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Seven in ten Americans use social media, according to the Pew Research Center.  They connect with one another, access content, share information, and entertain themselves through social media.  When the Pew Research Center first surveyed the use of social media in 2005, only five percent of American adults used at least one form of social media.  By 2011, half of all American adults used social media.  Today, 72% of adult Americans interact with some form of social media. In other words, social media has gone mainstream.  It no longer involves a cutting-edge technology.  Thus, for good reason, employers have adapted…
On July 10, 2019, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed legislation that permits state universities to use public-private partnerships (also known as “P3s”) to deliver projects on their campuses.  Specifically, the law will allow a higher-education institution to enter into “a long-term concession with a private developer to construct, operate, maintain, and finance the project in exchange for annual payments subject to abatement for nonperformance.”[i] Around the nation, public universities have been turning more and more to the private sector to design, build, finance, operate, or maintain various projects.  P3s have allowed state colleges to build, renovate, or maintain student…
The unemployment rate hovered at a 49-year low of 3.6 percent in both April and May of 2019.  Low unemployment typically creates a jobseeker’s market in which workers find plentiful attractive job openings.  On the other side of the equation, however, employers usually have a more difficult time locating highly qualified candidates well-suited to the employer’s workplace culture. Both smart and lawful hiring and recruiting practices have more importance when employers face fewer candidates and more competition to hire them present in a tight labor market.  In such circumstances, employers must think strategically to recruit the best candidates.  Many employers…
SUPREME COURT RULES LAW PROHIBITING REGISTRATION OF IMMORAL OR SCANDALOUS TRADEMARKS IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL Only two years ago, in the case of In re Tam, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the federal law (the Lanham Act) that prohibited registration of “disparaging” marks violated the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.  This week, in the case of Iancu v. Brunetti, the Court ruled that the provisions of the same law that prohibited registration of “scandalous” and “immoral” marks, was also unconstitutional.  So why is this important? Under the Lanham Act, the Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) administers a federal registration system for…
On May 17 , 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation that lifted restrictions for workers suffering from occupational diseases resulting from exposure to toxic substances such as mesothelioma and lung cancer resulting from asbestos exposure for filing civil actions against their former employers. Supported primarily by the plaintiffs’ attorney trial bar, Public Act 101-0006 changes the provisions of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and the Illinois Workers’ Occupational Disease Act that had imposed a 25 year statute of repose for occupational injury and a setting 3 year statute of limitations for filing such claims. Under the new Act, while maintaining…
The Missouri General Assembly recently passed legislation to expand the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp in Missouri.  Senate Bill 133, passed on May 15, 2019, has been sent to Governor Parson’s desk for his signing. Before we discuss the 2019 legislation, a brief overview of Missouri’s current legal landscape with respect to industrial hemp would be helpful. In 2018, the Missouri legislature passed and the governor signed HB 2034 to provide a legal framework for the re-introduction of industrial hemp to Missouri. Among other things, HB 2034 decriminalized industrial hemp. In other words, industrial hemp (defined as Cannabis sativa…
On May 2, 2019 the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) issued new guidelines for businesses seeking to obtain registrations for cannabis-related marks.  Any company that is in –  or wants to be in – the CBD, hemp or medical marijuana business and is looking for maximum brand protection, needs to understand the new guidelines. Here are the rules in a nutshell. A.  For any application to register a mark for use with a product derived from “marijuana” (as opposed to legal hemp), the USPTO will refuse the registration.  This includes products such as CBD. B. However, the same prohibition…
1. Abuse of Power Produced the Me Too Movement. In the past three years, many well-known executives and personalities have made headlines because of their unwelcome conduct directed at female associates.  Roger Ailes resigned from Fox News on July 22, 2016 after more than 20 female accused him of sexual harassment, including a lawsuit that produced a $40 million settlement with former anchor Gretchen Carlson.  On April 19, 2017, Fox News fired  Bill O’Reilly several days after the New York Times had reported that either Fox News or Mr. O’Reilly had paid, at least, five women a total of about…
