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Many businesses work hard and invest heavily to develop and protect their intellectual property rights, including trade secrets and proprietary processes, designs, and know-how.  However, special rules apply in determining ownership of these intellectual property rights when the work product is created by employees and independent contractors or consultants, particularly in a technical or creative role.  In some cases, these special rules can result in an unpleasant surprise for companies that do not take proper steps to protect their proprietary rights.  This post will summarize some key considerations for your business. Under U.S. law, whether a company automatically owns inventions…
Ruder Ware’s Trusts & Estates blog has featured several blogs (for example, Call to Action: Review Your Estate Plan in Light of the SECURE Act and Why SECURE Act Matters to You) on the SECURE Act, a federal law effective January 1, 2020,  that made significant changes to the payout provisions of inherited retirement benefits, such as 401(k) plans and IRAs. The most dramatic change brought about by the SECURE Act was the elimination of the ability of a “designated beneficiary” (in most cases an individual, such as a child) to “stretch out” distributions from an inherited retirement benefit…
Big weekend! Taylor Swift has re-released her 2008 album “Fearless” to claw back ownership of, and agency over, her music after the much publicized sale of the original master recordings to a private equity firm. The release, of course, is taglined, “Taylor’s Version” – but what is the (copyright) legality behind how Taylor was able to make the re-release happen? Read on for…..some of the best cocktail knowledge you’ll get from me this year. A “Bundle of Rights” – Made Even Larger in the Context of Music Copyright “rights” are referred to as a “bundle of rights” that their owner…
“I suppose you had to give your real name to the publishers.” Clarissa Goodell, April 21, 1866 There is an old adage that writers should write what they know. Lavinia Goodell took that advice to heart. She often drew on her personal experiences for her short stories, and she clearly based some of her characters on herself, her friends, and her family. Sometimes her keen powers of observation hit a bit too close to home. A case in point was her story, “A Psychological Experiment,” which appeared in the June 1866 issue of Harper’s Magazine.   The protagonist of “A…
In the United States Congress, there is an arduous journey before a bill becomes law.  See https://youtu.be/FFroMQlKiag.  But there is a common theme running through some gift and estate tax bills that have been introduced in Congress this year.  That is: an appropriate way to raise revenue (for pandemic relief, infrastructure improvements, jobs, whatever the reason) is to collect more taxes when so-called “wealthy” individuals transfer their assets through lifetime transfers and transfers at death. In this context, “wealthy” generally means an individual who is likely to own assets at death that are worth more than $3.5 million ($7…
Ali Razak, Kenan Sabani and Khaldoun Cherdoud are all UberBlack drivers in Pennsylvania. In 2016 they filed suit claiming that they were misclassified as independent contractors. (We brought similar suits in 2016 in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin on behalf of Uber drivers.) Whether or not a driver is classified as an employee or independent contractor is important. If you are an employee, you are entitled to a statutory minimum wage, overtime, workers compensation if you are hurt and other benefits. Uber has long claimed that its drivers are not employees. Whether or not a worker is an employee or contractor…
With the new Biden Administration’s trade policy taking shape, one area of significant importance for businesses to pay attention to is the administration’s stated goal of pursuing a “human rights” focused foreign policy. This is of particular importance, because U.S. foreign policy goals often drive U.S. trade policy, and a human rights-centered foreign policy signals an intensifying of trade measures against entities, individuals, business sectors, and countries that the U.S. government believe are acting against U.S. foreign policy goals. One such area that will likely see an increased scrutiny by the U.S. government are transactions that could be deemed to…
The state election laws require municipal clerks or municipal election commissions to change the registration status of electors who may have moved, not the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC), the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled (5-2). In Zignego at al v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2021 WI 32 (April 9, 2021), a majority ruled that “the responsibility to change the registration of electors who may have moved out of their municipality is given to ‘the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners,’” rejecting an argument that this statute also applies to the WEC. “To translate, a board of election commissioners is…
Businesses can now claim a 100% deduction on restaurant meals through the end of 2022, the IRS announced. The IRS released guidance today, April 8, which temporarily allows businesses a full deduction for food and beverages purchased from restaurants, starting after December 31, 2020 and before January 1, 2023. Importantly, the full deduction only applies to food purchased from take-out and dine-in restaurants. The deduction does not apply to pre-packaged food or groceries. Additionally, food from third-party facilities operated by an employer isn’t eligible for the deduction. O’Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing will continue to monitor federal and state…
One-box searching has come to HeinOnline and it’s a very nice improvement.  Now you can search all Hein content from a single box with drop-down options allowing you to specify your search intent.  Previously, your search was limited to a specific tab (full text, citation, catalog, or case law). According to the HeinOnline blog, this interface update retains all searching functionality. No previous searching capabilities have been removed.  Here are the drop down options: Just search for: Functions the same as the former “Full Text” tab, searching the full text of documents for your keyword(s). Users can also use…
Even though the increase in vaccinations and other public health initiatives have resulted in a dramatic reduction in new COVID-19 cases hinting at a possible “return to normal,” recent industry publications are starting to report on an anticipated long-term result in what was once thought to be only a short-term trend for commercial leasing:  the permanent stay-at-home work force. One of the results of the sweeping changes to workplace utilization over the past year has been the perpetuation of work-from-home (or work-from-anywhere) professional staff.  This trend has resulted in many companies rethinking their commitments to brick and mortar office requirements.…
On March 29, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a joint statement saying that Landlords that evict or threaten to evict Tenants without advising the Tenants of their rights under the various eviction moratoria may be engaging in deceptive and unfair practices and will be monitored and investigated. The FTC and CFPB added that there have been “reports that major multistate landlords are forcing people out of their homes despite the government prohibitions or before tenants are aware of their rights.” The joint statement goes on to say that “both agencies will…
State v. Kevin M. Jereczek, 2019AP826, 4/6/21, District 3 (recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs) Police suspected Jereczek’s son in a sexual assault and thought there might be evidence on the family desktop computer. They asked Jereczek if they could search the machine; he agreed but limited his permission to the son’s account. The examiner, Behling, didn’t adhere to this restriction: he instead began his search in the recycle bin, which contains files deleted from any of the computer’s accounts. There he found child pornography apparently associated with Jereczek’s account, which led him to seek a warrant to…
Today the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), the section of the Department of Labor that handles all things employee benefit plans, posted a dedicated webpage with much anticipated (and much needed) employer tools on the “COBRA subsidy” provision of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”), which was enacted on March 11, 2021.  The webpage can be found here COBRA Premium Subsidy | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).   The new webpage provides FAQs for both workers and employers, model general COBRA notices (for new qualified beneficiaries) and model extended election period notices (for those who became qualified beneficiaries…
Merger and acquisition agreements contain many “boilerplate” clauses that rarely receive the same attention as the more heavily negotiated deal terms. To the extent they are considered at all, it would be as a post-closing afterthought and only when a deal has taken a turn for the worse. At that point, the parties are almost always surprised to find that their dispute resolution clauses are ambiguous. This Legal Update will help reconsider the boilerplate language associated with an alternative dispute resolution provision, and its importance, in order to do better deals. Part I: Alternative Dispute Resolution Oftentimes parties desire to…
On Wednesday, March 31, 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate. The mask mandate previously applied to all enclosed spaces open to the public within Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Supreme Court said, however, that Governor Evers overstepped his authority by extending the public health emergency without legislative approval, thus making the statewide mask mandate invalid. While the statewide mask mandate is no longer in effect, employers should continue to monitor their local requirements as the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision does not affect local municipalities’ ability to institute their own mask mandates. Dane County, Rock County,…