Success in business requires good decisions. Business stories are great teachers, including about business transaction and court cases.

Here are five current business stories. In each, lawyers and others have made decisions in or for a business. Those decisions helped determine outcomes, whether the story was about a payday, Mayday or favourable judgment day.

1. C7 litigation [Judgement day in Sydney]

Channel Seven’s massive litigation against its rivals in the  Australian media was soundly rejected today by the Federal Court of Australia. The case is Seven Network Limited v News Limited [2007] FCA 1062.

Seven’s claim was that News Ltd, Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd and Telstra Ltd (all joint owners of the Foxtel pay TV service) together with others colluded to outbid Seven’s pay TV channel C7 for Australian Football League rights. Seven claimed this effectively led to C7’s demise. The court rejected Seven’s claims. Justice Sackville said: “…Seven was the author of its own misfortune”.

Statistics: Justice Sackville observed that there were 120 hearing days, involving an electronic database containing 85,653 documents, comprising 589,392 pages. He also said: “My estimate is that the parties have spent in the order of $200 million on legal costs in connection with these proceedings.” Seven’s shares fell nearly 5% on news of the verdict.

2. Opsware shareholders cash US$1.6 billion [Payday in Silicon Valley]

Having sold Netscape to AOL Time Warner for billions, in September 1999 Marc Andreessen and his colleagues established Loudcloud.

Like Netspace, Loudcloud went on a roller coaster but Andreessen and his colleagues held on. Loudcloud became enterprise software company, Opsware. Opsware has US$100 million in annual revenue and 550 employees. News reports indicate that Andreessen had 9% of the Opsware shares when it filed a proxy report in May 2007.

The sale of Opsware was announced this week to Hewlett Packard. The price? US$1.6 billion in cash.

3. Facebook Website concept – stolen? [Mayday in Boston]

Facebook started in 2004, a few months before ConnectU went online. Facebook now claims 31 million users, compared to about 70,000 for ConnectU.  With additional attractive applications added to it, the Facebook user base is likely to escalate substantially in coming months, including in Australia. Interestingly, Duncan Riley notes in TechCrunch that Facebook applications are like those of Microsoft – neither open source nor cross-platform.

In late March 2007, ConnectU, Inc started Connectu, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc. et al, an action in the Massachusetts District Court. It claims business torts and unfair business practices. So far the judge seems to have been unimpressed by ConnectU’s claims.

The Facebook team have their own case in response, The Facebook, Inc. v. Connectu, LLC et al, also claiming business torts and unfair business practices. The cases continue in Boston.

4. Domain Name [Judgement Day in Geneva]

Endemol Nederland B. V. are the producers of the Big Brother program. However since October 2004 they have not owned the domain name.

After a dispute resolution process before the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organisation, Endemol recently won over the domain name.

“… Big Brother has been sold to 39 countries and is set to be broadcast this year in over 20 territories around the world including the USA, UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, Pan-Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Australia.”

5. American Idol trial by Website [Mayday in LA]

In May 2006 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Adam Pick filed a complaint in his case against American Idol Productions, Inc. and Fremantle Media of North America, Inc. and Fox Television Stations, Inc. The case shifted to another court.

Pick alleges that the owners of American Idol “stole an ingenious and highly lucrative website idea from Mr. Pick, a local businessman and American Idol fan.”

Photo credits: Payday in Persepolis: “Armenian tribute bearer, relief sculpture on the stairway leading to the Apadana of Darius at Persepolis, Iran, Achaemenian period, late 5th century BC”. Souce: Britannica.

Noric Dilanchian