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February 3, 2014 Q&A

Hartford lawyers decode CT’s business litigation landscape

Q&A talks about business litigation in Connecticut with McCarter & English LLP business and financial services litigation group partners Thomas J. Finn and Paula Cruz Cedillo.

Q: You've co-authored a new book entitled Connecticut Business Litigation. What's the primary purpose behind the book and who is its primary audience?

A: The primary purpose behind the book was to provide an initial resource of business litigation topics for lawyers who litigate in federal and state courts in Connecticut, as well as business attorneys and advisors that counsel businesses in ways to avoid or minimize litigation. The book covers many complex topics that are litigated in Connecticut, including securities litigation, director & officer liability, antitrust, unfair trade practices, intellectual property, ERISA, information technology & e-commerce, RICO, as well as other topics. We endeavored to provide an overview of these complex topics with enough depth to be beneficial and helpful, without providing too much information that it loses its value as an initial resource.

Q: According to promotional material, the book “serves as a resource for transactional attorneys and business owners seeking to minimize risks inherent in their business relationship.” What are some ways your book accomplishes that?

A: Businesses in Connecticut, as well as elsewhere, continue to operate in increasingly competitive and complex environments. Transactional attorneys and senior managers need to be aware of the law in so many different areas that it is a tremendous challenge to advise or run a business. The book serves as a resource by providing an in-depth but concise overview of the many substantive areas of law that a business would encounter. Thus, advisors and managers who are aware of the law are better able to counsel and advise their respective clients or businesses on how to make decisions that are in the best interest of the business, as well as how to make decisions that avoid legal entanglements or litigation.

Q: The book also promises to point to developing trends. What are some of the top trends in business litigation currently in Connecticut?

A: We continue to see developments for businesses in areas such as securities, intellectual property, and E-commerce. In the securities area, the events of the last decade — starting with Enron and WorldCom through Madoff — have spurred increased regulation and challenges for businesses when raising capital or issuing financial performance statements. In the intellectual property area, the recent enactment of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act is a seismic change in patent law that converts U.S. patent law from a “first-to-invent” system to a “first-to-file” system. E-commerce continues to create fertile ground for litigation with the increasing use of the Internet by virtually all businesses and the continued growth of online commerce.

Q: What would you cite as the top reasons for business litigation in Connecticut?

A: Often times, we see a company involved in a lawsuit as a result of a lack of knowledge of the law, or an unintentional violation. Another reason that spurs litigation is the intentional efforts to compete unfairly — whether it be by the unauthorized use of intellectual property, misstatements made in reporting performance, or efforts to manipulate markets. This leads to the need for companies to protect themselves from unfair conduct, or seek redress for it from competitors or others in the marketplace.

Q: Connecticut is portrayed by some as an unfriendly place to do business because of high costs. How is it perceived in the legal world?

A: We believe that the laws in Connecticut are generally pro-business, particularly for those businesses that compete fairly in the marketplace and strive to comply with the law.

The current state of the laws in Connecticut encourages and fosters an open and competitive marketplace and thus protects businesses, as well as consumers, by maintaining a business friendly environment. In Connecticut, violating the law or attempting to compete in the marketplace unfairly is costly and counterproductive.

When businesses in Connecticut do find themselves in litigation, our view is that costs are less here than other jurisdictions where one might litigate. Additionally, both the federal and state bench and bar have a reputation for effectively handling complex issues such as securities and antitrust that might be litigated in other larger, and perhaps more costly, jurisdictions.

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