Jacobs and Dodds is a business/labor law firm with offices in Orange County and Los Angeles County. Each partner has over 35 years of experience. The firm handles employment issues on behalf of employers, business litigation and business transactional matters for over 300 companies.
In Orange County call us at (949) 645-7300. In Los Angeles County call us at (424) 247-1195.
California Unfair Competition
The law of unfair competition is primarily comprised of torts that cause an
economic injury to a business, through a deceptive or wrongful business
practice. Unfair competition can be broken down into two broad groups or
categories. Unfair competition can refer to business practices that confuse
consumers as to the source of a given product or service. Or, unfair competition
can include such business activities as false advertising, bait and switch
selling tactics, unauthorized substitution of one brand of goods for another,
use of confidential and protected information by former employees, or
independent contractors to solicit customers of a former employer, theft of
trade secrets, breach of a restrictive covenant, trade libel, and false
representation of products or services.
In California, many business owners
are concerned about employees that leave the company and then either go to work
for a competitor, or open up a competing business. Employers are concerned that
the now ex-employee may have taken the customer list or other protected trade
secrets when the employee left the company.
A civil lawsuit may be brought against
a former employee who takes and makes use of a trade secret belonging to his
former employer. Under certain circumstances, an employer can seek immediate
injunctive relief to stop the former employee from competing
The theft of trade secrets is also a
crime. A person is guilty of theft who, with intent to deprive or withhold from
the owner the control of a trade secret or with intent to appropriate a trade
secret to his or her own use or the use of another, steals, takes, or carries
away any article representing a trade secret, fraudulently appropriates any
article representing a trade secret entrusted to him or her, or makes or causes
to be made a copy of any article representing a trade secret without authority
on obtaining access to the article unlawfully or in breach of a relationship of
trust and confidence on obtaining access through such
As used in Pen. Code, § 499c, (1)
"article" means any object, material, device, or substance or copy thereof,
including any writing, record, recording, drawing, sample, specimen, prototype,
model, photograph, microorganism, blueprint, or map; (2) "representing" means
describing, depicting, containing, constituting, reflecting, or recording; (3)
"trade secret" means information, including a formula, pattern, compilation,
program, device, method, technique, or process that derives independent economic
value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to the public or to
other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and is
the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain
its secrecy; (4) "copy" means any facsimile, replica, photograph, or other
reproduction of an article, and any note, drawing, or sketch made of or from an
article; and (5) "benefit" means gain or advantage, or anything regarded by the
beneficiary as gain or advantage, including benefit to any other person or
entity in whose welfare he or she is interested.
Also criminally liable is every person
who promises, offers, or gives, or conspires to promise, offer, or give to any
present or former agent, employee, or servant of another a benefit as an
inducement, bribe, or reward for conveying, delivering or otherwise making
available an article representing a trade secret owned by his or her present or
former principal, employer, or master, to any person not authorized by such
owner to receive or acquire it. Similarly liable is every person who, being such
an agent, employee, or servant, solicits, accepts, receives, or takes such a
However, there is no trade secret
protection for information known either to the public at large or to those
skilled in the particular field. It is an essential element of the offense that
an item fraudulently appropriated by the defendant would give one who uses it an
advantage over competitors who do not know of or use the trade secret; this
element requires more than merely conclusory and generalized allegations.
At the business law firm of Jacobs & Dodds we protect our clients from all forms of unfair competition.
The basic rule is that parties to a contract must
perform as specified in the contract unless (1) the parties agree to a change
in the contract's terms, or (2) the actions of the party who deviates from the
terms of the contract are implicitly accepted ("ratified") by the
action or non-action of the other party.
If there is no acceptance of deviation from the
terms of the contract, and the deviation is serious enough to make any real
difference in the intended result of the contract, then the deviating party is
said to have breached the contract. Of course if one party fails more or less entirely
to perform the contract, or totally prevents the performance of the contract by
the other party, the situation is straightforward. The situation becomes more complex
where the argument is over such things as the quality of materials, the timing
of work, or the quality of the work performed when the contract involves
Breach of contract leaves the nonperforming or
The case of Brown v. American Airlines, Inc., No. CV 10-8431-AG (PJWx), 2015 WL 6735217 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 5, 2015) concerns the dismissal of PAGA claims where the claims are based on numerous individualized issues that may render the case unmanageable.
PAGA allows “aggrieved employees” to bring representative actions against employers for civil penalties on behalf of themselves and other employees for violations of the Labor Code. To recover penalties, a PAGA plaintiff must prove an underlying Labor Code violation as to each allegedly aggrieved employee for each pay period for which the plaintiff seeks penalties. But to determine liability on the underlying Labor Code provisions, the court may need to adjudicate issues specific to each pay period for each allegedly aggrieved employee — which raises potentially significant manageability problems.
A plaintiff may be able to meet the burden of proof where the employee alleges an employer violated Labor Code section 226(a) by providi…
In California the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) adjudicates wage claims on behalf of workers who file claims for nonpayment of wages, overtime, or vacation pay, pursuant to California Labor Code sections 96 and 98. DLSE deputies hold informal conferences between employers and employees to resolve wage disputes. If a matter cannot be resolved at the informal conference, an administrative hearing is held to make a final determination on the matter.
An employee (plaintiff) alleging the non-payment of wages or other compensation by his or her employer (defendant), must file a claim (the DLSE Form 1, “Initial Report or Claim” form) with a local office of DLSE to initiate investigation of the claim by the Labor Commissioner. The employee is asked to provide any time records the plaintiff kept of the hours and dates worked that support the claim, paychecks and pay stubs showing the wages paid during the claim period and dishonored (or “bounced”) paycheck(s) during the claim…