In copyright law, when is a phone book like a James Joyce novel? Only the data collector knows!

It is an old “chestnut” in the law that phone books cannot be copyrighted — they are just lists of data including plain names and numbers. However, today in Experian v National Marketing, No. 16-16987 (D.C. No. 2:13-cv-00618-SPL, the Ninth Circuit held that plain-seeming Experian databases of consumer information could have enough creativity to become copyrighted material:

“The novel federal question in this appeal is whether lists
of names with addresses are copyrightable when they are the
product of a sophisticated process to ensure accuracy and
utility. In other words, whether such lists are more like a
telephone book, that the Supreme Court has held lacks any
creative spark, or more like Joyce’s Ulysses that changed the
course of 20th century literature. The answer, it turns out,
lies somewhere in between, but closer to a telephone book.”

This odd quote doesn’t tell the whole tale, as this opinion is good news, bad news, good news. Good news: Experian’s databases were culled and curated just barely enough to be entitled to copyright protection. Bad news: there is no copyright theft because National did just enough to make its data different (a very low bar). But good news in the end: Experian might still be able to prove that National stole its trade secrets.

So after these twists and turns, Experian might just now try and enjoy a quote from Ulysses as it looks forward to another round of lower court trials and tribulations:

“Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.”

AB 1971 Seeks To Expand Medical Care for the Mentally Ill Homeless

Today’s article in the LA Times reports on a new bill that might offer the beginnings of real solutions for thousands of homeless people with mental illness. Controversial at its core, a 1967 mental health bill signed by President Reagan set boundaries in who could be confined ‘against their will’. These standards would be broadened for the purpose of providing medical care.

Too many people are dying on California streets — people who could be easily saved. Take a look at this bill and see for yourself whether it is a real start at a solution for those most in need.

New LA Times articles report that the new trash system “stinks”

Two recent articles in the Los Angeles times report that there have been 28,000 complaints to the City regarding the City’s new forced monopoly trash hauling program. Columnist Steve Lopez says that the “honeymoon is over” and the “execution doesn’t look so hot.” Reporter David Zahniser’s article is an in-depth critique of the system and again notes how “trash bills have soared for some customers.”

The Shining Law Firm has been fighting this ordinance on behalf of impacted commercial property owners and their tenants, HOAs and apartment owners since June of 2017. If you have been impacted by this ordinance, call the Shining Law Firm and tell us your story. We are fighting to have this unconstitutional program overturned, and return your right to vote on taxes under California’s Proposition 218.

LA City Council is in Panic Mode over increased fees, burdens of recycLA

Following last Friday’s packed hearing at City Hall, Los Angeles City Councilmembers are finally waking up to the chaos that has been created due to the failed rollout of the largest City program in decades. Owners of commercial property, multi-residential apartment buildings, tenants who pay waste bills and HOAs have been gouged with increased assessment and fees of 400% or more. The City Council has claimed to be unaware of these increases — however, the evidence collected by the Shining Law Firm has proved that they are either being duped by the new franchise waste haulers or that they are complicit in the illegal secret tax grab.

To join the fight against the City of Los Angeles’ illegal tax grab hidden under the guise of recycling for all, call or email the Shining Law Firm today.

Read more about the Council’s growing problems here:

LA Downtown News: Property Owners Say Cost and Service In New Waste Hauling Program Stinks!

On Monday, October 30, 2017, the Los Angeles Downtown News published a detailed article on how the City of Los Angeles has doubled, tripled and even quadrupled waste hauling costs on commercial property owners. The Shining Law Firm on behalf of the Apartment Owners Association, commercial property owners and their tenants has filed a class action lawsuit demonstrating how the new “recycLA” program is really an illegal tax grab. The lawsuit shows how the City has violated the Right to Vote on Taxes Act which became part of the California Constitution in 1996.

In this article, you can read quotes from property owners both large and small. They describe in their own words how they are being hit hard with surprise rate hikes, newly added on fees, burdensome requirements and a lack of any way to challenge the City’s actions. Who is to blame for the failed implementation of this program? Read and decide for yourself, and contact the Shining Law Firm if you are a witness to the failures of this program and would like to tell your story.

