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Latest from Chicago Business Attorney Blog


Can I-Robot Hold a Patent?

An obscure but telling sign of when the robots will have taken over will be in evidence when they’re allowed to be named as inventors on patent applications.  But that day—when “I, Robot”-like artificial intelligence is thusly recognized as rivaling that of humans—hasn’t come about yet, at least not here in these United States.  So Sonny – the good robot in the movie I, Robot” – cannot hold a patent, at least not yet!
That came as a disappointment to Stephen Thaler, creator of the DABUS (Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience) AI
Continue Reading Asimov’s Robot Cannot Hold a Patent


Texts can be held against you in court.

Alex Jones lawyers (perhaps inadvertently) turned 2-years of texts to the lawyers for the Sandy Hook families. What would be the repercussions for the disclosure if the trial were in Illinois?
The parents of a 6-year-old child that was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting had requested in discovery that Alex Jones turn over all the emails that related to shooting. Jones previously testified that he had searched his phone for texts about the Sandy Hook School shooting and found none, but Jones’s lawyers proved otherwise.

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Bellas & Wachowski – Chicago Business Lawyers
Small businesses with 16 to 24 employees that have been operational for at least two years and don’t already offer qualifying retirement plans will, as of November 1, 2023 be subject to the requirements of the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act
Under an amendment passed last year, those with 5 to 15 employees must participate in the act—which has created a state-sponsored retirement savings program to boost access for private-sector employees—as of November 1, 2023.
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Continue Reading State Retirement Plan Expands to Smaller Employers


The City of Chicago’s newly amended sexual harassment ordinance, which takes effect July 1, will bring an enhanced definition of the term, new written policy and notice requirements, new training requirements for employers, additional safety measures, a longer statute of limitations—and heftier penalties for those found guilty.
Every Chicago business must comply with these new laws.   And the new laws should be words-to-the-wise to all Illinois Businesses in ensuring compliance with state law, which we’ve detailed in this earlier post.
The City’s definition of sexual harassment starts with the notion that people of all gender identities can be
Continue Reading Chicago Adds Specifics—and Teeth—to Sexual Harassment Law

Subchapter V for Small Business Owners
For the past two years, small businesses whose bottom lines were impacted by the onset of COVID-19 enjoyed greater protections while going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganizations in the form of higher debt limits under the Small Business Reorganization Act.
That act, passed in August 2019 and enacted as of February 2020, established what came to be called “Subchapter V” of the SBRA, aimed at providing a simpler, less costly and ultimately more beneficial Chapter 11 process for small business debtors who would struggle to afford administrative and other costs.
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Continue Reading Small Business Debt Relief

Repayment of Student Debt by Employers
Retaining employees, and attracting new ones, has always been at the forefront of employer’s minds, but never more so than right now.  An extension of the student loan repayment plan for employers is one attractive way to stabilize your workforce.
The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) extended tax-free employer sponsored student loan repayment through 2025.  This means that employers can give each employee up to $5,250 of non-taxable money to pay off student loans per year.  The amount the employer contributes is deductible by the employer and it
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The Metaverse
The metaverse isn’t just for gamers anymore.
With the rise of block-chain technology, cryptocurrencies, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs)—along with the increasingly realistic-looking realms created in virtual and augmented reality—these three-dimensional realms, best known for games like Fortnite and Roblox, are increasingly becoming a place to do business.
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Continue Reading Metaverse Becoming a (Virtual) Reality

NFTs as a Business Asset
Simply put, NFT’s (or “tokens”) are digital assets. Various examples include movies, drawings, music, and digital artwork.
By their very definition, NFT’s are non-fungible, meaning that they cannot be traded for something else.  For example, Da Vinci’s original Mona Lisa is non-fungible; only one original version exists, and there will only ever be one.  Contrarily, U.S. dollars are fungible—trade one dollar for another dollar and you end up with the same thing.
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Continue Reading What is a non-fungible token (NFT)?

