Contracts, Trademarks, and Bears, Oh My!: The National Park Service Fights its Contractor over Intellectual Property.

yosemiteBy Robin Hammond

A subsidiary of the food service and hospitality company Delaware North (“DNCY”), recently lost a 15-year contract to run Yosemite National Park’s hotels, restaurants, and outdoor activities. The contract was worth approximately $2 billion. This change has prompted several lawsuits, petitions to the federal trademark board, a bid protest with the federal Government Accountability Office, and a bill in the California State Legislature. The trademark dispute provides an interesting discussion of intellectual property rights, contract interpretation, and public policy. Continue reading

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

The 21st Century Cures Act Will Be Implemented Piecemeal

fdaBy Jason Liu

As technology and medicine advance, the need to streamline and regulate medicine will increase. One can visit a virtual doctor, connect medical devices to the internet, and access cutting-edge gene therapy precision medicine. However, government agencies work with laws that never considered these innovations. To update these laws, the House passed the 21st Century Cures Act in 2015. The Act currently sits in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Senate (HELP) committee. Congress may also break the bill into smaller pieces of legislation.

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the leader of the HELP committee, recently stated that the panel will divide the 21st Century Cures Act into smaller pieces of legislation. The Act has stalled in the Senate because Democrats and Republicans disagree on how to fund the bill. Beginning Feb. 9, the committee will vote on at least seven bipartisan bills ranging from expediting therapies for rare diseases to improving electronic health records. Continue reading

Drone Drain [Update]

Aeryon_Scout_In_FlightBy Brooks Lindsay

This blog post follows up on an article I wrote for the Washington Journal of Law, Technology and Arts for the Spring 2015 issue. I submitted the article as a comment to the FAA on behalf of the UW College of Engineering. The article, titled “Drone Drain,” suggested the FAA be forward-looking with its draft unmanned aerial vehicle (UAS) rules. This blog post attempts to assess the FAA’s work since then.

Since the end of the comment period, the FAA created registration rules for drones weighing between .55 lbs and 55 lbs. This is an important step in the maturation of drone law because, like with cars, the identification of a drone after an accident is critical for victims to bring tort claims or the government to press charges for a misdemeanor or felony. If people don’t know who crashed a drone, then they can’t hold that registered person legally accountable. Without accountability, UAS pilots might feel emboldened to take risks without fear of legal consequences. Registration rules cut through this cycle and facilitate the maturation of a legal ecosystem for drones. Continue reading