Communities throughout the Midwest realize that to grow and thrive, they must invest in infrastructure. Many local governments have infrastructure facilities built in the mid-1900s or before—whether public buildings, transportation facilities, or water treatment systems—that need to be replaced, expanded, or upgraded. But few communities have funding readily available for such long-term capital improvements.  Traditional public-funding models often won’t cut it. Cities and counties need access to capital and innovative financing to accomplish the task of building and maintaining the community’s infrastructure in a sustainable manner.  One project-delivery method that has been gaining momentum in the U.S. over the past…
On March 29, 2019, the United States Supreme Court made it easier for asbestos plaintiffs to recover damages against a group of defendants who never sold or supplied any asbestos materials. In Air & Liquid Systems Corp., v. DeVries, the Supreme Court held that so called “bare metal” defendants could be found liable to two former U.S. Navy seamen, although the defendants only supplied metal equipment without any asbestos components. The Court held a product manufacturer has a duty to warn when its product requires incorporation of a part that the manufacturer knows or should know that the product with…
On March 7, 2019, the United States Department of Labor (“Department”) announced its Notice of Proposed rulemaking to update the regulations that interpret the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). < https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime2019/index.htm > This law requires employers to pay overtime pay to most workers who work more than 40 hours in the same workweek. It, however, exempts certain categories of workers, exempt employees, from the FLSA’s overtime requirements. The proposed rule affects those exempt employees eligible for the White Collar exemption for executive, administrative, professional, or computer employees. This exemption also exempts outside salespersons from overtime, but the proposed rule makes…
Businesses bemoan the fact that their attorneys can never make a concrete legal determination because the applicable law requires a balancing of a myriad of factors – many of which cannot be known until expensive litigation discovery is undertaken.  On March 4, 2019, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that businesses can embrace for its easy certainty and application.  The ruling applies to filing suits for infringement of copyrights and according to the Court:  no copyright registration, no suit. Previously, there had been a split among federal appellate courts over whether having an application to register a copyright on file…
Many businesses grow and earn profits from year to year, but still face existential threats if legal problems happen.  Others have owners who have reached a point in their lives where they want to exit their business to start a new chapter in their lives.  In both of these situations, business owners can benefit from legal audits.  They lay the foundation for both the avoidance of legal disasters and the identification of unappreciated legal issues that can restrain the value of a business in the context of its sale.  A legal audit identifies the issues that a business needs to…
It has not been two years since the Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case of Matal v. Tam – a case touching upon an issue near and dear to all of us – free speech.  That case involved the situation in which, Simon Tam, the lead singer of the group, The Slants, sought to register the band’s name with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The trademark office refused the registration on the basis that the word “slants” was disparaging. Tam’s case went through the USPTO and the Court of Appeals before being accepted by the Supreme…
On January 7, 2019, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued new 2019 guidelines on how it will go about determining whether an invention is one which the law allows to be patented.  If you have been following the news on this topic then you know that since the Supreme Court issued its Alice decision in 2014 businesses that develop software enabled inventions have faced great uncertainty as to whether the subject inventions are patentable.  Similarly, businesses that own older patents to such inventions are loath to bring those patents to court on the fear they may be invalidated.…
On November 6, 2018, Missouri voters approved Amendment 2, the Medical Marijuana and Veteran Healthcare Services Initiative by a margin of 66% to 34%.  It legalized marijuana for medical purposes.  Basically, the amendment allows licensed physicians to recommend marijuana use to patients with any one of nine listed conditions and additional ones with a doctor’s approval.  The listed conditions include:   (a) cancer, (b) epilepsy, (c) glaucoma, (d) migraines unresponsive to other treatment, (e) chronic medical conditions that cause severe, persistent pain or muscle spasms, (f) debilitating psychiatric disorders, (g) HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, (h) terminal illnesses, and…