Legal Updates

Increased liability for franchises?

Since the emergence of The Commerce (Cartels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill from the Select Committee in May 2013, a number of issues have arisen concerning the effect on franchises. The main thrust of the legislation is aimed at introducing criminal sanctions for ‘hard core’ criminal activity and with franchises not given specific treatment under the Bill the risk of criminal sanction for parties to franchise agreements is reasonably high.

The Bill is currently awaiting consideration of the Select Committee’s report and Second Reading in the House. More…

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Cigars and Alcohol: Confusing Trademarks

Tequila Cuervo, S.A.(“Cuervo“) filed an application in the Canadian Intellectual Property Office for the registration of the trademark LAZARO COHIBA based on proposed use in Canada with alcoholic beverages. Empresa Cubano Del Tabaco (“Empresa“), a distributor of tobacco related products that predominately distributes cigars and holds the COHIBA trademark, opposed the application on several grounds, including the likelihood of confusion.

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McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies Advisory: This Week in Washington — December 13, 2013

Despite opposition from conservative interest groups, an overwhelming majority of House Republicans joined leadership Thursday night to approve a budget deal brokered by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Republican Paul Ryan (R-WI).

The House passed a two-year budget bill by a wide 332-94 margin. The bill, if it becomes law, will fund the government through October 2015 and avoid another government shutdown in January.

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13 in ’14: Minimum Wage Increases for the New Year

By: Anna A. Cohen and Nancy L. Gunzenhauser

It’s that time of year! As the new year rolls in, 13 states are increasing their minimum wage. Unless noted otherwise, all increases to the minimum wage reflected below will become effective on January 1, 2014.

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#GivingTuesday, Take Two

As we reported last year, there’s a new entrant into the “holiday days” tradition – #GivingTuesday. The brainchild of New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, #GivingTuesday is a movement to create a national day of giving to kick off the giving season and is celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

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Fifth Circuit Rejects The NLRB’s D.R. Horton Decision On Arbitration Waivers

By : Lisa M. Watanabe

On December 3, 2013, the Fifth Circuit issued its much anticipated decision overturning the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) controversial D.R. Horton, Inc. decision invalidating class action waivers and holding that requiring employees to sign such waivers violated employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”).  As previously reported in our earlier Act Now Advisory, the NLRB’s January 3, 2012 decision held that home builder D.R. Horton, Inc. (“D.R. Horton”) unlawfully interfered with  employees’ Section 7 right to engage in concerted action for mutual aid or protection by requiring them to sign an arbitration agreement that prohibited class or collective claims in a judicial or arbitral forum.  Specifically, a two member NLRB panel held that the arbitration agreement violated the Act by (1) implicitly interfering with an employee’s right to file charges with the NLRB; and (2) by requiring employees to waive their right to joint, class or collective employment related actions.  

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What your business needs to know about Chinese intellectual property

As companies continue to expand in China, intellectual property rights issues are increasing. In the past few years, patent and trademark protection and enforcement in China have changed dramatically. If your business knows about the changes and adapts to them, you will have a stronger competitive position.

We will not only analyze the intellectual property changes, but will focus on where intellectual property protection and enforcement are headed. The topics will include:

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Health & Welfare Lasting Powers v Advance Decisions

Some of my clients have definite views as to how they would like to be cared for or treated in the event that they lack capacity to explain their wishes in future.  Knowing that your wishes will be respected brings peace of mind.  English law provides individuals with two key choices – a Health & Welfare Lasting Power or an Advance Decision.  How do you choose between the two?
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Multistate Tax Update — December 12, 2013

On Tuesday, December 10, 2013, the New York State Tax Relief Commission (the Commission) released its Final Report (the Report). A prior announcement related to the formation of the Commission was previously covered in the Multistate Tax Update. New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo charged the Commission, which was formed on October 2, 2013, with devising a series of targeted tax relief valued at $2 billion in three years. The Commission’s purpose was to focus its efforts on alleviating the tax burden on individuals, families and businesses, emphasizing relief in the areas of local and school property taxes. New York is known for having the highest property taxes in the nation. The Commission itself recognized that New York taxpayers in 2010 “had the dubious honor of paying the highest actual tax bills in the United States.”

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Nonprofit Alert: IRS and Treasury Department propose 501(c)(4) political activity rules

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently came under scrutiny for its investigation into “Tea Party” affiliated 501(c)(4) entities and their political spending. Tax-exempt 501(c)(4) entities (also known in short-hand as (c)(4)’s), such as unions and other civic leagues, can engage in limited political spending related to their promotion of social-welfare goals. The questions are: “How much political spending is too much?” and “What kinds of political spending are appropriate?”

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