Houston Business and Family Law Blog

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide (From Patent Trolls)

Actually, you can't really run, either.

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Your HQ might be in Silicon Valley, but patent trolls can sue you in any jurisdiction in the U.S. Don't ask us if it's fair (it's not) - being able to pick the forum for litigation is unique to patent trolls, and a bit of a headache for entrepreneurs and executives like you.

We've got Advil, but before it starts working, your headache is only going to get worse.

Who Gets the Private Jet After Divorce? (And Other Unique Assets)

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If you read only the first paragraph of this post, make it this one:

  • There are multiple methods of "dividing" unique assets, some of which will not require you to give up what you want to keep. The key is properly valuing these assets and dividing other property in a way that accounts for the value.

To take a private jet as an example, divorce will call into question what happens to your fractional ownership interest and/or mileage points. (The financial liability of aircraft maintenance will also require attention in a divorce.)

Elements a Court Can Consider in Making a Disproportionate Property Division in Divorce

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Disproportionate property division is more common than you may realize. Although there is a presumption in Texas that divorcing couples will split all assets and property down the middle, disproportionate divisions are not unheard of when the facts of the marriage support it.

Personal Goodwill vs. Commercial Goodwill in a Divorce

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Goodwill is a valuable asset. As with other assets, such as homes and cars, goodwill is part of what a person "owns," even though it is generally intangible. Nonetheless, certain goodwill can be valued and divided in a divorce, or otherwise accounted for in the context of a divorce settlement. There are two types of goodwill: personal and commercial. If you're a business owner - a physician who owns a medical practice, for example - read on to learn more.

Congratulations to 'Super Lawyers Texas Rising Stars,' Lennea Cannon and Christy Martin

super-hero.jpgLennea Cannon, who leads the divorce and family law practice at Kerr, Hendershot & Cannon, P.C., has been named to the Super Lawyers Texas Rising Stars list for Family Law.

Christy Martin, a commercial litigator and business law attorney at Kerr, Hendershot & Cannon, P.C., was also named to Super Lawyers Texas Rising Stars, in the area of Business Litigation.

How to Mitigate the "Business Divorce": Getting the Right Shareholder Agreement in Place

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As the great Depeche Mode always said, "people are people..." - everyone is predestined to make a mistake or have an emotion or strong opinion. When it comes to people going into business with others, these same human elements will always exist. That is why no one should go into business assuming their partners will always be 100% on board with their ideas. It is especially true when entering into a venture with friends or family, which is why it's so easy for some people to assume nothing can go wrong in the future. We're not saying you can't trust your partners - we're simply saying that human nature and all its complications are facts of life, even in the business world, and having the proper legal agreements in place can act as a safeguard that will give all shareholders involved more protection against potential fall-outs.

Your Rights and Remedies as a Minority Shareholder (Worry Not: You Have Plenty)

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The Supreme Court of Texas has made it much more difficult for minority shareholders to sue majority shareholders for oppression. In the 2014 case of Ritchie v. Rupe, the Court declined to recognize the common law cause of action for shareholder oppression. This severely restricted the rights and remedies of minority shareholders who find themselves subject to squeeze outs, freeze outs, and other forms of oppression.

But that doesn't mean minority shareholders have no recourse.

The World of the Over-Regulated Physician: Too Little Time to Treat the Patient

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Fact: The government can subject your medical practice to an investigation, even though the idea of your having committed healthcare fraud is laughable.

Fact: There are innocent doctors and other healthcare providers who are increasingly finding themselves targets of government scrutiny.

Fact: Even if investigators say you're not a target, you probably are and any statements you make could prove very harmful to you and your practice.

This is the world of the over-regulated physician.

Read on to learn more about the government's investigation tactics.

Updates in Patent Litigation: Patent Eligibility, Or Bad News for Patent Trolls

35 U.S. Code § 101 - Inventions Patentable 

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Last week we focused on patent troll defense litigation. This week, we take it back a few years to when the Supreme Court upheld a district court ruling in Alice Corp vs. CLS Bank. CLS Bank is a global network that facilitates currency transactions. Alice Corp. is an assignee of several patents of a computer-generated method of mitigating settlement risk.

Fighting the Evil Patent Troll

A play-by-play on what a patent troll is, how they operate, and what you can do about them to protect your business...

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Have you ever heard of "patent trolls?" If not, you probably have heard them referred to as their other, less-scary-sounding names such as patent holding companies (PHC), patent assertion entities (PAE) or non-practicing entities (NPE). But for the sake of drama, let's continue the usage of their pejorative name: patent trolls.

We know.

It sounds like some sort of freaky fairy-tale we're about to weave. But, unfortunately, these entities are real-life nuisances. According to law professor Dennis Crouch, a patent troll is a company or a person who "attempts to enforce patent rights against accused infringers far beyond the patent's actual value or contribution to the prior art."

They don't make anything. They don't supply anything. They simply buy up patent rights on existing or latent patents (which are usually vague or ambiguous), scour the world looking for people or companies who supposedly infringe on the patents they have acquired the rights to, and then (a) attempt to extract license fees and (b) sue for patent infringement upon their refusal to pay those fees.

So, what is their end game? Well, clearly: money. Simple as that. They're hoping you, the alleged "infringer," will be willing to pay some type of settlement ("ransom") to keep the suit from going forward. According to Harvard Business Review, patent litigation in the U.S. has cost defendants an estimated $29B per year in direct, out-of-pocket costs.