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2013 Legal News

SOCIAL MEDIA, TAX LAW, BUSINESS LAW (ANGEL INVESTORS), EMPLOYMENT LAW (FMLA/MILITARY), INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (TRADEMARKS), REAL ESTATE, EMPLOYMENT LAW (FLSA):

 

Social Media/Legal Disclosures. “Tread lightly” may be the watch-words when plugging your company on social media, especially if yours is a publicly traded company. The federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) just let the CEO of Netflixs off the hook from his bragging, via “tweeting,” about certain strong performance results, but not after it first investigated whether or not his acts violated proper publicly traded company SEC disclosure rules.  To turn another phrase “Haste can make more than Waste” anymore in the (often impulsive) world of new media.

 

Tax Law - Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) includes a health care tax credit, designed to help certain small businesses (including small tax-exempt organizations) provide health insurance for their employees. Employers that have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees and that pay at least half of the premiums for certain qualifying employee health insurance coverage may be eligible for this tax credit. Such an employer must cover at least 50 percent of the cost of single (not family) health care coverage for each of your employees and your full time equivalent employees must have annual average wages of less than $50,000. If you are a small business employer who did not owe tax during the year, there are carry forward and carry back allowances for other tax years. [Note: The ACA has had a number of changes to it since it was first passed, including a "hold" on the so-called employer mandate ....]

 

 

Business Law – NJ “Angel Investor” Law. New Jersey recently enacted an law to encourage investment in New Jersey-based emerging technology companies by providing angel investors with credits against their New Jersey corporation business and gross income taxes of up to 10 percent of their “qualified investment” into a “New Jersey emerging technology business” There are, of course, certain requirements to be a “qualified investment” as well as to qualify as a New Jersey “emerging technology business,” which qualifications are set out in the new law. The state tax credit for each angel investor, assuming a qualified investment and a qualified emerging tech business, is capped at $500,000 per year.

 

Employment Law – Federal Family Leave and Military Employees. Final regulations were recently issued by the US Department of Labor (DOL) regarding important expansions of the Federal Family Leave Act due to military obligations. Among the new regulations, a new circumstance is added for when an employee can take qualifying “exigency (emergency) leave” related to military matters, namely: an eligible employee may take parental leave care to provide care for the parent of a military member, or someone who stood in the place of parents to the military member, when the parent is incapable of self-care and the need for leave arises out of the military member’s covered active duty. This new circumstance is added 8 prior ones, namely: short-notice deployment, military events and related activities, childcare and school activities, financial and legal arrangements, counseling, rest and recuperation, post-deployment activities and additional activities. Also, the rest and recuperation leave time during a period of deployment was increased from 5 to 15 days. There are other important changes also in the new regulations.

 

Intellectual Property – Trademark Law – Apple iPad Mini – In an unusual turn of events, Apple’s initial application for a US Trademark on its term “iPad Mini” was rejected at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The rejection concluded that the word “Mini” was merely descriptive (as simply something that is “distinctly smaller than other members of its type or class”) as was the word “Pad” also being “merely descriptive.” The Trademark Examiner also initially determined that the “i” was only a reference to the internet, more reason for rejection of the application. Merely descriptive terms are not accepted, at least on the “Principal Register” at the US Trademark Office. However, subsequently, Apple prevailed, in part since the company had previously been granted a trademark registration for the term “iPad.”

 

Real Estate – Philadelphia: The city of Philadelphia has introduced a new property tax program and the betting-money says city property owners are going to see their assessments go up. Commercial property owners should become familiar with the city’s new Actual Value Initiative (AVI) and be prepared to see to it that they are assessed fairly, especially since many commercial properties have significant valuation issues. There is an appeal process, with a deadline to appeal. And “not having the funds” is not a valid argument.

 

Employment Law – Class Actions and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The U.S. Supreme Court recently tossed out an employee’s effort to represent a (potentially very large) class of co-employees in a class action suit, because her individual claim was resolved, by what is called an “offer of judgment” under federal court rules. The decision, in Genesis HealthCare Corp. v. Symczyk, may have broad implications for lawsuit against employers under the FLSA and is considered a victory for employers defending FLSA collective actions.

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