Just as people were starting to gain a sense of comfort dealing with changes to the U.S. patent system brought on by the America Invents Act of 2011, we now find that Europe is also planning changes to its own patent system. The changes will include introducing a unitary patent and a unified patent court. What are the further particulars regarding these changes and how should they factor into your European patent filing strategies?
Fredrikson & Byron P.A. is pleased to announce that its Fargo office was honored for being a Business/Organization that Empowers Women at the 40th Annual YWCA Cass Clay Women of the Year event on Monday, April 29, 2013. The Women of the Year event celebrated 30 of the most influential and impactful women and businesses in the Cass-Clay community. Fredrikson was recognized for its award winning pro bono work, ranking third highest in percentage of women partners among the nation’s 250 largest law firms, having an above national average number of female partners, being named a Top 100 Law Firms for Women and providing a family-friendly work environment.
Since its creation in July 2011, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has entered into five public consent orders with financial institutions and, in one case, a service provider, to correct alleged consumer protection violations. While these orders involved some of the biggest institutions in the industry (Capital One, Discover and American Express), there are valuable insights to be gleaned from these orders for both institutions directly monitored by the CFPB and institutions that are examined for consumer protection compliance by their prudential regulators (especially since the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) joined in two of the orders). Below are some lessons to be learned from these orders:
A new Vermont state law set to go into effect on July 1, 2013, creates penalties for “bad faith assertions of patent infringement.” While this law may eventually be struck down due to preemption by federal patent law, patent owners should be aware of its provisions before engaging in enforcement activities directed to any entity that may be considered a “Vermont person” or the customer of one.
On May 23, 2013, Governor Dayton signed an Omnibus Tax Bill into law that may have a significant impact on clients who reside in Minnesota and those who reside outside of Minnesota but own property located in Minnesota. Minnesota will now become the second state after Connecticut to impose a gift tax at this time. The new law also imposes a Minnesota estate tax for all property located in Minnesota held in pass-through entities. The following are some of the key provisions of the law:
As you are no doubt aware, many aspects of the Affordable Care Act become effective on January 1, 2014. One of those requirements is the “shared responsibility” (sometimes called the “pay or play”) penalties that may be assessed on “applicable large employers.” An “applicable large employer” is an employer that has 50 or more full-time employees and/or full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). An applicable large employer may be subject to a penalty if the employer does not offer group health coverage to its full-time employees and their dependents, or if the employer does not offer group health coverage that is affordable and provides minimum value. An employee is “full-time” if he or she works, on average, at least 30 hours per week. Part-time employees also count for purposes of determining the number of FTEs.
As of April 30, 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began phasing out the paper Form I-94 cards at airports and seaports in the U.S. and U.S. territories. CBP will still issue a paper Form I-94 card to foreign nationals seeking admission at land border crossings.
On April 2, 2013, the SEC confirmed that public companies may use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, and other emerging means of communication in much the same way that they use their own websites to announce key information in compliance with Regulation FD. The key is whether investors have been notified about the social media accounts ahead of time.
The H1B cap (bachelor’s and master’s) for fiscal year 2014 was reached on April 5. This means USCIS will not accept any new H1B cap subject petitions received or filed after April 5, 2013. USCIS will use a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as the “lottery”) for all FY 2014 cap-subject petitions received through April 5, 2013.
CMS issued a draft copy of two documents, a CMS Ruling and text of a proposed rule. Proposed regulations do NOT take effect when they are issued. Therefore, the proposed rules have no immediate impact. However, the CMS Ruling, which is a decision by the Administrator of CMS, takes effect immediately. CMS Rulings are supposed to be binding on RACs, MACs and even ALJs. The subject matter of the two documents is whether hospitals can receive outpatient reimbursement when an inpatient stay is denied. These documents will generate quite a buzz.