Patent infringement lawsuits have long been the business version of a first world problem — a thorny matter for the Googles and Samsungs of the world. But in recent years, so-called patent trolls, shell companies that exist only to sue other companies for allegedly violating patents the shell company owns, have been going after much smaller businesses, from coffee shops to real estate offices.
Casey Marshall is hunched over his phone, furiously scrolling through his Twitter feed in search of a photo of Waste Management’s promotional robot, whose broken axle he fixed back in March. “Someone came into the Hacker Lab and needed his robot repaired,” he says, grinning, “and I was like, ‘I gotta do that.’”
Ryan M. Norman is the son of a pharmacist, raised in Vacaville with dreams of being an FBI special agent. When that path proved unlikely, he became an attorney instead.
You can dismiss someone from the conference room, but you may still have to face him or her in the living room.
As shopkeepers have done for thousands of years, Andrew Cook talks with his customers about what he ought to carry at the Utrecht Art Supplies store on Howe Avenue. The difference is that Cook, Utrecht’s assistant manager, holds the conversations on Facebook. The store had nearly 800 fans as of late November.
City planners and private developers in Sacramento envision a downtown shopping and entertainment hub pulsing with revenue and pedestrians. The mind’s eye replaces vagrants with decorative park benches and rundown storefronts with shiny new facades. And rather than dispersing at sundown, restaurant patrons and theatergoers would linger into the wee hours.
Even in the best economy, employers fight a financial tug of war with the people who work for them. One side wants more pay and benefits while the other side wants to trim costs. When the economy takes a nose dive, though, the tug of war can get a lot rougher. State and local government jobs are getting much of the attention in Sacramento this year as furloughs and layoffs have increased tension with workers. But Sacramento’s private sector has seen temperatures rise, too.
In October 2007, 60-year-old Francisco “Willie” Lopez was doing what he had done almost every morning for 30 years. He pedaled along County Road 99 from Woodland to his job in the finance department at UC Davis. A car hit and killed him on that country road before he made it to his desk.
Red Hawk Casino opened in December, just weeks after economic woes sent the stock market plunging. The launch of the new venue just off Highway 50 coincided with a sharp drop in gross gaming revenue at Nevada’s Lake Tahoe casinos, and California casinos also felt the sting as gamblers gave Red Hawk a try.
Nearly 70 percent of California’s high school foster youth dropped out last year. Of the 10 percent that make it to higher education, just 3 percent are likely to graduate.