate of incorporation for a Delaware corporation in which they are not authorized to do so?

Unfortunately, the ease with which entity-formation documents can be filed in the U.S. – while facilitating business startups – does allow unauthorized filing of such documents. This means that, whether accidentally or intentionally, a stranger can cancel your LLC (or corporation). (more…)

Attorney-Client Confidentiality vs. Attorney-Client Privilege

Graphic with reference to California Business and Professions Code, the source of attorney-client confidentiality obligationsAttorney-client confidentiality” and “attorney-client privilege” are terms that non-lawyers frequently mistake for one another or misuse. This post explains the difference between those terms.

While this post cites California law, similar considerations are likely to apply in other states.

Attorney-Client Confidentiality

An attorney’s obligation to maintain client information in confidence is set forth in Business and Professions Code Section 6068(e) . (more…)

Hyperlink in Email Can Create Binding Terms

Stained-glass seal of U.S Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which decided hyperlink caseIn Online Terms can be Binding, even if You don’t have to Click!, I discussed enforceability of a website’s “browsewrap” terms of service. This post discusses how an email hyperlink can create binding contractual terms.

Lawsuit Brought in New York

Elizabeth Starkey filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against travel company G Adventures, Inc. The suit alleged that a G Adventures employee sexually assaulted Starkey during a vacation trip. (more…)

“Happy Birthday” May Be in the Public Domain, After All

Photo of lit candles on a cake that spell "Happy Birthday"You probably have sung Happy Birthday [to You]” countless times. This post is about a company that has been collecting royalties from that song and the possibility that those royalties soon may stop.

In 1893, sisters Mildred Jane Hill and Patty Smith Hill published a collection of children’s songs. One of the songs – with the tune that we now know for “Happy Birthday to You” – was “Good Morning to All”.

Good morning to you,
Good morning to you,
Good morning, dear children,
Good morning to all.

While no one knows for sure who wrote the “Happy Birthday” lyrics, their first known publication was in 1912. (more…)

Fraudulent Takedown Notice Leads to $25,000 Judgment

Logo for WordPress, which won a lawsuit about a fraudulent takedown noticeEarlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the author of a fraudulent takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to pay more than $25,000.

U.K. Student Journalist Oliver Hotham has a blog on, which is operated by San Francisco-based Automattic Inc. (more…)

Ridiculous Yelp Lawsuit Alleges Reviewers are Employees

Yelp logo - post about ridiculous Yelp lawsuit alleging reviewers and employeesDo you wonder why lawyers often have a bad reputation? If so, consider the ridiculous Yelp lawsuit alleging that Yelp’s reviewers are employees of the company.

Yelp is an online review site and local business search service. Consumers are encouraged to write reviews of, and rate their satisfaction with, various products and services.

Historically, controversies have concerned whether Yelp punishes businesses for not advertising on the site (which Yelp denies). More recently, business owners have complained about Yelp’s automated tools for removing false or inappropriate (e.g., paid) reviews based on unpublished criteria.


The First Sale Doctrine: If I Own It, I Can Sell It

Green traffic light - symbol of first sale doctrine providing go-ahead, defense against IP infringement claim

Copyright and trademark owners typically like to exercise their legal rights as broadly as possible. There is however, a well-known limit to those rights called the “first sale doctrine“.

Actually, they are two separate but similar doctrines. One pertains to copyrights, the other to trademarks:

  • Copyrights17 USC Section 109(a) states, with certain exceptions, that the owner of a lawfully-made copy of a work may sell or dispose of the work. Consent of the copyright owner is not required. So, for example, if you legitimately possess a book or a CD, you may sell it or give it to someone else or throw it into a trash bin.
  • Trademarks – The trademark first sale doctrine is a product of case law rather than statute. In Sebastian International, Inc. v. Longs Drug Stores Corporation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit wrote: “[W]ith certain well-defined exceptions, the right of a producer to control distribution of its trademarked product does not extend beyond the first sale of the product. Resale by the first purchaser of the original article under the producer’s trademark is neither trademark infringement nor unfair competition.” The exceptions include, for example, stolen or counterfeit goods or goods that have avoided the producer’s quality control systems.


Chubby Checker Files Ridiculous Trademark Infringement Suit

Photo of Chubby Checker

Chubby Checker (real name Ernest Evans) – the singer famous for The Twist dance craze in the 1960s – and certain corporations that he controls have filed a lawsuit against Hewlett-Packard Company and Palm, Inc. The suit concerns a no-longer-available app named “The Chubby Checker”.

The app purported to allow women to calculate the size of a man’s penis based on his shoe size. According to webOS Nation, the app was downloaded only 84 times before it was removed in September 2012. Yet press reports state that the plaintiffs are seeking damages of $500 million for trademark infringement and unfair competition!