(TFC) – The world is increasingly becoming litigious with both minor and major disputes ending up in the courtroom. Over the years, thousands of business lawsuits and class action suits have been filed all over the world. Some of these lawsuits have resulted in unprecedented changes in the business world. Below are the three lawsuits that changed the business landscape forever.
This ranks as one of the most famous lawsuits in the history of business. For those who may not have heard of this suit, here’s the backstory; in 1992, Stella Liebeck, an 80-year-old lady suffered 3rd-degree burns from an accidental coffee spill. She had bought the coffee from MacDonald’s who were known for packing scalding hot coffee. The jury awarded Liebeck $2.8 million in damages after MacDonald’s refused to settle her initial 800 dollar claim.
This is a landmark case because it changed the way coffee businesses package their products. They started serving coffee at lower temperatures between 150 and 160 degrees, which is the preferred temperature for hot beverages anyway.
American tech juggernaut, Apple Inc has taken on South-Korean tech giant, Samsung in a series of lawsuits that have spanned multiple jurisdictions. The cause? Apparently, Samsung copied some Apple designs including shapes and software designs including scrolling and UI.
In August 2012, a California court found Samsung guilty of patent infringement and ordered them to pay over $1 billion to Apple in damages. This was reduced to $508 million after a successful appeal. The two companies have since filed other suits against each other including in the US Supreme Court.
The legal battles between the two multinationals exposed the loopholes in existing copyright laws and most businesses therein saw the need to trademark their basic designs. This resulted in a lot of copyright infringement suits, such as the ongoing Adidas V Forever 21.
In 1997, the four major tobacco companies in the US found themselves as defendants in what is possibly the most significant business lawsuit in history. Attorney Generals of 46 states collectively sued the four companies, known as “Majors” for among others, unethical practices. They demanded that the companies stop marketing campaigns which glorified smoking. The AGs also wanted the companies to assist in meeting health costs related to smoking. Eventually, the parties entered into an agreement that saw the Big Four undertake to remit $206 billion to the states to cover medical costs and also perpetually fund the American Legacy Foundation, an anti-smoking group.
This case is crucial because it revealed the effects of unregulated capitalism and showed the importance of moral values in business. It affected the way cigarettes and alcohol were packaged and marketed — not only in the US, but globally.
These are just a few of the lawsuits that have made a significant difference in the business world. While some may view these as petty (a phone design — really?), they represent significant assets and resources at stake for each company, as well as the employees who work for them. Whether we like it or not, these suits are shaping and changing the commercial world as we know it, and hopefully for the better.