A daily look at the legal news and the business of law:
Boston Scientific Pays Off J&J ... Again
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) keeps persuading Boston Scientific (BSX) to give it lots of money, announcing the second major patent litigation settlement in the last six months. The new $1.725 billion settlement, probably the largest patent settlement ever involving a medical device, comes on top of a September 2009 $716 million payment to settle other patent disputes. Combined, the two settlements represent about 30% of Boston Scientific's 2008 revenue of $8.05 billion. In fact, the nugget is so hard for Boston Scientific to swallow, it's only giving J&J $1 billion now, promising to pay the other $725 million within a year.Other Settlements of Note
News Corp. agreed to pay $500 million to settle three lawsuits against a small but lucrative subdivision accused of anti-competitive, "bare-knuckle" behavior. Unlike Boston Scientific, News Corp. (NWS) may have gotten off cheap; the plaintiff wanted $3 billion. News Corp will pay the settlement with cash on hand.
Westar Energy (WR) and the U.S. Department of Justice just settled a Clean Air Act lawsuit for $500 million, which Westar will spend to clean up a coal-fired Kansas power plant, reducing its pollution to the lowest levels ever required in a federal suit. Westar also has to pay a $3 million penalty and spend an additional $6 million on ancillary clean up, including making its fleet more green.
Trek Bicycle Corporation agreed to pay $200,000 to Greg LeMond's charities to settle a case over, essentially, whether Trek stopped promoting LeMond's brand of Trek bikes after the three-time Tour de France winner talked trash about Trek's other star endorser, Lance Armstrong.
U.S. to Crack Down on "Independent" Contractor Misclassification
Who is an employee and who is an independent contractor, and who cares? Well, the independent contractor and the government care, since the contractor gets less pay and benefits, and the government gets less taxes. During this recession it seems many employers are laying off employees and then rehiring them to do the same work for less pay and no benefits under the independent contractor rubric, and Uncle Sam has noticed. The President's proposed budget will spend $25 million and put 100 enforcement officers on misclassification crackdown duty.
Want to Stop Practicing Law? Try Cupcakes
In the Great Recession, much advice has been offered to lawyers who want to leave the practice. It seems the cupcake business is one attractive alternative.
Aerosmith Identity Crisis
Aerosmith wants to tour without iconic frontman Steven Tyler, but if it tries, he'll sue. Tyler says he's synonymous with Aerosmith, and touring without him would be like the Rolling Stones touring without Mick Jagger.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the Trek Bicycle settlement with Greg LeMond.
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