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Kerkman & Dunn
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Milwaukee, WI 53202

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Milwaukee Business & Commercial Law Blog

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.

Seeking remedies for professional malpractice in Wisconsin

When a Wisconsin business owner ends up in a commercial dispute, that business owner greatly depends on the professional advice of consultants and lawyers. Unfortunately, in some cases, a business owner realizes that the decision to hire the consultant or lawyer to mitigate the dispute has backfired and resulted in considerable losses, financially or otherwise. In such cases, it may be possible for business owners to sue these professionals citing failure to provide the industry standard of service.

However, as simple as it may look on paper, business owners often find it difficult to seek restitution after an incident of professional malpractice, especially when the defendant is an attorney. In such cases, it becomes necessary for the business owner to prove not only that the attorney acted negligently but also that the outcome of the case could have been different had it been handled competently. A business owner has to win two cases bundled into one, if the owner want a successful resolution.

What does filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy require?

Few business owners in Wisconsin want to reach the point where debt threatens the existence of their companies. Any number of events or developments, however, can lead them to the point where filing for bankruptcy is the only real way to recover. For many company owners, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing will allow survival by restructuring debt and reorganizing their enterprises. Because Chapter 11 is one of the most complicated bankruptcy methods of debt relief, business owners should understand the eligibility requirements before they begin the filing process.

What does a debtor have to do after filing? Within 14 days following a voluntary petition filing, a debtor must submit standardized statements regarding the debtor's income and finances, paystubs and schedules A through J. Failure to file any of these documents can lead to dismissal of the petition for bankruptcy relief. All petitions are accompanied by filing fees or an application to pay filing fees in installments.

Stealing trade secrets in Wisconsin can cause punitive damages

Wisconsin companies must protect their trade secrets to develop and maintain a strong and successful business. If this confidential information is stolen by an employee or business partner, a lawsuit can be filed against that person or the company who received the information. A recent case of alleged stealing of confidential business information is currently catching public attention.

The former CEO of an energy company has been charged with stealing confidential data during the end of his employment tenure and using that information to launch an oil and gas business. The business was started almost two years ago after the former CEO allegedly asked his assistant to provide important documents which provided the locations of unleased land with oil reserves. He then sent copies of the documents to his personal email account.

What happens to the old company after a merger?

Many businesses in Wisconsin find their best chances for growth through mergers and acquisitions. These moves have many requirements, however. It's important to understand some of the legal issues that can come up with mergers and acquisitions.

In a merger, only the surviving entity retains it legal identity. The surviving entity also acquires title to all property that was owned by the other entity. The surviving entity also inherits all the other entity's liabilities.

Keeping business trade secrets safe from competitors

Many Wisconsin businesses have trade secrets, and most take the need to protect them seriously, although they may not always know how those secrets can be misappropriated or otherwise compromised or stolen.

A trade secret can be a process or an element or constituent part of a product or process. It can take a variety of forms, and its essential value to the business differs with each business. It can be a secret ingredient in a recipe, a customer database, the internal workings of a website or an innovative method of executing a task. It can also be a process that does not yet have patent protection. Losing a trade secret can be a major setback for a business because it suddenly gives competitors an unfair edge in the market.

In Chapter 11 bankruptcy, what does debtor in possession mean?

Business owners here in the Milwaukee area may be aware that Chapter 11 bankruptcy is typically meant for reorganizing a corporation, a proprietorship or a partnership. According to the laws under this chapter of the Bankruptcy Code, a corporation exists separately from its stakeholders, and in the event of bankruptcy, the stakeholders are not considered debtors.

However, that is not the case if the commercial entity is a sole proprietorship or a partnership. That is because in a sole proprietorship, both the business assets and the assets of the owner are part of the bankruptcy process. Again, in the event that the commercial entity is a partnership, the partners' assets may be part of the bankruptcy process. In both cases, since the proprietor or partners are part of the bankruptcy process, they are known as debtors in possession.