Business Law Articles

Patent lawsuits are on the rise

Patent disputes are increasing, according to recent information gathered by Unified Patents, an organization that works to reduce patent abuse. According to the data, nearly 900 district court lawsuits relating to patents were filed in the second quarter of 2019. Patent fights tend to increase when the economy experiences a slowdown. New areas of patents, such as new smartphone-related technology, new cannabis products and new products in the life sciences space, may be behind an uptick

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FTC settles case involving privacy violation on Yelp

A Federal Trade Commission settlement with a California mortgage broker who posted personal information about consumers on Yelp after they posted negative reviews of his services is a cautionary tale to businesses, which should never publicly disclose clients’ personal information. According to a Department of Justice complaint filed on behalf of the FTC, mortgage broker Ramon Walker, owner of Mount Diablo Lending, responded to negative Yelp reviews by posting information about customers’ health, taxes, credit history,

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OSHA increases maximum fines for 2020

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has boosted its maximum fines for workplace safety violations. The new maximum fine for “serious” violations is $13,500 per violation, while the top fine for “willful” or “repeated” violations is $135,000 per violation. Typically, an OSHA investigation is prompted by a worker contacting OSHA anonymously or an employer filing a required report. Employers generally are not obligated to inform OSHA about workplace injuries except in certain circumstances: a fatality must

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New rule raises the bar for immigrant investors

A new rule raises the minimum amount foreigners need to invest to qualify for a U.S. green card under the EB-5 program. Created in 1992, the program grants green cards to foreign nationals who make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the U.S. In addition to minimum financial benchmarks, the program stipulates that an investment must also create (or, in certain circumstances, preserve) 10 permanent full-time jobs for U.S. workers. The EB-5 Modernization Rule

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‘Joint employers’ rules clarify FLSA responsibilities

New “joint employer” rules make it easier for franchise owners to understand their responsibilities under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The final rule from the Department of Labor limits situations in which franchisors and franchisees are considered “joint employers” of workers under the act. It modifies a policy, enacted under the Obama administration, that potentially made a franchisor liable for the failure of a franchisee to pay overtime or minimum wage, even if the franchise

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Consider going cash-free, with caution

There’s a growing trend toward cashless businesses. From clothing stores to coffee shops to salons, some businesses are implementing cash-free policies. Only credit and debit cards allowed. What’s behind the trend? Cash-free businesses (and credit advocates) say there are a number of benefits: Speed up the checkout process: It’s quicker to swipe or tap a credit card than to count cash and make change. If your business has long lines at peak service times, going cash-free

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Passage of law to boost retirement savings anticipated by year-end

Retirement plan sponsors have been watching Congress closely, waiting on passage of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act. The legislation, designed to boost Americans’ retirement savings, has implications for small businesses and individual savers alike. The bill is considered to have strong bipartisan support, and advocates are optimistic it will pass by year-end. If it doesn’t pass via a unanimous consent vote this fall, pundits suggest it will be attached to a year-end

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New bankruptcy rules give relief to small businesses

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is not an easy process, and rules have traditionally favored large businesses. Now, distressed small businesses will have a better chance at reorganization under a new subchapter of the federal bankruptcy code. The Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019, which will go into effect on Feb. 19, 2020, makes Chapter 11 reorganization a more affordable and feasible process for small businesses. Under the new law, individuals and companies with roughly $2,725,000 of debt

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Businesses must take action following new overtime rule

Under new Department of Labor rules, employees who make less than $35,568 are now eligible for overtime pay. Starting January 1 the rule raises the salary cutoff for so-called “white collar” exemptions to $684 a week, up from $455 a week ($23,660 annual). As a result, businesses are advised to evaluate pay rates, hours and nonexempt classifications in advance of the change. Some actions steps: Review white collar exemptions: Identify exempt employees whose salaries fall below

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Landlord Eviction Options During Covid-19

Landlords and Coronavirus Long before any Governor issued emergency orders for their state, coronavirus was already altering the fabric of our lives and commerce in unexpected ways. In the last month, millions of workers across the country, from hotel and restaurant workers to office assistants and managers, have been laid off, furloughed, or prohibited from working by legal measures. Even the most white-collar of professions are not immune; doctors not working directly with COVID-19 patients are

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