Monthly Archives: March 2017

Alphabet and Uber in Fight over Driverless Car Technology

Posted by Brendan Finnegan.

Research into driverless cars has boomed over the past few years, which has naturally brought about competition in the market. Two of the major players in this emerging market are Uber and Alphabet, the parent company of Google. Waymo is a subsidiary of Alphabet that works on building technology that will enable cars to be self-driven in the not so distant future. Anthony Levandowski is a prominent engineer who left Waymo to start his own tech firm Otto. This move was not controversial until Uber bought Otto and Levandowski became one of the top engineers in the company.

While working for Waymo, Levandowski had the desire to work out of the office. In order to do this he downloaded blueprints for the systems being created by Waymo. While still at Waymo, no one knew that he did this but once he created Otto, Waymo claimed that he was using their designs to build his company. A Waymo employee recently received an email from a vendor that was meant for Levandowski. The contents of the email, in Waymo’s eyes, made it clear that Otto now owned by Uber was using data that was developed by Waymo.

If business law is followed properly, incidents like this can be easily avoided. Every company has a different protocol on file sharing. Complying with company policy will protect employees from being caught in scandal, especially once one leaves the company. This is especially important if one is going to work for a competitor. However, the burden is not just on the employee. Companies need to assess what information is of utmost importance to their company. Once they identify their most sensitive information the company should make all of their employees who deal with the sensitive information sign non-disclosure agreements, in case their employees part ways, go, and work for a competitor. This will protect the individuals in a company and the corporation itself. The issues between Alphabet and Uber illustrate the need for internal controls when dealing with sensitive material.

Brendan is a finance and management major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2020.

Appeal Filed in Led Zeppelin ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Trial

Posted by Aitana Robinson.

The battle between Spirit and Led Zeppelin continues in the copyright infringement case over “Stairway to Heaven.” This past July 8th the District Court of California- Western Division, found in favor of the defendants, Zeppelin.  On the 15th of March, Attorney Francis Malfoy filled in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals representing Michael Skidmore, the Spirit guitarist, in the hope that the appeals court will correct the mistakes of the trial court.

At the heart of the lawsuit is the accusation that Led Zeppelin copies a riff found on Spirit’s song “Taurus,” which proceeded “Stairway to Heaven.”  Skidmore’s appeal is based off the assumed error that “the trial court refused to let the jury hear the full and complete composition of ‘Taurus’ embodied in the sound recordings…”

Skidmore’s attorney complained about the court “making a series of erroneous instructions on the scope of copyright protection[,] . . . limiting plaintiff’s trial time to 10 hours violated due process and was not even close to an adequate about of time to try this case,” and finally, that “the court seriously erred when defining originality.”  Skidmore has asked the 9th Circuit court to reverse the verdict and call for a retrial.

Aitana is a communications major at the School of Communications and the Arts, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.