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Kerkman & Dunn
757 North Broadway, Suite 300
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Toll Free: 800-613-0747
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Milwaukee Business & Commercial Law Blog

A general overview of the theft of trade secrets

U.S. business law considers the misappropriation of a trade secret intended for use in interstate or foreign commerce by an employee for his or her own benefit, or for the benefit of any other organization, a serious legal transgression. The law prohibits employees or competitors from stealing, concealing or carrying away the intellectual property of any business by fraud or without prior approval.

The term "trade secret" identifies all forms of confidential business information, including those derived from business, financial, technical, economic or engineering activities. This information may include designs, patterns, plans, methods, techniques, computer codes or programs and manufacturing procedures, whether tangible or intangible.

Big Wisconsin bank to expand its reach with new acquisition

Baylake Corporation, one of top banks in Wisconsin, is set to acquire the parent company of Union State Bank for almost $10 million. According to Baylake, the acquisition of New Brancshares, Inc. will help increase the bank's market share in Kewaunee and Brown counties, and enhance the bank's presence across northeast Wisconsin.

The CEO of Baylake Corporation said the company is looking forward to serving Union Bank's customer base, which has a good mix of loans and deposited assets. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Baylake Corporation, which has more than a $1 billion in assets, made a total profit of $9.8 million last year.

Bankruptcy 101-how to file or avoid filing a Chapter 11 case

Helping businesses and young entrepreneurs file Chapter 11 bankruptcy is routine work at Kerkman & Dunn. The quality of the services we offer are undisputed quality and our extensive experience representing business in Chapter 11 filings has helped build our reputation in Wisconsin. We believe that there are other alternatives and resorting to Chapter 11 may not always be the best possible avenue. Our experience and expertise in the field of getting businesses back on their feet enable us to resolve our clients' cases in tactful and intricate manners.

To arrive at an appropriate solution to a case, we first interview our clients to get a better understanding of their business goals, operations and the challenges they face. By obtaining a wider perspective, we then assess the situation to provide various options and alternatives that set the business back on the right track to success. Negotiating a debt settlement with lenders and creditors often plays a key role in finding a resolution.

Wisconsin-based crane company wins patent case

In today's volatile economy, it is important for Wisconsin businesses to protect their trade secrets to avoid unfair competition and to maintain their competitive edge. Misappropriation of trade secrets cannot only wreak havoc on a company's reputation, but also on its profits.

A similar case of misappropriation of trade secrets by a Chinese equipment manufacturer, Sany, has come into the limelight lately. The U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that a part found on the company's crawler crane violates patents and trade secrets of Manitowoc, an American company operating in Wisconsin that makes equipment used in the food service and construction industries. According to the U.S. Tariff Act of 1930, the Chinese equipment manufacturer produced equipment with a design that infringed on one patent and six trade secrets.

Some debts cannot be discharged through Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Business owners in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, may be aware that Chapter 11 bankruptcy is often a good option for obtaining debt relief. However, some people may not understand that Chapter 11 bankruptcy often requires an in-depth understanding of the entire bankruptcy process and errors along the way may cause some issues. Business owners should also know that there are certain debts that cannot be eliminated by Chapter 11.

A business's bankruptcy filing under Chapter 11 implies that the firm's finances will be reorganized rather than the assets being liquidated. Liquidation may be possible but that option generally lies with the creditor rather than with the debtor. In a typical Chapter 11 liquidation case, a business cannot have all of its debts discharged and; therefore, the business chooses to liquidate assets in order to repay creditors. Even in a Chapter 11 reorganization plan, the majority of creditors must agree on the repayment plan.

The challenges of Wisconsin closely held businesses

Owners of small businesses in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, may need to seriously consider the consequences of selling or transitioning into a business. For closely held businesses, the owners sometimes fail to plan what they will do in the event that they die or become incapacitated and unable to run their business. A lot of time and effort is spent on establishing a business, but improper planning or judgment may put the business at risk.

In the event of an untimely death of an owner in a closely held corporation, the corporation may have to face reorganization. The legal or personal representative of the deceased shareholder may request that the corporation buy the full shares of the person who has passed away or ask to dissolve the corporation itself. However, this depends entirely on what is in the shareholder's will.

Protecting the victims of Wisconsin trade secret misappropriation

Businessmen and executives in Wisconsin may know that the state has adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Under this law, no person may misappropriate the trade secrets of another person or organization by collecting information by unfair means. Trade secrets include formulas, patterns, methods, techniques and processes that are integral to an organization and contribute to its growth.

In Wisconsin, anyone accused of misappropriating trade secrets may be served an injunction order that will prevent them from disclosing secrets. Also, according to the law, stealing trade secrets is a federal crime. Victims of trade secret leakage may wish to seek compensation for any actual incurred loss. A court may award damages up to three times the actual loss and may also ask the violator to pay the legal fees that the victim had to bear.

Mergers & acquisitions: getting down to brass tacks in Wisconsin

Business owners in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who are looking forward to a business merger or acquisition, may have to consider certain transaction structures. Like most business transactions, mergers and acquisitions also come with their share of risks. But, a careful evaluation of every possibility can avoid any dangerous circumstance.

Regarding asset purchases, the buyer usually buys all assets, tangible and intangible, from the seller. However, if the seller had creditors before the acquisition, the buyer will not have to assume these responsibilities after the deal is signed. It is the responsibility of the seller to clear the debt, unless and until there is any case of fraudulent conveyance.

Zynga and investors in business litigation over 2011 IPO

Many Milwaukee, Wisconsin, residents play the popular FarmVille games available on social networking sites and mobile devices, so they know about Zynga, the company that developed the games. Recently, Zynga's shareholders filed another lawsuit in U.S. District Court, alleging that company officers made false claims and promises regarding its financial state and prospects before and after an Initial Public Offering, or IPO, which took place in December 2011.

According to reports, similar commercial litigation was initiated against Zynga early last year, but the case was dismissed. However, the latest hearing in the revised lawsuit resulted in the judge permitting shareholders to pursue their business litigation against Zynga. The judge's decision was based on allegations that Zynga concealed its declining user base, masked how changes on a social networking website would affect the demand of the games and inflated the revenue forecast for 2012.

Insight into stealing company trade secrets in Wisconsin

Many small businesses in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, often lack the knowledge, resources and expertise required for protecting a trade secret. If a company invents something new, it is important to obtain a patent for this unique invention. Even if a company never invents a physical product, any intellectual property or unique company procedure needs to be protected too.

An employee who steals company trade secrets and uses these for personal gain or leaks the company's confidential information to a competing business could be penalized under the law. These laws also prohibit an employee or business partner from making photocopies or duplicate electronic files of intellectual property.