Daily News columnist calls for reversal of new waste hauling program than has more than doubled customer rates

Susan Shelley, columnist for the Southern California News Group, has called for a reversal of the new City of Los Angeles waste hauling system called “recyLA” and formerly called “Zero Waste.” Ms. Shelley’s article hits the nail on the head. However, on behalf of the Apartment Owners Association of California and all impacted commercial property owners, HOAs and apartment owners, the Shining Law Firm is spearheading an effort in the courts to stop these unconstitutional increases. Read more about Ms. Shelley’s ideas using the link below and stay tuned here for more developments.

Here’s how to get rid of L.A.’s costly new trash-hauling monopoly

LA Times: Time for City Leaders to “Be Straight” with Angelenos

Today’s Op-Ed by the Los Angeles Times editorial board makes it clear: The City of Los Angeles has duped citizens by promising recycling benefits but failing to disclosed forced price increases of 100, 200, 300 percent and more. Still worse, the City’s plan increases burdens on elderly property owners, small business owners and HOA owners. In its op-ed, the Times notes that the City spent years preparing this system, while at the same time hiding its failure to negotiate the reduced rates it promised. These higher rates are expected not only to impact up to 80,000 businesses, but will hit tenants hard.

On behalf of lead plaintiff the Apartment Owners Association of California, the Shining Law Firm has championed the rights of Angelenos to vote on tax increases negotiated and made in secret.

To read the LA Times op-ed, click here:

Shining Firm Represents Commercial Properties Owners Against Excessive Waste Hauling Hikes by City of LA

On July 1, 2017, the City of Los Angeles implemented massive rate hikes on owners of commercial property and apartment owners.  The Shining Law Firm is fighting these rate hikes arguing that they violate Proposition 218, the “Right To Vote on Taxes Act”.  The Right to Vote on Taxes Act was passed by California voters in 1996 as a follow-up to close loopholes in Proposition 13.  In attempts to get around Proposition 13’s bans on illegal tax increases without a vote, Proposition 218 calls out so-called “fees” and “assessments” used to circumvent Prop 13.

The specific City program  that requires these higher rates is called “Zero Waste” or “recyLA”. The program is supposedly designed to increase rates of recyling by consumers.  However, these charges are being forced disproportionately on the impacted owners, in particular smaller owners who are constricted by rent control.  The program forces commercial property and apartment owners to use one of seven selected waste haulers in seven pre-determined “zones”.  These haulers are called the “Franchisees”.  In addition to these increased rates, the City will receive an extra 2% of the gross receipts from each hauler, up from 10% previously.   Many impacted property owners are also having to pay extra fees such as pull-outs, locking charges and other fees that were not previously before in Los Angeles under free competition.  The Shining Law Firm’s complaint also alleges that these extra burdens are a cost to owners, and thus also part of the illegal tax grab.

The Apartment Owners Association of California is leading the charge as one of the lead plaintiffs of this case.  The case is currently a class action seeking an injunction, but notice has been given to the City that a class action for damages may be brought as necessary.

If you are a commercial property owner in Los Angeles and you believe you have been impacted, you may be a ‘putative’ class member.  Please call our offices at 310-490-4383 to see if you qualify today.

For more information, see the following recent articles from the Los Angeles Times:

Sky no longer falling: the word “sky” is once again safe to use in Great Britain

The much anticipated release of the game “No Man’s Sky” can proceed now without further delay as British Sky TV owners have settled their trademark lawsuit against the game company.

Could this happen in the United States?  Just like everything else in business, trademark law is becoming globalized.  Of course, lawyers can’t just say “globalization” – they need their own fancy term which is called “harmonization”.  The International Trademark Association has posted a nice overview of what is supposed to happen to “generic” words.  Simply put, they are not supposed to be given trademark value.  But as is often in legal areas stemming from British common law, there are exceptions to exceptions to exceptions.

It is always recommended that business owners consult with an experienced trademark attorney before really investing in any brand name, service name or trademark.  A few thousand dollars can save months and years of legal aggravation over what should be “free” as the “sky” above.