Category: Legal News

On June 19, 2017, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s prohibition against disparaging trademarks “violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.” The case, Matal v. Tam, 582 U.S. _____ (2017), arises out of a federal lawsuit filed by Simon Tam, front man of the Asian-American rock band styled “The Slants.” Tam filed his suit after the USPTO denied his application for federal registration of the trademark “THE SLANTS” because it violated the Lanham Act’s disparagement clause (15 U.S.C. §1052(a)). Tam chose the name in order to “reclaim” the term and drain its denigrating force as a derogatory term for Asians. Continue Reading
The Hawai`i Supreme Court recently held that laches is a defense to any civil action, legal or equitable, and can bar a legal claim for damages, even if brought within the applicable statute of limitations period.[1]  This was the unhappy position in which the Royal Aloha condominium association found itself.  See Ass’n of Apt. Owners of Royal Aloha v. Certified Mgmt., 139 Haw. 229, 386 P.3d 866 (Dec. 2016). In order to allocate electricity costs, Royal Aloha installed sub-meters to monitor and bill unit owners based on individual usage.  Between 1998 and 2010, Royal Aloha (through its managing agents) under-billed certain commercial unit owners.  In 2012, after realizing the error, Royal Aloha sued its managing agents and the commercial tenants for recovery of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Even though the under-billing continued to occur less than 6 years prior to Royal Aloha’s suit (the applicable limitations period), the Circuit Court ruled against Royal Aloha on all claims based on the doctrine of laches, which was affirmed by the Hawai`i Supreme Court. Continue Reading
By Scott Prange[i] President Trump is on an ostensible quest to “Make America Great Again!” And, as President Trump’s chief strategist declared recently, part of the strategy to do so is to “deconstruct the administrative state” to free our nation’s businesses from “burdensome regulations.” President Trump’s hackneyed slogan might as well be “Make American Workplaces Great Again!” As President Trump proclaimed when he nominated the new Secretary of the Department of Labor, we will “save businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations that are stunting job growth and suppressing wages.” So, what has President Trump accomplished so far, and what can be expected going forward? Here is what Hawai‘i employers need to know for strategic compliance. Continue Reading
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser recently noted “Hawaii’s Hepatitis A outbreak . . . is the worst in the country since 2003.”  As of September 6, 2016, the State of Hawai’i Department of Health (“DOH”) has confirmed 241 cases of Hepatitis A across the state.. On August 8th, our… Continue Reading
Effective August 29, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has eased restrictions on the commercial use of drones, or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Previously, business owners were required to apply for waivers to use drones for commercial purposes on a case-by-case basis. These revised rules open the door for business… Continue Reading
The class action litigation involving drivers for the ride-booking company Uber has enormous implications not just for those in the “gig economy” but for all companies that use the services of independent contractors.  In O’Connor et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., in the Northern District of California, a class of… Continue Reading
As of August 3, 2016, the State of Hawai’i Department of Health (“DOH”) has confirmed 135 cases of Hepatitis A across the Hawaiian Islands, including seven food service workers, in the largest outbreak in decades. Although the DOH has yet to identify the source of the outbreak and the… Continue Reading
“There are only two categories of companies affected by trade-secret theft: those that know they’ve been compromised and those that don’t know yet.” – Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General In May, President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (the “DTSA”). The DTSA creates a federal uniform standard, permitting… Continue Reading
Updated on January 29, 2016 On January 20, 2016, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) released an “Administrator’s Interpretation” of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) with respect to joint employment.  A week later, on January 27th, the DOL followed up with a “Fact Sheet” on the… Continue Reading
The Ninth Circuit has ruled that copyright holders must consider fair use before demanding that their content be removed from services like YouTube.  The ruling is courtesy of an eight-year, and counting, legal battle over a mother’s home video of her baby dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy”… Continue Reading