North America

New York Employers: Engage in the Interactive Process Before Disciplining Medical Marijuana Users

Failing a drug test may not kill the buzz for medical marijuana patients in the Empire State.  In contrast to courts in California and other jurisdictions, a New York state court has held that medical marijuana users are entitled to reasonable accommodations, even if they only obtain certification after testing positive for marijuana.

In Gordon v. Consolidated Edison, Inc., Kathleen Gordon failed a random drug test by her employer, Consolidated Edison, Inc. (“CEI”).  After testing positive, but before her termination, Gordon became a certified medical marijuana patient to treat her inflammatory bowel disease.  Gordon informed CEI of her certified status on several occasions between the time she failed her drug test and her termination date.  Gordon brought an action alleging discrimination and failure to accommodate under New York State and City Human Rights Laws (“NYSHRL” and “NYCHRL”), as well as the State’s medical marijuana law.  Because New York’s medical marijuana law provides that certified patients are disabled for purposes of the NYSHRL, Gordon claimed protected status.

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RSS, Member of a New Professional Alliance

May 12, 2020 — RSS is pleased to announce the launch of the Regroupement des firmes de services professionnels indépendantes — the RFSPI.

The Regroupement is an alliance of 80 Quebec-owned firms united to promote their expertise with Quebec decision-makers, who will have to make crucial judgments over the coming weeks in the interest of their businesses.

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In a process that began with lawsuits led by current and former players, including former UCLA forward Ed O’Bannon, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced on April 29 its recommendations for approving a framework which allows college athletes to earn money from the use of their names, images and/or likenesses from third parties.
This recent round of NCAA activity comes in response to the flurry of states seeking to pass their own versions of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which was signed into law in September 2019. For more information on the Fair Pay to Play Act, see our previous alert.
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New Indiana Law Will Restrict Physician Non-Competes

Joining many other states that in recent years have enacted laws regarding physician non-competition agreements, Indiana recently enacted a statute that will place restrictions on such agreements which are originally entered into on or after July 1, 2020.

Under Pub. L. No. 93-2020 (to be codified in part as Ind. Code § 25-22.5-5.5) (2020), which will take effect on July 1, 2020, for a non-compete to be enforceable against a physician licensed in Indiana, the agreement must contain the following provisions:

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The RSS Business Law Practice Group: Still Active Despite COVID-19

By Annie Claude Beauchemin and Herbert Z. Pinchuk, from our Business Law Practice Group

May 5, 2020 — The RSS Business Law Practice Group is here to help. Although we are rigorously respecting governmental guidelines in order to protect public health, we remain fully connected to the business world and remain ready to assist you through this difficult period.

As certain restrictions on businesses ease, we are here to guide and counsel you as you cope with current challenges or prepare to resume your business activities and operations.

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Staggering Amount of Spoliation Leads to Quick Conclusion of Trade Secrets Lawsuit

A recent decision issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, presents a stark example of what can result when a defendant accused of trade secret misappropriation is careless in preserving electronically stored information (“ESI”) relevant to the lawsuit.

Silicon Valley-based autonomous car startup WeRide Corp. and WeRide Inc. (collectively, “WeRide”) sued rival self-driving car company AllRide.AI Inc. (“AllRide”), along with two of its former executives and AllRide’s related companies, asserting claims for misappropriation under the federal Defendant Trade Secrets Act and the California Uniform Trade Secrets Code, along with numerous other claims.  WeRide secured a preliminary injunction from the Court, directing AllRide not to use or disclose WeRide’s confidential information and trade secrets, and specifically directing defendants not to destroy evidence.

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A Recipe for Patent Protection: Are food products patentable?

In the past several years, the food and beverage space has seen an explosion of innovation—alternative meat products, plant-based dairy and protein alternatives, CBD- and collagen-infused everything, and functional foods and beverages and containing everything from pre/pro/post-biotics to nootropic and adaptogenic herbs, just to name a few. And many of these innovations have led to wildly successful products with household brand recognition (think: Impossible Foods and Vital Proteins).

While many of these brands may be protected by robust trademark portfolios, what role have patents played in defining their territory in the market? Patent protection can add significant value to an emerging brand by keeping competitors at bay, serving as an asset or collateral to secure financing, or as leverage to license across different industries or markets. Yet, the vast majority of conventional foods occupying the shelves of your local grocery store are likely not covered by a utility patent.  Which begs the question, are food products patentable?

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Hollywood actor and producer Steven Seagal settled allegations brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that he failed to disclose the compensation he received for promoting investments in an initial coin offering (ICO) conducted by Bitcoiin2Gen (B2G).
Notably, this is not the first time the SEC has brought an action regarding false and misleading celebrity cryptocurrency endorsements.
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Teami, LLC (Teami) agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that the company made false and unsubstantiated health claims regarding its tea and skincare products and hired influencers who failed to adequately disclose that they were being paid to endorse its products on social media.
Notably, the FTC also warned ten celebrity influencers (including Jordin Sparks and Cardi B) about their obligation to disclose their material connections when paid to endorse products on social media.
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Face or Fingerprint? The DEA Revisits Biometric Identifiers for e-Prescribing Controlled Substances

On April 21, 2020, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published a Request for Information (“RFI”) that reopened the comment period for an interim final rule that was published March 31, 2010 (75 FR 16236) (the “2010 IFR” or the “IFR”). The IFR is being revisited in response to the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act) mandate for the DEA to update the requirements for the biometric component of multifactor authentication with respect to electronic prescriptions of controlled substances. Prior to the 2010 IFR, the only way that controlled substances could be prescribed was in writing, on paper with a wet signature. The IFR was the first time that an electronic alternative was made available for prescribing controlled substances and the DEA leveraged the technologies that were available at the time to ensure that electronic prescribing applications could not be misused to divert controlled substances.

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