In-House Texas

"Hack" Your Way Through Challenges

By Michael P. Maslanka |

Once upon a time, the word "hack" was a term of derision. No more. Now, it is gaining an elevated place as a word meaning a shortcut to fixing a challenge, a way to get a quick flash solution. So, let's dip these following problems into the fryer and see the "hacks" emerging, hopefully, crisp and tasty.

Contempt for Taylor Swift's Trademark Portfolio Misplaced?

By Bill Munck and Amanda Greenspon |

The contempt in the coverage of Taylor Swift's trademark portfolio was especially misplaced given the context of the administrative approval needed for registration.

New USPTO Guidelines Clarify Software Patent Eligibility

By Adam Sanderson |

The recently revised USPTO guidelines for subject matter eligibility offer an effective summary of the case law post-Alice, and should be closely considered by any attorney representing patent owners.

Lance C. Balk, executive vice president and general counsel at Six Flags Entertainment Corporation

Best Practices: Expertise and Responsiveness

By Lindsey Juarez |

Lance Balk is general counsel of Six Flags Entertainment Corp. Freelancer reporter Lindsey Juarez emailed Balk some questions about best practices. His answers are below edited for length and style.

Texas State Flag

Federal Patent Reform: Some Proposals Follow Texas' Lead

By Chad Ennis |

Some reforms actually move in the direction that judges in the Eastern District have already taken and also adopt procedures used in Texas' Western District.

Bill to Curb Patent Trolls is Superfluous

By Christopher A. Shield and Sanjay Bapat |

As written, SB 1187 appears to be directed at certain prolific NPEs, but its provisions are likely untenable.

Lance C. Balk, executive vice president and general counsel at Six Flags Entertainment Corporation

Ride to the Top: Six Flags’ GC Successfully Navigates the Twists and Turns from Firm to In-House

By Lindsey Juarez |

Seeing the joy and excitement in a customer's face is not something many general counsels get to experience. But as the general counsel for Six Flags Entertainment Corp., Lance Balk said he gets to see screaming visitors every time he tours one of the company's amusement parks.

Climate Change Risk Disclosure on the Rise

By Sue Reisinger |

Significantly more U.S. companies are disclosing risks associated with climate change in their annual reports, especially in the energy sector.

Sherry Hibbert is general counsel for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

Show Time

By Anne Belli Perez |

Monitoring Employee Social Media Activity

By Heather Sherrod |

Despite the risks involved, there are many legitimate reasons why companies decide to monitor their employees' social media activity.

6 Factors for Determining Whether a Worker Is an Independent Contractor

By Jay M. Wallace, Lindsey L. Goldstein, and Alana K. Ackels |

In recent years, the single most investigated issue by the U.S. Department of Labor is whether workers categorized as "independent contractors" satisfy the very distinct standards for this category of workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Explaining Compensable Activities Under FLSA

By Edward Slaughter and Brandon Maxey |

Courts have struggled to find a concrete definition of "integral and indispensable"—leading to considerable uncertainty in employment policies and costly litigation.

How to Handle Pressure in the Workplace

By Michael P. Maslanka |

Chamber: Corp. Settlements Go to 'Slush Funds'

By Sue Reisinger |

Law enforcement is increasingly becoming a for-profit phenomenon, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce isn't happy about it.

A ship floats amongst a sea of spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.

Navigating the Post-Gulf Oil Spill Insurance and Indemnity Landscape

By Stephany Olsen-LeGrand |

Key decisions in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill litigation have highlighted the evolving legal landscape in assessing liability and financial responsibility in a major accident.

Opportunities for Texas Lawyers in an Uncertain Texas Economy

By Bill McDonald |

While clients sort out the effects of current commodity prices, lawyers must consider how the drop in oil prices will affect demand for legal services across the state in 2015 and 2016.

pipeline

New Rules Concerning Pipeline Permit Applications

By Mark A. Mathews and Stephanie N. Murphy |

Although the new rules have a limited impact on the applicable Texas law regarding eminent domain, they do require parties to provide the RRC with more specific information in order for an applicant to obtain a pipeline permit.