Data Management Key to Business Success
Small businesses should have thorough, regular—and secure—processes for gathering, storing and interpreting data, which in the “Information Age” has become critical to staying a step ahead of competitors and the marketplace as a whole.
Without deliberately planning and engineering the most effective ways to integrate various types of data flows in every part of your business operations, you can’t fully understand how data can help you make key decisions and otherwise leverage its benefits for key purposes.
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New CDC Guidelines
The CDC has released new mask guidelines easing former recommendations. The CDC is no longer using vaccination status as the benchmark for mask guidelines and are now using low, medium, and high levels for counties to measure COVID risk and mask recommendations.
For low level counties no masking is required. In medium level counties individuals can consult with their doctors about mask needs and recommends masks indoors for contact with high-risk individuals. Finally, in high level counties masking is recommended for all individuals indoors in public.
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Continue Reading Understanding the New CDC Guidelines

Independent Contractors
A recent Illinois Court of Appeals decision in an Illinois Wage Claim Act case puts a magnifying glass on the sticky wicket employers can find themselves when they are unable to pay an outside contractor, at least under certain circumstances.
The decision in O’Malley v. Udo, 2022 IL App (1st) 200007 (Jan. 14, 2022) revolved around an independent contractor who was paid $1,000 per work day plus expenses, was sent 1099 forms at the end of the tax year, was mostly free to work from his Evanston home, and otherwise clearly identified in the written agreement between the
Continue Reading ‘Independent Contractor’ Might Be a Trojan Horse

Do you need a business license?
In the past two years about 30,000 new businesses were started in Illinois.   Most of those new business had to get a specific license for their particular type of business.   Not all businesses do, but many will need an Illinois Business License specific to their occupation, which vouches for the fact that you’re qualified to perform a certain type of skill and reassures customers that you will be accountable for your work.
For starters, you will need a Certificate of Registration common to all types of businesses. Then, you will need to drill
Continue Reading Do You Need a Business License in Illinois?

George Bellas advises on E-Commerce
There is no doubt that e-commerce sales have grown tremendously over the last 20-plus years. That is in part because online purchases are taxed differently than in person sales, and small businesses have noticed the advantages of this system.
The setup is quite simple: a small business may house their servers or warehouse their goods in one state, all while shipping their products to the other 49 states. It is important to know that small businesses are not required to collect sales tax in a state in which they have no physical presence. Until recently,
Continue Reading Tax Liability Stemming From Online Sales

Illinois Freedom to Work Act 
Illinois Employers who want to protect their business and trade secrets by using restrictive employment contracts will find new hoops to jump through.   The enforcement of non-compete and non-solicit agreements, designed to erect roadblocks to prevent former employees from gaining an unfair advantage due to their proprietary knowledge of your business or relationships with your customers, has always been tricky.  But a recent law will make it more complicated.
An amendment to the Illinois Freedom to Work Act that will take effect on January 1, 2022, will create new hurdles for business owners hoping to
Continue Reading You Might Need to Rework Your Non-Competes

Wills Can Be Signed Electronically
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, wills needed to be signed in person and witnesses (including notaries) needed to be on hand to see the will creator’s actually sign the will.
When the pandemic got underway, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed an Emergency Order declaring that for health and safety related reasons, wills could be signed electronically and that notaries public and other witnesses could view the signing from afar, provided they had a dependable audio and video connection.
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Continue Reading Electronic Will Signing, Remote Witnessing Made Permanently Available

Attorneys Misty Cygan and Geo Bellas can help your get business off to a good start.
We’ve run a series of posts recently about the steps involved in launching a business.  These have covered issues like deciding what type of business you want to start and what your business model will be; putting together a business plan and identifying sources of capital investment; and naming and registering your business.
This final post will flesh out how forging a beneficial relationship with a law firm that delivers services in a punctual, professional and affordable manner is key to the endgame of
Continue Reading Starting a Business: What Can Your Law Firm Do for You?