I’m a Yelp Reviewer: the Freedom to Review

south-park-s19e04c11-no-more-whistlin-willys_16x9By Talia Loucks

This past season of South Park featured an episode entitled “You’re Not Yelping” where Yelp reviewers took over the town, putting folks out of business with their bad reviews. As always, South Park provided a humorous commentary on the current issue many companies face: one or two negative reviews can severely damage business. Many businesses have come up with a way to combat this: anti-disparagement clauses. Continue reading

‘Freaky Fast’ Sandwich Maker’s Non-Compete May Inspire Quick Changes to the Law

IMG_2237By Grady Hepworth

Last year, national sandwich chain Jimmy John’s garnered widespread media attention after it was revealed that the company requires many of its sandwich makers, and some delivery-drivers, to sign non-compete agreements for entry-level jobs. The Huffington Post originally obtained Jimmy John’s non-competition covenant, and Jimmy John’s has since become the center of litigation, as well as Congressional legislation, to protect the mobility of low-wage workers.

Jimmy John’s non-compete agreement shocked some, and outraged others, for its potentially far-reaching effects and the hardship it could impose on low-wage workers. The agreement prohibited former employees from working for any sandwich-making restaurant within a three-mile radius of a Jimmy John’s location within city limits, for at least two years. As drafted, the agreement could preclude former employees from working for any competing restaurant within an entire city (the covenant applies to any restaurant that derives at least ten percent of its profits from sandwich-like products). Jimmy John’s justifies the agreement due to the “substantial time, effort, and money in developing the products sold to customers” and effort spent “refining the procedures to be used in operating” Jimmy John’s restaurants. Subsequently, the controversy has inspired media outlets to expose similar low-wage non-compete agreements utilized by other companies, including Amazon. Continue reading

Kobe Bryant Trademarks Phrase to Prepare for the Next Chapter

kobeBy Yayi Ding

It’s official – Kobe Bryant has trademarked the phrase: “Friends Hang Sometimes Banners Hang Forever.”

The motto originated from a 2015 interview with Kobe, when a reporter asked him about “not being a great friend all the time.” His response captured the relentless drive that has defined him as a basketball player: “Friends can come and go, but banners hang forever.” As Kobe’s NBA career comes to a close, his legal efforts offer more insight into his business acumen and his post-retirement preparations. Continue reading

Revisiting the Definition of “Disruptive Innovation” and Why Uber and Tesla Don’t Meet it

UntitledBy Christian Kaiser

In 1995, Clayton M. Christensen, a professor at the Harvard Business School, coined the term and theory “disruptive innovation.” This term has since become so popular in the tech startup world that most entrepreneurs use it in their pitch or when describing their business. The phrase “tech startup” is almost synonymous with disruptive innovation. However, as Prof. Christensen and his coauthors explain in their new article, many people, including top executives, are not using this term correctly and are misidentifying “disruptive” businesses. In his new article, Prof. Christensen explains the necessary conditions of “disruptive innovation” and applies them to Uber and Tesla, ultimately finding that neither is disruptive. In this blog article, I briefly address why it is important for lawyers working with technology to understand the theory of “disruptive innovation.” Continue reading

Wrongful Classification of Employees as Independent Contractors – Will Tech Companies Fare Better Than Transport Companies?

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 7.18.26 AMBy Cheryl Lee

What do Uber, Amazon and FedEx have in common? They are all multibillion dollar companies using independent contractors for transport and have faced or are facing lawsuits alleging they wrongfully classified employees as independent contractors.

Generally, independent contractors are cheaper for companies to hire. Employers do not have to offer benefits like health insurance and 401(k)s, pay overtime or give paid days off, cover the employer share of their payroll taxes, or withhold income taxes. Independent contractors essentially run their own business with autonomy to decide when, where and how to do the work assigned. They have the freedom to take on projects with other companies. Continue reading