10 Tips for Crafting a Document Retention Policy

By Michael Murphy |

Breakdowns in document retention put companies at incredible risk for penalties and sanctions from regulatory agencies and courts in litigation. It is important for every company to develop a policy that curbs that risk.

Is It Trademark Bullying or Savvy Brand Protection?

In some instances companies have to get aggressive to protect their brands, even if such moves prove unpopular. The resulting fallout is just a cost of doing business.

Keeping Up With the EEOC in 2015

By Rebekah Mintzer |

GC Best Practices: Responsiveness and Listening Skills

By Anne Belli Perez |
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Keeping the Best and Brightest: President Obama's Plan to Retain Skilled Workers

By Gordon Quan |

While many have focused on the executive orders that address undocumented foreign nationals, the president also expressed a desire to revise immigration procedures for foreign skilled workers and professionals.

GC Punch List in Litigating Noncompetes

By Mike Maslanka |

A few months ago we gave tips on drafting non-competes. This month, we look at litigating them. When that decision needs to be made, all eyes turn to the GC. Here is a GC punch list.

money pile

Avoiding Fines and Overcoming Hurdles

By Irina Plumlee and Elvia Munoz |

With employment eligibility audits of form I-9 employment eligibility verification records on the rise, these lax attitudes may turn costly.

magnifying glass

What to Know About the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate

By Jason Mills |

As part of the effort to combat and prevent fraud involving these nonimmigrant visas, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service utilizes a special investigative unit, which, among other things, performs site visits at petitioning employers' places of business.

quote

Can You Turn a Phrase? Know Its Consequences

By Mike Maslanka |

We live in a phrase driven world. Often using a phrase as if on automatic pilot, not understanding the hidden or inadvertent meanings behind the phrase.

chess

Minimize Costs in Patent Cases by Playing Offense Early

By Chris P. Perque |

To minimize the total spend in patent cases is to take the offense early to encourage the patent holder to dismiss the suit or settle as early as possible on defense-favorable terms.

Web Copyright Infringement: An Emerging Crime

By Jonathan Bick |
Cherry Hearn, General Counsel of Which Wich Superior Sandwiches Inc.

Going the Distance: GC Takes the Long Path Home

By Anne Belli Perez |

It's fitting that Cherry Hearn arrived at such an unorthodox company in such an unorthodox way.

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How to Address a Twist on the Computation of Accrued Post-Offer Costs

By Darin Klemchuk and James Creedon |

What can practitioners do to address this issue in copyright cases?

party

Steps to Company Party? Eat, Drink and Be Wary

By A. Martin Wickliff Jr. |

These gatherings can invite unwanted sexual advances and potentially unlawful conduct.

For GCs, Law Department Role Is Changing

By Sue Reisinger |

At least eight GCs attending the recent 2014 Legal Week Corporate Counsel Forum were asked about the greatest challenges facing in-house legal departments, and how the role of the department is changing.

6 Tips for Infusing Noncompetes with New Life

By Michael P. Maslanka and William E. Hammel |

Many noncompetes are difficult to understand, confuse employees rather than enlighten them and read as if they were written in the 1970s.

Blake Brodersen, general counsel, Molecular Rebar Design, Austin, Texas

New Beginnings: GC Hits the Ground Running in Young Company

By Jeanne Graham |

Nine months ago, Blake Brodersen left Scott & White Health Plan in Temple, where he had been assistant general counsel for more than 12 years, to become general counsel of Molecular Rebar Design, a young Austin company working with carbon molecules.

Breaking Up With An Employee? These Tips for Contract Provisions Should Make It Less Complicated

By Cheri Thomas and Laurence Stuart |

To make break-ups more straightforward and slightly less painful, employers should carefully review all provisions of their severance agreements with the following guidance in mind.