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My Book Contains "No Artificial Growth Hormones"
by: David Leonhardt
I don't usually get too excited about what I read in the news. After all, what can I do about it? But one item I recently saw made me jump up out of my chair.
I rushed over to my clever lawyer's office.
"Look at this!" I proclaimed as I burst into his office.
Clever Lawyer said nothing. His client echoed his words with her ruby red lips.
I placed the newspaper on his desk.
"Happy Guy, what are you doing here?" he wanted to know. "We don't have a meeting."
"Just look at this headline." I demanded, ignoring his irritating obsession with minute details. "We should take action immediately."
Slowly, Clever Lawyer picked up the newspaper and read the headline. His eyes returned to me. "This says that Monsanto is suing Oakhurst Dairy for labels on their milk reading 'no artificial growth hormones'. What does that have to do with you?"
"Don't you see?" I asked incredulously. "Monsanto makes rBST, an artificial hormone for milk cows. It looks like they think the label on Oakhurst Dairy milk hurts their business because it implies that milk from their hormone-treated cows is inferior."
"I don't see what it has to do with you," Clever Lawyer said.
"Yes, I don't see what it has to do with you," Ruby Red chimed in.
"It has everything to do with me," I replied. "Look here. See this book about happiness? Top Publisher printed 'New York Times Bestseller' right on the cover. Can you believe it?"
"Oh yeah, I've heard of this book," Clever Lawyer smiled. "It's supposed to be quite good. In fact, I recall seeing it on the New York Times bestseller list."
"Exactly," I exclaimed. "Let's sue Top Publisher for everything he's got."
"Why?" Clever Lawyer wanted to know, much to my surprise.
"Yes, why?" Ruby Red also wanted to know.
"Because he is claiming his book is a New York Times bestseller," I explained in exasperation.
"But it is," Ruby Red pointed out.
"That's not the point," I complained. "Their claim implies that my Get Happy Workbook is somehow inferior because it is not on the New York Times bestseller list ... yet."
"Um ... your Get Happy Workbook?" Clever Lawyer asked.
"Isn't that an e-book?"
"Yes it is."
"I don't think the New York Times lists e-books," Ruby Red noted.
"It doesn't matter," I insisted. "Top Publisher should be forced to remove such an offensive claim and to pay me damages for thousands of copies of lost sales."
"But you can't do that," Clever Lawyer exclaimed.
"That's right. You can't do that," Ruby Red repeated.
"Why not?" I asked.
"Because their claim is just a statement of fact."
"So is Oakhurst Dairy's," I pointed out. "But that doesn't stop Monsanto from suing them."
"But you're not Monsanto," Clever Lawyer explained. "Monsanto is a biotech giant, and biotech companies are always being accused of making 'Frankenstein fruit' or 'veggie eunuchs' or other such delicacies."
"That's right," Ruby Red joined in. "Even Viagra couldn't make a man out of one of those cucumbers."
We both stared at Ruby Red in surprise. The color of her face instantly matched the color of her lips.
"Look, Monsanto still has to prove its case," Clever lawyer warned. "We have no idea if they will. You would have to prove your case, too. I have a pretty good idea that you can't, since the New York Times does not list e-books."
"So, you are saying I should not sue Top Publisher for claiming his book is a New York Times Bestseller," I concluded. "Instead I should sue the New York Times for not naming my e-book a bestseller?"
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