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The BUSKLAW July Newsletter: The "Inside Baseball" Business Litigation Stupid Strategy Post

There's baseball and there's inside baseball. The former brings to mind Detroit Tigers baseball and the legendary Ernie Harwell. In the early 60s, my father and I would camp out on our porch during the summer months and listen to Ernie's play-by-play over the recently-invented portable transistor radio. Late games were punctuated by euphonious crickets and frogs, some of whom resided in or around our cement-pond swimming pool. This chorus - combined with Ernie's sonorous narrative - often sent me off to dreamland. 

But "inside baseball" is different. The term implies knowing something that is beyond ordinary understanding. Esoteric even. More effort is required to grasp "inside baseball" information, but the payoff is greater: you become smarter! So bear with me.

This blog has often cited business cases decided by Kent County (MI) Circuit Court Judge Christopher Yates. Judge Yates not only writes opinions with brevity and wit; he's a modest soul w…
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The BUSKLAW June Newsletter: Forcing Business Behavior Changes Through Buried Contract Provisions: Salesforce and Camping World

As reported by The Washington Post, business-software giant Salesforce recently instituted a policy barring its retailer customers from using its technology to sell semi-automatic weapons, including the AR-15 used in numerous mass shootings. One such customer is Camping World, whose Gander Outdoors division sells many "AR" and other semi-automatic rifles

Rather than approach Camping World/Gander, a "leading" Salesforce customer, and negotiating the termination of their semi-automatic rifle sales in exchange for some benefit (such as a software discount), Salesforce was tricky. They buried a provision barring the sale of semi-automatic rifles in the acceptable-use policy ("AUP") binding on Camping World/Gander:
Salesforce wants to force Camping World/Gander to make a major change to its business model via an addition to their AUP that is irrelevant to their customer's licensed use of Salesforce software. And although sneaky, I bet that the Salesforce m…

A BUSKLAW Newsletter Aside: We Speak Information Technology Law

When I describe my legal specialty as information technology ("IT"), the common response (along with a puzzled look) is, "what does that mean?"

Short answer: "It means a lot." 

Because there isn't a business in existence that isn't affected by something IT related. Does your firm have a website that collects personal information? Then you should have terms of use (and a cookie policy) that comply with state and federal laws, regulations, and the GDPR. Do you sell things on your website and accept credit cards as payment? Then you must institute payment card industry data security standards to protect that credit card data from hackers. And you also must have credit card agreements with your card companies and processing bank that contain indemnity and other "bet your business" obligations. In my experience, credit card agreements are notoriously one-sided and chock full of legal jargon. Have you read yours?  

Apart from those considerations…

The BUSKLAW May Newsletter: "Here's Another Clue for You All, the Walrus Was..."

To continue the title: Paul. As in Sir Paul McCartney. But in 1969, there was a problem: several radio stations broadcast a conspiracy theory: Paul died in a car crash in 1966. And the remaining Beatles covered it up and replaced the dead Paul with an (apparently equally-talented) imposter. Fans began scouring Beatles songs for evidence of the ruse; they pointed to "The walrus was Paul" line from the song White Onion, concluding that "walrus" was the Greek word for corpse (it isn't). in reality, John Lennon was messing with fans' propensity to find meaning to those lyrics when there was none. In an interview for what later became the Beatles Anthology television documentary, John said: 

I threw the line in—"the Walrus was Paul"—just to confuse everybody a bit more. It could have been "The fox terrier is Paul." I mean, it's just a bit of poetry. I was having a laugh because there'd been so much gobbledygook about Pepper—play it bac…

The BUSKLAW April Newsletter: Pulling Apart the Purchase Agreement for the ICON A5: "The Jet Ski with Wings"

The ICON A5 is an amphibious "light-sport aircraft" that is marketed primarily to adventurous amateur pilots with deep pockets (and spacious home garages in which to store their ICONs). The plane has a recreational focus; it can seat only two, has limited load capacity, and isn't intended to go very far. The cost of the plane was $139K when first introduced in 2006 but is now $389K for a "fully-loaded version."

YouTube is full of videos showing how much fun you can have with an ICON A5 (especially with water landings and take-offs), bringing to mind the "jet ski with wings" analogy. So the ICON A5 is perhaps the ultimate high-tech, outdoor adult toy (unless you're afraid of heights). There have been several fatalities with the A5, but these apparently resulted from pilot error in one case and reckless flying in another rather than from mechanical defects or design flaws. 

The ICON A5 Purchase Agreement (including the Operating Agreement as Exhibit B…

The BUSKLAW March Newsletter: Don't Use "Form" Contracts!

I have a confession: I'm an office-supply-store junkie. I love to browse the shelves brimming with multi-colored pens, pencils, file folders, legal pads, rubber bands, and paper clips. (Yes, paper clips - the gold ones are especially snazzy!) And I love the snacks that you can buy in bulk, especially Twizzlers. Because if you brought that decorative low-fat snack back to your office, your colleagues would praise you for giving them something tasty that also satisfies the common urge to relieve stress by chewing things

But there's a dark side to office supply stores: they sell form contracts. The fill-in-the-blank, "one-size-fits-all" kind. (The General Agreement is my Bizarro-World favorite; then again, as Shakespeare said, "What's in a Name?"

There are several reasons why using off-the-shelf legal form contracts is ill-advised:

1. You don't know if the form contract complies with your State's law. Even if a form is labeled "suitable for u…

The BUSKLAW February Newsletter: "What's in Your Contracts?" The Case for Auditing Your Contracts (Part 2)

In last month's newsletter, we discussed the importance of auditing your business contracts and pointed to five potentially troublesome provisions: identification of the parties, agreement term, payment, intellectual property rights, and confidentiality. But there are additional provisions that deserve careful scrutiny:

> Indemnification. To understand this concept, start with three players: the parties to the contract (call them Able and Baker) and a third player who isn't a contracting party (call him Charlie). Let's say Able manufactures widgets, Baker sells them in its retail stores, and Charlie is a customer who purchases an Able-produced widget from Baker. The widget injures Charlie. Charlie's lawyer sues Able and Baker because Able produced the widget and Baker sold it to Charlie. Baker's only involvement was selling the widget, so he tells Able to take care of it, i.e., defend him in the lawsuit and pay the settlement or the court judgment if the case goe…