Antitrust laws are among the most important areas of law to the US economy and by extension to the global economy. They protect competition, which is a vital component to the capitalist system by prohibiting both agreements among competitors to fix, raise or maintain prices, and conduct that monopolizes a market. If businesses are permitted to artificially manipulate the market in a way that hinders competition, then producers lack the incentive to improve their products to capture market share from their competitors as buyers gravitate to the improved products, quality and choice suffers, and prices go up.
It is this complexity that makes antitrust law such a fascinating area in which to practice. No case is like another, so there is never a routine day at the office for an antitrust lawyer. It ideally suits the curious mind because the lawyers must become defacto experts in the industry implicated by each and every case in order to best represent their clients’ interests. Moreover, agreements that violate the antitrust laws are notoriously hard to detect and prove because they are usually reached in secret, agreements concealed from the participants’ customers and the public. We welcome the challenge of proving those agreements and fight hard to get the money illegally taken from our clients returned to them.
Kinds of Antitrust cases
Antitrust cases take many shapes and sizes, can impact virtually any industry and involve all sorts of conduct. These kinds of conduct violate the antitrust laws:
Intellectual property encompasses copyrights, trademarks and patents. Hartley LLP attorneys have handled international license issues, infringement claims and Walker-Process causes of action. We have represented both record companies and artists in record label, publishing and performance royalty transactions in the music industry. Valid trademark and patent registration with the U.S. PTO gives owners a legal monopoly over property that is the subject of the registrations. Sometimes the property is a self-defining market, where monopolization would be illegal under federal antitrust laws. This tension between antitrust anti-monopoly laws and the patent and trademark legal-monopoly laws creates friction that sometimes results in litigation. Sham patent litigation in the pharmaceutical context, like the cases Hartley LLP attorneys have handled, require the analysis of drug patents in order to distinguish them from the generic products that the antitrust violations keep from the market.
The most common commercial dispute involves one company’s failure to live up to its contractual obligations. Vendors may fail to deliver or supply needed inputs for your business, joint venturers may refuse to hold up their end of the deal, or customers buy from your competitors in breach of your contract. These kinds of breaches can cost businesses millions of dollars. Don’t let the specter of attorneys fees stop you from asserting your rights. Hartley LLP attorneys have handled myriad forms of breach of contract cases on a contingency basis.
Fraud claims capture all sorts of bad conduct. They may include misrepresentation claims, mislabeling, false advertising, and flat-out lies upon which plaintiffs relied to their detriment. Fraud claims can be a very powerful tool either on their own or as an additional claim in a lawsuit as they can carry the possibility of punitive damages along with them. Fraud causes of action basically involve some sort of intentional misconduct, duplicity or deceit. Hartley LLP attorneys have effectively represented businesses and individuals asserting fraud claims in many types of cases.
Under Federal law, employers are required to pay their employees overtime if they work more than 40 hours in any given week. In addition, California state laws have many specific requirements for employers, including that they must pay daily overtime and provide regular meal and rest break periods. Employees’ rights are violated when employers fail to follow these rules. Other possible violations occur when a company improperly classifies its employees as independent contractors, thereby depriving them of benefits and overtime they are owed, or when a company fails to include commissions when calculating the rate of pay for overtime purposes. Hartley LLP attorneys are experienced in these kinds of employment claims, and have brought them against major companies such as correctional facilities, health care providers, and one of the largest banks in the United States.
Sometimes businesses engage in misconduct that may not be an antitrust violation even though it is anticompetitive. Unfair competition laws in several states capture the injurious conduct that bridges that gap and provide remedies to businesses and individuals hurt by that conduct. We have successfully pursued unfair competition cases in myriad industries, including health care, pharmaceutical, electronics, retail sales, social media, banking, and agriculture.
Let’s face it: lawyers are not cheap. You or your business may have been the victim of an unquestionable wrong. But unless your damages are very high, it does not make sense for you to pay a lawyer hourly to pursue the case, nor does it make sense for the lawyer to take on such a case on a contingency basis. That does not necessarily mean you need to suck it up, especially if the bad conduct affected several others. This is where the class action procedure offers a solution. Hartley LLP lawyers have decades of experience pursuing class action claims for all sorts of violations – including antitrust, unfair competition, wage and hour violations, false advertising, misrepresentation and more. Our clients in class actions are not obligated to pay any costs out of pocket and we advance all our time until we get a successful result.
As may be evident from the nature of its cases, Hartley LLP specializes in complex litigation. Complex litigation refers to a specific type of large civil case that encompasses multiple parties in multiple jurisdictions, large amounts of money at stake, lengthy trials, or complex legal issues. The types of cases that fall into the “complex litigation” category include class action lawsuits, antitrust cases, intellectual property claims, and contract disputes across state and even international lines that can evolve into complex legal battles. Hartley LLP attorneys specialize in these types of complex litigation.
As most of us know, companies collect a tremendous amount of information about us. Almost any interaction with the corporate world requires consumers to share sensitive, confidential information that can easily be used by hackers to commit any number of offenses against the individual, including identity theft, credit card fraud, and the attendant emotional distress, time commitment and cost to straighten it all out when it happens.
Sharing this information has become so commonplace that many of us do not give it a second thought when asked for personal and private information like social security numbers, dates of birth, medical history, family members’ names and old addresses. Unfortunately, too many companies also fail to give the collection of that information a second thought even though they have an obligation to take reasonable measures to protect its confidentiality. Companies that fail to take the measures necessary to protect their customers’, clients’ and patients’ information can and should be held liable. Hartley LLP pursues individuals’ rights when their personal identifying information is improperly disclosed.