Business Disputes and Litigation
Business Disputes between Businesses
Disputes between businesses can be caused by many factors (i.e. ownership rights, breach of contract, trade secret disputes when employees change jobs). When such disputes occur, mediation and negotiation are often the most effective means to reach a resolution. We can represent you in business disputes, counsel you to help resolve these disputes as quickly and efficiently as possible, and can represent your business in a court action or arbitration if efforts to resolve the dispute informally are not successful.
When a business dispute arises among shareholders, partners or LLC members, or among any of these and their corporation, partnership, or LLC, immediate action will help to prevent or minimize damage and losses. Recognizing the potential impact these kinds of disputes can have on the longevity and value of a business, we can counsel you to help resolve these disputes as quickly and efficiently as possible, and can represent you in a court action or arbitration if efforts to resolve the dispute informally are not successful.
The decisions made by officers and directors of corporations typically do not subject these individuals to personal liability. If an officer or director of a corporation makes what later turns out to be a bad business decision, as long as they acted in good faith they are generally not liable unless that decision directly violates a specific obligation or duty. However, the law governing corporations does provide for expanded liability in certain instances. This liability is often triggered if an officer or director makes a decision that results in financial harm to a corporation, acts in their own interests in making bad decisions, or commits some sort of wrongful act or crime. In these cases, breaches of fiduciary duty and acts of fraud are grounds for legal recourse by shareholders. We have experience in both asserting and defending these types of claims.
Trade Secrets Disputes
Trade secret information can include methods of operation, business strategies, manufacturing or business processes, formulas, customer information, and other compilations of information which are not generally known or reasonably ascertainable by others, and by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers. Trade secrets are commonly protected by employee agreements and legal covenants, such as a confidentiality agreement or a non-compete agreement (or a covenant not to compete). A confidentiality agreement necessitates that employees keep information learned from a company in confidence. A non-compete agreement is often much more restrictive, possibly requiring that an employee cannot seek employment in the same industry within a certain geographic area or a certain time frame. Information may also be protectable as trade secrets even if it is not patented or copyrighted.
Employees often face trade secret claims from their former employers when they change employers or open a new business and compete with a former employer. California law attempts to balance business trade secret protections with the rights of a worker to change jobs or to start his or her own business and compete with a former employer. California law also makes many “non-compete” agreements between employers and employees completely unenforceable. We have substantial experience in trade secret and “non-competition” disputes. If you are an employer, we can assist you in protecting your valuable trade secrets from unfair competition. If you are an employee, we can assist you in protecting your right to work and your right to compete with a former employer.
Court Supervised Business Dissolution
The decision to end a business may come about for a variety of reasons. In many cases, the decision to dissolve a business entity is voluntary and mutual. In other situations, businesses may be forced into dissolution because of outside factors which are beyond the control of the owners, partners, members, or stakeholders. Whatever the case may be, we are prepared to aid in the process of filing or fighting against minority shareholder oppression claims, contested business dissolutions, claims against directors or officers alleging breach of fiduciary duty, and suits alleging usurpation of corporation assets and opportunities.